4 comments April 22nd, 2007at 06:51pm Posted by Eli

Pachacutec asks whether it would be better for the conference committee reconciling the House and Senate versions of the supplemental/stop-the-war bill to choose the House version (mandatory withdrawal deadline) or to cave to the President’s feet-stamping veto threat by choosing the Senate version, where the withdrawal deadline is merely a “goal.”

Pach (and Kagro X) argue that if they pass a supplemental war-funding bill where withdrawal is voluntary, and Bush signs it, then they have just made themselves co-owners of the war. The counterargument, as I understand it, is that passing a weak bill is better than failing to pass a stronger one, and the Democrats must water it down to appease “centrist” Democrats and moderate Republicans to ensure passage.

I have to side with Pach and Kagro on this one. There are two primary objectives here: The first is to end the war, and the second is to ensure that the Republicans lose big in 2008 so that the Democrats have the latitude to start cleaning up Bush’s many messes.

Frankly, I’m not convinced that the Democrats can end the war by themselves, not without enough Republican defections to override a presidential veto (although it would be interesting to see how this game of chicken plays out if Congress refuses to give Bush a stringless war budget before the money runs out in June).

If the Democrats cannot end the war by themselves, then the next best thing they can do is to brand themselves very clearly as the anti-Iraq-war party, and the Republicans as the pro-Iraq-war party. Furthermore, it is important to remember that Bush is not running for election next year, but Congressional Republicans are.

Viewed from that perspective, I don’t really see how passing a toothless bill that Bush vetoes (or doesn’t) is better than failing to pass a strong bill. Forcing Bush to veto puts him on the spot, sure, but he’s not our target in 2008, except by association. Why not force Congressional Republicans to go on the record as unequivocally opposing an end to the war? If the “centrist” Democrats don’t want to be on board, then remind them that they’ll have to explain their votes in both the primary and general elections next year.

On the other hand, passing an ineffective bill sends the message that the Democrats aren’t really serious about ending the war. If the voters believe that the Democrats have been merely posturing all along, their feelings of betrayal will keep them home in 2008. After all, why bother to vote for Democrats if they’re not going to end the war either? It also gives Bush an incentive to keep vetoing or threatening to veto, if it gets him ever-more favorable terms, until he ends up with a bill so weak that he can sign it and posture as the magnanimous bipartisan hero. (Actually, I’m not too worried about that – that’s the last thing he wants to be seen as.)

If the Democrats do not display total commitment to ending the war, it will not end, and the electorate will hold them accountable for it in 2008. They might still gain seats out of sheer anti-Republican revulsion, but they will forfeit any chance at the same kind of landslide that their anti-war stance won them in 2006.

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Elections,Iraq,Politics,Republicans,War


  • 1. charley  |  April 22nd, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    i’d like to weigh in on this. but i don’t know what to say.

    i don’t think we are leaving, ever. dem or rep.

    all the right things that could have been done to ameliorate the damage, it’s too late for, and “they” sure as hell aren’t going to leave all that oil to the vicissitudes of, anything. “they”, are gonna protect that oil.

    maybe things will change (when bush is gone), but i don’t think we are leaving. by we i mean “they”.

  • 2. dirk gently, sociopathetic  |  April 22nd, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    what eli said.

  • 3. Eli  |  April 23rd, 2007 at 12:51 am

    I think a Democratic president will get us at least partway out. Just how far out, will depend on the Democrat. If it’s Hillary, we’ll only get halfway out. Which may sink her chances of getting the nomination once people realize it.

  • 4. Multi Medium » Krug&hellip  |  April 23rd, 2007 at 7:26 am

    […] Looks like Krugman’s been reading FDL, or Kos, or (heh) Multi Medium: There are two ways to describe the confrontation between Congress and the Bush administration over funding for the Iraq surge. You can pretend that itís a normal political dispute. Or you can see it for what it really is: a hostage situation, in which a beleaguered President Bush, barricaded in the White House, is threatening dire consequences for innocent bystanders ó the troops ó if his demands arenít met. […]

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