Disclaimer: I want us out of Iraq as of yesterday. I want funding to be approved only for a smart and sane redeployment plan. This should include and address humanitarian issues to avoid full on genocide. I know the rest of the country is headed in that direction as well.
That all being said, Congress doesn’t move that fast. And there are tremendous forces against the Democrats with respect to getting us out of Iraq. This includes the right wing noise machine, the drumbeat about Iran, and even some Democrats who aren’t, shall we say, as “helpful” to the cause as can be. And in an age where there is so much information available immediately, we tend to want things to happen just as immediately.
However, it was only three months ago since the Democrats won the election – just over one month since the new Congress started. Sure, the country wants out of Iraq. Sure they want a withdrawal or redeployment by next year. And sure, the republicans aren’t going to go quietly, and are going to be kicking and screaming all the way through the 2008 elections (and quite possibly beyond). But a few relatively major things have happened since the New Year. And while some isn’t directly because of the Democrats, they should be given credit for playing their hand as smartly as they could be, given all that they are up against (that being the demands to get out of Iraq, the pushing of policy, the investigations, the pushback from the republicans, etc.)
Now, I think that Pelosi is doing a much better job than Reid, and a much better job than I originally thought she could. Not for any other reason than she is swimming against nasty media coverage, a stupid label of “San Francisco liberal”, a republican party that is gunning to do anything to under cut her and an absolute disaster that the prior 6 Congresses have left for her to clean up.
A few months ago, nobody (other than us) were talking about cutting funding for Iraq. Now, not only are the republicans in danger of being labeled with the dreaded “obstructionist” label on Iraq (in fact, now that I think about it I will start to use that label myself), but the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell is talking about the need to address the funding for troops. Regardless of whether he is trying to force a vote on Judd Gregg’s bill (which was the reason for both votes for cloture failed in the Senate), the important thing is that this is now being discussed.
I’ll walk over to the Overton Window now and give it a little shove to the left – by forcing debates, even on non-binding bills, the Democrats have accomplished a few very important things, which we should give them credit for.
For starters, they now have republicans on record as being in favor of the escalation. They also have republicans on record as talking about being in favor of “staying the course”. They have made the republicans look like obstructionists who won’t even vote on their own non-binding resolutions. They have kept the debate moving in Congress with respect to Iraq. They are looking as good as they can be – passing a resolution in the House, introducing a few others – while having the Senate be held up by republicans. And most importantly, they have gotten the idea of cutting funding out in the mainstream.
Just remember how huge this is – this would have been “unacceptable” or “radical” a few months ago, and now FOX News polls are (1) including a question about funding the escalation, and (2) 54% of the respondents are in favor of NOT funding the escalation .
It gets better – news coverage has the Democrats talking about seeking limits on Iraq. This is what We the People want, regardless of what some morans (heh) on the talking meatstick shows think. At first, I wasn’t for the non-binding resolution as I though that it would be the end of the line and a “moral victory”.
I no longer feel that way. I think that Pelosi has a plan. I think that she is playing this very smart. I think that it is tougher for Reid, given the makeup and the rules of the Senate. But you can bet that if the republicans are playing the “you need 60 votes” card, then it will be that much easier for the Dems to gain close to the magic number come 2008. They may not get there, but there will be republicans at that point who see the writing on the wall. Hell, there already are some that see it with respect to Iraq.
They can’t let up though, and they still have to play it smart. They can’t be painted as “anti war” because of this. And while I don’t think they will be painted as such, they need to be careful to avoid the labeling – because there will be many who try to label them this way. Here is where Obama can really stand out as a leader – here is where Democrats can take his speech opposing the Iraq invasion and adopt it as their own.
Not anti-war. Anti-dumb war. Anti-“this” war. Anti-“war without planning”.
If they really wanted to hit one out, they can tie energy independence to an Iraq exit strategy. Wouldn’t that be something.....
Since we are so quick to point fingers when things aren’t going the way we want, or as fast as we want, let’s stop and at least recognize that major strides have been made over the past few weeks. Even though too many troops have died or been injured over this time period. Even though many more bombs have gone off. Even though they are not home or redeployed yet.
They will be. And while we are still very far from that goal, we are a hell of a lot closer to that goal than we were just two months ago. And we can thank Pelosi and many of the Congressional Democrats for that.