November 20, 2005
-- by Gary Boatwright
That's not what the headline says for Brownstein's column this morning, but the facts in his column tell a different tale. The sub-heading is accurate: Party lawmakers who have rallied around a general push to pull troops from Iraq still disagree on what remedies to offer, if any.
The Democratic Party is universally opposed to Bush's war. The only question is over what the correct strategy and tactics should be. Let's take a look at the facts in Brownstein's column.
The most revealing fact Brownstein offers is the result of a recent poll:
As public opinion has soured on the war, support for withdrawing troops has grown, according to recent surveys. Nineteen percent of respondents to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll released last week supported an immediate withdrawal, and 33% said that all American troops should be pulled out within a year — meaning that a majority wants all troops home by the end of 2006.
Among independents, 56% want all troops home within a year, among Democrats 67%, the poll found.
If 67% of all Democrats want the troops pulled out within a year, it is a very safe assumption that over 75% want them home within two years. We can quibble over how long the odd 20 to 25% of remaining Democrats want to keep our soldiers in Iraq, but there are very few issues that will get that level of support in the Democratic Party.
Here's the problem the Democratic Party has:
A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that based on the conversations that produced Senate Democrats' proposal, Reid believed hardly any Senate Democrats would sign on to Murtha's approach today.
Yet supporters and opponents of the war agree that the cry of opposition from Murtha — a leading military hawk during his three decades in Congress — is likely to mark a milestone in the war debate.
"Clearly it was a bombshell and it does shift the debate quite dramatically," said Ivo H. Daalder, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution who was a National Security Council aide under President Clinton.
Many Democratic political strategists and foreign policy analysts have long believed the party can benefit more from criticizing Bush's handling of the war than from specifying an alternative.
Large numbers of Senate Democrats have a position on Bush's war that is out of touch with at least 75% of the Democratic Party. The position of 75% of the Democratic Party is by definition the mainstream position of the Democratic Party.
If you want another good laugh, read Jonathan Chait's editorial, How To Make An Honest Case For Iraq:
It's been a bleak few months for those in the Bush administration. It's become clear that they're not good at fighting counterinsurgencies in Iraq. They're not good at handling natural disasters. They're not good at managing the budget. They're not even good at avoiding indictments.
What are they good at? Oh, yes: running against John Kerry.
Of course, this isn't a very difficult task, but you have to go with your strengths. And so President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney last week took after Kerry in a series of speeches on Iraq. As David Kusnet, speechwriter for President Clinton, has pointed out, it is rare and probably unprecedented for a president to attack his vanquished foe. Clinton awarded a medal to Bob Dole after beating him in 1996.
The point here isn't to defend poor, put-upon Kerry. In fact, Kerry, who persists in his bizarre delusion that he has a chance to win the 2008 nomination, is thrilled to have his profile raised. Kerry and Bush have a shared interest in making you believe that if you don't like George W. Bush, you must like John Kerry.
The reason Bush wants to do this, of course, is that he's an unpopular president. He just had the good fortune of running for reelection against a pitiful and hard-to-like foe. He seems to have given up on making the public approve of him and has fallen back on reminding them that they really hate Kerry.
Did Bush really make another pitch for a flag burning amendment? Right. Let's amend the United States Constitution to fix a problem that doesn't exist. Now that's a sign of desperation.As Chait points out, there hasn't been a single flag burning since Bush was elected.
Here's Chait's brilliant attempt at making an honest case for Bush's war:
hat case is that Iraq is in danger of becoming a failed state and terrorist haven, like Afghanistan. Yes, our invasion caused it to be so, but here we are. If terrorists gain access to Iraq's state power and oil wealth, we'll face dire consequences down the road. The liberals and moderates who supported the war in Afghanistan would support a campaign in Iraq that's based on similar grounds.
Uh, Johnny? You might want to stick to speaking for yourself, instead of attempting to speak for those of us who have half a brain. That approach will not get the support of anyone who is not already a neo-con or a stay the course bonehead liberal warmonger.
The facts may be shrill, but they are still facts. Sixty-seven percent of the Democratic Party supports Jack Murtha and withdrawal from Iraq in one year. Nothing that happens or anyone says is likely to change that stubborn fact.
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