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Dems have to actually do something now
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, November 09, 2006

In a comment thread with one of our regular commenters, I noted that now the hard part comes, Dems have to actually do something instead of criticize. He replied by saying that should be no problem since the bar of expectation was set very low.

I beg to differ. Whether Dems like it or not, they have taken ownership of Iraq. Now that's problematic for several reasons, many of them technical. But the other is about expectations they've sold to be elected. In reality they have little real authority over the armed forces or foreign policy. But their problem is they sold themselves as being able to do something about both.

So the bar of expectation is very high, at least on the issue of Iraq. And as we've been told by the experts and Democrats, this election was apparently all about Iraq. As the Democrats are becoming fond of saying, "the American people have spoken". The rest of that statement though is they expect Democrats to make good on their promise. That's why they gave them the ball.

It is hard to deny that Pelosi, et al, were and are encouraging the belief that Dems will actually be able to do something about Iraq.
Pelosi, who voted against invading Iraq, said the Democrats' victory meant the American people were calling for a "new direction."

And she was adamant about a new direction for the war in Iraq. "This is something that we must work on together with the president. We know that 'stay the course' is not working," she said.
Of course in the post-election ruins, Bush is being fairly conciliatory rhetorically. But in reality that means nothing concerning how he will choose to conduct the war in Iraq:
Bush countered by saying his leadership style will not change.

"I'm still going to try to speak plainly about what I think are the important priorities of the country, and winning this war on terror is by far the most important priority," he said.
If I had to guess, nothing much different is going to happen in Iraq prior to Bush leaving office and he's certainly going to give Gen. Casey the "12 to 18 months" he thinks he needs.

And my guess is if Iraq gets worse, Republicans will try to find a way to blame it on Democrats.

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, which can be seen here, she's asked about the Rumsfeld resignation. She says that she was glad President Bush had heard the "voice of the American people (that new 'meme' I talked about)" and that he'd also heard the "voice of the military", equating the single editorial run in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine times, all Gannett properties, as that voice.

Then she made an amazing statement, speaking of Iraq:

"This isn't a war to win, this is a situation to be solved. You can define winning anyway you want too, but you must solve the problem".

And that problem is? See, this is all happy talk. While it may sound impressive to some it's verbal vacuity. What is the problem? How will it be solved? More importantly, how can Pelosi and a Democratic Congress solve it?

You see, it is the Democrats who've set the bar. And they've set it high (solve "the problem" in two years). Trust me, the Republicans are going to remind the voting public of this at every opportunity.

As EJ Dionne notes today:
But many of the party's successful candidates ran as moderates, and Democrats hold power on the basis of a loan of votes from middle-of-the-road Americans who simply could not stomach Bush Republicanism anymore. The loan can be recalled at any moment.
The clock on loan repayment has begun to tick. All I have to say is they better find a way to pay-up before '08 or they will likely be back out in the cold. The middle is theirs for the moment, and they better do something to convince that group to stay with them through '08 and they better do it quickly and convincingly.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

It seems to me Pelosi’s first litmus test to see if the Dems are serious about running the country and winning the war on terror is the coming appointment to head the intelligence committee. It should be an easy pick between the respectable Jane Harman, or a man who was impeached for corruption Alcee Hastings.
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
"Whether Dems like it or not, they have taken ownership of Iraq. "

Karl Rove is a genius. This is great for Bush, bad for Dems. They just inherited a mess. The Dems will withdraw and lose the war. Voters will turn on them in 2008 for losing Iraq. Meanwhile, millions of Iraqis will be butchered, the ME will destablize as the lone democracy is crushed, and we will be less safe at home. Good for the GOP and bad for the Dems and America. But it’s EXACTLY what the Dems wanted. So who is the Stupid Party again?
Written By: J
URL: http://
It’s always better to be in power than to be out of it. That said, the Dems have lost that cushy spot they had where they could safely complain complain complain and not have to do any actual governing.

You see, the country has spoken about Iraq....but not quite in the way Problem-Solver Pelosi thinks they did. Just ask Ned Lamont.
Written By: shark
URL: http://
My hope is that the Dems will realize that it’s pointless to keep blathering about who is "for" the war and who is "against" it. The U.S. is AT war, whether anyone likes it or not and the only question is whether we have the wherewithal to complete the task successfully. Groaning, like J does above, that it is an "inherited mess" and pointing fingers doesn’t move the country closer to success. At least the media have some incentive now to stop the endless drip of doom-and-gloom and start portraying the situation in Iraq as it really is, regardless of who recieves credit or blame.
Written By: the wolf
I find her second statement right after that quote more telling as to her real thoughts on war. Either way the antiwar left will find themselves out in the cold again soon enough.
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
The Dems will not take ownership of Iraq, but keep sniping from the sidelines. Who would be dumb enough to take ownership when the "we wuz lied to" theme previously worked.

Maybe they will agree to a bipartisan plan, i.e. they get cover in 2008.

and you know what, I don’t blame them for doing the above.
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
"So the bar of expectation is very high,..."

To quote Ms. Pelosi; "We are ready to govern" .
I predict that the democrats will now discover that foreign policy and war-making is an executive branchfunction, and that they are helpless to stop that madman Bush and the Republican war machine until they take over the executive branch too.

"You can define winning anyway you want too, but you must solve the problem"

The democratic definition of winning will become, as usual, "Stopping the violence", which means only the violence caused by the US.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Aside from the war, anyone notice that the Dems seem to think the pressing issues are minimum wage and college grants?

Written By: Don
URL: http://

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