Deep Democratic Party Divide Exposed

This blog originally appeared on Informed Comment

Although everyone is saying that September is now the potential turning point in congressional support for the Iraq War, I don't see how things will change much then. Supporters of the "surge" will be able to find some evidence of "progress" even if it is "slow." Unless there are mass defections to the anti-war side among the Republicans, there is no prospect of the Dems overturning a Bush veto. Thursday night's vote did not put a resolution of the Iraq quagmire off for only a few months. It put it off until a new president is inaugurated in January of 2009. Bush seems unlikely to significantly withdraw while still president, and the Dems can't make him if the Republicans won't turn on their own party's leader.

Iraq will be the central issue of the 2008 presidential campaign.

The congressional vote on the spending supplemental for Iraq tells us how divided the Democratic Party is on the issue of Iraq. I'd say that the Dems voted in three classes: in accordance with the likely reaction in their congressional district if in congress, in their entire state if senators, and in Iowa and New Hampshire if running for president. The major exception here was Joe Biden of Delaware, who is running on his foreign policy experience-- a platform where you would not expect him to acquiesce in popular sentiment on issues he knows well.

The positions of the Washington State representatives and senators as described by the Seattle PI blog. Washington's six Democratic representatives split down the middle, with three for and three against. But the two senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both voted for it. Cantwell in particular was elected with a very thin margin. Clearly, a lot of these Democrats feared that their Republican opponents in the next election might effectively paint them as unpatriotic, troop-hating cut-and-runners if they had voted against the funding supplemental.

Those of us not running for office think that they are being way too cautious, and that the Iraq civil war is so unpopular as a pastime that no significant part of the electorate will punish them for demanding an end to US involvement in it. But then we don't have to run against a well-heeled opponent with lots of money for television spots with which to rip off our faces in only a year.

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