by Matt Stoller, Thu May 24, 2007 at 06:50:50 AM EDT
The crazy thing about the fight is that Democratic insiders are convinced that capitulation is the right strategy. They actually believe that this will put pressure on the Republicans in the fall, and that standing up to Bush is a bad idea. For instance, there's this.
Democrats said this week they would have jeopardized their fall bargaining position if they had insisted on keeping withdrawal timelines in the current supplemental spending bill (HR 2206). Persisting now would likely have resulted in another veto and would have handed Republicans talking points for the Memorial Day recess about which party supports the troops in the field.
Democrats were particularly worried about the prospect of Bush declaring at wreath-laying ceremonies that "Democrats have stopped resources for the troops," said Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala.
"The problem is that we have to provide money for the troops, and if we don't, the Democrats will be blamed," added Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., a war opponent. "Bush has the bully pulpit, so he will define who is responsible."
"Obviously it's a good move," said Democratic pollster Fred Yang. "It gives President Bush and Republicans one less thing to shoot at" during the upcoming recess week.
Bush has the bully pulpit. Obviously it's a good move.
These are the attitudes of Democratic members and pollsters. There's no evidence that Bush moves numbers anymore. In fact, when he talks he becomes less popular. He has no credibility, which means that his access to the bully pulpit is severely diminished. Yet Democrats are afraid of him. More than that, Democratic members think that by capitulating to him that Republicans will stop saying that Democrats won't fund the troops. It's crazy. It's like they didn't notice the 2002 election where they were like 'we can take Iraq off the table'.
And while the news media is abuzz with talk of Democratic capitulation, I'm watching Louise Slaughter on C-Span idiotically saying that this is not a concession to Bush, and that Congress is fighting to end the war. And she really believes it. She really thinks that Democrats are fighting Bush with this bill. It's amazing. It's like la-la land.
Yang's comments are particularly silly, though I guess I shouldn't be surprised since he accepted Third Way's fraudulent study as 'useful' when it was actually statistical malpractice. There's actually a secret problem in Democratic politics where a lot of our pollsters actually don't know how to do professional polling. But we'll leave that aside.
The key take-away here is that the Democratic Party is degraded and disorganized, and it shows. It's not just that the party is bought off, though some members are. It's that even the ones who want to do the right thing are constantly being told by people like Yang that capitulating to the President is obviously the right move, and that their concession is not actually a concession.
Update [2007-5-24 11:10:12 by Matt Stoller]:: Dodd and Edwards get it.