I just came across this story today: an article about a meeting Dennis Kucinich attended with members of the Los Angeles Democratic Club last Saturday. If you’ve seen it already, my apologies, but to me it reveals everything that is wrong with the Democratic Party’s approach to dealing with President Bush regarding the Iraq war. They have literally been negotiating with themselves, and granting concessions to the Republicans in exchange for nothing in return:
Ohio Congress Representative Dennis Kucinich revealed that the Democrats in Congress had made some secret concessions to the Republicans in the initial Bill to continue funding the Iraq War that was vetoed, and in a subsequent version that is currently being negotiated. They include:
Privatization of Iraq’s Oil – in the original Bill, but not shared with the public. A rule was created that said this clause could not be removed during debate on House floor.
Bush could invade Iran without approval of Congress. A clause that would require him to get approval from Congress first was removed.
Timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq to be removed from Bill (in post-veto version).
The public suports a timetable to withdraw our troops from Iraq, according to all the latest polls, so there’s little justification for abandoning that demand in a futile gesture to appease Mr. Bush. In like fashion, there is likely little public support for allowing Bush to attack Iran without Congressional approval, because only 10% of us see Iran as an imminent threat. But it seems the Democrats can’t help undercutting themselves even when they are dealing from a position of strength.
As for the privatization of Iraq’s oil, why should the Democrats be crawling into bed with Big Oil, which they know is going to continue to fund Republican political campaigns no matter how much the Dems roll over for them. It’s ludicrous to sleep with your enemies, when you know the first chance they get they’re going to slit your throat. Not to mention, Iraqi support for privatization is virtually nil right now, no matter how many growls were directed at Iraqi lawmakers yesterday by scary Dick Cheney.
All this was surrendered up by the Democrats without any concessions by Bush on the Iraq funding bill. Not one. You might reasonably ask why the hell is the Democratic Leadership in Congress cutting their own throats like this. I have no idea. We have increasing public support for getting our troops out of Iraq pursuant to a timetable set by Congress, and scant public approval for the continuation of the Bush escalation there, which we have recently learned is now expected to last well into 2008.
U.S. commanders in Iraq are increasingly convinced that heightened troop levels, announced by President Bush in January, will need to last into the spring of 2008. The military has said it would assess in September how well its counterinsurgency strategy, intended to pacify Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, is working.
It seems to me the public has the Democrats back on this issue, so why are they literally caving in the face of pressure by the most unpopular President in a generation? One can speculate as to possible answers to that question, none of which are particularly cast a positive light on the Democratic Party. One possibility is that the leadership is incompetent. Another is that that many Democrats in Congress simply lied to us last Fall during the midterm election campaign when they said they would seek to end the war in Iraq. A third is that they are simply too afraid of the Right Wing’s Mighty Wurlitzer and Karl Rove’s Media Spin Machine to actually stand up to the President when push comes to shove.
Apparently, Pelosi and the House leadership, in an attempt to garner enough votes for this second, essentially toothless Iraq funding bill, has promised liberal Dems in the House an “up or down” vote on a proposal to de-authorize the war, a vote that everyone concedes has no chance in hell of passing the House:
Last night, Nancy Pelosi called a bunch of liberal members into a meeting and told them that she didn’t have the votes to pass the bill, according to a source familiar with the meeting.
So she told the liberal members that in hopes of getting enough votes for passage, she would also schedule a vote on a bill crafted by Dem Rep. James McGovern, the source said.
McGovern’s bill would mandate that within three months of passage, military withdrawal would have to commence, to be completed within six months of then. After that, the bill mandates, no Congressional money can be used for military operations — though there’s an allowance for certain types of special ops activities. McGovern’s bill was introduced in the rules committee last night.
I’m sorry, but that seems to me like the progressive caucus is getting nothing for something. A useless “symbolic” gesture in order to gain enough votes for a bill even weaker than the one Bush vetoed last time, and which Bush has said he will veto again, anyway? If he’s going to veto something, they should at least send him back the same bill he slapped down in the round one of this battle. In any contest of wills, the first person to blink always loses. It looks to me the Dems are blinking like crazy at Bush, and for no discernible reason, or at least no good reason.
I know others see this as some sort of masterful grand strategy by Pelosi, et al., but to me it simply looks like an ad hoc, and rather desperate, attempt to save face after they’ve already conceded defeat. What’s the point? Haven’t we had enough ridiculous “dog and pony” shows regarding Iraq from the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans over the last 4 years? Do we really need more desultory absurdist political theater from the Congressional Democrats on the same subject?
That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. Regardless of the outcome of today’s vote, Democrats have already frittered away most of whatever political capital and credibility they once had regarding Iraq.