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

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

No Timeline, No Funding.

Harry Reid is saying all the right things. The question is whether the caucus will sustain it.

After weeks of suggesting Democrats would temper their approach to Iraq legislation in a bid to attract more Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared abruptly Tuesday that he had no plans to do so.

The Democratic leader said he will call for a vote this month on several anti-war proposals, including one by Sen. Carl Levin that would insist President Bush end U.S. combat next summer. The proposals would be mandatory and not leave Bush wiggle room, said Reid, D-Nev.

"There (are) no goals. It's all definite timelines," he told reporters of the planned legislation [...]

When asked why Democrats won't soften the deadline, the majority leader said he doesn't have confidence Republicans are willing to challenge Bush on the war.

"I think they've decided definitely they want this to be the Senate Republicans' war, not just Bush's. They're jealous," he said with a smile.

As long as he only allows bills to come to the floor with a timeline, there will be no blank check for Iraq. This is a big victory, and I think Sen. Dodd and Sen. Obama had a lot to do with it by throwing their hats into the ring with Edwards and Richardson. Ken Salazar having soldiers telling him to cut off war funding couldn't have hurt, either.

There's a bit of a blogospheric debate about the Congressional politics of Iraq, with some arguing that the Democrats have no reason to end the occupation because then they'd lose the political upside of having Iraq as an issue in the 2008 elections. My take is that you can only go to the voters with that ONCE. After winning in 2006 with a "we'll end the war" messge, it's hard for me to believe that the electorate would fall for that AGAIN in 2008. Politically, the BEST THING the Democrats can do is to hold firm on not accepting any funding without a timeline. It shows toughness and it puts them squarely on the side of the public.

Now this should not be confused with the idea that we'll be in Iraq forever because of the principle of constant interventionism, which is more of a problem with our foreign policy elites. But politically, Reid and the Democrats have little choice. Hopefully they'll keep it strong.

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