Primal Scream - the anti-war left and Congress Posted by: McQ
on Monday, February 11, 2008
Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stonetakes the Congressional Democratic leadership under withering fire for their capitulation on Iraq. He also claims that the leadership has cynically used the anti-war movement as a vehicle to attack Republicans and "elect Democrats" while never really having a plan to end the war in Iraq.
Democrats insist that the reason they can't cut off the money for the war, despite their majority in both houses, is purely political. "George Bush would be on TV every five minutes saying that the Democrats betrayed the troops," says Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Then he glumly adds another reason. "Also, it just wasn't going to happen."
Why it "just wasn't going to happen" is the controversy. In and around the halls of Congress, the notion that the Democrats made a sincere effort to end the war meets with, at best, derisive laughter. Though few congressional aides would think of saying so on the record, in private many dismiss their party's lame anti-war effort as an absurd dog-and-pony show, a calculated attempt to score political points without ever being serious about bringing the troops home.
"Yeah, the amount of expletives that flew in our office alone was unbelievable," says an aide to one staunchly anti-war House member. "It was all about the public show. Reid and Pelosi would say they were taking this tough stand against Bush, but if you actually looked at what they were sending to a vote, it was like Swiss cheese. Full of holes."
There is, of course, on sure way Congress could have ended the war, but it wasn't politically viable, because if they were to use the power of the purse to cut off funds, then they'd also have to take ownership of the consequences - plus the added bonus of being accused of not supporting the troops. Both would be hard to deny.
Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee of the Democratic "Out of Iraq" caucus weren't at all happy with the lack of effort on the part of their leadership:
An honest attempt to end the war, say Democrats like Woolsey and Lee, would have involved forcing Bush to execute his veto and allowing the Republicans to filibuster all they wanted. Force a showdown, in other words, and use any means necessary to get the bloodshed ended.
"Can you imagine Tom DeLay and Denny Hastert taking no for an answer the way Reid and Pelosi did on Iraq?" asks the House aide in the expletive-filled office. "They'd find a way to get the votes. They'd get it done somehow."
Instead, what Democrats and the anti-war movement got were excuse after excuse after excuse. Despite the pre-election rhetoric, it appeared the leadership capitulated fairly early and quickly on the war.
But any suggestion that the Democrats had an obligation to fight this good fight infuriates the bund of hedging careerists in charge of the party. In fact, nothing sums up the current Democratic leadership better than its vitriolic criticisms of those recalcitrant party members who insist on interpreting their 2006 mandate as a command to actually end the war. Rep. David Obey, chair of the House Appropriations Committee and a key Pelosi-Reid ally, lambasted anti-war Democrats who "didn't want to get specks on those white robes of theirs." Obey even berated a soldier's mother who begged him to cut off funds for the war, accusing her and her friends of "smoking something illegal."
The result, of course, has been the lowest rated Congress in the history of Congressional ratings. And the term "leadership" is used loosely when talking about Pelosi and Reid.
The really tragic thing about the Democratic surrender on Iraq is that it's now all but guaranteed that the war will be off the table during the presidential campaign. Once again — it happened in 2002, 2004 and 2006 — the Democrats have essentially decided to rely on the voters to give them credit for being anti-war, despite the fact that, for all the noise they've made to the contrary, in the end they've done nothing but vote for war and cough up every dime they've been asked to give, every step of the way.
While that's only part of the story (the surge is still working despite Pelosi's recent denial) it does remove a huge part of the Democratic argument for putting a Democrat in the White House. And even if that happens, nothing guarantees that he or she will do what has been promised (just as Congressional Democrats have still to fulfill their 2006 promises about Iraq). For instance, from Obama's appearance on "60 Minutes" concerning Iraq:
"And you pull out according to that time table, regardless of the situation? Even if there’s serious sectarian violence?" Kroft asked.
"No, I always reserve as commander in chief, the right to assess the situation," Obama replied.
And anyone who knows anything about the situation will tell him, during his assessment, that a precipitous withdrawal would spell disaster in Iraq. This is a classic bit of hedging one's bet. He's said it now and if he wins he can later point to that sentence as having been on the public record.
So for the anti-war types who've vested so much time and effort in the Democrats, they must feel pretty betrayed right now. Taibbi ends with more of a wimper than a bang as he seems to finally understand that nothing is going to change in Iraq any time soon:
But the war is where they showed their real mettle. Before the 2006 elections, Democrats told us we could expect more specifics on their war plans after Election Day. Nearly two years have passed since then, and now they are once again telling us to wait until after an election to see real action to stop the war. In the meantime, of course, we're to remember that they're the good guys, the Republicans are the real enemy, and, well, go Hillary! Semper fi! Yay, team!
How much of this bullsh*t are we going to take? How long are we supposed to give the Reids and Pelosis and Hillarys of the world credit for wanting, deep down in their moldy hearts, to do the right thing?
Life in the big leagues - and for the anti-war left, just as unacceptable a situation as it was prior to the 2006 election.
Taibbi is a spoiled, bad boy journalist, whose bread and butter is to be cynical and insulting to just about everything, especially American middle-class values, i.e. those he grew up with.
Was it in the cards to shut down the war’s funding? I’m cynical about Reid and Pelosi, but did they really have a shot if they had forced a showdown?
However duplicitous their rhetoric, I thought their decision to fight again another day was prudent. I don’t think they had the votes in 2007 to do the job. So they delayed.
If the surge hadn’t worked, they would have boxed Bush into a corner by now and beat him and the Republican party senseless over Iraq in an election year. So, they doubled down on failure in Iraq, and were ready to pounce last fall, but they got mugged by the reality of Petraeus and the statistics coming out of Iraq.
The anti-war howling against Reid and Pelosi strikes me as further proof of that movement’s immaturity.
I read about Berkeley CC vs the Marines in the blogs.
I used to read Taibbi in The eXile, a free paper that Taibbi co-founded while an expat in Moscow in the wild years after communism fell. There was plenty of grist for his extreme, purple style. That was before 9-11 and before my politics changed. I thought it was fun to read Taibbi. Besides, complaining cynically about bad Russian leadership was no doubt appropriate.
However, since Taibbi returned to the US and applied the same viciousness towards Americans and American government, I’m not so keen on him. Not that America is above criticism and satire, but the non-stop, no-holds-barred bashing that we hear so much of is a silly, repulsive pose. Anyone who dislikes America that much can’t like anything IMO.
I disagree that the surge is working. It’s failing in its primary goal, even though it worked in terms of the short term effort to decrease violence. But the Iraqis didn’t create the framework for stability, and 2008 might turn out to be a bad year (see my blog today for more on this particular issue).
Congress acted pretty much as they had to, given the divisions and interests of individual Congress people. Those expecting the Democrats to end the war simply did not understand the political process.
The surge has worked well enough to reduce violence—something few people were sure could succeed—so that thousands of Iraqi lives were saved, the Dems couldn’t force a withdrawal, and the Iraqi government gets some security and breathing room to work itself out. We shall see.
I don’t think it was realistic to expect the Dems to force an end to the war in 2007 either, but if the surge had not worked, the Dems had a perfect opportunity to say that they had given Bush his last chance and in 2008 forced an ending to the war for maximum damage to the Republicans in the election and a more of a clean slate for the next Democratic president.
disagree that the surge is working. It’s failing in its primary goal, even though it worked in terms of the short term effort to decrease violence. But the Iraqis didn’t create the framework for stability, and 2008 might turn out to be a bad year (see my blog today for more on this particular issue).
*Chuckle*......parroting Speaker Pelosi’s goal-post shifting talking points almost word for word.
Good for you Scotty.
I think it’s always cute when people like you do that, sorta like a puppy trying to walk on his hind legs for a treat ("Look, Branford 2 thinks he’s one of the Models, Inc———————sorry, couldn’t resist that one)
First there are those unfortunate political consequences which prevent voting against the war, and now it looks like those superdelegates are going to have to clean up the mess made by those idiot voters. The sooner we get rid of this democracy thing and put the public in its place, the better.
I disagree that the surge is working. It can’t, it can’t, it can’t! It just can’t!
It’s failing in its primary goal. The Iraqis ought to already have established a pluralistic democracy since the surge began. Heck, we organized our faculty council in only six months; surely the Iraqis can get their government figured out in a year!
Even though the surge worked in terms of the short term effort to decrease violence, I won’t let that affect my judgment. No sir. Because the Iraqis didn’t create the framework for stability that I think they should have created. I don’t care how peaceful they are. It’s all a facade, I tell you. And 2008 might turn out to be a bad year, and I’m going to keep on saying that even if things look good in November (see my blog today for several thousand words more on this particular issue, where I establish with iron-clad logic that it’s all a quagmire and we need peace with honor).
Congress acted pretty much as they had to, given the divisions and interests of individual Congress people. Those expecting the Democrats to end the war simply did not understand the political process. I know I’ve also said the American people are against this war, and that probably seems contradictory for why the Democrats didn’t do anything, but it’s all a complicated political science thing that only we trained academics understand. There’s no contradiction. Really.
Usually I’d think it was funny as hell that a bunch of lefties got jobbed by their leaders in DC. What do I care if their latte budgets take a hit because they sent their money to the Kucinich campaign?
But this time their leadership used the rabid left as more than a pool of dumb money; they used the left to give our enemies a reason to keep on killing our soldiers. AQI knew they couldn’t beat our soldiers but they did listen to the whining of the antiwar left and the ultimately dishonest response of the Pelosi Democrats. The stupidity of the left and the incredibly cynical manipulation of those boobs by their leadership cost American lives. I can’t see how any of them can look themselves in a mirror.