Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

On capitulation

Matt Stoller has a post about how crazy the "capitulation bill," as he calls it, really is. And he's right on that score. The debate has been framed in an utterly false way, and the idea that Democrats would cut off supplies to our troops is both ridiculous and insulting. But welcome to political discourse in the 21st Century.

That being said, while a lot of progressive are incredibly frustrated, we need to understand that the progressive netroots has not existed very long. That's small solace to family members of military personnel, who are being hung out to dry by the entire government of the United States on this one, but it goes to show you how much more powerful old ways of thinking and the D.C. punditry really are than us.

In very rough terms, the netroots was taking on not just the GOP noise machine and the very powerful machinery it built up over 30 years, but an entrenched portion of the Democratic Party that had come to terms with being a permanent minority through adoption of conservative positions. And that part of the Democratic Party still has a lot of clout.

In short, the public is way ahead of either party on the Iraq occupation. One awful thing about military conflicts is that you don't always get to plan what actually happens. It's possible events in Iraq will now outstrip anyone's ability to control them, with heavens knows what result. KBR is already having trouble supplying food to the US embassy, although whether that is a short term weather-related problem or an ominous sign of things to come is not clear.

While it's hard to imagine a complete military disaster, those kinds of things historically happened when nobody believed they were possible (can you say "Khe Sanh?") Our supply lines in Iraq stretch all the way to Kuwait, and while bad weather might mean no mint chocolate chip ice cream for the embassy today, it could mean no ammunition or fuel for troops someday in the future. Steve Gilliard of The News Blog, who is sadly still hospitalized with a grave illness, always feared a (worse) debacle in Iraq. Hopefully he was wrong, but you kind of have to wonder.

Our government is abandoning the troops in the field by not holding the executive branch accountable for its failed policy. It's a bitter pill to swallow, but the only thing progressives can do is keep trying.

POSTSCRIPT (from Andrew): While this "compromise" is an unwelcome development, it's worth remembering that a Republican still occupies the White House, Democrats have a very fragile majority in the Senate, and the right wing agenda continues to be supported by a powerful apparatus which Bush and his congressional GOP allies have at their disposal.

We made huge strides towards a more progressive America in the 2006 midterm elections, but we need more infrastructure, a Democratic president, and bigger majorities in Congress before we can truly shape the direction of our country.

The netroots, progressive response to today's events must be to redouble our efforts to advance our values and elect more progressives to public office - not to despair and scream at Democrats who voted for this appropriations bill, including our local Democratic senators and representatives listed below who voted yes.

Here's the roll call:
Voting No: Jay Inslee, Adam Smith, Jim McDermott (Washington) Ron Wyden, David Wu, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and Darlene Hooley (Oregon)

Voting Yes: Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Norm Dicks, Brian Baird, Rick Larsen (Washington)
All of the Pacific Northwest's Republicans dutifully voted yes except for Representative McMorris Rodgers, who did not vote.

<< Home