Kevin Drum Points Out What Democrats Need to Do

Since Russ Feingold made his leap to announce a time frame to pull out of Iraq, there has been some considerable clamor from liberals for other Senate Democrats to step up to the plate and follow suit.

With Iraq heating up and Cindy Sheehan is out in front as the Poster Mom for the anti-war movement, the tension has been mounting between factions of the Democratic Party. Kevin Drum of The Washington Monthly offers some solid advice to all concerned, in the L.A. Times:

Needless to say, an internecine war between its hawks and doves is the last thing the beleaguered Democratic Party needs. You can be sure that Karl Rove would do his best to hammer such a wedge straight through the heart of the party come election time. So both Democratic factions would be well-advised to do some serious thinking before their disagreements get out of hand.

Drum suggests that “members of the antiwar left” should “continue to push establishment Democrats to support withdrawal from Iraq, but they should also make it clear that no one will be punished for doing so, regardless of their past support for the war.”

However angry they are, doves can best serve their cause by not demanding tortured explanations and tearful apologies. A change in position should be enough.

Well said, I hope it is heeded.

On the other hand, the mainstream Democrats, Drum says need to “have the courage to break ranks and advocate the course that’s probably the most sensible anyway: a gradual, phased withdrawal based on specified interim goals and a hard end-date two years from now.”

After all, in December 2007 we will have been in Iraq for nearly five years, and the plain reality is that by then we’ll either leave because we’ve won or we’ll leave because it’s clear that we can’t. So why not say so?

Finally, Kevin Drum offers three solid reasons why “such a public stance makes sense.” Read them here.

For any Democrat who has been on the record for the last two years as supporting the war in Iraq, advocating withdrawal will take guts. But being the first liberal hawk to seriously propose such a solution would also carry some rewards: The antiwar left would finally have someone to rally around, and the Bush administration would finally have some serious competition.

Who will be the first to do it?

My question is: Who amongst the party anti-wars will step up and agree with Drum’s assertion, and be willing to solidly embrace the mainstream Dems who come forward with a solution?

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24 Responses to Kevin Drum Points Out What Democrats Need to Do

  1. Marjorie G says:

    Annoying, always, is saying that supporting is saying the same, once in, with media pressure, and trying to get through the campaign. The IWR was never intended as a suppoort for the war.

    None of the pereceived hawks, and that even means Biden, wanted this war. Now he hears that people wanted a winner on Iraq, so he’s saying he can win.

    Drum alludes to push into a savage civil war like it’s a small thing, so is he saying rallying the same as wise or electable? I hear flip flop from our side as well as the GOP.

  2. beachmom says:

    Considering the the Dems have NO power, I don’t see why Senate and Congressional Democrats have to decide this instant. Although I would say by Jan. ’06 they need to have made some decisions. I think it’s important that all faction of the party have a big conversation about this. I am tired of the antiwar Left and their non-stop insults of any Dem politician (particularly Kerry) who hasn’t said “pullout the troops!”. They seem to spend more time going after Democrats than they do George Bush, who after all, carries ALL the blame for this war. Why can’t the Dems have one voice in non-stop criticism of the Bush administration and discuss their differences in a more civilized tone? And what of the serious problems with an actual withdrawal, and the fact that unlike the Vietnamese, these insurgent fighters can easily use their skills to attack Europe and America with just some bombs and a few backpacks? These are SERIOUS questions, but the antiwar Left won’t even discuss it.

  3. Marjorie G says:

    People use Vietnam’s excuse-civil war if we pull out, etc, to continue indefinitely. I don’t want to mention how long that war was. Tom Hayden will always say push to the left, just to move us. Problem is Tom, Netroots, don’t tell their movement, and give them expectation and simplistic marching directives.

    More annoying, it is never voting on ability to lead, figure out to make America prominent, secure-financially-in the future, and otherwise, believable as a leader, just that damn litmus test, that I’m sorry, was either political (and something they would have applauded on the other side) in that we didn’t really know what they’d find, or that Senate Foreign Relations had more reason to be suspicious. This wasn’t a vote for war.

    The purists know, admit, no one could stop the runaway train, yet they still blame. Often Kerry single-handedly. In 2008 these people will still hold the IWR over the heads, to pe-empt anyone they don’t like. Had the media not taken up Dean’s drumbeat, and purposely kept this a muddle… If

  4. I think the calls to get out of Iraq are going to continue to get louder. Gary Hart’s OP/ED (see the linked “from liberals” in the first line) in the WaPO two days ago was a bit on the same lines as Drum’s. Thomas Oliphant made a similar call earlier this week too.

    The division between the Dem party factions seems to be getting deeper, for all we are reading in the blogs. I found it interesting that Drum was lobbying for some sort of way to get everyone to come to the table and make concessions. I don’t see either side doing this.

    I was curious what everyone here would think. Personally I can’t imagine the staunch anti-wars forgiving and accepting as Drum suggests.

  5. Marjorie G says:

    But who can lead in the middle of the chaos, and with the Dems foaming? The anti-war wouldn’t applaud JK for doing more than what he has already given, steps all along the way to be repsonsible to get us out. No permanent bases.

    What would work politically and practically?

  6. Marjorie G says:

    Hart’s jockeying for something. His no permanent bases article, and saying no one else had mentioned it. He is an underutilized talent. We’ll see.

  7. Marjorie

    I don’t know. It’s quite a mess and I fear it will only get messier. How to find common ground is beyond me. Even if the anti-wars could simply get past the blame game it would be a step in working towards something to end the infighting.

  8. Marjorie

    I was surprised by Hart’s recent pieces, the WaPO and Huffington, because he came out so early for JK. Did you meet him in NH?

  9. Nick says:

    I’m no fan of the Iraq war, but I’m sick and tired of these goddamn litmus tests. Let’s do the math: at the time of the IWR vote the GOP had a majority in the House and the vast majority of them were gonna vote with Bush (as were mnay southern non-black dems). In the Senate, dems had only a 50-49-1 majority and while chafee was gonna vote no did anybody really think that Dem Senators like Zell Miller, John Breaux, Evan Bayh, Joe Lieberman and others were not gonna give Bush the majority on this issue? Its not like Kerry cast the deciding vote. Anyway, even Michael Moore has said that while he didn’t trust Bush, Americans should expect to trust their leaders won’t lie to them in life or death situations. Bush or no Bush, he’s still the president.
    By the way, did we mention that in November 2004 51% of Americans APPROVED of the decision to go to war in Iraq and that 55% of Americans thought the war in Iraq was part of the war on terror? The very working and middle class people that Kerry had to reach to make it close (let alone win) mostly supported the war.
    DKos and those with litmus tests on the war are like the protestors at the Democratic Convention Chicago in 1968. As PJ O’Rourke put it “the 1968 Democrat Convention WAS class warfare, just not like we envisioned it. We were supposedly there fighting for the poor and the downtrodden. What had happened was that the poor and the downtrodden had gotten jobs with the Chicago police department and were now beating the crap out of college kids who mostly came from families that were at least upper-middle class.” “Violent doves” gave us President Richard Nixon in 1968, there’s nothing that says a similar tragedy can’t happen in 2008.

  10. Nick

    Good points. Profound look at the past and what division in the party can do. Thanks.

  11. Marjorie G says:

    Interesting about violent doves. From the outise aboutthis litmus, doesn’t make us look too big picture and trustworthy.

    Didn’t meet Hart. He was on board because he knew Kerry’s strength in inderstanding terrorism, treating it as a mob, general reliance on diplomacy, the grown-up stuff. But he’s jockeying for sure, and maybe adoption by the lefties, maybe appeciative posts and emails, makes him more opportunistic. Quien sabe?

    Nick, thanks, always good ammo.

  12. Marjorie G says:

    Someday I’ll to type, and fast.

  13. Marjorie

    Maybe I’m being too Polyanna-ish but I was sort of hoping that Hart’s piece and Thomas Oliphant’s similar piece were calls to a “friend” to be the one to stand up with a strong plan.

    With all the Kerry was right inferences coming in these days, he’s got the clout to do this. Like I said, maybe it’s just a Polyanna wish.

  14. beachmom says:

    I like the comment about 1968. I think that the Vietnam comparison is mostly false, because that was in the context of a completely different war, the Cold War. I’m thinking out loud here, but the one valid point I hear about the dangers of pulling out of Iraq are that if it becomes a failed state, it will become, full scale, another Afghanistan for al Qaeda. I realize that it already is that today, but from what I can understand, that when the Americans target a certain area, and go in, the insurgents do run away. But they go somewhere else (wack the Mole), although they have to rebuild and set up shop when this happens, so it does set them back for a time. If we no longer are “wacking the Mole”, and IMHO, the Iraqi National Forces are in terrible shape and wouldn’t be able to launch offences like the Americans can, will Iraq become Terrorist Academy of the world, largely uninhibited by the threat of the American military? Explain how we can stop this danger, and I would consider a troop withdrawal plan. Yes, the Americans would have “cut and run” and would be terribly humiliated (like Vietnam), but I could live with that if we are doing the REAL national security of making the world as difficult a place as possible for terrorists to operate.

  15. Marjorie G says:

    Pam, we know that he was right, but I don’t all of them referencing Kerry as right. Maybe G-Save.

  16. Beachmom

    An article in Guardian UK the other day suggests the insurgents have a strong base set up right under our noses and there is not much we can do to stop them. They scatter from the town when our troops come in and then come back when they are gone. I don’t know what the answer is anymore, but it’s a real mess over there and we are not getting the true picture through our news. I first heard this story on Randi Rhodes and then
    Peter Daou posted it on the Daou Report.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1553781,00.html

    What Drum suggests is a two year withdrawl plan. Take that and set into place building a strong coalition which JK has advocated all along and there could be some hope.

  17. Marjorie

    We can have hope… don’t know what else we can have if we don’t have hope.

  18. beachmom says:

    Pamela,

    Thanks for the link. It sounds like a story about the Taliban in Afghanistan. I fear for our troops stuck in such a horrible place, and hope that if they had to die, it would be instantly, instead of falling into the hands of the insurgents. The insurgents really are awful people, and their ideology represents everything liberals are against. This is the paradox of the antiwar movement. What to do, what to do? I just don’t know. That is why I am angered when the loud, antiwar faction of the Dem Party condemns our Democratic elected officials, when the situation is so complex, that there are no easy answers. I will say again and again that this is Bush’s war. The IWR vote no way told Bush to do what he ultimately did. I’m tired of people making it sound like the Democrats “voted for the war”, when that is no way in hell what they did. But in defending Kerry, I must resign myself to the fact that I have to defend him against the Left as well as the Right.

  19. Beachmom

    I was awestruck when I heard that story. I sat in my car listening in disbelief. Our guys don’t even want to go in there from what the story says.

    I concur on all counts. It’s a mess. Far messier than the loud antiwars acknowledge. The vote was not as they construe it and those of us who faithfully stand by JK are stuck defending him on all sides.

    So… we’ve got each other here, while we’ve got JK’s back!

  20. Teresa says:

    I think we will have to get out. We’ll understand this more and more. This is something internal in that country that has to be worked out and we are delaying the inevitable. The problem can’t be solved as long as we are there. They are mostly enraged by a history of foreign occupation or intervention. There is a possibility that things will work out better then anticipated once they are free of us. A reasonable rhythmical withdrawal is in order.

    The one good thing in this might be the end of the occupation of the Democratic Party by the centrists who are holding back our future success. As the war increases in unpopularity, the Democrats should ride the wave, and seperate themselves completely from the Republicans’ failed policies.

    We are the people of this country and the majority want us to take some steps to leave Iraq.

  21. Marjorie G says:

    Pam, didn’t you mention that Kerry is going to Iraq? Maybe the beginning of a comprehensive policy, or you are there moment.

  22. Marjorie

    That was an off the record bit of info shared by Karen a few days ago. I hope he is going. We need his view on the latest changes there. If he does he may be able to formulate a solid stance that would eb helpful to all… not that W will listen. But hey, Ron just posted earlier that his views on Korea have been applied, it seems.

  23. Marjorie G says:

    I want credit from the purists, selfishly, but anything short of leaving tomorrow is pro-war. What to do?

  24. Marjorie

    That makes two of us… credit from the purists.