Friday, August 19, 2005

Pinch Me

Digby makes an interesting analogy in discussing the Democratic approach to the withdrawal argument. If I can summarize (read it here if you want the full thing): the Cindy Sheehan wing of the party is hitting Bush from one side, arguing that we should get out now, while at the same time the liberal hawk wing of the party is hitting him from the other side, arguing that we should increase the military presence in Iraq. But, as Digby points out, neither is going to happen as long as the current crew is in charge, so Bush is forced into the untenable position of defending a policy that simply can't work and that everyone knows can't work.

The analogy here is a military one called the pincer move: a division of forces that attacks an enemy from two sides, pinching them in between. In that sense, the current divide in the Democratic party over what to do about Iraq, which many have worried might prove destructive to the parties chances in 2006 and 2008, may actually help us out by making Bush and the Republicans look increasingly lost as they have to defend against attacks from both sides.

Now this situation frankly sucks. But as Digby points out, there is no chance of producing a different result with the Bush crew. They are simply unwilling to listen to alternatives. Thus Democrats are forced by the situation to do the only thing they can do: "play politics".

The only avenue to resolution of the growing Iraq debacle is to get the Bush crew out of office. The Democrats simply don't have any other influence over the process at this point. Bush isn't interested in working with Dems on getting us out of this mess. He's simply to strung out on his own testosterone in order to even consider the idea. So, if Democrats can't work with Bush, that leaves them with only one choice: work against him.

The pincer idea is an interesting one, though I don't think it has come from any conscious decision making process on the part of those involved (nor do I think Digby is suggesting this). The danger for Democrats are two: (1) the two wings of the attack could take their fire off Bush and turn it on each other and (2) the electorate may not buy into the idea that politics is the only weapon of influence the Democrats have left. If the former happens than we will see 1968 repeated with the McCarthy and Humphrey wings battling each other in the street. If the latter happens then the Republicans could make hay off the "Democrats just want to play politics" argument.

Going into 2006 and 2008 Democrats need to remember who the real enemy is. We shouldn't condemn other Dems just because they are more hawkish than us. We should only condemn them if, by their hawkishness, they give political cover to Bush.

Bush is the issue.

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