Grace Time is Over
by Matt Stoller, Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 05:05:24 AM EST
It's pretty obvious at this point that the Democratic leadership isn't serious about ending the war in Iraq. They won't defund the war, and keep repeating the meme that cutting off funding for the war means cutting off funding for the troops.
It's time for the blogs to stop giving them a pass. As Glenn Greenwald wrote:
Over the past month or so, I attributed the muted or even non-existent criticism of Democrats to the very sensible proposition that the new Democratic leadership ought to be given some time, a little breathing room, to figure out what they will do and, more challengingly, how they will accomplish it. It is a complex task to put together a legislative strategy that will attract a coalition of legislators -- Democrats and some anti-war Republicans -- sufficient to command a majority. That is not going to happen overnight, and it would be unreasonable to start demanding that Nancy Pelosi end the war in the first week of her Speakership.
But that explanation really doesn't take us very far any more, because it is clear that Congressional Democrats are not working at all towards the goal of forcing an end to the war. They have expressly repudiated any de-funding intentions, and -- as Chu and Yoo correctly observe -- "two other Democratic Senate proposals that have actual teeth -- one by Russell Feingold to cut off money for the war, another by Barack Obama to mandate troop reductions -- were ignored by the leadership." Democrats are not going to be any closer to de-funding the war or otherwise compelling its conclusion in March or May or July as they are now, and they themselves have made that clear. For that reason, the "let's-give-them-time" justification lacks coherence.
A more formidable explanation for the lack of criticism of the Democratic leadership is pure pragmatic reality -- a Democratic leadership which can barely scrape up enough votes to pass a weak, non-binding resolution opposing escalation, let alone a non-binding resolution calling for an end to the war, would simply never be able to attract anywhere near enough votes to sustain a de-funding bill or a repeal of the war authorization. That premise is (most likely, though not definitely) accurate, but since when have pragmatic considerations of that sort stifled arguments from war opponents, liberal activists, and bloggers for principled action?
Is it time to work to run primary campaigns against Democrats who won't argue for ending the war? There are immense incentives in DC that play into the status quo. Democrats think that Bush is going to be blamed for Iraq, and he will be. But Democrats have power, and that means that Democrats have some responsibility. It's obvious that no Democrats in DC, with a few exceptions, feel any pull towards withdrawal. So they are screwing over us, who voted them into office to end the war, and we're enabling them with cheerleading.
We must put incentives in place to stop this madness. And believe me, it's madness. I live here. This is full of crazy people in suits who think that spending $1 trillion on defense a year is a good thing. And those are the progressives!
UPDATE: Here's a diary at Dkos that elucidates this quite nicely. Steny Hoyer says that Congress won't cut off funding and will never support public financing of elections.