Cooler heads seem to have prevailed in the Democratic caucus and the leadership is pulling the extremists, who are a substantial portion of the party, back from the brink of a debacle:
Democratic leaders backed away from aggressive plans to limit President Bush's war authority, the latest sign of divisions within their ranks over how to proceed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday he wanted to delay votes on a measure that would repeal the 2002 war authorization and narrow the mission in Iraq.
Senior Democrats who drafted the proposal, including Sens. Joseph Biden of Delaware and Carl Levin of Michigan, had sought swift action on it as early as this week, when the Senate takes up a measure to enact the recommendations of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission.
Reid, who will huddle with Democrats Tuesday to discuss whether to postpone the Iraq debate, cited pressure from victims' families for quick action on the Sept. 11 bill as the reason for doing so.
"Iraq is going to be there - it's just a question of when we get back to it," Reid said, predicting it would be "days, not weeks" before the Senate returned to the issue. The war reauthorization legislation also appears to lack the 60 votes it would need to pass the Senate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meanwhile, said she doesn't support tying war funding to strict training and readiness targets for U.S. troops.
The comments distanced her from Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who has said he wants to use Congress' spending power to force a change in policy in Iraq, by setting strict conditions on war funding.
This is all so disingenuous. One minute they're telling us that the 2006 election was a mandate to end the war, which Congress could do by simply cutting off funding, the next minute they're trying to rationalize their refusal to do what's necessary to bring the war to a conclusion.
The leadership has come to realize, of course, that had they pushed the Murtha plan through the House and the Biden/Levin bill in the Senate they would have unintentionally placed themselves in a political no-win situation. If the U.S. were forced by the Murtha plan to withdraw from Iraq then the American people would have rightly blamed the humiliation on the Democrats. On the other hand, if, despite the Democrats' efforts to prevent it, we manage to achieve a noticeable measure of success in that miserable land, the credit will all go to George Bush and the Republicans. This would politically marginalize the Democrats for the next twenty years. It would've been a heads they win, tails we lose proposition for the Dems and luckily for them Pelosi and Reid recognized where they were headed in time to avert the catastrophe.
The Democrats' best strategy - for their party, not for the country - is to play along with Bush, to keep nipping at his heels, and hope that he fails to establish a stable and secure democracy in Iraq. If he does fail without the Democrats interfering with his policy then the Democrats will be well positioned to blame the defeat on the Republicans and reap the political harvest.
Even so, there's something very wrong with having half of our government heavily invested in the defeat of our forces and the failure of an attempt to bring some measure of peace and safety to millions of people.RLC