The Issue for 2008: Iraq
by Matt Stoller, Wed Jan 24, 2007 at 06:13:49 AM EST
Historian Rick Perlstein has an important piece in Salon comparing the politics of withdrawal from Vietnam to the politics of withdrawal from Iraq.
The questions are not just: Can Congress stop the surge? Can Congress stop a war-mongering president in his tracks? The better question is what are the things Congress can accomplish just by trying to stop the escalation, boldly, and without apology?
The answer to that is: an enormous amount -- and that the only thing that can guarantee Democratic political weakness in 2008 is if they abandon a strong withdrawal (or, if you prefer, "redeployment") position....
In 2008, the Republicans are going to have to run either amidst an electorate convinced that Republicans will be staying the course or amidst an electorate they've managed to bamboozle into believing "peace is at hand." If they manage the latter, they'll have a good chance of winning the election. But the only way they can do that is if Democrats can't claim credit for ending it first. I hope to be able to watch the Democrats truly try to end the war; it will be glorious. Because even if they start losing votes in Congress, the president and the party that enables him can only become politically weaker by the day.
It's worth reading Rick's piece. 2008 should be an easy win for a Democratic President, because the GOP has the legacy of Bush and Iraq to face down. If we face this legacy head-on, they are cooked. It's pretty clear though that Iraq is the one issue that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is seeking to avoid at all costs, which is why she's having her fundraisers put the hard sell on donors. She wants to suck up all the campaign money before Democratic base voters have a chance to consider the implications of her support for the war in Iraq.