Democrats Newly Willing to Compromise on Iraq
With a mixed picture emerging about progress in Iraq, Senate Democratic leaders are showing a new openness to compromise as they try to attract Republican support for forcing at least modest troop withdrawals in the coming months.
This is the same group of Senate Democrats who voted 36-11 to rubber stamp George Bush's $120 billion emergency supplemental request last May.
16 of them later voted to legalize the secret NSA domestic spying program. The one that was judged an unconstitutional violation of the 4th amendment last August.
One wonders what more they could do in the name of compromise.
Democrats had been counting on more Republicans to make a clean break from the president after the summer recess, but the White House has managed, at least temporarily, to hold on to much of its support.After explicitly telling the president that he merely needs to veto legislation to get his way, and showing the minority leader that he can pass his own bill by filibustering theirs; the Democrats thought the Republicans would now cooperate? This is the sort of political acumen that has led to a 20 point drop in their approval rating since January.
Some Democrats have concluded that their decision earlier this summer to thwart votes on alternatives left them open to criticism that they were being intransigent. Democrats had wanted to keep pressure on Republicans over the summer by denying them votes on Iraq. Now, with the recess over, Democratic leaders are more willing to allow alternatives to a hard withdrawal date to reach the floor to keep pressure on President Bush.Harry Reid has demonstrated that he simply doesn't know how to lead the Senate. Instead of pushing a Democratic Iraq strategy, he begins negotiations by starting with Republican John Warner's. (Warner's plan is to ask nicely if the president would please send a few troops home for Christmas.)
Mr. Levin and other Democrats said this week that they were reaching out to Republicans who had expressed reservations about Mr. Bush’s policy to generate momentum for a proposal by Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, to begin to remove at least a limited number of troops from Iraq by the end of the year.
Democrats won in 2006 because a majority of Americans had tired of an ineffectual rubber stamp Republican Congress and their support for the war plan of the most incompetent president in American history. Democrats were elected to change course, not whine. They cannot wait for Republican conversions. They have the power of the purse and the power to block the president's agenda, but they need to actually use it. If they smack their supporters again they can kiss the Senate goodbye in 2008.
Keep your eye on the ball, Harry. Three strikes and you're out.