There’s been an active and instructive comment thread in Rob’s post below (which I largely agree with). I think Rob and his interlocutors were often talking past each other, but I think a particular point of Rob’s (in comments) leads to an important thought experiment for progressive Democrats and allies who are frustrated with the apparent inability or unwillingness of Democratic leadership to take steps to end the war:
I disagree with the assessment that denouncing the Democratic Party in general, and Reid and Pelosi in particular is a sensible way of characterizing the situation.
This strikes me as one of Rob’s most important points here. Let’s do a thought experiment–assume that before they began to push for the initial timetable/benchmark funding package, R/P knew that while they might be able to cobble together a bare majority willing to pass some version of this bill, they also knew that they probably couldn’t sustain that majority in the face of a Bush veto. It seems perfectly plausible to me that they likely had this knowledge.
Now, for those condemning the Democrats in general or congressional leadership in particular for commiting a political blunder, it’s important to explain what you think Reid and Pelosi should have done. How many of you seriously think you wouldn’t have been critical of Reid and Pelosi had they not bothered to try to put together a serious funding? It’s hard for me to see us giving them a collective pass for not even bothering to try.
Our media environment is such that Democrats are going to be portrayed as weak, craven and unprincipled by our national political press no matter what they do. It seems obvious to me that we do ourselves no favors when adopting positions that require we vigorously condemn our party no matter what path they take. If there’s some politically brilliant and feasible third path the Democratic leadership should have taken, I’d love to hear it, but it’s not at all obvious to me that such a path exists.