Monday, April 23, 2007

Dems Will Lose Game of Brinkmanship

I've shared my thoughts extensively about the risk the Democrats face on Iraq funding, most recently over here. President Clinton's former pollster Doug Schoen has warned Democrats that regardless of what the polls say, they are treading on dangerous ground if they think that they will not be blamed for cutting off funds for the troops. He takes another crack at it today:

Today, history is repeating itself -- with the parties reversed. This time a Republican president is offering talks to recalcitrant Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can justify going to Syria to talk with President Bashar Assad; however, she cannot justify rebuffing an overture to talk to President Bush, as she and Senate majority leader Harry Reid appeared to do last week before hurriedly (and wisely) changing course.

Democrats should not be misled by polls showing that most Americans support the idea of cutting off funding for the war unless benchmarks of success are reached. Of course they do, in the abstract. But Bush's counterargument -- that Democrats are prepared to undermine troops in the field -- will be a powerful one, in part because it is far more concrete than Democrats' complex, poll-tested plan.

In short, Democrats would do well to compromise. If that means accepting a "clean" supplemental funding bill, so be it. While Democrats must continue to criticize the prosecution of the war and the Bush administration's failure to promote political reconciliation, they should also recognize that the public has not yet elected a new commander in chief.

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