Senator Reid’s clever theatrics of keeping the Senate open all night to do battle with Republicans over Iraq policy is another winner in my book. It was nearly as good a legislative tactic as his Frist-frazzling Rule 21 move.
Many argue that this was a stunt. It wasn’t. It’s hard core politics — the kind Gingrich and Lott and Boehner would frequently deploy on gay rights issues or abortion politics to drag Dems into “symbolic votes” that they hoped would boost Republican fortunes at the polls.
Reid is orchestrating the same — and making it increasingly tough for Republicans who are doggedly committed to leaving American women and women on the front lines of a civil war in Iraq.
As I have written before, many of the tactics deployed by Democratic leadership are designed to embarrass the White House and Republican leadership for their support of a tragically failed Iraq policy but not fashioned to win. In my view, despite the importance of ending this war and bringing people home — for the Dems to win in 2008 and to win big — they need the President and the Republican Party to continue to have this war pinned on them.
If Dems succeeded in getting agreement to bring the troops home in some way — any way — that allows the President to continue to have some leverage in that decision, then the Dems lose political capital in the next race.
This kind of calculation of winners and losers when it comes to people in harm’s way in Iraq is not something anyone wants to admit — but it is happening, and it’s important that people realize that Dems want to be about a better path, better policy in Iraq, but don’t want to win. . .yet.
And the Republicans running in 2008 feel Reid squeezing them. If they revolt against Bush, Reid wins. If they don’t revolt and stay with the President’s course, Reid and the Dems win.
— Steve Clemons