Perhansa asks. We listen.
Barbara is still in Ireland. Susan is still in Mary Oliver land, having been to two magnificent readings in 14 hours. She took my head out of the political world and into the natural world, and I'm reluctant to come back. So thanks, Perhansa, for another post.
Now that the Cowboy-in-Chief has made it clear that he will tolerate no conditions, dates, enforceable benchmarks or expectations on his war, and has exercised his veto pen, what do the Dems do now? Public opinion is a bewildering fog of ambiguity. Cleary, the majority are exasperated by the war and can see, despite the rosy rhetoric from the White House, only W, Dick, and Gen. Petraeus think this thing is "winnable". More.
At the same time, when asked, the "public" seems to want a timetable for withdrawal, but not too aggressive a timetable; they're afraid of the all-hell-will-break-loose warnings of apocalypse foretold by the administrations' boogey men. The Re-Pubs seem willing to try and distance themselves from W while out testosterone-ing each other with bold affirmations about not surrendering or allowing defeat (winning is now defined as not losing'"which means not leaving).
Harry and Nancy talked boldly after the veto, but without cover they're not going any further on putting the breaks on Incurious George. Short of mass protests on the order of the Vietnam era, I don't see this ending any time soon'"do you? Non-binding benchmarks'"what for? It reminds me of my former neighbor with whom I had an unspoken rule not to share a beer before noon. He'd show up in my backyard on a Saturday morning at 10:00am with a pair of Miller Lites and cheerily say, "It's noon somewhere in the world." The Iraqi's parliament will some day accomplish something and they'll call it a benchmark and say, "See, it was right not to pressure them." Or they won't.
Also, now that the firestorm of the US Attorneys has died down, Alberto looks like he'll get to keep his job even if he is an incompetent rat and the justice department is as politicized as everything that walks and breaths in D.C. George Tenet is an ass-covering coward. Condi thinks diplomacy is not being rude to Syrian and Iranian diplomats if they pass each other in the hall. The military and the White House are preparing us for a higher order of death and violence for the summer until we see if the surge is working. The Surge will work just enough to ask for more funding and more extensions for the troops because there isn't, nor will there ever be, a Plan K (we can quit calling it Plan B since we're already on Plan J at least). The NRA claims it wants to keep guns out of the hands of certified freakin' nut cases'"but that'd be most of them, so it's not going anywhere. And Scooter will get a pardon before W leaves office. Dick has blood clots in his leg and some non-functioning neurons in the brain. I'm trying to take the Buddhist approach here and see things as they are and not how I'd like them to be'
So what to do? I say W made his bed, soiled it, and wants to keep sitting in it soiling it some more. Let him. Let's make it absolutely clear this is George's War. The Iraq Study Group couldn't persuade him to change course. The generals on the ground couldn't persuade him to change course. The 2006 elections couldn't persuade him to change course. A Democratic majority in the House and Senate couldn't persuade him to change course. The surge is on for the summer no matter what anyone says or does. It's George's War'"it's time to hang this solely around his neck and let history judge. If we're still in Iraq in November of 2008 and conditions are no better, they'll be a Dem in the White House and a bigger majority in Congress. First order of business will be to extricate ourselves from George's War. That's been the pattern of the last forty years. History isn't on W's side. Countries with superior military power have lost two thirds of the wars over the past forty years to insurgencies (Robert Packer, Correlates of War Project).
In the meantime, what WILL ensure the Dems get elected in '08 is a real VISION and some RESULTS. The first hundred hours seems an eternity ago and didn't amount to much'"time to get it in gear. We need some real leadership, a sustainable plan, and some quick hits to address climate change. We need an energy policy that begins to extricate us from the dependence on Middle East oil. We need the minimum wage hike to actually becoming law. We need immigration reform. We need to balance the budget. We need to re-evaluate No Child Left Behind and the cash flow into "faith'"based" programs that practice hiring discrimination. We need health care reform. We need to tax reform. Take your pick. Two years from now the public will be asking the Dems, what have you done since we sent a message in 2006 we wanted change. What will our answer be?
We already know what the Re-Pub message will be in '08'"9/11, Terror, Iraq, Iran, military buildup, tax cuts, culture wars, etc. What else can they run on? Do they dare ever mention "values" again? Any talk of bringing more dignity to D.C. will light up the laugh meter. A successful leader knows how to pick their fights. The Iraq one is no longer winnable. This is George's War to win or lose. The next few months will decide its fate. The next fifteen months will decide the Dems fate in 2008. We can't count on the Re-Pubs losing, we have to win. We have to have a vision, a message, and some results, or a third party candidate will look better and better and we know who gets hurt by third party candidates. Time to roll up the sleeves and get to work on something besides George's War.