Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?

This Washington Post/ABC News poll has some interesting information.

Would you support or oppose Congress trying to block Bush's plan by creating new rules on troop training and rest time that would limit the number of troops available for duty in Iraq?

Support: 58 percent
Oppose: 39 percent
Unknown: 4 percent

If the AP story Sirota cites below is correct, then the Democratic leadership is way behind the public on Iraq.  And what about us?  These are the leadership poll results from late November.

Approval Ratings

I don't know if these have changed much, and I hope they have dropped somewhat.  Dean is hurting us in Nevada, Pelosi is not able to manage the mandate on Iraq, and Reid is a disaster in the Senate.  Our leaders do not respect our politics, but more importantly, they do not seem to respect the public will.  And that means that come 2008, it's going to be Hillary Clinton, otherwise known as John Kerry redux, versus Rudy Reagan Giuliani.

I would hope that we change our behavior and hold our party accountable soon.  The mechanism for doing so is criticism, and perhaps primary challenges against some prominent Democrats who are among the worst of our obstacles.  I'm not going to pretend like I will be able to rustle up primary challenges through the blogs - that's not what happens.  These things occur locally and organically.  But I will support any credible primary challenger who goes up against a party centrist that has hurt our framing on Iraq, or is unwilling to stick their neck out for key progressive policies.  And yes, that means progressive caucus members should no longer be able to coast on their voting records while putting forward eighty five different plans for Iraq without talking to each other.  

You may not want to believe it, but the DLC is still in charge of the party in the form of the New Democrat and Blue Dog caucuses, as well as a whole crew of consultants warning the party off of dealing with Iraq.  Business lobbyist centrists rule the roost, with progressives pushed to the side everywhere from the think tank world to Congress to the Presidentials (no, there is no progressive in the race, and though several have instincts that way no one has developed yet into a genuine liberal).

This is unusual, and possibly a first in the history of the netroots - we have leaders to which we are loyal that are nonetheless not representing us.  In 2002, we led the public on Iraq, believing it was a bad war before most others did, and we called out Democrats.  In 2005, we led on Social Security, making the right call before all the Democrats did, calling out bad Democrats.  Now, however, we are willing to cut slack for our leaders, even though they are very wrong and the polls show they are wrong.  Never before have we been unwilling to criticize our leaders for making the wrong decisions.  Never before have we had a leader we believed in make an unprincipled choice, and held them accountable.  If we don't acknowledge this and begin to hold our leaders accountable, we will be for the first time behind the public that we have heretofore led.  And if we are not careful, we will become just another calculating interest group to be placated with occasional red meat rhetoric, beholden to the soulless rhythms of the DC media machine as we delude ourselves into believing we are principled and somehow different from all the outsiders-turned-insiders who have come before us.

Tags: Harry Reid, Iraq, Jack Murtha, Nancy Pelosi (all tags)

Comments

35 Comments

That is, if the AP article is correct
Which there is no evidence that it is.
by Chris Bowers 2007-02-26 06:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?

Pelosi, at least, I don't blame.  I genuinely think she is doing whatever she thinks she can to bring the war to an end.  There are institutional constraints.

Let's not get impatient, either.  Dems have held the Congress for about a month and a half.  IT shouldn't be that surprising that our troops are still there.  I'm willing to give them a little more time to find their footing.

by lorax 2007-02-26 06:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?

No, no, and no.

Democrats took over Congress with a mandate to end the war, and Bush escalated the war.  And Democrats are letting him escalate the war.

by Matt Stoller 2007-02-26 06:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?

Maybe that is the narrative that we want to construct, but it doesn't mean that Nancy Pelosi wants to end the war and that she isn't trying to do so.  The fact that Murtha botched the rollout of his plan and didn't run it by any of the House Democratic leaders does NOT mean that Pelosi is suddenly unwilling to end the war.

by lorax 2007-02-26 07:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?

eh, "doesn't mean that Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to end the war"

damnit

by lorax 2007-02-26 07:07PM | 0 recs
Levin pissed me off

on Sunday's Press the Meat. If I heard him correctly, and I'm pretty sure I did, he said that cutting off funding for the war--the Murtha and Feingold approach--was immoral. (Feingold, that immoral bastard.) Levin advanced the GOP line that trying to stop the war by defunding it would hurt the soldiers.

Congress, especially the Senate, is incapable of leading; they're always following public opinion by several months. It would be hard--if not impossible--at this point for Congress to go too far in trying to stop the war. Politically, I mean.

The cowardly bastards should get out of the way and let Feingold and Murtha lead. I know, I know, I'm dreaming.

In any case, isn't something seriously screwed up with Carl Levin is calling Feingold's approach immoral?

by david mizner 2007-02-26 06:38PM | 0 recs
But This Isn't A First

C'mon!  The Senate failed us on numerous occassions in 2005-2006, and there was generally only a transitory display of anger.  And those who lead the way were regarded as somewhat--how shall we say?--unsophisticated?

By all means, we should take this very seriously.  Not because it's a first.  But because it's partially a result of our not having been vigilant enough in the past.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-02-26 06:57PM | 0 recs
Re: But This Isn't A First

I, for one, am amazed at the willingness of people to forgive Congressional democrats for caving on Alito.  He probably would have been confirmed eventually, but they could have done a much better job opposing him, and have made the Republicans pay a lot more in the press for getting him through.

by Valatan 2007-02-26 07:20PM | 0 recs
Re: But This Isn't A First

the 2005-2006 senate was run by Bill Frist.

by Josh Koenig 2007-02-27 08:20AM | 0 recs
The Dems Could Fillibuster

and take other actions to slow things down, and make life difficult for the Reps.

Most of the time they barely raised a peep.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-02-27 04:32PM | 0 recs
I disapproved.

   But I only disapproved of Reid.  I don't think he has the stomach for this.  I'd like to believe that Durbin does, but he has not been successful either.  I'm willing to give the Democrats in the Senate a little more time, but they do not evoke a lot of confidence in me.  I am disappointed by the new Senate Democrats - they should be taking more initiative.

by cilerder86 2007-02-26 06:58PM | 0 recs
Re: I disapproved.

it's hard for freshmen Senators to effect much change ... I am disappointed in the old guard .. I wonder why they have not been more forceful

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2007-02-26 09:45PM | 0 recs
Is it?

    There are only 100 senators.  9 of our senators are new.  Without them we have no power whatsoever.  They need to be more vocal - they know why they were elected!

by cilerder86 2007-02-27 09:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?

why is matt stoller still suffered to post on this blog?

matt stoller is an idiot if there ever was one? where did he get his political science degree? i want to see his resume.

iraq isn't the only issue this country has to deal with. i'm so sick of coming onto mydd to read matt stoller's litmus tests on democratic politicians, and his utter ignorance of presidential war power (presidents have, throughout history, relatively great freedom in prosecuting war). pelosi and reid are working with small majorities in a bicameral congress. they do not have the presidential pulpit from which to advance the democratic agenda.

matt, please take a remedial history course and a political science course before you open your ignorant, stupid mouth.

by eddersen 2007-02-26 07:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?

Any content to your complaint?  What is the big progress made by Congressional Dems this term that justifies not moving on Iraq?  

by Valatan 2007-02-26 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?

Dean is hurting us in Nevada, Pelosi is not able to manage the mandate on Iraq, and Reid is a disaster in the Senate.

I'm 61 years old and have permanently lost all faith in the Democratic Party. What's happened since November proves the folly of voting. Not even as a majority party can the so-called opposition reflect the will of the American people.

Not one more cent.
Not one more vote.

I don't give a frigging damn who gets the nomination for President, either. This war belongs to the Democrats now, and may they all burn in hell.

by John from Taos 2007-02-26 07:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?

OK. I'm in charge now. I'll vote.

by anothergreenbus 2007-02-26 07:35PM | 0 recs
*yawn*

Obviously you don't have the stomach for politics, for the CONTINUAL APPLICATION OF PRESSURE.

That's fine.  Go find another hobby.

by Teaser 2007-02-26 07:36PM | 0 recs
Re: *yawn*

Amen.

by anothergreenbus 2007-02-26 07:37PM | 0 recs
Re: *yawn*

There are good Democrats, like Murtha, working hard to get us out of Iraq.  It's just a matter of working through the primary process.

by Matt Stoller 2007-02-26 07:38PM | 0 recs
Re: *yawn*

I am sympathetic to Matt's frustration. I feel the same and I haven't dedicated my life and career to political change. But it seems to me that there is no winning anyway, only an endless slog toward a modicum of freedom and justice.

Three or four years ago things were worse. There was no significant voice of opposition. There is now.

by anothergreenbus 2007-02-26 07:52PM | 0 recs
Hmm, well...

I'd much rather see democrats control all three branches of government then have the Iraq war end after some kind of "constitutional" meltdown. It's good that the public supports the Murtha plan, but come on. Weren't we all complaining about people running the house like Tom Delay, or the "Nuclear option" in the senate? Reid can only do so much in the senate, with the republican ability to filibuster.

I say lighten up.

by delmoi 2007-02-26 08:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Hmm, well...

..I fully agree. Their is very little they can do in the Senate without being as aggressive as the Republicans were - and even then it is unlikely they could get anything substantial done (like a worthwhile Iraq plan).

But Pelosi backing away from Murtha, that bothers me a bit.

by LandStander 2007-02-26 08:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Hmm, well...

A lot of the complaints stemmed not from the Republicans riding roughshod over any opposition, but from them riding roughshod over the opposition AND being wrong.

It's not that it can be pushed through quickly in any way, it's that they don't even have the stomach to try.

by Englishlefty 2007-02-27 04:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Hmm, well...

That's just immoral

by Matt Stoller 2007-02-27 05:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?

Short answer: hell yes.  Thanks for noticing.

That is, if by "netroots" you mean Kos, Atrios and other A-list bloggers.

On the other hand a lot of C-listers like myself and Down With Tyranny, and others have been screaming about this since the election.

All that matters to me, and to a majority of American voters as evidenced by the polls, is ending the immoral, counter-productive US occupation of Iraq and bringing the troops home ASAP.  Period.

Dems were voted in with a mandate to end the war, they are the majority now, so let's git er done.

I explain the reluctance of A-list lefty bloggers to criticize the Dem politicians' lack of results this way:

- Some might actually be caught up in the wonkety-wonk minutia of congressional process.  The Kabuki is meant to be convincing: the Dems really, really want to do the right thing but, alas, it's too darn complicated.  Or so it goes.  

- Some bloggers may feel that the last election proved they are very influential.  With great power comes great responsibility.  They feel that the #1 priority is to win the next election and any criticism of the Dem leadership will work against that goal.  Shit sandwich politics and all that.  

The problem with all this, the risk that the beltway Dems are taking, is that most voters -- who are not following the wonkety wonk -- will not buy the argument that the Democrats  were tactically unable to do anything substantial about Iraq.

The same voters who were pissed about the war will be doubly pissed at the Dems and elect fucking Rudy Giuliani or some other GOP fascist freakshow.  

A-list bloggers are at a crossroads too.  Is the blogosphere a bottom-up means of self expression and of pushing the politicians to do what the people want, or, like Matt says, just another interest group whose job is to support the Party and deliver votes, even if the Party goes against what their constituency wants.  

by shystee 2007-02-26 09:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?

you know what i'd like to see? less focus on the kabuki of daily government and insider beltway baseball, and more focus on the money.

i was just reading that since 2003, FDA food safety testing dropped 75%. what does this have to do with the war? everything, because everything is being cut back to pay for it. one hell of a lot of money is flowing to a very shady group of players. how much of that is coming back and being applied behind the scenes, keeping some dem leaders quiet or worse yet, supportive of the war, or making it very difficult for others to "do the right thing?" if i had a billion dollars a month to play with, i'd be able to buy a lot of politicians and not even significantly reduce the size of the pot i get to keep.

i believe a lot of dems are stuck in the Good Old Days, and believe that now that they are in power, they can go back to playing by the rules and believing the republicans are just like them and will do the same. i also believe that so much of what we get to read about is little more than window dressing, and that as a political force, we need to focus on the subjects that will get their attention and effort.

as shy says, most americans aren't following the kabuki. but they would follow united democratic effort to demonstrate how they are being screwed out things like food safety and democratic government by a bunch of cronies who make money killing people with money stolen from american babies' mouths.

there's only one reason any democrat would resist answering questions about where the money is going. seeing as how they're now in charge, that reason cannot be "because i don't know."

by chicago dyke 2007-02-27 04:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?

I am disappointed in the seeming reluctance of Democratic leaders in Congress to take decisive action to end the war, but I am not at all surprised.  I think we (the netroots) have figured out how to have an impact around election time--use blogs and other web-based entities to raise money, recruit volunteers, promote stories missed by the MSM, etc.  But I think we're still finding our way in terms of learning how to have an impact on how the Democratic majority governs, which is understandable given that this is new territory for us.

One idea--we should use the netroots/blogosphere to raise money and build support for a campaign to put an organizer in every Congressional District and have the organizers work to build local pressure on the Representative to get us out of Iraq.  That would be awesome and have a big impact.  Now, we probably couldn't raise enough $ and find enough organizers to put somebody in every Congressional District, but even 30-50 key districts would make a big difference.

by dal27 2007-02-27 04:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?

Follow the money. Follow the money. Follow the money.

Three times I tell you this, because forget often you do.

It's like Krugman sez. We're dealing with right wing corporatist revolutionaries in power, and our leaders are still fighting the last war.

What's going on in Washington now is nothing more than a power struggle to lead the Company. Does Neo Liberalism work better than Neo Conservatism? Is an Empire that calls itself an Empire more profitable than a trade alliance?

The Democrats better stop playing footsie with the Sith Lords' bankrolls while the majority of Americans still remember concepts like "Republic" and "Democracy" and "The Constitution".

Or become forgotten in the dustbin of history they will be.

by kelley b 2007-02-27 04:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?
http://www.danablankenhorn.com/2007/02/t he_limits_of_m.html What I wanna know is...how did Democrats win last year? How is it that Democrats now lead nearly all trial heats for the Presidency, that far more people now self-identify as Democrats than Republicans? To read the blogs of Left Blogistan, this could not possibly be true, because the Right absolutely controls all media, all forms of communication, they have Astroturf everywhere, and they're constantly demanding that liberals be ignored, denied their rights, tortured, or killed, all in the name of God, Mammon, and Imperialism. So how is it possible? Can these two points be reconciled? They can, but only if you look at history.
by Dana Blankenhorn 2007-02-27 07:15AM | 0 recs
"Dean is hurting us in Nevada?"

Excuse me? If not pandering to the let's-just-shoot-more-A-rabs crowd is hurting us in NV, then TFB. One thing the 50-state solution has uncovered is - surprise! - there are plenty of folks even(!) in NV who get it. The Wild West ain't no more, at least outside of a shrinking handful of yahoos that thankfully are starting to get drowned out.

Hurting us in Nevada? Try bringing Nevada - with key help from Nevadans - into the post-Bush mindset.

by ericd1112 2007-02-27 07:56AM | 0 recs
The Third Party Option

Given the Democrats' margin in the House, it might make sense to go after some Blue Dogs -- get rid of them by running a third party candidate coming at them from the left.  Doing so in a couple of districts wouldn't run the risk of getting Republican committee chairs.  

Getting a Blue Dog or two out of office this way will, at least, get rid of a Democrat mouthing Republican talking points.  Make the Republicans mouth their own talking points.  And it will make it clear to Blue Dogs, even in conservative districts, that they thumb their noses at us at their peril.

Here in CA-1 we did this back in 1988, getting rid of corrupto Democrat Doug Bosco.  The Peace and Freedom Party candidate took 15% of the vote.  The Republican, Frank Riggs was in office one term, then we elected a much more liberal Democrat, Dan Hamburg, in 1992.

by kaleidescope 2007-02-27 08:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?

And if we are not careful, we will become just another calculating interest group to be placated with occasional red meat rhetoric, beholden to the soulless rhythms of the DC media machine as we delude ourselves into believing we are principled and somehow different from all the outsiders-turned-insiders who have come before us.

Strong words, man. Don't let DC get to you too badly.

IMHO this isn't something terribly new. The shift towards following establishment politics and the 24-hour cable news cycle was already underway in 2004. I have more or less given up on blogs as an insurgent force in politics, although I still appreciate them as a filter for opinion, a source of context for news, and (hopefully) a driver of accountability among the traditional press.

Tactically we've been able to bring some things to the table, but in terms of what government is really for... well, those questions were always swept under the rug because we didn't have any influence over the government. Now we've discovered that "we" won, and yet we still have very little influence. Kind of a bummer.

Your central point about "being ahead of the public" is highly resonant though. The way forward is to lead. Our elected representatives (and the candidates for president) are all severely anemic in this capacity. It seems to me that the most powerful thing the netroots can do is continue to galvanize public opinion, distribute progressive information, and organize citizens to take action on the issues.

If we lead, and we're able to remain ahead of the public rather than going off-track, electeds will follow. Not all of them, but hopefully enough.

by Josh Koenig 2007-02-27 08:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Public Ahead of the Netroots on Iraq?

I think the clear lesson here is that we do not rest until we've totally reformed the Democratic Party. The 2006 election victories were a step in the right direction, but too many in the netroots seem to have gotten the impression that was also a victory for our efforts to reform the party. It really wasn't. It was something that in certain ways helped our cause, but we make a huge mistake to let up the pressure on the system to undertake the reforms that are badly needed.

Too many in the netroots have gotten too close to the Democratic establishment in the wrong ways. We need to remember our role - as revolutionaries of a sort, not as new consultants.

by eugene 2007-02-27 08:48AM | 0 recs
by pamlaa 2007-07-03 05:29AM | 0 recs

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