Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Seduction of Political Inertia

Democratic Party strategists must be salivating. An ABC News-Washington Post survey reports 8 out of 10 Americans favor changing the U.S. mission in Iraq from direct combat to training Iraqi troops and significant majorities prefer withdrawing nearly all troops by 2008. The ABC/WAPO Survey also indicates increased support for diplomatic initiatives with Iran and Syria.

Since the Bush Administration has opted to essentially reject the Iraq Study Group’s bipartisan recommendations, Democrats have received an early Christmas present: they can embrace the report to appear responsible and allow Iraq to continue dragging down the Republican Party heading into 2008.

All very nice except for one minor detail: blood is being shed every day. Too many of our soldiers are wounded or dying in this lost and immoral cause. Consequently, it is immoral for the Democratic Party to sit on its hands while Iraq burns.

I consider myself a progressive pragmatist. There are times when it makes sense to let the other party simply stew in its failures. On issues ranging from healthcare to entitlements it probably makes sense for Democrats to use their new majority as a platform to educate voters, push for complete victory in 2008 and implement a genuine progressive program with a Democratic White House and congress.

However, war requires a different standard of leadership. It would be irresponsible for Democrats to simply say,

“Hey we support the Baker-Hamilton report. It’s Bush that doesn’t. And he’s the commander and chief so what can we do? Instead we’ll just sit back while Iraq deteriorates more, public support goes even lower and beat up on John McCain.”
Not good enough. Democrats are obliged to use their power to reverse Bush’s criminal policies. As I have previously written, that means contemplating one of three options: 1) impeach and remove President Bush and Dick Cheney; 2) invoke the War Powers Act; 3) cut off funding for the Iraq war. Regular readers of my blog may find me to be a broken record but this message must be reiterated. Now is not the time for Democrats to be guided by their strategists. Instead we need principled leadership that is ready, willing and able to fulfill their moral and Constitutional responsibilities.

I am not a wealthy contributor or a person of influence. I am merely a concerned citizen who contributed some money to candidates and phone banked on behalf of the Democratic Party this election cycle. So perhaps the Democratic Party believes my convictions can be overlooked. Nevertheless, I will be monitoring what my party does and doesn’t do very closely.
Thanks to Maryscott O'Connor for frontpaging my cross posting of the above topic on My Left Wing.


Anonymous said...


(I signed in as Anonymous because blogger forgot my password -- I kid you not.)

Anyway, I'll take this last post as a stinging rebuke.

If I were to title mine, I would call it "The Seduction of Political Righteousness." Sometimes the lure of righteousness blinds us to what is right.

Of all your proposals, Impeachment is the one I find the least convincing. All you are demanding of the Democrats is that they skewer themselves on the sword of principle--righteously but ineffectually. What Republicans are going to go along with them? Who? Which ones? At the end of the day, the remaining Republicans are still the same ones that would have rubber stamped Bush's farts.

I think you are severely misreading the political environment if you think that the Democrats have anything to gain, let alone obtain, by impeaching Bush. That Bush has flagrantly broken the law should be obvious to anyone, but the time to act has passed. I recommend one of your own quotes:

Principle without Power is futile.

The Democrats don't have the power to impeach the man.

You are abrogating wisdom in the name of principle and that is not going to save lives. Wisdom recognizes what can and cannot be done.

The same can be said for refusing to fund the troops. What Congressman is going to play Russian roulette with this kind of politics? This is not the same climate as the seventies. Do you really think the Democrats would be wise to go down as the Party that refused to support their troops? Do you *really* think the remaining Republicans would go along with them? You will have proven your righteousness and crippled any other options. Futile.

Of all your proposals, invoking the War Powers Act of 1973 is the course to take. I concede this to you. Let the White House challenge it. Let the Supreme Court take it up. Let's have the battle. It will create the arena in which to clearly argue the "deriliction of duty" that characterizes the Bush administration.

It may not bring the troops home, but it has the best chance of any of your options.

thepoetryman said...

Talk to Syria and Iran? Are you kidding me? Communication is highly overrated! Ask any Iraqi, any living Iraqi that is, if they would have preferred that the US and it's coalition of the "willing" conversed with leaders instead of blowing them to dust and killing their children. I think you'll be surprised that they would rather have communicated, spoke diplomatically, instead of have been blown to bits!

Wait... What was I trying to say here? Oh. Yes. You are smart to monitor both Repubs and Demos and not hesitate to communciate your ideas. I am with you.


Love said...

Why do the Democrats need a policy when their non policy won?

Anonymous said...

From VT Poet -


If Tim Johnson stays on that stretcher, Rob, you can flush your
Impeachment, War Powers Act, and Funding Withdrawal right down the
toilet. Tell it to the hand. Light a match and burn it up. Drown the
litle kittens, they ain't goin' nowhere.

Funny how these things happen, isn't it? Let's see... the Democrats
held the Senate for, wait, hmmm.... my clock doesn't do negatives...

So... what's the plan now? Do we impeach Governer Mike Rounds?

In Vermont & PO'd.