'Sun-Times' Hits Democrats' Retreat on Iraq

By: E&P Staff While most editorial pages remain silent on backing any kind of U.S. withdrawal from Iraq any time soon, some in recent days have criticized the current Bush escalation policy -- while others have attacked the Democrats inability to change all, or even any, of that.

The Chicago Sun-Times today chose the latter path. Here is an excerpt, avalialbe in full at www.suntimes.com.

We the American people know full well that the democratic process doesn't always proceed directly from point A to point B. A mandate for change, as expressed at the voting booth, is going to go through many rounds of back and forth among lawmakers -- we'll give you this if you give us that -- before it is, or isn't, acted on. Though voters made it overwhelmingly clear last November the prime reason they elected Democrats and kicked out Republicans was to get U.S. troops out of Iraq, no one could have expected a president so stubbornly committed to prosecuting the war to back off that policy. Changing policy through Congress would be a tough challenge.

Still, no matter how you come down on the wisdom of a troop withdrawal timetable, it's hard not to conclude that the majority party became, in effect, the minority party again in caving in to the White House's $100 billion Iraq spending bill. The Democrats had insisted they wouldn't approve any money for fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan without a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq. At a time when more Americans are against the Iraq war than at any time, Democrats not only reneged on their promise to fight tooth and nail for that point of view in Congress, they also sent a message that, electoral gains notwithstanding, they are no more united in their will to stand up to the Bush administration than ever when the stakes are as high as this....

Did Democrats fare better than they would have had they insisted on a timetable and been hit with a second Bush veto? Very likely. But for a party with such a profound need to redefine itself -- to assert itself as a cohesive organization with a vision and the decisiveness to carry it forward -- its failure to follow through on one of its key platform items shows it's still worried about its national security credentials. [Rep. Rahm] Emanuel, asserting Democrats did succeed in denying Bush a blank check, said "the beginning of the end of the war" is in sight. That kind of vague projection wasn't what voters had in mind when they voted the Democrats into control of Congress.


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