Libs Are Getting Fed Up With Democrats

red states rule

Senior Member
May 30, 2006
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You know the Dems are fumbling the ball when the kook left that put them in power openly attacks them

A Smoke-Filled War Room

The Democratic majority in the House is trying to set policy for the Iraq war by committee — a fractious and divided committee.

If the Democrats really want to play a role in the current Iraq debate, they should take a look at what John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are up to. These two Republican presidential contenders are pinning the blame for the current morass squarely on President Bush, rather than tackling the far more contentious project of how and when to bring the war to an end.

The Democratic leadership, meanwhile, instead of hammering Mr. Bush, has busied itself behind closed doors, producing a toothless, loophole-ridden resolution that showcases the party’s generic antiwar stance while trying to establish troop readiness requirements, benchmarks for Iraqi progress and withdrawal timetables. The resolution — more precisely, a set of deals intended to paper over intraparty factions — is the result of a process better suited to a highway bill than national security.

This patchwork proposal not only demonstrates the House leadership’s inability to extract a meaningful consensus from a membership that runs the ideological gamut from the Out of Iraq Caucus on the left to the Blue Dogs on the right. It also risks setting the Democrats up for a poisonous share of responsibility for the failure of United States foreign policy, while amplifying questions regarding Democratic competence on military matters.

Admittedly, some Democrats have tried to spell out coherent objections to the administration’s botched venture. But none so far have come close to matching the forcefulness of Mr. McCain and Mr. Giuliani, and, as often as not, when a Democrat speaks about the war, he or she gets pulled back into the maw of the legislative process.

Still, Democrats must find a way — transparently and purposefully — to formulate an authoritative critique of the strategic errors of the White House.

Mr. Giuliani and Mr. McCain have already shown the potential of this line of attack.

Take Mr. Giuliani. On “Larry King Live” on Feb. 14, he found fault with virtually every aspect of the Bush administration’s military posture. Mr. Giuliani argued: “You’ve got to change the whole strategy. ...The whole strategy has to be a strategy of not just pacifying places, but holding them, and holding them for some period of time.”

He added: “Here’s what I would change. Do it with more troops, maybe 100,000, 150,000 more. I would do it in a way in which we didn’t disband the army, which we’ve learned. I would have us not disband the army. You wouldn’t de-Baathify. See, de-Baathify sounds like the right thing to do because you’re getting rid of all the old Saddam guys. But that meant getting rid of the entire civil service. The country had no infrastructure.”

Mr. Giuliani’s comments were made as if they represented policies to be adopted in the future. But in fact, they are a retrospective condemnation of Mr. Bush’s conduct of the war.

Five days after Mr. Giuliani spoke out, Mr. McCain was vigorously applauded when he told a gathering near Hilton Head Island, S.C., home to many military retirees: “We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement — that’s the kindest word I can give you of Donald Rumsfeld — of this war. The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously. I think that Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history.”

Less than two weeks later, when Mr. McCain “announced” his presidential bid on the “Late Show With David Letterman,” he continued his attack on the administration: “Americans are very frustrated, and they have every right to be. We’ve wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives.”

If Democrats are going to capitalize on their November electoral successes, they must compete effectively with Republican candidates to keep attention focused on Mr. Bush’s responsibility for the catastrophic state of the Iraq war. In Congress, rigorous investigations and public hearings that lay out the scope of this fiasco should take precedent over resolutions putatively managing or ending the war. Democrats failed to make policy by resolution during the lead-up to the war and through its darkest years; they should not start now.
Remember: for much of the American public, the Bush administration’s mismanagement — its unwillingness to plan for the aftermath of the invasion, its misuse of intelligence data and its destruction of worldwide support — still need to be explicitly spelled out. Democrats should devote the next two years to convincing voters that accountability for the record levels of violence, calcifying sectarian divisions, and increasing numbers of daily casualties belongs to the White House — and, by proxy, to the Republican Party.

Otherwise, in 2008, despite years of crisis in Iraq, the usual dichotomy may well reassert itself: that Republicans are historically strong on defense, and Democrats historically weak. The fact remains that nearly 40 years of Democratic opposition to weapons spending, calls for cuts in the Pentagon budget and backing of broad constraints on covert operations have made the party — fairly or unfairly — an easier mark than the Republicans for those seeking to find a culprit for military collapse in Iraq.

If Democrats want to consolidate their recent political gains, they cannot afford to make themselves susceptible to charges that they contributed to American defeat overseas. But one sure way for them to lay themselves open to criticism is to do what they’re doing now — tinkering with wartime policy out of public view, vote-swapping and cutting deals to accommodate competing party interests.

Rather than passing hurried and porous legislation, Democrats would do better to make their priority public documentation of the Republican failure in Iraq, while taking the time to finally devise a strong, smart, coherent stance on how they’ll handle terrorism, national security and the Middle East.

Certainly, a slower and more considered approach would give Democrats the chance to demonstrate to voters that they take seriously the threat of terrorism — that whatever Iraq policy the party adopts, it is based on recognition of this grave danger, and not on a helter-skelter rush to quiet demands from its influential antiwar wing.

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