“Iraq will be the central issue of the 2008 presidential campaign.”

Interesting (and informed, ho ho) comment from Juan Cole on the Dems and the Iraq Supplemental:

Although everyone is syaing that September is now the potential turning point in congressional support for the Iraq War, I don’t see how things will change much then. Supporters of the “surge” will be able to find some evidence of “progress” even if it is “slow.” Unless there are mass defections to the anti-war side among the Republicans, there is no prospect of the Dems overturning a Bush veto. Thursday night’s vote did not put a resolution of the Iraq quagmire off for only a few months. It put it off until a new president is inaugurated in January of 2009. Bush seems unlikely to significantly withdraw while still president, and the Dems can’t make him if the Republicans won’t turn on their own party’s leader.

Iraq will be the central issue of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Spot-on.

As I noted yesterday, the Dems’ mistake was a political one; they could have pressed the issue a bit more, or a lot more, to ensure that Bush rightly took the blame for this stalemate, rather than looking as though they were capitulating. Their mistake was in making it look as though they had a choice. They didn’t. Our pigheaded president and the collection of lunatics known as the GOP Congressional minority have ensured that the war will not be ended, no matter what the Democrats do. Bush will veto; the GOP will stand fast and not give the Dems a veto-proof majority. That’s the long and the short of it.

Their calculation, for whatever reason, was to roll over quickly—and, irrespective of whether that was a good or bad decision, the result is that Iraq will almost certainly not be resolved until a new president is in the White House.

In fairness, that probably would have been the case even had they pressed Bush, because he is truly unique in his presidential capacity for ignoring the will of the American people.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to ““Iraq will be the central issue of the 2008 presidential campaign.”

  1. Here’s what happens when you have low expectations–you’re rarely disappointed. I’ve said for a while now that this war was going to last until 2008 no matter what happened in the last election. The best we could ever hope for was that we could stem the damage and do some oversight, both of which this Congress has done. But I never imagined that we’d be out of the war before 2009, because it was pretty clear to me that Bush wasn’t going to leave and the Democrats, no matter how many seats they won, would be able to make him leave.

    We lost the chance to get out of Iraq in 2004. We have another shot in 2008, and we’d better not fuck it up.

  2. Tart

    I’ve found a way to stave off workplace boredome for at least 5 minutes at a time:

    Engage older and middle-aged Jewish men in political discussions. It’s fun!

    They really hate Bush. I find it delicious.

  3. Here’s what happens when you have low expectations—you’re rarely disappointed.

    Heh.

    I don’t even think it’s a matter of low expectations so much as realistic ones, although otherwise you and I totally agree. Again, I note my opinion that perhaps the Dems should have required Bush issue at least one more veto, but whether they forced one more veto or twenty over the course of the next year and a half, the actual policy outcome is the same either way. The war’s still going on.

    That’s why tagging them with bad politics is fair enough; but tagging them with not ending the war, when it is quite genuinely not possible for them to end it without GOP defections, is just illustrative of an embarrassing naïveté about how Congress actually works.

    We lost the chance to get out of Iraq in 2004. We have another shot in 2008, and we’d better not fuck it up.

    Yes.

  4. That’s why tagging them with bad politics is fair enough; but tagging them with not ending the war, when it is quite genuinely not possible for them to end it without GOP defections, is just illustrative of an embarrassing naïveté about how Congress actually works.

    And it’s that sort of naivete that has basically turned me away from spending any time over at Daily Kos these days. I get tired of reading the same “Pelosi sold us out” or “Impeach now” diary over and over again. It’s not that simple.

    I worried about this in the run up to the 2006 elections. I worried that a lot of people voting for the Democrats would wind up being disappointed when troops didn’t start coming home in January, and it looks like I was right to worry, though I doubt it will have major short term repercussions. The Republicans did such a bad job for so long that the Dems will get the benefit of the doubt for a cycle or two. But I said then, and I’ll repeat it now, the next President will be the candidate who can most credibly say “I’ll start bringing troops home on January 20, 2009.”

  5. NonyNony

    Their calculation, for whatever reason, was to roll over quickly—and, irrespective of whether that was a good or bad decision, the result is that Iraq will almost certainly not be resolved until a new president is in the White House.

    In fairness, that probably would have been the case even had they pressed Bush, because he is truly unique in his presidential capacity for ignoring the will of the American people.

    The ultimate policy decision would have been to fund the troops because Bush would not have pulled the troops out even if Congress explicitly passed a measure defunding the war. Bush would have just petulantly left the troops there and not done anything active to get them out. He would force a constitutional crisis and a potential civil war in our own country just because his own ego will not let him let go. The “adults” in Congress would have ended up voting to fund things just to prevent forcing that crisis, I think, because that’s how they tend to roll up on the Hill.

    On the other hand, the maneuver here shows an amazing lack of politcal savvy on the Dems part. Even if you know that you’re eventually going to have to capitulate, show some damn backbone and make the other guy work for it. I mean, Jeebus — all this did was play into the narrative that Dems are yellow-bellied spineless cowards who will back down when a “real man” stands up to them. They got no concessions at all in this bill – not a one. And it’s just plain sick how quickly they all lined up to vote for it.

  6. He would force a constitutional crisis and a potential civil war in our own country just because his own ego will not let him let go.

    Yes. That’s absolutely right.

    On the other hand, the maneuver here shows an amazing lack of politcal savvy on the Dems part.

    Also right–which is why it’s fair to lambaste them for bad politics. Especially because, as Incertus points out, we need to get it right in 2008.

  7. That’s why tagging them with bad politics is fair enough; but tagging them with not ending the war, when it is quite genuinely not possible for them to end it without GOP defections, is just illustrative of an embarrassing naïveté about how Congress actually works.

    That’s the whole thing that the GOP and the Orcosphere will latch on to. They’re already crowing about the ineffectiveness of the Democratic Congress and running anti-Pelosi ads. They know image is everything and they’re not interested in explaining the nuances (oy, that word) of how things really happen.

    That’s what really pissed me off the other night when they announced the deal. I didn’t have to read the whole story (I did later, and see T. Rex’s Guide to Life for a very well-reasoned explanation of why the deal may work after all) to know that the headlines would scream DEMS CAVE and hand the news cycle to the GOP, not to mention plenty of clips and soundbites for the ad campaign.

  8. oddjob

    The Boston all-news radio station this morning mentioned that a minimum wage hike is attached as a rider to the troop funding bill.

    That’s the first hike in the minimum wage in about 12 years.

  9. I’ve thought all along there will be no pullout until after the election.

    Assuming the Dem’s don’t fuck it up and lose the election, the troops will come home under a Democratic President and Congress, and when Iraq disintegrates into total anarchy the Re-thugs will be able to sit back and say “see, we told you so” thereby passing the responsibility for failure to the Democrats.

    Let me be clear, when I say passing the responsibility for failure, I don’t buy that, but they need a talking point to start rebuilding the party on the right wing media juggernaut.

  10. nightshift66

    While I see your point on the funding issue, Melissa and Nony, I think you let the Dems off too lightly. First, they did have the option of not funding the war, and fight whatever crisis comes. We call the Iraqi invasion illegal, a war crime, and many other things, but when push comes to shove we aren’t willing to risk any inconvenience (let alone actual danger) to end it. There is no other conclusion but that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of US military personnel is of less importance to Congress than not risking a ‘constitutional crisis’ here. Other people’s lives were always cheap, but the ongoing devaluation of them is perserve.

    Second, I disagree that the insta-cave was merely bad politics. Had they fought longer and harder, there is no question in my mind that they would have shortened our occupation of Iraq even if they later did exactly what they ended up doing. They’d have cast more spotlight on the admin and would’ve moved the country even more in favor of ending this fiasco. That makes the Democratic collapse both a political and a policy failure, to me.

  11. First, they did have the option of not funding the war, and fight whatever crisis comes.

    To say that is to ignore the political reality that, while the American people want the troops out of Iraq, they don’t want the troops defunded. Quite plainly, the Dems have been tasked with finding a way out of Iraq without defunding the war (which has been conflated with defunding the troops).

    We can yell and scream all we want about what an insane bit of cognitive dissonance that is, and how ludicrously it ties the Dems’ hands, but that doesn’t change anything.

    Note: 76% of Americans think the war is going badly, but only 60% support a timetable for US troops to withdraw from Iraq. Fewer still, probably below 50%, would support a complete defunding of the war.

    So, yeah, you’re right that they’ve got that option, but they don’t have the public mandate to go for it.

    You know I’m no partisan, and I’ve blasted with hellfire and damnation many of the things the Dems have done the past few years. But I really believe there’s a lot of unfair, simplistic reductionism going on in the criticisms of the Dems on this one.

  12. oddjob

    Thirteen percent want Congress to block all spending on the war.

    If the Dems. went hellbent for leather with only 13% of the country supporting that they’d experience the same kind of blowback the Federalists did during the War of 1812.

    Liss is right.

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