Democrats & Liberals Archives

GOP Keeps Their Iraq War

Democrats tried to end the war, but didn’t have the votes. They also tried to set a flexible timetable for withdrawal, but couldn’t override President Bush’s veto. Democrats just don’t have enough votes in Congress to change the mission in Iraq. Republicans stood united and won the right to continue the war they want so desperately.

Some on the left wonder why Democrats don't just defund the war. I'll tell you why: President Bush is insane stubborn enough to keep all the troops in Iraq even as they run out of bullets and food and are slaughtered. And he'd yell, "Look at what Democrats have done!" You know he would. Defunding the troops is not an option.

So, Democrats are kicking this issue downfield until September, when President Bush has to come back to Congress hat in hand for more Iraq War "emergency" funding.

In the spirit of making lemonade when life gives you lemons, the longer the mission in Iraq stays in this Republican rut*, the stronger the Democrats' position will be this fall. Since the beginning of the year, Reid and Pelosi have slowly peeled Republicans away from President Bush's failed policy in Iraq, and that will continue.

And President Bush knows that, which is why the White House is floating the idea of changing the mission in Iraq. About 90% of the new plan involves political and diplomatic action, rather than military goals. Sound familiar?

Despite the pasting Democrats are taking from the press and the left -- apparently (and unfairly, in my opinion) just because they're unable to muster enough Republican votes to override a presidential veto -- this is a political win for Democrats. They'll reap the benefits this fall and in 2008.

And, if President Bush really has been forced to adopt something closer to the Democrat's plan for Iraq -- to transition from a military to a diplomatic strategy -- then that's a win for America and Iraq as well.

*Rut: Like a grave, only longer.

Posted by American Pundit at May 24, 2007 12:59 AM
Comment #221165

And you know what else is interesting about this bill: Pelosi has already said she won’t vote for it. And I doubt Reid — the guy who co-sponsored Feingold’s bill to end the war immediately — will vote for it either.

I don’t know whether the minimum wage deal and some of the so-called “pork” that was reinstated into the bill will make the difference, but there’s a chance that this bill could fail. And even if it doesn’t, it’ll pass only because most Republicans vote for it.

Essentially, Reid, Pelosi and President Bush are forcing Republicans to loudly and publicly sign off on the President’s disastrous handling of the war.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 24, 2007 1:22 AM
Comment #221167

Excuses, Excuses. It makes me so sick. This is no victory for Democrats, it is a colossal failure of gigantic proportions. They should have kept sending the same damn bill back over, and over, and over, rather than caving in to the president completely the way they did — and I believe we should all acknowledge this truthfully and honestly.

Keith Olbermann nails this enormous betrayal of the American people precisely with this commentary.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 24, 2007 1:27 AM
Comment #221172

Yeah, I saw that. Olbermann was way off base on this one. Democrats just don’t have the votes to end the Iraq War. Deal with it.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 24, 2007 2:01 AM
Comment #221173

And by “Deal with it”, I mean call your representatives and tell them to vote against the funding bill.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 24, 2007 2:11 AM
Comment #221175

You won in ‘06 because repubs spent too much….period. Americans don’t want to leave Iraq premature, too much at stake. If they did you could have defunded a long time ago, just admit it and move on. Another thing, were being slaughtered? Wow.

Posted by: andy at May 24, 2007 2:56 AM
Comment #221182

The reason people are not in favor of defunding the war is not that they don’t want out, and want out quickly. The reason is that they don’t want the exit to be a sudden and disorganized affair. They want Withdrawal and soon, the polls indicate, but they want to avoid the embarrassment of hasty exit.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 24, 2007 8:08 AM
Comment #221183

To All:
In my opinion, the supplemental was a poor battleground. It was time sensitive, and necessary to keep the troops supplied. Bush could always use that leverage against us, and he had an absolute, constitutionally unquestionable means of imposing his will.

I can understand the frustration of the Democrats who are sickened by this compromise. I’m disappointed, too. But I find the sudden threats of departure and defunding and all those other supposed messages we would be sending to be rather self-defeating.

Is this the first or the last time we’re going to be disappointed? Is is the first or the last time our politicians are going to weigh their fears for their electability above the opinion of the people? We are not always going to get what we want from our politicians. If we did, Democracy would not be necessary, as we could elect permanent leaders we could trust to remain in power in perpetuity

I find the threats to cut off funding and leave the party to be naive, and shortsighted, much as I understand the emotional basis of the threats. To do that is to sacrifice both our voice, and our pull on these people. Our control over our party exists at the level of our involvement, and our ability to direct funds to appropriate candidates.

The missing link here in the solution to our dilemma is not to settle on incumbents as our only choice. The existing political machines field these candidates, and put them in game. What we should do, when faced with this kind of disappointment is to put together credible opposition candidates to challenge the incumbents. At the very least, putting up stiff, strong competition will get these people to reconsider what positions are in their best interest. This is going to be a constant struggle. If we stop involving ourselves because of one episode of disillusionment, or if we don’t demonstrate our disappointment to them in strong terms, just letting them do as they please, our failure to express our wishes in solid terms will lead us to repeat the fiasco of 1994, and lead our party to imitate the kind of disconnect that lead to such failures in leadership and majority strength for the Republicans in this last election.

Democracy is a dynamic, emergent form of government. That’s its virtue, and it’s weakness. It’s a virtue if we stay involved, and stay willing to impose our will.

It’s a weakness if we support leaders without question. It’s a weakness if we drop out because we think we can’t effect change. It’s a weakness if we don’t generate and look for alternative candidates ourselves to the incumbents when they displease us. It’s a weakness if we rationalize party misbehavior, or if we take an insufficiently mature look at the political landscape.

If we intend to send messages, our messages must not be silence, because others will speak in our place. We must speak in ways that require that these people listen. Money talks, and so do primary election results. We won this last election in part because our party spoke to states and communities that they had left unattended to in elections before. Our silence, more than anything else, doomed us to minority status. It was Bush’s outrageous policy failures that motivated us to finally do something. Do we win if we let another political victory on his part silence us? Does our political hold on this country strengthen when we abandon involvement in the face of disappointment? It’s not even been a year. How strong are we if not even a year goes by and we lose heart?

If we give up now, we are every bit as weak in our leadership as our rivals say.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 24, 2007 8:45 AM
Comment #221186

Good article over at Huffington Post: The Failure of Compromise

Posted by: Adrienne at May 24, 2007 10:40 AM
Comment #221188

From another article over at HuffPo:

Today is the day House Democrats are expected to vote on Iraq - except, news out of Washington this morning says the leadership has come up with a nifty little trick to try to prevent the public from seeing who voted for giving Bush a blank check, and who voted against it. If you thought Democrats were behaving like cowards by caving into a President at a three-decade low in presidential polling and giving him the very blank check they explicitly promised not to give him during the 2006 election, you ain’t seen nothing yet. We are watching the rise of the Dick Cheney Democrats - that is, the rise of Democrats who endorse governing in secret and hiding the public’s business from the public itself.

Here’s how it is expected to work today in a process only Dick Cheney could love (though you never know - it could change at the last minute). Every bill comes to the House floor with what is known as a “rule” that sets the terms of the debate over the legislation in question. House members first vote to approve this parliamentary rule, and then vote on the legislation. Today, however, Democrats are planning to essentially include the Iraq blank check bill IN the rule itself, by making sure the underlying bill the rule brings to the floor includes no timelines for withdrawal, and that the rule only allows amendments that fund the war with no restrictions - blank check amendments that House Democratic leaders know Republicans will have the votes to pass.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 24, 2007 11:04 AM
Comment #221190
Is is the first or the last time our politicians are going to weigh their fears for their electability above the opinion of the people?

That’s not even the issue. A hasty withdrawal is just not in America’s interest. All the top-tier Democratic candidates say they’ll keep some US troops in Iraq to hunt down al-Qaeda and train the Iraqi army. That’s exactly the right thing to do.

The idea of a quick complete withdrawal or even defunding the operation is irresponsible.

You guys on the far left are acting just like the idiots on the far right. You want your minority agenda — and you want it now. With no compromise.

I understand it’s frustrating for you far left people that you don’t have the slavish support of Deocratic leaders the way Republican leaders pander to the far right. I feel your pain, but it’s better this way.

In my opinion, if we can’ change the course of this war — and Reid and Pelosi did all they reasonably could — then we should make sure Republicans are tarred and feathered with it. I told my Democratic representatives to vote against this funding bill.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 24, 2007 11:11 AM
Comment #221197

You guys on the far left Republican Lites are acting just like the idiots on the far right.

“you don’t have the slavish support of Deocratic leaders the way Republican leaders pander to the far right.”

Yeah, the GOP Lite “Deocrats” can’t be bothered with their liberal base, instead they prefer to lend their slavish support to the right as well.

“but it’s better this way.”

You’re not fooling anyone.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 24, 2007 11:26 AM
Comment #221200

Adrienne, you Democrats introduced legislation to end the war and legislation to put a timeline on the war and neither could get enough Republican votes to become law. I don’t know what more you want.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 24, 2007 11:34 AM
Comment #221204

“I don’t know what more you want.”

I know exactly what I want: To see the Democrats following Feingold’s example by growing a spine, and showing real integrity and true conviction.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 24, 2007 11:56 AM
Comment #221205

Well, I’m not yet abandoning my party, but that doesn’t mean I won’t object in the strongest terms to their unnecessary capitulation on this spending bill. I understand the political danger of standing firm and repeatedly putting up a bill insisting that funding be tied to a sane plan for redeployment, but real leadership calls for political risk, and I’m sorely disappointed in the Democrats for backing down on this one.

A large majority of the American people are fed up with this administration’s war and their lies to excuse it. Demanding a responsible draw down is not a “far left” position. Far from it, capitulation is evidence of cowardice, and my disappointment in the Democratic leadership is grave.

AP, I don’t quite get how your harsh criticism of the “far left” who would simply not fund the war, squares with your telling your reps to vote against this funding bill. So you don’t mind Dems voting against it provided that it passes and we can still blame the Republicans? Why not continue to run reasonable compromises (take out the unrelated stuff, but keep or strengthen the timetables) up the flag pole and pressure the president to sign them. If he doesn’t then he is the obstinate unreasonable one, and if the other side manages to spin it differently then we have still done the right thing, are on the right side of history, and the money in the pipeline remains sufficient to bring the troops home - and we still have room to talk about funding for the limited remaining troops for hunting down Al Qaeda and training the Iraqi army.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at May 24, 2007 12:02 PM
Comment #221206

Let me explain:

Presenting President Bush with the same failed bill over and over is pointless. All your strategy does is eventually defund the troops and President Bush will keep them in Iraq as they starve and run out of ammunition. Your strategy helps no one except Bush.

What Reid has done is introduced a bill that even he and Pelosi won’t vote for. There are quite a few Republicans who are uneasy about giving Bush a blank check as well. And putting the minimum wage and all the pork back in the bill will turn off even more Republicans.

Holding a secret vote is brilliant! Noboby, Republican or Democrat, will suffer political consequences for voting NO. I hope the Senate vote can be secret as well.

Adrienne, what do you think will happen if this bill fails? It will be a punch in the nose for President Bush.

At first, I didn’t think Reid was the right leader. I was wrong. The guy’s a brilliant chess player.

Nobody’s asking you to support the funding bill. Quite the opposite. Even Reid and Pelosi don’t support it. We need to work very hard right now to ensure the bill fails, because, after proving that Bush doesn’t have the blank check he thinks he does, there is plenty of time before June to work out a bill with timelines from a position of strength.

Bring on the secret vote!

Posted by: American Pundit at May 24, 2007 12:04 PM
Comment #221207

BTW, I expect this bill to pass in the House and fail in the Senate.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 24, 2007 12:07 PM
Comment #221208


Do you have any information about Bush using

the Patriot Act, utilizing a signing Statement to

to give himself all the power of a Dictator,

including taking over Congress an the Senate any

time he feels the need ? ?? Signed on May 9th.
(suppose to be on a White House web site)

Posted by: DAVID at May 24, 2007 12:17 PM
Comment #221209

I am sure glad that none of you global thinkers were making the plans for winning WWII. Your strategy is fractured. You praise liberal leaders for having convictions but condem conservatives who display the same virtue. Your whole focus seems to be embarrass America with the label of failure. You look for political solutions with a faceless enemy. Capitulation and retreat when the going is tough is not courage or patriotism. Global terrorism is much more real than man-made global warming and yet you continue to ignore one and embrace the other.

Posted by: Jim at May 24, 2007 12:30 PM
Comment #221210

Jim, all responsibility for failure in Iraq lies with Bush and those who unquestioningly supported him. If you had questioned Bush’s plan for failure sooner, we wouldn’t be in this mess. All we can do now is salvage what we can of our military, our US foreign policy and our pride from the rubble of Baghdad.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 24, 2007 12:44 PM
Comment #221211

As for global terrorism, we’ve been wondering for years why you Republicans took your eyes off the ball. How come the guy who attacked America, Osama bin-Laden, isn’t dead? Why are you guys giving billions of dollars to a country, Pakistan, that is harboring terrorists?

Face it, Jim, Republicans suck at the war on terror. Democrats are focused on it like a laser.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 24, 2007 12:49 PM
Comment #221217

Dang AP. Are you so partisan that you will not hear what those on your side are saying?
I have no problem with “all responsibilty for failure in Iraq” being placed solely on Bushs shoulders.
But, all responsibility for failure to get our troops out of Iraq now lies on the Dems shoulders. Adrienne and Sandra wants them to act NOW and make that happen and too be honest, I totally agree with them.

You can blame not having enough Republican votes and excusing the Dems for this, but some are obviously looking past the politics and putting the troops first.

Bravo ladies! Thank you for being consistent in what you feel is best for the troops and thank you for holding your Dems to the same standards you have held Reps to on this issue.

Posted by: kctim at May 24, 2007 1:33 PM
Comment #221219


I totally agree with you. The Democrats campaigned on a platform of get us out now. We’re still waiting.

They pledged to clean up Washington and still have not adressed the $90,000 in William Jefferson’s freezer and have yet to change campaign financing and lobbying laws.

The Democrats need to get our troops home, not win in 08. That seems to be the only interest either party is looking out for.
Our government is failing us. The sad thing is that the small number of people who care to inform themselves and vote are not enough to stop this group of sell-outs and corporate whores.
We need 2-3 more parties. When the Republicans and Democrats try to sabotage this effort we can expose that and use it to further this cause. We need to use all of our energy explaining the benefits to the future of this country that a four or five party system would provide to anyone who will listen.
6 out of 10 Americans think the war in Iraq was a mistake. 3 out of 4 think it was botched by this administration.
Yet our party just bent over for the worst President in history.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at May 24, 2007 2:02 PM
Comment #221222

There is no way to sugarcoat this one. The liberal wing of the Democratic party attempted to stop this war, but there were not enough votes. Just enough Blue Dog Democrats supported the Republicans. This represents a loss for liberals, a loss for the Democrats, and demonstrates a disheartening disregard for the will of both the Iraqi and the American people.

It is a victory for Republicans and a victory for Bush. The war will continue on their terms. We will write the check, in both blood and treasure.

Posted by: phx8 at May 24, 2007 2:28 PM
Comment #221223


No matter how you look at it this is a Democratic failure. We said we will end the war and we are not doing it.

It’s easy to end the war. Send Bush a bill that says he can have war money until a certain date, let’s say, March 30, 2008. After that there will be no more money.

Sure, he will veto it. But Democrats should return with this or similar bill. And they must stick with it.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at May 24, 2007 2:31 PM
Comment #221230

The whole problem is that we’re desiring to send Bush messages, hoping he’ll see things our way. What in the long and terrible relationship between Bush and the Democratic party indicates that he’s the sort of person who lets others force his interpretation. This surge itself is evidence of his stubbornness.

If he wants to be stubborn enough to use his veto pen, then the better approach is to use our powers in ways he can’t counteract without putting himself in politically weakened positions. Hearings, subpeona’s, political losses where his support with the Republicans is weaker. Then there’s the next year’s actual budget, which is under no pressing time constraints at the moment.

Ulimately, I think we’re not going to get much of anywhere attacking Bush’s strengths. His weakness on policy and in popularity, and the constitutional powers of the congress are the key to ending this misbegotten war. It can also serve to erode and corrode Republican support, if done right, so we do get the veto proof majority required to make actual policy out of what at this point can only be sent as political messages.

What we can do in policy to stop this war is more important than what we can do in politics, because politics is so open to interpretation, and this president is all too good at interpreting things anyway he wants to.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 24, 2007 4:03 PM
Comment #221240

Heck, maybe Bush can finally be impeached and dismissed. After all this mess with the Attorney General, as well as everything else… maybe this is the time for this course of action.

Wwwwweeeeelllllllll I can wish, can’t I?

Posted by: Linda H. at May 24, 2007 5:38 PM
Comment #221243


If this bill actually fails, as you think is possible, then I will agree that Bush hasn’t won. Still it gives me trepidation to see us give him the opportunity to win in the short term and expand this monstrosity. Also making the vote secret may increase its likelihood of failure, but it certainly cedes all sorts of talking points to the other side, when we really need to be about transparency and openness as a counterpoint to the secrecy which is the hallmark of the criminals in the White House. Just look at the discussion here! I’m with Adrienne, Andre, and Paul here. And yeah, let’s give William Jefferson the boot while we’re at it. We’ve got the opportunity to play by the rules and come out smelling like a rose - why should we squander it?

Kerry explains his take on the matter in this Daily Kos diary. Sounds a bit like Daugherty’s position, and I don’t deny some reason there. Like I said earlier, I’m not abandoning my party, but I still think this is a time to play it straight and stand for principle. People can see it for what it is when we do that, the chirping “rightwing” noise machine vacuous shouts of “Traitors!” notwithstanding.

The most traitorous scoundrels around still work or live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at May 24, 2007 6:20 PM
Comment #221250

Hope you didn’t have much riding on this bet AP…

BTW, I expect this bill to pass in the House and fail in the Senate.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 24, 2007 12:07 PM

It just passed the Senate 80-14….

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at May 24, 2007 8:55 PM
Comment #221253
We said we will end the war and we are not doing it.

No, Paul, we said we will “Change the course.” That must mean something different to you than it does to me.

Here’s Reid: “Senate Democrats will not stop our efforts to change the course of this war until either enough Republicans join with us to reject President Bush’s failed policy or we get a new president.”

Hope you didn’t have much riding on this bet AP…

Nothing but my eternal optimism. Here’s the list of shame:

House vote

Senate vote

Posted by: American Pundit at May 24, 2007 9:53 PM
Comment #221267

Thanks for your eternal optimism, even with your sarcasm accompanying it.. ;) Don’t stop!

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at May 25, 2007 12:36 AM
Comment #221268

Thanks kctim, and Dave…here is that link for you again.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at May 25, 2007 12:39 AM
Comment #221373

Sorry AP, the dems blew it on this one. They had a chance to prove that they have the courage, conviction, and good sense to exhibit some strong leadership abilities. In the end the caved and reaffirmed what the repubs have been saying all along. That the dems don’t have the balls to take a true stand on much of anything. And this is all too bad. Because as I see it they were given a mandate by the voters of this country to prove that the republicans have been wrong about the latter. I am not giving up on my party. But I feel they have taken many steps backwards in a battle they should be winning. I am very frustrated and hope that they can come to their senses soon and get on with making the hard choices this nation yearns for.

Posted by: ILdem at May 26, 2007 3:40 PM
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