Wars Are Depressing, Even "The Good Ones," Ending Them Is Too, Even Bad Ones
CD is depressed, as she tells us here.
Not angry, and not contemptuous, although I'm sure there are elements of both emotions interwoven in her remarks about the specific manner in which liberals, progressives, and Democrats are being forced to try and end Bush's excellent Iraq adventure.
This strikes me as an entirely appropriate response to an entirely messy enterprise.
Sometimes I have the feeling that some of our anti-war brethren, not including CD, exhibit a strain of thought that has a similarity to an underlying assumptions of the victory-in-Iraq crowd - that success is a matter of will. Lack of the will to win is keeping us from doing so, says one side, what the hell is taking so long, what's the big deal, do you guys really want to end this horror, if so, do it, failing to do so means you lack the will to end it.
Please note, I don't mean to conflate the two sides here; the out-of-Iraq now crowd wants to end policies that have nearly destroyed an entire country, undermined our own position in the world, killed multitudes of Americans and Iraqis, and is breaking our own military, and that isn't even mentioning the way the WOT is undermining constitutional democracy at home, even while the burden of supporting the military is eating our budgetary priorities alive; the other side refuses to recognize any reality beyond their own delusions and wants only more and more of the same. No equivalence here.
So, what is taking so long? Why is this path so tortuously laid out? I think it's actually called constitutional democracy.
Harold Meyerson had a great column on this subject last week. He uses the David Obey incident, yelling at the anti-war mother of a Marine who is in Iraq as a jumping off place. Obey was wrong to lose his temper, and I'm glad he apologized, but I'm with Meyerson on his evaluation of Obey's will to end this war.
No one has ever described David Obey as phlegmatic. The Wisconsin Democrat, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, combines long-standing liberal passions with a keen sense for the deals that must be cut to turn those passions into law. And on occasion, people who don't share Obey's assessment of where, and whether, the deal should be cut have been subjected to an Obey outburst.
Last week, as he was working to build support for amendments that would impose a 2008 deadline on U.S. combat activities in Iraq, Obey was accosted by Tina Richards, an antiwar activist and mother of a Marine.
Obey erupted. "We can't get the votes," he shouted. "Do you see a magic wand in my pocket? We don't have the votes for it."
"We're trying to use the supplemental," he explained, "to end the war."
You may remember that in his frustration, Obey also said "I hate this war. I've been against it from the beginning." I see no reason for doubting Obey's sentiments here.
Meyerson is an honest-to-God liberal, he's made choices through-out his journalistic career that have kept him on the margins of the SCLM. He is he not a scold. But he wants to make a point about this business of trying to take over the congressional offices of Democrats, or protesters parking themselves around Pelosi's home in San Francisco.
In effect, what the protesters are doing is making the unattainable perfect the enemy of the barely-attainable good.
Because Obey is quite right: The votes aren't there to shut down funding for the war. What he and Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership in both houses are about is finding some way to curtail the president's determination to pass the war on to his successor regardless of the continuing cost to U.S. interests and lives. Attaching conditions to the appropriations bill is not a foolproof way to accomplish that, as Pelosi and Obey would readily admit. It is merely the best of the imperfect options to wind down U.S. involvement in Iraq, given the narrowness of their congressional majorities and the presence of George W. Bush in the White House.
The antiwar bona fides of Obey and Pelosi are not only in good order, they're a lot more impressive than those of just about any Democrat running for president. In October 2002, breaking with then-House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt, Pelosi led the opposition to the bill authorizing the president to go to war in Iraq. Obey voted with Pelosi and spoke forcefully against U.S. involvement.
What Pelosi and Obey understand that their critics on the left seem to ignore is that it will take numerous congressional votes and multiple confrontations with Bush to build the support required to end U.S. involvement. Thanks to the Constitution's division of powers, Congress and the White House seem bound for months of fighting over the conditions attached to any approval of funds for continuing our operations in Iraq. Over time, as the war drags on, either enough Republicans will join their Democratic colleagues to put an end to U.S. intervention, or they will stick with Bush, thereby ensuring there will be a sufficient number of Democrats in the next Congress to end the war.
As a strategy for ending the war, that may not be a thing of beauty. It is, however, the best that our political and constitutional realities allow.
Meyerson goes on to argue with his own newspaper's editorial stance on Pelosi and the Democrats' attempts to rein in this war, and then points out how far behind the times the Fred Hyatt beltway boyz are - at least two years. The fact is, as Meyerson points out, nothing could be better politics for th Democrats then for the US to still be stuck in Iraq in the fall of 2008.
If the United States is still in Iraq come November 2008, the Democrats will sweep to power. It's the 2006 elections that are to blame for this nefarious Democratic plan to wind down the war, for the Democrats ran on precisely that platform, and, more to the point, they won on it. The only constituency that The Post ignored in its assessment of Pelosi's plan, and the chief constituency she is trying to heed, is the American people. They have charged the Pelosis and Obeys with the messy task of ending this fiasco, which, to their credit, is exactly what Pelosi and Obey are trying to do.
You can read the whole column here.