The Problem With The Netroots Strategy On Iraq

The Netroots has this year focused its fire on Iraq on “moderate” Republicans and what they term Bush Dog Democrats. Move On’s Tom Matzzie “masterminded” a brilliant plan that Move On has implemented this spring and summer of running ads against “moderate” Republicans like Jim Walsh and it worked, Walsh will now favor a toothless “change the course” strategy that Democrats will offer as a “bipartisan” plan. Move On and the Dems have concocted a political position that will give “moderate” Republicans cover on the Iraq issue in 2008 while doing nothing to change the course of the Debacle. Brilliant!

Similarly, the Bush Dog Democrat plan, which threatens to run Netroots-inspired primaries against people like Mississippi Congressman Gene Taylor (D-MS) (because I am sure Mississippi Democrats will rise up once some Mississippi progressive is anointed as the Netroots candidate in such a primary), will no doubt make a big dent in Bush’s Iraq policy. Not.

Meanwhile, erstwhile Netroots Dem Joe Sestak (D-PA), once a supporter of a date certain for withdrawal, no longer supports a firm timeline:

Sestak said, Democratic leaders should set aside their demands for immediate withdrawal “and begin to help author a comprehensive regional security plan that accepts the necessity for a deliberate redeployment.” . . . Sestak has been among those Democrats who think that setting a “date certain” for withdrawal is the best way to force Iraqis to assume more responsibility. But he now believes the length of time needed to redeploy, and the potential for the entire Army to “unravel” unless troops are redeployed, require a compromise. . . .

This is indicative of all that was wrong with the progressive activist strategy on Iraq in 2007. Instead of concentrating on growing and holding the group of Dems, once 171 strong in the House, in favor of no funding without timelines, some decided they could pressure Republicans and conservative Dems like Gene Taylor. And we are where we are today in no small measure because of these miscalculations. I repeat, one more time, that it will take pressure on Dems, MAINSTREAM and PROGRESSIVE Dems, to hold the line on no funding without timelines. We need to work for more pledges like this one:

Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to inform you that we will only support appropriating additional funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq during Fiscal Year 2008 and beyond for the protection and safe redeployment of all our troops out of Iraq before you leave office.

More than 3,600 of our brave soldiers have died in Iraq. More than 26,000 have been seriously wounded. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed or injured in the hostilities and more than 4 million have been displaced from their homes. Furthermore, this conflict has degenerated into a sectarian civil war and U.S. taxpayers have paid more than $500 billion, despite assurances that you and your key advisors gave our nation at the time you ordered the invasion in March, 2003 that this military intervention would cost far less and be paid from Iraqi oil revenues.

We agree with a clear and growing majority of the American people who are opposed to continued, open-ended U.S. military operations in Iraq, and believe it is unwise and unacceptable for you to continue to unilaterally impose these staggering costs and the soaring debt on Americans currently and for generations to come. . .

The pledge made in this letter should have been the focal point of our activism. Sadly, it was not.

And credit to those Representatives who signed the pledge.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (CA); Rep. Barbara Lee (CA); Rep. Maxine Waters (CA); Rep. Ellen Tauscher (CA); Rep. Rush Holt (NJ); Rep. Maurice Hinchey (NY); Rep. Diane Watson (CA); Rep. Ed Pastor (AZ); Rep. Barney Frank (MA); Rep. Danny Davis (IL); Rep. John Conyers (MI); Rep. John Hall (NY); Rep. Bob Filner (CA); Rep. Nydia Velazquez (NY); Rep. Bobby Rush (IL); Rep. Charles Rangel (NY); Rep. Ed Towns (NY); Rep. Paul Hodes (NH); Rep. William Lacy Clay (MO); Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR); Rep. Albert Wynn (MD); Rep. Bill Delahunt (MA); Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC); Rep. G. K. Butterfield (NC); Rep. Hilda Solis (CA); Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY); Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY); Rep. Michael Honda (CA); Rep. Steve Cohen (TN); Rep. Phil Hare (IL); Rep. Grace Flores Napolitano (CA); Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL); Rep. James McGovern (MA); Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH); Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL); Rep. Julia Carson (IN); Rep. Linda Sanchez (CA); Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ); Rep. John Olver (MA); Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX); Rep. Jim McDermott (WA); Rep. Ed Markey (MA); Rep. Chaka Fattah (PA); Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ); Rep. Rubin Hinojosa (TX); Rep. Pete Stark (CA); Rep. Bobby Scott (VA); Rep. Jim Moran (VA); Rep. Betty McCollum (MN); Rep. Jim Oberstar (MN); Rep. Diana DeGette (CO); Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA); Rep. Artur Davis (AL); Rep. Hank Johnson (GA); Rep. Donald Payne (NJ); Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (MO); Rep. John Lewis (GA); Rep. Yvette Clarke (NY); Rep. Neil Abercrombie (HI); Rep. Gwen Moore (WI); Rep. Keith Ellison (MN); Rep. Tammy Baldwin (WI); Rep. Donna Christensen (USVI); Rep. David Scott (GA); Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL); Lois Capps (CA); Steve Rothman (NJ); Elijah Cummings (MD); and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).

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    • Armando on September 14, 2007 at 4:25 pm
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    That’s the 20087 answer to the 2007 problem of Iraq for some.

    • SallyCat on September 14, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Lots of call our reps and email and sign pledges. We call to pressure them, we call to thank them for taking action ~ Lynn Woolsey is my rep and has been anti-Iraq from the beginning. Others are marching this weekend…

    What more can we do to pressure the status quo Dems?

  1. People are looking for answers.

    Lots of different folks trying lots of different things.

    And the netroots being who we are….who we have had to be to become the net roots…iow, rebels, have been looking under different bushes and NOT been unified on how to proceed.

    So Big Picture-wise….Other than the strength of ideas and inspiration….how do we unify the netroots?

    Even incrementally?

    Our strength is the volume of our voice….if we can get the choir all singing the same song, our voice is louder and more powerful.

    But how?

    • YetiMonk on September 14, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    I think it’s part of a broader strategy to teach wayward democrats to fear us. Without that we are nothing.

  2. Voted against it, votes to end it every time, and wants to end it today.

    And he is a Republican.

    Go Ron Paul!

    But seriously, they don’t care, all that congressis ever worried about is re-election. The golden calves of the purity netroots turn their backs on the cause once they get that brass ring.

    I still say the best angle to with hold campaign contributions based on the congress critter of your choice not representing you properly.

    This is still, at least last I checked, a representative democracy. And if they don’t represent the will of the people, the people must will in different monkeys into Congress.

    As for TODAY, which concerns me more than some cracked out scheme for 2008, we need a coalition of conservative and progressive Democrats, along with a core of Republican dissenters sending the same bill over and over again to Bush.

    People poo-pooed that idea last May, but until they at least show some back bone and keep sending the bill over and over again for veto after veto, and making certain people look foolish for not voting to over-ride that veto, we will be in Iraq.

    • LittleQ on September 14, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    will happen with the Iraq funding this time around – Bush’s current $200 billion request?

  3. and other prominent Dems who, despite their bluster, are simply not serious about ending the war.

    It is the Dem Leadership that is endorsing Walsh’s plan, and thus lending credence to gummy bi-partisanship. 

    It also the Dem Leadership that is giving as much cover as it can to Bush Dogs’ votes on the War (not to mention allying with them and the Goopers against the majority of the Dem caucus on FISA.)

    Finally, it is the Dem Leadership that is thumbing its nose at the out-of-Iraq caucus,  asking for party unity and loyalty from them  on key votes like the first supplemental yet  giving none in return.

    If the Netroots really wants to apply some pressure, it should target Pelosi, Reid, Hoyer, and the rest of those in the Congressional Leadership who simply refuse to lead.

  4. I have a son who is active duty, navy.  Active duty navy (and air force) are now facing tours of duty in I/A (Iraq/Afghanistan-on the ground) Unready for Combat.-because Congress has sat back and allowed Bush to misuse, abuse, and decimate the military.    I want nothing more than to see troops withdrawn from Iraq-yesterday. 

    I want to see a Congress that will stand up and do what they were mandated by the voters to do in 2006-get out of Iraq.  I do wonder why Sestak has changed his mind-whether it is for political reasons or whether it is because as a former Admiral he is aware of the logistics of troop withdrawal.  I honestly don’t know the answers-but I know people whose lives depend on the right answers.  I just wish that people in Congress would give a damn, would stand up to Bush’s insanity and bring the troops home, ASAP.

    • LittleQ on September 14, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    seem to be trading the chances of political repercussions of genocide in Iraq, for a much safer capitulation to Bush and simply being “not as unpopular as the GOP war cheerleaders”.

  5. the net roots could be more integrated with the grassroots. The net roots tends to be all analytical about things and view the picture from a data and political perception view point always worrying that we are not considered lefty nuts. The reality does not hold true when I go into the community off the screen. If we are a ‘big tent ‘that means coalitions with people who we often ridicule for their methodology.

    We also seem to stuck in our perceptions of who is electable from local to national. At town halls all over the state my weasely Senator this break was shocked to be confronted by people demanding  impeachment! We are operating in the establishments version of reality and it’s one that they have made up. The voting pool is not static and, if we want to take back our party we should not be fishing in the same pool as the Republicans. 

  6. the net roots could be more integrated with the grassroots. The net roots tends to be all analytical about things and view the picture from a data and political perception view point always worrying that we are not considered lefty nuts. The reality does not hold true when I go into the community off the screen. If we are a ‘big tent ‘that means coalitions with people who we often ridicule for their methodology.

    We also seem to stuck in our perceptions of who is electable from local to national. At town halls all over the state my weasely Senator this break was shocked to be confronted by people demanding  impeachment! We are operating in the establishments version of reality and it’s one that they have made up. The voting pool is not static and, if we want to take back our party we should not be fishing in the same pool as the Republicans. 

    1. where our action should be.

    2. I’m not discounting the pledge strategy. I just think we’d have a far better change of holding those 171 votes if we don’t have the Dem Leadership actively working to reduce that number, as it did on the original supplemental vote.

    • pyrrho on September 15, 2007 at 12:21 am

    you are right, but it is systematic in every issue… Dems refuse to go to their left for support, or even hold the liberals they have to the issue at hand, it’s always “assume those will stay, and court the conservative and swing voters”… always, and it fails the same way.

    However, it’s not just strategy… it’s because they are conservative in their hearts, they come to their “liberalism” on a line, sometimes long, that is anchored to the right… they reach the limit, they tether off so as not to fall down the slippery slope of leftism where you find yourself doing crazy things like thinking about the genocide against native americans and how the CIA isn’t a very liberal institution really.

    so get used to it…

  7. Chat isn’t pressure.
    Phone calls aren’t pressure.
    If they were, the Democrats would have already acted to oppose the war.

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