Monday, April 2, 2007

Getting Out: The next step

Congressional Democrats did a fantastic job passing the Iraq Accountability Act, which funded our presence in Iraq at the levels requested by the Administration and also contained a timetable for withdrawal of our troops. They deserve a big pat on the back for the work to make this happen, as it is one of the most substantial pieces of legislation passed in YEARS. After four years of war in Iraq, there is a glimmer of hope that it will end.

Of course, the monkey in the White House has promised a veto. I earlier posted that we should turn the argument on troop funding right back at him: "If George Bush vetoes this bill, he will unilaterally be cutting off funding for the troops."

Now, I'm hearing chatter about "post veto strategy." It sounds like many Democrats have already given up on forcing the funding being tied to benchmarks for progress and the time table for withdrawing troops. Giving up already is WRONG.

We need to unite as Democrats, Progressives, Liberals, and Centrists on this issue. The American people overwhelmingly support the Iraq Accountability Act and the policies contained in it. Accordingly, we should not simply allow a President, who does not have the support of the people, to dictate this issue.

I would suggest that we spend time pressuring the President to sign the legislation that will reach his desk in a month or so. But, we all know he is too arrogant to realize how wrong he is. So, let's stick to the message I suggested above. This gives us the benefit of applying pressure on the President without massive grassroots mobilization. It also has the side-effect of pressuring the Republicans in Congress who might waver on the issue.

There is credible evidence that many House and Senate Republicans are "closeted" supporters of the Iraq Accountability Act. We need to find them and ride them long and hard. I remember when I was a young staffer in the Senate. The right wing mobilized people to engage in a massive phone campaign targeting Democrats who were planning to vote to sustain President Clinton's veto of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. It was relentless. By the end of it, I was ready to scream at my boss to vote to override the veto. Of course, they engaged language like "baby killer" over and over again. Perhaps we could remind them about young American men and women dying every day in Iraq.

That phone campaign gave the impression that an overwhelming number of people supported overriding Clinton's veto. When, in actuality it wasn't. Imagine what we could do with this! We've got a large majority of Americans who want this legislation. Perhaps if we can harness this support in a direct lobbying effort of vulnerable Republicans, we can get close to the number of supporters to override the veto.

There will be many efforts at ensuring that we have a firm time line for withdrawal. has been a real leader in this, so be sure to watch for their leadership.

In the meantime, DO NOT ACCEPT DEFEAT.

Since it's a big job to gain another fifteen votes in the Senate and many more vote in the House, just for a moment, I'll suggest what the Democrats in Congress should do if they can't override the President's expected veto: PASS IT AGAIN AND AGAIN UNTIL GEORGE BUSH REALIZES HE IS A BUMBLING IDIOT. (that should take enough time until we can replace him)