Monday, September 10, 2007
Democrats Face Hobson's Choice [Mario Loyola]
I must say that I sympathize with the bind that Democratic leaders are in somewhat. Defeatism is forced upon them by their base. That's why they have no choice but but to insist that Iraq is going disastrously badly, that it was all a mistake, and that we should get out now. Where they have no choice but to acknowledge that progress has been made, they must insist at all costs that President Bush's policies have had nothing to do with it. It is a matter of political reality. Their base will throw them back into the minority if they say anything else. Chuck Schumer's recent talking point — that progress has come in spite of the surge, not because of it — is something he has little choice but to say, no matter how little he believes it.
You can't acknowledge that things are going better in Iraq without implicitly acknowledging that the president was right after all. The electoral center, which gave the Dems their majority, is exceedingly fickle. They elected the president in '04 because they thought we could still in Iraq, then turned around and elected the Dems in '06, because they stopped believing it. If the president was right after all, then they might as well go back to supporting the president. The would be the end of the Democratic majority, and possibly the end of their chances in '08.
The Democrats problem stems from the fact that their base is composed of two groups that fundamentally do not share the same view of American foreign policy or of the war on terror. On the one hand, you have people who once supported the war, and on the other, the people who were always against it. Those two groups agree about only one thing now, which is that the Iraq war has been a disaster and we should get out as soon as possible. Until recently that view was held by a majority of Americans, which is what translated into the democratic majority.
Unfortunately for the Demcrats, the progress in Iraq is largely undeniable, and the American people are starting to believe it. For the first time in a long time, a majority of Americans believes both that we can win in Iraq and that the war in Iraq is part of the war on terror. That, of course, is the essence of the Republican platform on Iraq.
Consequently, Democratic-party leaders are faced with Hobson's choice. They must play the pessimist's part – it is the only way to maintain their majority. Anything else is political suicide for them. They are irretrievably invested in defeat. They therefore have to deny that we are making progress, no matter how obvious that progress is — and no matter how relieved they are, deep down inside, as Americans, that we are making it.
09/10 01:52 PMShare