Skip to comments.Memo to Dems on Iraq: The Post-Veto Strategy (I TOLD You This Was a PROPAGANDA WAR!)
Posted on 03/29/2007 11:03:49 PM PDT by tcrlaf
Memo to Dems on Iraq: The Post-Veto Strategy
President Bush today reiterated his insistence that he will veto the current Iraq supplemental spending bill. There is a decent chance this is a poker-style bluff - an attempt to stop the House and Senate's success so far in moving through a bill that ends the war.
(Snip) Karl Rove understands that the veto will make Bush the one "cutting off funds to the troops" - the attack the White House and the Republican machine have used to berate Democrats.
This was, after all, one of the big reasons Democrats attached binding legislation to end the war to a supplemental spending bill in the first place: Because it will be very difficult for Bush to walk into his own right-wing attack line about "cutting off funds to the troops."
(Snip) THE OPPOSITE OF THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN OF 1995-1996
In the 1995 and early 1996, the federal government shut down after congressional Republicans and President Clinton could not come to a budget agreement. Politically, polls show Clinton came out way ahead, masterfully using his bully pulpit to beat the GOP into submission. At first glance, this seems to suggest any similar legislative-executive branch confrontation will be won by the president, merely because of the bully pulpit. But that is a specious conclusion when considering all the facts and applying them to the potential confrontation over Iraq.
First and foremost, Clinton was digging in on an issue - public spending on social programs - that Democrats have long held a wide advantage on in the public's mind.
Balancing the budget was also an issue at the time - and Democrats' credibility on that subject was on the uptick, considering the success of Clinton's high-profile, deficit-cutting inaugural budget.
Clinton himself knew all of this, and used the situation to his advantage. "Since I took office, we have cut the federal deficit nearly in half [and] it is important that the people of the United States know that the United States now has proportionately the lowest government budget deficit of any large industrial nation," he said in his speech announcing the shutdown.
"Republicans are following a very explicit strategy announced last April by Speaker Gingrich, to use the threat of a government shutdown to force America to accept their cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, to accept their cuts in education and technology and the environment."
This is exactly the opposite of where Bush will be when he vetoes the supplemental.
Polls consistently show the public opposes the war, is against Bush's surge, and has lost almost all faith in Bush's handling of the situation. Democrats consistently get higher marks from the public on Iraq than Bush or Republicans, with the most recent PIPA poll showing 70 percent of the public believes Democrats' proposals in Congress to end the war are either "about right" or "not going far enough" (in fact, "not far enough" gets the highest marks overall, meaning there's a lot of running room for Democrats).
Even on the issue of "terrorism", Democrats are even with Bush and, in some polls, ahead, meaning Bush's absurd efforts to conflate 9/11 and Iraq will fall flat. In sum, Bush, unlike Clinton, will be digging in AGAINST public opposition to his policies, and in confrontation with opponents who the public trusts more on the issue at hand.
STANDING GROUND WITHOUT APPEARING INTRANSIGENT
Bush will, undoubtedly, try to turn the situation around, most likely by touring the country and appearing in districts of Blue Dog Democrats to invoke the names of national Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi and criticize them for supposedly "cutting off funding for the troops."
This is the simplistic, post-9/11 strategy from his homeland security campaign in the lead-up to the 2002 mid-term elections: Attack Democrats who are perceived to be politically vulnerable in 2008, in the hopes that they will submit to voting for a "clean" supplemental bill - one that funds the war indefinitely while eliminating any binding provisions to end the war
(As an aside: Blue Dog Democrats love to tell everyone how "strategic" and "smart" they are, but the ones who have publicly equivocated or worse, made statements supporting the "clean" supplemental option, are actually the stupidest politicians I've seen in a long time because their actions have made themselves into bigger targets than they need to be; Had they simply fallen in line earlier, the White House would be less likely to try to peel them off with hardball tactics).
The beauty of the situation, however, is that a majority of Congress will now on record supporting the current supplemental with its binding antiwar provisions, meaning a majority of Congress has already taken whatever political "hit" they will take, and there's no real political incentive to back off.
If you've already voted for something you think you are going to get attacked on, even if you turn around and vote for something far weaker, you are still going to get attacked for your original vote.
That's Politics 101, and every politician in Congress who's ever run a television ad knows that. Democrats standing their ground and demanding an end to the war is no longer risky, both because of public opinion, and because they are already on record making such demands.
The question, then, is how to stand ground without taking on the Gingrich 1995 problem of appearing intransigent, caustic and prematurely triumphalist.
You may recall that in the lead up to and during the government shutdown, Republicans ran around bragging about the situation as a supposed success.
"We'll let the government shut down," boasted one leading Republican lawmaker at the time. "This is not a game over whether the government is going to shut down. This is our maximum point of leverage to insist that parts of the revolution are executed."
We have to avoid that kind of thing.
Rhetorically, declaring the passage of the supplemental with its binding antwar language a success is great; Declaring Bush's veto a "success" is terrible.
Even if his veto is a political success in isolating Bush, it is not a success in terms of either ending the war, and more generally, gridlock is never perceived as "success" by the public.
But even more important than just the language and PR of the situation will be the legislative strategy. How do you stand legislative ground while appearing flexibly disposed to "getting something done?"
It is VERY long, and dry reading, but it is important that we know what we will be up against.
The basic points are:
STANDING GROUND WITHOUT APPEARING INTRANSIGENT
A CAREFULLY AIMED SHOTGUN APPROACH
THE KEYS TO THE STRATEGY
The antiwar movement will have to expend significant resources - and perhaps in a very confrontational way - to pressure wavering Blue Dog Democrats to stay in line.
Bush: "I won't let the sacrifice of our soldiers be in vain, just so the opposition party can score political points."
While I'm sure there are polls that suggest this to be the case, the questions are rigged so as to get the biggest number that you can claim as "anti-war". I suspect that number includes a lot of mushy attitudes & doubt. If I'm right, then that is hardly a ringing endorsement of the Democrat strategy over Iraq funding.
The dems can stop the war now by voting on it, but they dont want to, they are spineless to go on record for the disaster that would occur if US withdraws. Their strategy is to have it both ways, they vote for the war spending but bring the troops home, like inhaling but not smoking their responsibility.
But, The dems have miscalculated on this one, because they believe that leaving the troops in limbo will makes the president look like he is not supportive the troops if he vetos, and if he goes along the troops come home, they think they are in a win win situation, however the longer the stalemate goes on most likely there will be some catastrophe, such as happened with the English hostages , where it will appear that our troops are under funded .
There will be no way they can make attacks on our troops look bad for the president , by spinning the veto as not supportive of the troops, because everyone knows the presidents views about security and his support for the troops are absolute, therefore, he should stick firm and watch the dems fold under pressure of failure that is to be on their watch for not supporting the mission of defending the US from attack.
Round up the Left and intern them
Additionally, the Dems do not have the votes to shut the war down (Presidential Veto).
Good read; a bit pessimistic. If the Rs would punch back with some brass knuckles, things might be okay. I don't think they will, though. :(
Slam dunk! People may not "like" the war (who ever does?) but most of them didn't vote in 2006 for "losing in Iraq" by "redeploying". That's what Dems' leadership are delusional about because they are driven by nuts in their very liberal districts and netroots/rootnuts.
Their margins are razor-thin, especially in the Senate. Attack "blue dogs", accuse them of broken promises and sellout for pork (pork could be gotten from other bills), and if it goes on a little longer - start shutting down and "relocating" the bases in strategic "blue" and "blue dogs" districts (like National Parks closures by Clinton, only much more biting). It will be over in no time... Dems didn't have any successes, no popular bills passed, no programs annunciated, so they don't have any goodwill accumulated - their approval last month dropped 9 points to low 20's - no better than last GOP Congress. Yet the first fight they are trying to pick is about sneaking a "losing" bill in the guise of "support for the troops" in the face of a veto threat?
Dumb and dumber. Bring it on!!
So what?! It's all about perception. The DBM/dems win the PR battle almost every time because Repubs NEVER have the guts to stand up and fight all the way through for what they KNOW is right. If the President Veto's this crap, ALL the Repubs better stand behind him 1000% as a party, or not only does he lose the PR battle, but repubs lose in '08.
...and deservedly so.
You're right, but we always have to do battle with the media, it's a given and a "known known" (Rumsfeld). If we keep giving it up, because we don't have the stomach for it, then we shouldn't even start anything. If we can't do this even for things like our own survival, then hang up on the party or find people who could be spokesmen for the party, unlike our supposed current party "leadership".