Allegedly Anti-War Democrats Haven’t Ended the War

Matt Taibbi, aka the poor man’s Leonard Pierce, has a powerful article in Rolling Stone attacking the anti-war movement’s embrace of Democratic political interests while Congressional Democrats for fail to move to end the war in Iraq. The article includes some undoubtedly controversial descriptions of how one of the leading anti-war coalitions, Americans Against the Escalation in Iraq, has ties to centrist parts of the Democratic Party, I’m more concerned with how Taibbi pins blame on the failures of those elected to end the war.

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….

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 bullshit 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?

Look, fuck your hearts, OK? Just get it done. Because if you don’t, sooner or later this con is going to run dry. It may not be in ’08, but it’ll be soon. Even Americans can’t be fooled forever.

Taibbi’s ending brings me back to this infamous quote from Harry Reid on the floor of the Senate this past May.

Watching this video, it’s clear that Harry Reid simply doesn’t know the meaning of the word “never.” His use of anti-war rhetoric is about as discomforting to watch as Mitt Romney singing the Baha Men, with the notable difference that while Romney was unable to talk to black youths, Reid has ensured the continuation of a war that’s claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Democrats have utterly failed to legislate with the political will handed to them by the 2006 elections. The majority came through politicians wage anti-war campaigns around the country. The leadership in the Senate is, naturally, comprised of incumbents who were elevated by anti-war sentiment, but bore no electoral connection to it. Perhaps this is an explanation for their failure to legislate the end of the war through the congressional power of the purse. Or perhaps these people – Reid, Pelosi, Schumer, and Hoyer – just don’t believe the same things we believe.

Taibbi’s article cites Reid as saying that they haven’t had enough time to end the war because of the presidential campaign.

Solidifying his reputation as one of the biggest pussies in U.S. political history, Reid explained his decision to refocus his party’s energies on topics other than ending the war by saying he just couldn’t fit Iraq into his busy schedule. “We have the presidential election,” Reid said recently. “Our time is really squeezed.”

If presidential politics are any limiting factor in Congress’ efforts to stop the war, it’s that Reid doesn’t want to let the legislative process force Obama and Clinton to follow it along to the left. He doesn’t want to require them to make any controversial votes – preferring to let people like Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold be alone in efforts to cut off funding for the war. Ending the war by cutting its funds remains a fringe idea in the Senate precisely because people like Reid, Schumer, Clinton, and Obama have refused to legitimize it and make it the primary course of action for the Senate on the war.

Congress has punted the war in Iraq. I wish I had a better understanding of why they’ve refused to stand up to the President on the continuation of the war. Democrats have funded hundreds of billions of dollars for the war in Iraq. For better or worse, this Congress is responsible for the continuation of the war and nothing they have done, nor even the promises of the remaining Democratic presidential candidates, give me hope that we can expect a quick end to the war following the election of a Democrat to the White House.


T.Party suggests that our hopes to end the war were effectively ended in December 2006 (before we even seated the Democratic majority in the 110th Congress) when Nancy Pelosi said, “We will not cut off funding for the troops…Absolutely not.”

It’s hard to end the war when you, you know, rule out using the only means to ending the war.

Also note that Pelosi describes the congressional power of the purse along a right wing frame. Double whammy.


Atrios is writing on Iraq but he could well be writing about presidential politics or Bush’s approval ratings or any other number of subjects:

The absurdity of everything continues. It’s just impossible for common sense and facts to penetrate our contemporary discourse anymore.

This is seen in the primary setting in Matt Yglesias’s post on Romney and the South Carolina primary titled, “Heads Romney Wins, Tails Romney Wins.”

To which Atrios writes, echoing his previous post on Iraq, “It’s amazing the degree to which the actual mechanics of winning the primary contests are ignored in favor of how various outcomes impact press narratives that the press is somehow powerless to control.”

Delegate strategies, caucus mechanics, and efforts to make it harder for people to participate are all facts that should have some penetration into press narratives. Instead we get narratives on momentum that only look forward towards the winnowing of a field, with no retrospection on what happens when the press is wrong about what voters will do with their opportunity to participate in the presidential process.

Oh and somewhere along the way it was decided that there would be no substantive coverage of policy proposals of the various candidates. But haircuts and swimsuits are OK.