Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Anti-War Democrats Divided -- But it Probably Doesn't Matter

Bonus! A crazy idea for bipartisan cooperation on Iraq... read down.

Yesterday I mused on the course of the war for the next 9 months or so. One of the reasons behind that was to try to figure how many Democrats might be willing to work with war supporters on a plan that recognized the likely political reality: that President Bush is likely to have the support he needs to continue the mission.

Today, the Politico reports that anti-war Democrats differ on whether to work with Republicans on a bipartisan approach to ending the war, or refuse to compromise, and insist on prompt withdrawal from Iraq:

Abercrombie believes in making common cause with wavering Republicans to create a powerful coalition that will force President Bush to change policy.

Woolsey has little interest in a political strategy that requires any compromises with the GOP in the name of consensus. She believes the anti-war movement can only succeed in Congress by mandating a quick and clear end to the war.
Here's the thing: for the foreseeable future, Democrats cannot end the war without Republican support. They have funded the war through the end of the year, and funding will be available through the first part of next year. The President will veto any measure they can pass to force a withdrawal -- and he has the votes to sustain the veto. That will continue to be the case in the near future.

So the only way to end the war soon is to get Republicans on board, to create a veto-proof majority. But what sort of plan will Republicans support at a time when the news on the surge is good? Presumably the 'best' that could be hoped for is a phase down over a period of months -- presumably something built around the drawdown which is apparently inevitable come April of next year.

My counter-intuitive suggestion: both parties might see their political interests served by this approach. It would save Democrats from blame if the surge went well, and save Republicans from blame if it went south. Not all Democrats would need to sign on to this to make it work; perhaps 50 or 60 would be needed in the House -- to make clear that this was more than just Blue Dogs. And the first 30 or so would be the Blue Dogs -- who constitute the 'canary in the coal mine' of Democrats most presumably endangered if voters are inclined to punish Democrats for their opposition to the war.

This is all just brainstorming and speculation of course -- at least for now.

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