From an ethical standpoint, yeah, I would have liked to see more R's defect. But realistically, their political calculus is making them choose between unity in a terrible position or defection and the political costs that go with it, plus a likely electoral challenge on the war, anyway.
From a political standpoint, the more R's are tied firmly to the disaster that is Iraq, the better for the forces of good in November, 2008.
I thought no one in their right mind would go after Kerry about his service in Vietnam considering the alternative, either. Our opponents aren't interested in what's sane. They're interested in retaining power. If they can do that by claiming Obama's a hypocrite for "abandoning his pledge", they'll do it.
I agree with this, and I'll add that Kerry went dark in August, 2004 after the convention precisely because he had to save his public financing funds for the homestretch. It allowed the Swift Boat liars a window of opportunity to hit Kerry without response, from which I believe Kerry had great difficulty recovering.
As someone noted above, McCain isn't going to win his party's nomination, and even if he does, he's not going to win the Presidency.
This is an attempt by Obama's team to suck some of the "Maverick, moderate" mantle off of McCain and onto Obama. Unfortunately, it's also a gamble because if McCain doesn't win, there may still be pressure on Obama to hold to his side of the bargain anyway.
...that I'm not "making excuses" for Democratic politicians on this topic (though, as others have pointed out below, the idea that the time has come to condemn lack of action is very likely premature). But the current media zeitgeist IS an explanation. To Democratic lawmakers it could very well look like we're asking them to fall on their swords for what can ONLY end up being a symbolic gesture, no matter what, thanks to Bush's veto power. And if it ends up costing them in 2008, what's the point of it all?
I think that would be an incorrect analysis, but before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, lets at least consider that 1) this may very well be the main analysis with which Dems are being presented and 2) our energies really might be better spent trying to change the environment in which we, and Democratic lawmakers, are fighting.
I think this is right, but I would put the emphasis on "selected" in "selected primaries". Frankly, most of the Dems are good people from a progressive point of view. It doesn't make much sense to try to go after them en masse. At the same time, the war is the single most important short-term issue we're facing right now, so something must be done.
And speaking of "doing something", I'd like to point out that one of the reasons the Dems aren't doing the right thing is that, despite their victory in the last elections and the gains of the netroots, Democrats and liberals still operate in a very hostile environment. When a right wing liar like Drudge has the power to move damaging stories about Democrats into the mainstream media that stay for weeks on end...when the Moonies have more say over what you see in the news than the entire blogosphere...when "journalism" is dominated by people like Terry Moran and Mark Halperin, who are openly eager to "prove" how right wing they are...when the pundits in demand are outright racists like Glen Beck, and no one to the left of Joe Klein (or, at least, anyone willing to call "bullshit" on anything the right wing says) can break through the glass ceiling of the 21st century, it's not entirely unreasonable for Democrats to keep their heads down.
More to the point, when 70% of the country wants the US out of Iraq within a couple of years at most and a majority don't want the war escalated, yet what passes for our modern media repeatedly claim the "centrist view" is to Follow The President, the response from Democratic lawmakers is perhaps more understandable.
Yes, if Dems were much more vocal about ending the war, the news media would like shift their tune somewhat. That sort of thing can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. But as things stand, it's most likely Democrats would take a beating in the court of Public Opinion Makers and their majority could be endangered in 2008.
So, what we activists need to do, desperately, is to develop a new set of smart, effective weapons that can influence the sorry state of our media. We can't hold primaries for media figures or networks, but we need to be much more aggressive with voicing our opinions, both directly and with our dollars. Until we break the exclusive ability for the right wing to mainline whatever they wish into the news, results from Democratic lawmakers, who (when it comes right down to it) are politicians--like all lawmakers--will be substandard.
The battle isn't yet won, and the less-than-ideal performance of our footsoldiers (the lawmakers) isn't entirely their fault.
For the record, it does get "bitterly colder" than it is right now in Iowa City. I'll allow that it was cold last night (about 5 above for a low, I think), but you should visit some time when it's -20 degrees without the wind chill.
I always laugh when people here in the DC area complain about "arctic cold" and "deep freeze" conditions, because they're usually talking about temperatures just below freezing. Iowans have been known to wear tee-shirts out in weather like that :)
One more thing: just got another call (a live one) from "BVTM" reminding me to go vote for Dems. Our GOTV phone system seems to be thorough, at the very least. I don't remember this much GOTV effort four years ago, or even in 2004.