Escalation As The New Social Security

Democrats continued to plug away at their first 100 hours agenda today, voting to implement the remaining recommendations of the 9/11 commission. Ethics reforms has already been addressed, and over the next couple of days a few more issues will be tackled as well. As important as these first few pieces of legislation may or may not be, our entire caucus must know that the main task in January will be opposing--and stopping--Bush's soon to be proposed escalation in Iraq.

Like in early 2005 when he tried to privatize Social Security, Bush will make his first legislative initiative an extremely unpopular one: escalating the war in Iraq. It will be coupled with a "sales pitch" where he tries to drum up popular support for the escalation, but don't expect that to get anywhere. Support for escalation hovers between 10% and 36%, depending on which poll you look at and how the question is asked. Anyway you look at it, support for escalation is extremely low, except among Republican Senators:Nearly 40 Republican senators, meanwhile, have already voiced their support for a surge. Republicans are going down a path that will invariably make them even less popular than they are right now. While that is good for Democrats, that should not distract from the job at hand. We can lose in this fight too--and come off as weak and ineffective--even if we oppose escalation in every public statement we make.

In the Social Security fight, Democrats ended up looking like heroes not just because they weren't those evil Republicans who tried to destroy Social Security, but rather because Democrats were those stalwart fighters who prevented Republicans from destroying Social Security. This is the same test Democrats face now. Our pre-election polling showed that few people actually believed Democrats could end the war in Iraq. Instead, they were expected to stop the direction Bush had been taking the war, and prevent him from making it any worse. Now, it is time for Democrats to deliver. We were swept into office not just because we voiced support for withdrawal or opposition to Bush's policies, but with the expectation that we could stop Bush's policy. That does not mean we are expected to implement our own policy--we just have to stop Bush.

Simply put, stopping escalation is why Democrats were elected to Congress. If we fail to stop it, the same voters who brought us into office will begin to lose faith in us. This fight is just as important as the Social Security fight was two years ago, and our success in that fight was the start of the Republican downfall over the past two years. The same thing can happen this time, but we have to draw a hard line in the sand on escalation in order to make that happen. This eans we have to identify and push all wavering members of Congress into the anti-escalation camp. This means that we must publicly and privately threaten any Democrat who votes in favor of privatizing Social Security with all of the following: stripping of important committee assignments, a complete funding cut-off, and a well-funded primary challenge. It means that if Bush ignores legislation Congress passes preventing escalation and follows through with it anyway, as Tony Snow today threatened, then we have to be willing to take any and all punitive measures against Bush, including keeping impeachment on the table.

Stopping escalation was precisely the job the American people entrusted us with on November 7th, and as such we must do everything in our power to make sure we complete that job. It is unfortunate that our first major test will also probably be the largest one we face over the next two years, but you have to play the hand that is dealt to you.

Tags: 2006 elections, Democrats, Iraq (all tags)



Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

I agree with you, but stopping escalation wasn't the job the American people entrusted us with on November 7th.

The job was getting out.

What's amazing here is that once again, I can't put my finger on exactly where, when or how it happened, but somehow, although the job for which Democrats were clearly elected was finding a way out of Iraq, we're instead debating the question of how many more troops should go.

Thankfully, there's a strong consensus for zero. But the fact that there's even a debate is pretty amazing.

by Kagro X 2007-01-09 12:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

I would love for us to bring all of the troops home immediately.  I have heard it said that Democrats were elected to force a change of course in Iraq.  I have heard it said that Democrats were elected to end the war.  I wonder, does anyone has exit polling data that settles this one way or the other?

I don't know that anyone but the commander in cheif is allowed to declare that the war is over.  Congress can cut off funds, but we all know that ain't gonna happen.  I wouldn't want that anyway.  We have soldiers over there and they need to be provided for until they get back (& unfortunately for some time after in the case of all too many).   I would, however, smile for weeks on end if I could see Chimpy forced to bring them home while he's still in office.  To put an end to our involvement in such a horror and get to see that twit's ego so crushed all at the same time would be possibly the most enjoyable political momment of my life.   So far that honor goes to watching the news on the night of 12/7/06.

by lockewasright 2007-01-09 01:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

Well, I would imagine that the surge (or conversely, preventing the surge) was polling at about zero.

Were they even talking about it at election time? Seems to me it was a post-election phenomenon.

by Kagro X 2007-01-09 04:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

My question was whether democrats were elected to end the war or to cause a change of policy/strategy in that war.  I wasn't asking for exit polling on a surge/escalation.

Personally, I'm in the bring them home now camp, but I wanted to know if the exit polls just said Iraq was the issue or if they got as specific as do it better vs. put an end to it.

by lockewasright 2007-01-09 04:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

I meant 11/7/06 ....oops.

by lockewasright 2007-01-09 01:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

Bush Jr's surge is a cynical attempt to do two things.

1. Shift the blame for failure to the Democratic Congress so in 2008 the campaign issue will be who "lost" Iraq...the Republican answer will be the Democrats who "cut and ran" just as we were "turning the corner".

2. Failing that, shift cleaning up the mess in Iraq to the post-surge president in 2008.

As one of the pollsters noted today, while the polls show 60% disapprove of the war and Bush Jr, that same 60% are going to angry if the war is "lost".

Democrats have to be very careful.

In order to deny the surge, they have to bring every general before Congress and let them state how the surge is save the US from defeat in Iraq.

If enough general speak up and if Democrats are smart enough, they can make sure that 60% of Americans are against the surge and for US withdrawal to begin.

by BrionLutz 2007-01-09 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

I agree.  I am baffled by McCain.  I don't see how he could think that his stance can help him in '08.  I live just outside of Phoenix.  There's no doubt that he can carry this state, but even the people that I talk to at work think he's nuts for endorsing an escalation.

I mean, 11% agree with him on the #1 issue in politics today!

by lockewasright 2007-01-09 01:43PM | 0 recs
Full Transcript & Additional notes o?diaryId=5898
"The full text of Senator Kennedy's speech (as prepared for delivery), along with some remarkable fact sheets and collections of quotes from military people and others.  It's quite a read." Links to a .pdf of the actual bill Sen. Kennedy will file.
by anku 2007-01-09 01:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

 The Democrats have the political capital here.

 We need to re-orient the discussion away from escalation, and back into getting out of Iraq. We've got the perfect cover: the Iraq Study Group report.

 So far, Pelosi seems to be standing firm. Kennedy, of course. But there's been a bit of waffling in the ranks (Klobuchar, Obama, Biden), and this doesn't bode well.

 We need to send Bush a tough bill like Kennedy's. Make him veto it -- make him OWN the escalation. We probably can't prevent Bush from doing what he wants to do, but we can do everything to keep our hands clean of the debacle that will follow.

by Master Jack 2007-01-09 02:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

What it comes down to is this as much as we might not like it Bush is still Commander-in-Chief. The Democrats in congress can posture on this issue for a while and threaten to withhold funding, but it isn't really an option, as someone pointed out earlier, because we have troops there and they need funding.

Somone else said that we have to be very careful about this fight, and in my mind it means we have do two things very well.

1.) We have to state, very clearly, why we are against escalation in any form. This will be more difficult than you might think. The truth is that it is a bad war and we all know it is a bad war. But we also know that even if going to war had been correct Bush did it very poorly. He didn't send enough troops to do the job and he didn't outfit those troops properly. My point is this: it is going to be very hard to frame this argument properly when the administrations response will be "by fighting me on this you are setting our military up for failure."

2.) We have to do more than oppose Administration policies now. We also have to offer viable alternatives. We all want our troops to come home, and we all think this war was a mistake (at the very least.) But because we are in the majority now we can not just say "we should bring the troops home." We must also present a plan for disengagement in Iraq and a plan that will allow that decimated land to hold its own in a very unstable region.

In my mind, if we are not successful on BOTH of these points we are going to lose this fight not only in regards to policy but also in regards to public perception. This was, sadly, a brilliant political move by the Bush administration even though it is an awful policy decision. It is another example of the other side being good at the fight but terrbily at actually governing.

by JDF 2007-01-09 02:13PM | 0 recs
Framing's not that hard

 All the Dems have to do is cite the (bipartisan) Iraq Study Group recommendations, and state that (a) they're trying to implement them, while (b) Bush is trying to ignore them in pursuit of exacerbating his failed policy.

 The ISG report wasn't all we wanted it to be, but it's infinitely more sane than what Bush wants to do. And it's got the support of the American public.

 But the key is to make sure that Bush and the Republicans OWN the escalation. The best way to bring about that outcome is to (a) speak out strongly against escalation, (b) deliver an anti-escalation bill (that maintains funding for troops already in place), and (c) FORCE Bush to veto it and escalate anyway, thereby making him the sole owner and proprietor of any ensuing disasters.

 We probably won't stop the escalation. But we don't need to be even infinitesimally responsible for it, either. Because if the Dems are perceived as not having done enough to change course in Iraq, they're going to get destroyed in 2008.

 Not all of the Dems' leadership seems to understand that (though they ARE smarter than they were in 2002).

by Master Jack 2007-01-09 02:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Framing's not that hard

Simply making Bush own his mistakes is not going to be enough, we also have to continually offer up viable alternatives and make him either accept them as sound policy or ignore them at his own peril.

We have to be more than anti-escalation, we also have to be for a sensibile conclusion to this disaster.

by JDF 2007-01-09 02:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Framing's not that hard

  Making Bush own Iraq might not be sufficient, but it IS necessary. And it's a critical first step towards the Dems developing their own plan.

 If the Dems enable Bush's escalation, whatever "plan" they come up with is going to be irrelevant.

 First, hang this escalation 100% on Bush. THEN offer the alternative.

by Master Jack 2007-01-09 02:41PM | 0 recs
Reid prefers a non-binding resolution, apparently

An AP story with lede

A first wave of additional U.S. troops will go into Iraq before the end of the month under President Bush's new war plan, a senior defense official said Tuesday. Congressional Democrats kept up their criticism of plans to add soldiers in the unpopular conflict.

tells us that
Senate Democrats were planning to bring to the floor next week a nonbinding measure that would urge the president not to send more troops. The resolution, which Democrats said they hoped would win support from some Republicans, would not force the president's hand on Iraq or try to cut money for troops, they said.

Sen. Harry Reid said he did not believe Democrats would need to do more to twist the president's arm.

"I really believe that if we can come up with a bipartisan approach to this escalation it will do more to change the direction in Iraq than anything else we can do," Reid, D-Nev., told reporters.

I suspect that anything else we can do, decoded, means Kennedy's [expletive deleted] bill.

On this basis, any resemblance to the Dems on SS in 05 is purely coincidental!

by skeptic06 2007-01-09 02:14PM | 0 recs
And while I think of it...

Do we think that the Dem leadership actually wargamed the possibility that Bush would escalate in Iraq to screw up their much-trumpeted 100 Hours?

Or - let's face - just because the fubar got even more fucked up. (Which, unfortunately, is all too possible.)

I get the sense that they have no playbook for dealing with the escalation. I hope that's just rope-a-dope...

by skeptic06 2007-01-09 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

"it is unfortunate that our first major test will also probably be the largest one we face over the next two years.."

This is not correct at all. The skirmish over escalation is merely the initial ignition that in short order will be a true constitutional crises.

It is also not true that the American people elected democrats just to "stop" bush; they elected democrats to dethrone him, to strip him of his ability to continue to eviscerate American values and the "American Way". They elected democrats to restore America.

by gak 2007-01-09 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

"The President has the ability to excersize his own authority if the think Congress has voted the wrong way"- Tony Snow

A Constitutional crisis like this perhaps?

This is going to be an interesting fight that will set the tone for the next two years. The Democrats in congress need to make it very clear that they do not support Bush's poor policy decisions and they need to be very vocal about it. But even more importantly they need to continue to push our agenda in an intelligent and aggressive manner.

by JDF 2007-01-09 02:33PM | 0 recs
Fall 2008

 A year and a half from now, do the Democrats want to hear, over and over, from voters across the nation: "How come you didn't do anything about Iraq?"

 The "we were a powerless minority" excuse died on November 7, 2006. If the Dems don't stand firm here, the 2008 elections are going to be a bloodbath.

 Just like 2002. And with far less excuse.

by Master Jack 2007-01-09 02:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

"A year and a half from now, do the Democrats want to hear, over and over, from voters across the nation: "How come you didn't do anything about Iraq?""

If Democrats force Bush Jr out of Iraq then the cry in 2008 is much more likely to be "Democrats lost Iraq and betrayed America".

Democrats realize it. Republicans realize it.  So there's a dance going on...Democrats will muster has much as they can via hearings to show that Bush Jr's plan won't work (everyone including Bush Jr already knows it won't work) and then let him do it, claiming they couldn't stop him and they told him so. Only caveat to that is if a core of at least ten Republican Senators lead by Hagel and Warner come out very strongly and very publicly against the escalation.

Come 2008 as Iraq is still a disaster, Democrats will use that (Ike in 1954, Nixon in 1968) in the election.

The horrific part of this is that another 10,000 US soldiers will be killed or wounded over the next two years, US military will be crippled, US will spend another $200B, terrorists in Middle East will take over Afghanistan, militant Islamic regimes will take over Iraq, Pakistan and Egypt.

by BrionLutz 2007-01-09 03:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

If Democrats force Bush Jr out of Iraq then the cry in 2008 is much more likely to be "Democrats lost Iraq and betrayed America".

now that the democrats control congress, that will be the cry regardless of what they do. in fact that cry has already been in the wind for years.

given that bush and his republican lackeys have exclusively owned iraq for six years i find it hard to see how that cry can become anything more than an impotent whine.

those who wish to see the occupation ended need to put this worry behind them once and for all. democrats have earned the capital to take bush head on.

by truth hurts 2007-01-09 04:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

Yeah, and watching the decider not get his way on what he views as the thing that will define his legacy would be soooooooo FUN!

by lockewasright 2007-01-09 05:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

"exclusively owned iraq for six years"

that should read:

"exclusively owned iraq for years"

by truth hurts 2007-01-09 06:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Escalation As The New Social Security

The whole reason for the "surge" is not to win the war in Iraq, that is lost. The point is to prolong the war so that it becomes either the Democratic Congress's war (and defeat) or the next president's war (and defeat).

"Now that the democrats control congress, that will be the cry regardless of what they do."'s is Bush Jr's war, it is the Republicans war. Public clearly blames them for it and that was reflected in the 2006 election and all the polls.'

Democrats big risk is assuming the Iraq burden and they would do this by forcing their "solution" on  Bush Jr. Then it becomes the Democrat war.

As the pollsters have noted, while voters don't like the war, they also don't like the alternatives of defeat and retreat.

Democrats need to be very careful it doesn't become their war and their defeat.

If they can use Congressional hearings to create a public acknowledgment that Bush Jr has lead US to defeat in Iraq, if they can get substantial Republican support, if they can use Iraq Study Group as a bi-partisan shield, they can force Bush  Jr's hand.

When polls show 60% of Americans think the Iraq war has been lost and 60% of Americans support unilateral withdrawal no matter what the consequences, then Democrats can act.

by BrionLutz 2007-01-09 08:52PM | 0 recs


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