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Another conference in DC
Posted by: mcq on Sunday, May 06, 2007

And this one is most likely the antithesis of the one I just attended:
Every morning, representatives from a cluster of antiwar groups gather for a conference call with Democratic leadership staff members in the House and the Senate.

Shortly after, in a cramped meeting room here, they convene for a call with organizers across the country. They hash out plans for rallies. They sketch out talking points for “rapid response” news conferences. They discuss polls they have conducted in several dozen crucial Congressional districts and states across the country.
This is the Democrats dilemma. As I mentioned when the WaPo story came out about "caving in" on the timelines:
Well maybe that was then and this is "after the base found out about it". Or said another way, maybe that [FireDogLake] "Roots Action Alert" is having an effect.
Bet on it:
On Thursday, leaders of the liberal group, including Tom Matzzie, the group’s Washington director who also serves as the campaign manager for the coalition, sent a harshly worded warning to the Democratic leadership.

“In the past few days, we have seen what appear to be trial balloons signaling a significant weakening of the Democratic position,” the letter read. “On this, we want to be perfectly clear: if Democrats appear to capitulate to Bush — passing a bill without measures to end the war — the unity Democrats have enjoyed and Democratic leadership has so expertly built, will immediately disappear.”

The letter went on to say that if Democrats passed a bill “without a timeline and with all five months of funding,” they would essentially be endorsing a “war without end.” MoveOn, it said, “will move to a position of opposition.”
So, there you have it. On the one hand, MoveOn saying "you want political trouble? You haven't seen political trouble like you'll see if you cross us on this". OTOH, Democrats have to find a way not to be seen as obstructionist or refusing to support the troops. They have to find a way to accomplish "mission impossible": Fund the troops and stop the war (without taking responsibility for the consequences).

Said Mazzie:
“The principle under which we’ve been operating is more like a political campaign,” Mr. Matzzie said. “The central strategy is creating that toxic environment for people who want to continue this debacle.”
Obviously that means vulnerable Republicans, but it would also include any Democrat who supports measures to drop timelines or continue the war in Iraq.
The coalition, which has raised $7.1 million since January, has concentrated its activities on 57 House districts and senators in nine states, places where they believe Republican lawmakers face tough races in 2008 or have shown signs of wavering in their support for the president.
That's a powerful and influential group to have working against compromise in legislation and it is one which certainly could throw a spanner in the works of a political campaign. It is this contingent which is pressuring the Democratic leadership and has created the dilemma they face and must resolve.

Where are they headed?
On Friday, in a daily conference call, Tara McGuinness, the coalition’s deputy campaign manager, told members that leadership aides had expressed gratitude for the work, saying it had helped bolster members of their caucus.

Ms. McGuiness also told them that she had received assurances from leadership staff members that all options were still being considered for the new version of the war spending bill.

“The latest word from them is they are talking more and more about a short-leash option,” she said, referring to a plan in the House that would finance the war for only about three more months and require the administration to report back on progress being made by the Iraqi government. Congress would then vote again on the rest of the money requested by Mr. Bush.

Members of the Senate appear to be cool to the idea, but it has currency among some liberal advocates and members of the coalition.
The "Murtha Option". My guess is this will be just as unacceptable an option as timelines. Watch for this to get more and more visibilility as the talks continue. In the meantime, this coalition which has staged 358 rallies and 20 news conferences since the Presidential veto warns:
“This is act one of a three-act play,” he said. “Act two will be the summer. During the summer, our job is to create a firestorm of opposition.”
It'll be interesting to see how that works out.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I think that in many cases the Dems who side with Repubs on funding (and thus are targeted by the left for replacement) should be un-opposed in 2008.

And Lieberman needs some under-the-table support...
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
Every morning, representatives from a cluster of antiwar groups gather for a conference call with Democratic leadership staff members in the House and the Senate.

Ah, I love the smell of a nutroots action alert in the morning!
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
From the WaPo article:
Many of the major players in Americans Against Escalation in Iraq earned their stripes not from sit-ins, marches and other acts of civil disobedience but as Democratic operatives on Capitol Hill and in political campaigns. The sophisticated political operation they have built is a testament to how far the antiwar movement has come since the Vietnam era.
But here’s a more pertinent clue to the difference between today’s opposition to the war in Iraq and the ferverent anti-war activity of the Vietnam era.

It doesn’t matter how "sophisticated" the "operation" is if the passion isn’t there throughout the populace.

Maybe it is there, but I just don’t see it. And I don’t think Pelosi and Reid and the other clowns in the little car do either. Murtha probably does but, hell, he thinks he’s driving the little car and beeping it’s little horn.
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
Linda, I think you’re right about the difference between now and Vietnam. However, much of today’s hard left is severed from reality, as exemplified by the truther movement. They probably think if they continue working at it, they can get that 250,000 person rally by this summer. In their world, everyone they meet is rabidly against the war (remember "Nobody I know voted for Nixon").

That really leaves the Democratic leadership between Iraq and a hard place. (heh...)

Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
As I predicted in a recent comment:
”…President Bush is doing a masterful job of playing this situation just right. (laughter from the liberals - shrugs and head-shakes: clueless).
Just wait and see.”
The first leg of the stool in President Bush’s strategy is appearing: the Dems are caught between their “support the troops” base and the netroots “stop the debacle” threats. As Mr. McQuain so sagely posts: mission impossible. Wait; it’s going to get even worse for the Dems. Stage two of this drama comes when the netroots demand that the Democratic Presidential candidates quit pussyfooting and take a stand on this bill. Pretend that you are in charge of one of these campaigns. What do you advise your candidate to do?

The Democrats are starting to look like those cartoons of a hapless boater who is holding a heavy picnic basket with one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat.

President Bush? Why, he is just trying to support the troops. Easy enough for the Republican Presidential candidates to support that, eh? The WaPo story about dropping the withdrawal provisions in the bill was the first clue that Representative Pelosi did not see this coming. And those laughing liberals? The smiles are frozen on their faces as the truth of the situation dawns.

The lesson of Vietnam for the Republicans stands clear: Do not let the Democrats avoid the credit (due, IMHO) for losing the war. The length of the tail on that …

Doesn’t seem a bad Republican strategy at this point.
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
The Ds are doomed. CNN has turned!

Written By: Brian H
URL: http://
This is act one of a three-act play," he said. "Act two will be the summer. During the summer, our job is to create a firestorm of opposition."
The abject evil of these people frightens me...
Written By: shark
URL: http://
The smiles are frozen on their faces as the truth of the situation dawns.
The look of slowly dawning horror is delicious...
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
They have to find a way to accomplish "mission impossible": Fund the troops and stop the war (without taking responsibility for the consequences).
They only have to appear to be less happy about being in the War than the Republicans, cite some respect for the office of the President and tell the Netroots they need to capture this. Netroots have no choice other than to stay in play with these Dems. What they gonna do - vote GOP?

Written By: unaha-closp
The squeaky wheel gets the’s also the first one to be replaced. It seems the Dems are heeding the squeakiest wheel in their base.

In my years, I don’t remember the Republicans paying this much attention to a noisy faction.
Written By: Steverino
In fact, it usually makes them ignore Pat Robertson even more...
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
"They only have to appear to be less happy about being in the War than the Republicans..."
Question: when this issue was tackled in the Senator Lieberman/Ned Lamont election, did the netroots have an alternative to voting GOP? Last I heard, Kucinich was still in the race. IOW in any reasonable version of the real world your analysis might stand up, but...

Also, I don’t see that they are in any position to tell the netroots anything; it seems things are the other way around. However, this is not my area of expertise and you may be right, the netroots may change their spots and become Democrat first and whackos second.
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
Is this the long-awaited signal of a sea change in the LN?
”This is not the time to be ...planning for the collapse of a strategy that has just begun. It is time, however, to consider the possibility that any Plan B in Iraq will focus on exploiting the success of the current surge rather than on mitigating a failure.”
Yes, believe it or not, that is from an article in the NYT. Let me repeat that so that it is clear: the NYT!. What about all the past predictions of disaster, failure, doom and gloom? No longer operative. That is the fluid nature of the Narrative. Since it is not written and has no requirements for consistency, it can turn on a dime. That is why liberals have been confused of late and reluctant to comment – waiting for a signal..
Perhaps with this signal, revolutionary as it is, liberals will now know what they think and will step up with their views that we need to give the surge a chance.
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
...much of today’s hard left is severed from reality, as exemplified by the truther movement.

So true. Much of today’s dilettante left, as well. And the truthers, my God, did they ever even learn to tell their left from their right? They certainly can’t get fantasy and reality sorted out. And just look how many there are. But not one in ten thousand cares enough about any of it to march on Washington or anywhere else. Not that MoveOn can see that.

If ever two groups deserved to be squished and ground together "between Iraq and a hard place" (good lord) it’s the anti-war crowd and the Democratic leadership.
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
Sorry. Forgot the sarcasm/humor tag.
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://

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