As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, March 02, 2007

In Search of a Plan

So here are the latest plans from Democrats on what to do regarding Iraq:

House Democratic leaders have coalesced around legislation that would require troops to come home from Iraq within six months if that country's leaders fail to meet promises to help reduce violence there, party officials said Thursday.

The plan would retain a Democratic proposal prohibiting the deployment to Iraq of troops with insufficient rest or training or who already have served there for more than a year. Under the plan, such troops could only be sent to Iraq if President Bush waives those standards and reports to Congress each time.

The proposal is the latest attempt by Democrats to resolve deep divisions within the party on how far to go to scale back U.S. involvement in Iraq. Rep. James Moran said the latest version has the support of party leadership and said he believes it is final and has the best chance at attracting broad support.

And on the Senate side, they won't even dare cut one cent from the precious war budget:

Just hours after floating the idea of cutting $20 billion from President Bush's $142 billion request for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan next year, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., was overruled by fellow Democrats on Thursday.

"It's nothing that any of us are considering," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters.

Conrad's trial balloon to cut war funding would have affected the budget year beginning Oct. 1 and was separate from the ongoing debate over Bush's $100 billion request for immediate supplemental funding for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Even the Pentagon acknowledges that its $142 billion 2008 war funding request is simply a best guess of Iraq and Afghanistan costs, and Conrad's proposal didn't earn rebukes from Budget Committee Republicans.

But the speed with which it was rejected by his colleagues seemed to reflect Democrats' sensitivity to any accusations of giving shortshrift treatment to funding for troops in battle.

They still listen to their consultants instead of the American people. We have no political will in Washington from Democrats to get hit with the dreaded "you don't support the troops" label. Didn't we WIN AN ELECTION last year despite having that label? Aren't the Republicans not supporting the troops in so very many ways, whether by sending them out without enough guns or training and without a well-defined enemy, or by putting them in prison-like conditions in outpatient facilities at Walter Reed?

I disagree with Matt Stoller, I think the public and the netroots are on the same side now on Iraq. It's just very depressing that the Democratic Congress can't get this inferiority complex out of their heads. They either line up with the American people on this issue, and fight (even if they LOSE, at least they'd be seen as trying), or, as Russ Feingold says they start to risk owning the war.

I would prefer a clean effort to try to eliminate the funding for the war, to actually have a date like we did with Somalia, where the war will end. But the fact is that when I propose a deadline a year and a half ago, people said well, there’s no support for that, even the Democrats are against it. Well, now it’s in all the drafts.

So, the fact is that people come to the realization that if we’re going to end this war, we’re to have use our real power. The power of the purse. And I can tell from you private conversations, the realization is growing that the only way to stop this thing is to use our power. You know what? If the Democrats don’t use their power, when we’re in the majority in both houses, we’re going to start owning this war. It is George Bush’s war, but if we don’t get serious we’re going to start owning this war.

Even the Republicans and the commanders on the ground understand that there's a very limited, swiftly closing window before they face a "Vietnam-style collapse" in public support. There's no need to wait six months, as the House plan does. We've been waiting four years, and the Iraqi government has already missed key benchmarks in deploying their forces. They have no interest in stability, and no control over the vengeful forces in their midst.

There was a Democrat in the White House during Vietnam, and the antiwar movement basically forced him into ignominy. Democrats control the Congress now. The exact same thing has the potential to happen.

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