|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Voters think Democrats are weak -- and I'm in this camp -- because if Democrats don't fight for what they believe in, then what will they fight for? How can we trust them to do what's right when they'll jump at shadows?
So yeah, it's the Democrats fault. But do we blame the whole caucus, or do we blame the Blue Dog/DLC/Third Way Dems who held this supplemental hostage? From simple deduction (looking at the votes on the Warner and Feingold-Red amendments), the culprits are:
So should the whole caucus get tainted by association because these handful of Democrats held both the House and Senate hostage to their whims?
There are many individual Democrats who are heroically fighting against this war, and will vote against this blank check Capitulation Bill. But they've been let down by their leadership. I don't pretend to understand the legislative process, but last time I checked, the leadership has broad powers to control what legislation reaches the floor for a vote. Shrugging your shoulders and saying, "oh well" doesn't cut it.
But perhaps even worse than that is today's full-court press by anti-war Democrats to pretend this legislation is some kind of victory.
Democrats said this week they would have jeopardized their fall bargaining position if they had insisted on keeping withdrawal timelines in the current supplemental spending bill (HR 2206). Persisting now would likely have resulted in another veto and would have handed Republicans talking points for the Memorial Day recess about which party supports the troops in the field.
Democrats were particularly worried about the prospect of Bush declaring at wreath-laying ceremonies that "Democrats have stopped resources for the troops," said Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala.
"The problem is that we have to provide money for the troops, and if we don't, the Democrats will be blamed," added Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., a war opponent. "Bush has the bully pulpit, so he will define who is responsible."
"Obviously it's a good move," said Democratic pollster Fred Yang. "It gives President Bush and Republicans one less thing to shoot at" during the upcoming recess week.
One need only look at 2002 and 2004 to see the littered corpses of pro-war Democrats who nevertheless were ousted by Republicans, accused of being pro-terrorism. Have Democrats already forgotten Max Cleland, a war hero who voted for this godforsaken war, only to have his face morphed into Saddam Hussein and accused of being soft on defense?
Have they forgotten John Fucking Kerry in 2004?
It doesn't matter how Democrats vote on this legislation, they will be accused of being "soft on terror" and "weak on national defense". It's the only trick left in the GOP playbook. And Democrats, by running scared from the charges, help not just validate them, but reinforce that as a media talking point.
What a disaster. Sure, the pollsters like Fred Yang (and Mark Penn, Doug Schoen, etc) are high-fiving each other. Could we expect any different from the out-of-touch risk-averse beltway consultant class? But what's that crap Moran is feeding us? Democrats will be blamed? Bush is being blamed by the voters, hitting ever new lows in poll after poll, yet Democrats -- who had made a terrible habit of ruling by polls, suddenly decide to ignore them when it most counts? Every time Bush opens his yap he drops another two points in the polls. He's radioactive, and yet Democrats not only inexplicably fear him still, but they're helping make him politically relevant. Instead of laughing at him and tossing him aside, they cower in fear. And the media dutifully reports not just the Democratic capitulation, but Bush's manliness in winning this game of chicken against Democrats.
And in the face of this obvious show of weakness, lack of will, and capitulation, they try and pretend that we've won something? Spare us the condescension please. As Stoller says:
The key take-away here is that the Democratic Party is degraded and disorganized, and it shows. It's not just that the party is bought off, though some members are. It's that even the ones who want to do the right thing are constantly being told by people like Yang that capitulating to the President is obviously the right move, and that their concession is not actually a concession.
So if you look at the losers of the situation, there are three -- Democrats, who just reinforced the frame that they are weak and afraid to stand for what they believe in, and the troops who are stuck, away from their families, in that meat-grinder in the desert.
And then there's the American people, who have made it clear time and time again that they want this thing over, yet are denied representation by this Congress and White House.