The NYT looks at the anti-war coalition which has forced the Congressional Democratic leadership into ever more dramatic anti-war stances. It is they who pushed for the date-certain for withdrawal, and are now pushing against a full-funding measure with benchmarks:
Every morning, representatives from a cluster of antiwar groups gather for a conference call with Democratic leadership staff members in the House and the Senate.
Shortly after, in a cramped meeting room here, they convene for a call with organizers across the country. They hash out plans for rallies. They sketch out talking points for “rapid response” news conferences. They discuss polls they have conducted in several dozen crucial Congressional districts and states across the country.
Over the last four months, the Iraq deliberations in Congress have lurched from a purely symbolic resolution rebuking the president’s strategy to timetables for the withdrawal of American troops. Behind the scenes, an elaborate political operation, organized by a coalition of antiwar groups and fine-tuned to wrestle members of Congress into place one by one, has helped nudge the debate forward.
On Iraq at least, it seems that Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid have largely subsumed their leadership to this council. From their stance after election day - where they wanted at all costs to do nothing to take responsibility for what happened in Iraq - they have been pushed to ever more novel ways to end the war. And if they could do it without cutting off funds for the troops, it would have happened long ago.
It's this coalition that's responsible for the lack of progress on energy and a host of other issues that the Democrats wanted to address.