Risky Business

by digby

I've been reluctant to write about the Iraq funding "deal" because it's just so depressing --- and yet so predictable. Democrats don't have the votes, which we always knew. But they apparently also didn't feel the desire to fight it out over the summer anyway and keep the pressure on those GOP moderates in difficult races. I honestly don't think it was that risky. Bush's approval ratings keep going down, down down and this way is getting more unpopular by the day. And even if there is no chance of a veto-proof Senate, you have to keep advancing the argument in an environment like this.

Robert Borosage at TomPaine expresses it well:

The Congress will now vote on a funding bill for Iraq that offers no change of course. Every legislator open to reason, concerned for the troops, worried about this nation’s real security, or accountable to the voters will vote against this bill.

Those who vote for it are voting to enable a rogue president. They are sacrificing the nation’s security and the lives of many young soldiers to stand with George Bush.

This vote will be registered. In every state and district of the country, voters will know where their legislator stands. There are no dodges, no excuses. Vote to sustain the rogue president’s ruinous course or vote against. This is a question of life and death, not of partisan politics or Beltway political poker. Every legislator is free to vote his or her conscience. Each should be held accountable.

I hope all these "moderates" of both parties think very, very hard before they seize the opportunity to vote for this deal because they think it will inflate their codpiece or prove their macho bonafides. This president is getting more unpopular by the minute. We are experiencing more American deaths in Iraq this month than at any time since the invasion. The Republican leadership brags publicly that torture is justified at the same time that our soldiers are being kidnapped. The entire middle east is unstable and getting worse all the time. These people need to search their consciences --- and properly analyze the political situation.

This isn't going to get any better for these people politically. They may think they'll benefit from sticking with the president's insane escalation, but they.are.wrong. This occupation (and presidency)is falling apart and the rapidly dwindling minority of Americans who support it will not reward "moderates" who failed to take a stand on such an important issue. In or out, that's all there is.

Search your souls, people, but don't think you are making a good political calculation by supporting this war. You are not:

Senate Democrats running for president face a dilemma this week in how to vote on the troop spending bill which no longer ties the $95.5 billion in funds for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to a binding timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal.

Either route chosen will bring with it huge potential political pitfalls, as Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., tacitly acknowledged Wednesday afternoon in her dismissive comments to reporters asking her how she will vote.

"When I have something to say, I will say it, gentlemen," Clinton told journalists.

Because she is the front-runner for the nomination and because of the moderate persona she has worked hard to cultivate, the dilemma seems starker for Clinton.

If she votes for the bill, she will anger her party's liberal base and endanger her chances of a Democratic presidential nomination.

If she votes against it, she will hand her potential Republican opponents an issue they can use to paint her as weak on defense in the general election.

The former first lady has spent much of her six years in the Senate cultivating a hawkish persona, impressing generals from her perch on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and, last June, telling an audience of liberal activists that making "a date certain" was a bad idea.

She has since abandoned that position, but clearly she and her advisers have been working hard to make her seem acceptable on matters of national security and defense.

Voting against the Iraq bill might hurt Clinton in this regard, more so than any other move leftward she has made during this presidential primary season when Democratic voters overwhelmingly oppose the war.

A top strategist for a Republican presidential front-runner, speaking on condition of anonymity, told ABC News that Clinton's vote against the Iraq spending bill might help her in the short term in the Democratic primaries, but would be a gift to her potential GOP opponent should she win the Democratic presidential nomination.

"Clinton spent fair time in the Senate being a responsible defense type," the strategist said, "and for her this decision is much thornier than in Obama's case, since he already had this full-throated opposition to the war."

Taking into account that this report is the usual Jake Tapper insider BS filled with GOP talking points, the fact remains that if Senator Clinton hasn't learned her lesson by now she never will. Voting for the Iraq resolution was the biggest mistake she ever made and it remains the biggest obstacle to her winning the nomination. Democratic voters reluctantly forgave John Kerry and John Edwards for making that boneheaded decision the first time but they won't do it again. If she votes with Bush on Iraq this time, it's over. She will lose the left wing of her party completely.

In fact, I'm shocked that any of the Democratic candidates for president would even entertain a passing thought that they would vote for this thing. It was a bad political calculation in 2002 and it so much more stupid now that I can't even wrap my mind around the idea that they aren't rushing to the microphones to declare their vote against it.

This one's easy for the Presidential candidates, if not the pants-wetting Red State moderates. This occupation is the most important issue to Democratic voters and things aren't going to suddenly "turn around" before the election. It's a disaster that will only get worse. I don't know what it's going to take to get the Democratic leadership to internalize that basic fact. On both a moral and practical basis, voting to continue this war on Bush's terms is just plain wrong. No Democrat who backs Bush will get the presidential nomination and a good many Representatives and Senators who do may find themselves in an unwelcome primary fight. I hope they all make very sure they really want to throw in their lot with the Republicans to protect their right flank. They probably ought to start thinking about covering their left.