Thursday, March 22, 2007

The kabuki dance

David Sirota argues that movement progressives should allow our progressive Democratic representatives to approve the upcoming bill funding the Iraq war at least through March 2008.

Sirota recognizes that the pro-war Democrats are playing a "kabuki dance":
Immediately after the 2006 election, pro-war Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D) told the New York Times that she hoped Democrats played a “kabuki dance” with progressives – pretending to be one thing, then doing another. It was an insulting comment – but the shrewd use of a “kabuki dance” should not be discounted as a critical political tool. And that’s exactly what’s going on with the supplemental on behalf of progressives.
Even so, Sirota argues we should "[p]lay hardball, then proudly hold your head up and vote 'yes.'"

He offers three arguments: The bill is something, something is better than nothing, and if the House passes some bill, we have the opportunity of getting a better bill from the Senate. Color me skeptical.

I'm not sure that the bill is even something at all. I'm generally leery of anything that pushes positive action a year in the future. If it's disadvantageous for us to get out now, why will it be advantageous to get out a year from now? What's going to change in a year? I'm also reminded of Mullah Nasreddin's strategy, and not in a good way: We're giving Bush a year to teach the horse how to fly [see the comments].

The crux of the biscuit here is the removal of the requirement for congressional approval to attack Iran. The Democrats could not have thrown the Bush Administration a better hanging curveball than this. One does not have to have mystical powers to prophecy that in March 2008, we're going to be looking at a war not only with Iraq but with Iran as well—and right in the middle of a presidential campaign. We're walking the pitcher here to get to Barry Bonds. Dumb dumb dumb.

Sirota argues that progressives should hold out for a compromise and then vote yes. But the critical compromise has already been taken off the table, and Pelosi is explicitly getting tough. If she puts any compromise on the table now, she's just going to look weak; if she restores a compromise she's already explicitly denied, she's going to look utterly powerless.

Sirota argues also that to govern, the congress must pass bills. I don't think that's the case. What are the consequences of this particular bill failing? The war is instantaneously de-funded, but that doesn't mean we stop feeding the troops. It's not the optimal solution, but if this bill fails the fully funded withdrawal doesn't also magically disappear. The right-wing noise machine is not going to make more noise one way or another; they're already cranked to 11.

Maybe we might get a better bill from the Senate. Yeah right, the same Senate that couldn't even manage hollow posturing.

Progressives should kill this bill, Pelosi and her appointments be damned.

Update: Looks like the progressive Democrats are caving. Can't say as I blame them (much); Pelosi did everything but put a horse's head in their bed. I don't like it, though. My prediction: Bush finds a way to bring Iran into the war, and March 2008 finds us in more of a war than we are today. (h/t to Talking Points Memo)