Life in the Real World

Many opposed the Iraq War supplemental bill passed by the House yesterday because it didn’t go far enough, and as I wrote here that is a reasonable opinion with which I respectfully disagree. Today Big Tent Democrat is objecting to some of the arguments in favor of the supplement. I think many of Big Tent’s arguments are valid, but IMO they reveal a huge blind spot; a reality not being faced. And that’s the reality of arithmetic.

Once again, here are the numbers:

Number of Democrats in the House — 233
Number of votes needed to pass a bill — 218
Number of member of the Blue Dog Coalition — 44

As they say — do the math. In my time-space continuum, the House will not pass a bill without some votes from either Blue Dogs or Republicans, or both. Perhaps Big Tent lives in a better place, where thinking pure thoughts will summon the Good Peace Fairy, and a sprinkling of progressive pixie dust will make up for the shortfall of conservative votes. But I don’t believe that’s how it works here.

Among those of us against the war, the difference between those who are pro-supplement and those who are anti-supplement is this: Those who are anti-supplement think that passing a better bill is possible. Those of us who are pro-supplement think it isn’t.

I think Big Tent misreads Markos because Big Tent assumes passing a better bill is possible, but Kos’s opinion assumes that it isn’t. I don’t interpret Kos’s post to mean, as Big Tent says, “the point is the House Dems’ proposal will never become law” or that it would be a good thing to keep the war going until 2009 to help elect Democrats in 2009. I think Kos is arguing in favor of something as opposed to passing nothing.

Yes, one argument for passing the supplement was to help Dems win the messaging battle in 2008. But IMO that doesn’t mean anyone, including Kos, prefers winning a messaging battle in 2008 to getting out of Iraq in 2007. It means that winning a messaging battle is preferable to losing a messaging battle.

Believe me, were there a reasonable hope of passing something like Barbara Lee’s bill, and getting it enacted into law, then that’s what I would have preferred. I believe most of us would prefer that. But that wasn’t the real choice we were and are facing. The real choice is between passing something (which helps us win a messaging battle) and passing nothing (which doesn’t).

Elsewhere — Farhad Manjoo writes in Salon:

MoveOn signed on to Pelosi’s supplemental funding bill, citing a poll of its members showing overwhelming support of the idea.

MoveOn’s longtime allies in the antiwar movement, however, look at the bill — and MoveOn’s support for it — and see something very different. Groups who call for immediate withdrawal argue that MoveOn’s position is a betrayal of their cause, and that Pelosi’s bill merely continues the war while allowing Democrats to say they’ve done something to oppose it. Cindy Sheehan, the “peace mom” who favors immediate withdrawal, describes MoveOn as supporting “the slow-bleed strategy of the Democratic leadership.” Gail Murphy, of the group CodePink, says, “MoveOn has taken a compromised position — in fact I think they were involved behind the scenes in creating a compromised position.” Other peace activists call MoveOn’s e-mail poll of its membership a sham. If MoveOn’s millions of members knew the full details of the bill, they would surely oppose it.

There is room for criticism of Moveon’s email to members about the supplement, but if Moveon’s endorsement helped make the passage of something, as opposed to nothing, possible, then I say good for Moveon. I also say that Sheehan and Murphy are trotting down the same self-marginalizing road the New Left walked in the 1970s. That path leads to the state of Utter Irrelevancy. There they will spend eternity discussing bureaucratic collectivism with the moldering remains of the Popular Front. Meanwhile, the United States, its government and its citizens, will ignore them, except when their names are the answers to questions in some future edition of Trivial Pursuit.

The question is, will sufficient numbers of liberals and progressives not take that road and remain effectively engaged in American politics? I hope so.

10 thoughts on “Life in the Real World

  1. I’m a pregressive from northern Ohio. Please note that Dennis (I’ll-do- anything-for-attention) did NOT vote for this bill, even though it passed by just one vote. Does he want to start things rolling to end the war, or does he want a long string of politically correct votes with no meaning. Time to chose.

  2. I was so mad I forgot Dennis’ last name -Kucinich. Might have mis-spelled his first name (one N or two? I can’t remember.) Also mis-spelled progressive. His posturing has that effect on me.

  3. Politics is “the art of the possible.” Or “half a loaf is better than nothing.” I would rather practice politics in the center – to a little left of center, than going so far to the left that the majority of the country gets left behind.

    Let’s not throw away ‘good’ trying to get ‘perfect.’

  4. Maybe I am out of touch, but I think the Democrats have has Congress for 3 whole months and they have not undone the mess that King George created over the span of 7 years. Any parent who has cleaned up after children can tell you that it takes longer to clean up a mess than it does to make it. On the other hand, don’t let the Democrats forget what you expect/desire but don’t be out of touch with reality; nobody has a magic wand in DC.

  5. I think Bush’s little hissy fit provided enough information as to whether passage of the supplemental bill was good or not. Pelosi hit a nerve.. and she scored big. She broke the back of Bush’s uninterrupted run of power and it will never return. Bush finally got his real accountability moment.

  6. I had the same thought, Swami. Pelosi stood up Bush, and I am thinking that Bush’s hissy-fit reaction tells us just how powerful the bill will turn out to be in hamstringing the the unchecked war-mongerers.

  7. I give credit where it’s due. You were right to advocate this approach, and I appreciate that — Bush needed to face a rejection and it needed to be now. We don’t have progressive government yet, but I think when the Republican party is removed from further viability, there will be a political realignment that makes it possible to imagine.

  8. I, too, have had a lot of problems with the bill.
    But I agree, half a loaf is better than having the baker tell me crumbs are all I deserve because I don’t agree with him, and don’t support his war on unleavened bread’s!
    It’s one small step for Progressive’s, one giant leap for mankind…
    Keep the pressure up! Maybe we can prevent an Iran War by keeping them busy for the next 21+ months…

  9. There’s a reason some politicians become powerful and get big reps because they’re good at vote-counting. It’s basic math, coupled with a bit of sociological art, and it’s vital to getting things done.

  10. I was pretty angry at the comments of various people, including personal friends, that those of us who voted for the bill at MoveOn were misled, and didn’t understand the bill. Nonsense! I’m just as progress/liberal — more so on many issues — than most Dems I know, but I am also a realist who is interested in winning and getting our troops out, sooner or later! I think many of the MoveOn voters understood that and voted accordingly. Incremental moves are the only way with this stubborn, idiotic president. We need to push it in his face again and again. Nancy Pelosi did a great job.

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