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Friday, April 27, 2007

bring them home

It's April 27th, 2007 and there is legislation sitting on the desk of the President, approved by both Houses of Congress, that would end the war in Iraq.

As Barack Obama said yesterday: one signature will end this war.

A headline on the front page of dkos, however, reads: "Senate Democratic Caucus responds to Broder." A top recommended diary by our 2004 Presidential Candidate, Senator John Kerry reads: "Stand with Harry Reid" and calls for us to write to newspapers in Senator Reid's defense.

I'm perplexed and flummoxed by this state of affairs.

Let me explain.


Our nation is in the midst of a monumental debate over the course of the war in Iraq. That debate is being shaped as we speak all over this land. As a part of this, the meaning of the 2006 election is up for grabs. The Republicans understand this fact.

In an attempt to define this battle, the President, the GOP Congress and their media enablers are doing three things:

1. They are attacking Harry Reid for saying "the War is Lost."

2. They are attempting to redefine the election of 2006, implying against all reason that since voters voted for a change in Iraq in 2006, that we voted for the Bush surge in 2006.

3. They are repeating, ad nauseum, that the President is for "success in Iraq" and the Democrats are for "failure in Iraq".

If you watched Bill Moyers excellent Buying the War, you will recognise the m.o. here. The GOP and their enablers are simply repeating themselves until their lies and spin sink in and poison the debate. All of this effort to move the debate on Iraq is aimed at three things:

* creating space for a Presidential veto of the supplemental
* taking pressure off Republicans and Democrats to vote for an override
* and, most critically, defining the political battle for the next stage by pressuring centrist Democrats off their support for ending this war

The GOP understands that they are fighting a national battle and need the support of voters from every spectrum of the American public. They are speaking to the nation as a whole and they are driving a wedge to get the votes they need to kill the Democratic effort to end the war. They are focused like a laser on center/moderate/Blue Dog wing of our caucus. That's where the pressure is focused. After Bush vetoes, and Congress fails to override, that is precisely where this battle will be fought. If the Republicans win this battle, they will have neutralized the election of 2006 and prepared the ground for the election of 2008.

I want to be very clear: 'defending Harry Reid' does absolutely NOTHING to counter this attack. It does nothing to work this vulnerable terrain. In fact, it only reinforces the strength of the GOP attacks.

The Democrats are playing into Karl Rove's hands.

Allow me to suggest something that should be patently clear: you only "defend" and "stand by" and "support" someone when they are in a position of weakness. When someone attacks your friend, and your friend is right, you don't defend your friend, you attack the attacker.

The GOP, in attacking Harry Reid, planted a false flag on a hill far away from the center of the Iraq debate. Don't run to that hill! That's exactly what the GOP wants the Democratic leadership to do. I've said before that the GOP are masters at driving the conversation over breakfast at McDonald's all over America. Democrats need to book their spot at that plastic table.

Democrats must take the battle over the war in Iraq directly to the GOP. They must understand what the GOP is trying to accomplish and then outmaneuver them. The focus of the Democratic Party should be on building the broadest public support for ending the war in Iraq and bringing our troops home. That's taking it to the GOP. That's what Bush and Rove do not want us to do. That's something to talk about over a coffee and an Egg McMuffin.

The Democratic Party won an election in 2006 on the issue of ending the war in Iraq. If Democrats can't make that point stick, we aren't worth the lickspittle off a NeoCon's comb.

My points are simple:

1. Instead of defending Harry Reid from David Broder, we should be making sure that every last thinking American sees Bill Moyers documentary Buying the War.

2. Instead of "standing with" Reid and Kerry, we should get behind Barack Obama's absolutely brilliant and spot on locution: "We are one signature away from ending this war."

3. Our leaders in Congress must, in no uncertain terms, reject the Bush claim that the voters "voted for the surge" in 2006. Our pundits must make clear that the only "failure" in Iraq has been four years of this Administration's policy.

4. Inspired by Moyers and Obama, we citizens must build a groundswell campaign to "fight the lies and end the war." That's what we should be writing letters to the editor about. It's about Moyers not Broder. It's about Votevets and Webb and Tester and McCaskill not Reid. It's about bringing our troops home in a swift and responsible fashion because that's what the American public voted for in 2006.

The sentiment behind defending Reid is understandable, but it is dead wrong. The GOP can't wait to pick off our moderate Democrats one by one. That's what the real battle is about here: what happens after the veto.

One signature will end this war. That's what the American public needs to know. This moment is what the voters voted for in 2006. We must stand together on that.

Our job is to build the broadest possible coalition of Americans from every political party and persuasion to drive that point home.

It's time to end this war. It's time to bring our troops home.


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