Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Agony of Democratic Defeat

It looks like the Democrats are caving again on Iraq war funding, and I have to admit that it's extremely painful to see. Glenn Greenwald captures the humiliation through a series of headlines like these.

Washington Post:

Pelosi backs down in spending battle
By Alexander Bolton Posted: 12/12/07 11:50 AM [ET]
December 12, 2007

Washington Post:

Democrats Bow to Bush's Demands in House Spending Bill
Billions Trimmed From New Requests
By Jonathan WeismanWashington Post Staff Writer Thursday, December 13, 2007; Page A03


Budget deal would probably give Bush victory on war funding

Greenwald's argument is that the Dems caved because they eventually bought into the argument that giving into the Bush administration protects them against accusations of "weakness" and "appeasement."

But I don't think so. By threatening to veto the whole federal budget unless he got his war funding and spending targets, Bush is essentially holding the whole federal government hostage as he faces down the Democrats. In this context, the Democrats aren't giving in because they want to look "strong;" they're caving because they don't believe in shutting down the whole federal government and don't believe they could win a fight over shutting down the government either. Bush has the Dems in a game of chicken and they're the ones who are blinking.

But that doesn't mean that the Democrats should be surrendering to the Bush administration. For some reason, the Democrats seem to believe that they'll be "in control" if Clinton or Obama wins the presidency next year. But if that's the case, the Republican leadership will be itching for more games of "chicken" with the federal budget, judicial appointments, and the military. The Democratic leadership and commentariat keeps thinking that the Republicans will act "reasonably," but they have yet to recognize the strategic and cultural importance of fomenting confrontation to the Republicans.

Sooner or later, the Dems are going to have to call the Republicans on whatever game of chicken they're playing and brave the confrontation. That's when people will think the Dems are "strong," "principled," and "determined."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, you know, the Dems have to keep their powder dry. (snark)