Here's the story: At lefty blog site MyDD, Jerome Armstrong took Kos superblogger Armando to task over his calls for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Armstrong wrote:
It's easy to say "It Is Time" for the complete withdrawal of Iraq (something that neither Feingold or Hagel would agree with), but it's not easy to understand the political ramifications of that action.
Armando then response to another liberal blogger who has demanded at Daily Kos with stunning candor:
Well, my short answer is it is time to pummel Bush on his failures in Iraq. Well, it is past time. And you can't pummel him if you say "stay the course." . . . And this is what I am talking about when I say the politics comes before the policy . . .
But I want to leave this part on the front -- it is because Bush won't listen that the politics comes first -- because the only way to change our disastrous Iraq policy is to change the political dynamics and the political power situation we currently are in. That means Dems winning in 2006.
There it is: On a subject involving life and death, the most important liberal blog openly admits that it isn't concerned with determining what the right course of action is in Iraq--they're only concerned with "pummeling" Bush.
Remember this the next time you hear them criticize the Bush administration--they've now admitted that their criticisms may not have anything to do with reality.
But even more important, remember this the next time a member of the Democratic establishment hunkers down to pay homage to Daily Kos.
But he's not wrong, is he? Suggesting a sane Iraq policy is essentially useless at this point, because the Bush administration never listens to calls for a sane policy on Iraq. And the Republicans, most of them anyway, will always go along with Bush's favored policies even if they don't, deep down, agree with them.
The only way to pave the way for a sane Iraq policy is to reduce the power of Bush and the Republican party. That's not even a partisan political statement, just an acknowledgement that one-party rule allows Bush to do whatever he wants on this particular issue. So saying "the politics comes before the policy" is perfectly sound -- only by reducing Bush's political power can anyone hope to implement an Iraq policy that makes sense.
Then you are assuming that the present Iraq policy doesn't make sense. I would take issue with that.
It is factually incontravertible that, for Democats, the only chance to change important policy is to change the political dynamic in Washington. This is because the Democrats have no power.
It's the oldest adage in politics, once summed up as "seek ye first the political kingdom." Until Democrats have control of at least one branch of Congress, or win back the White House, none of their policy preferences will matter. A Democrat today might as well propose mining green cheese from the moon with lasers and tractor beams as propose a serious strategy for winning the war. (And if one assumes that the military is capable of winning the war, then it's the political leadership that is at fault and replacing the president is a serious strategy for winning the war, or at least a necessary step one in that strategy.)
If you happen to believe that it would be better to win the war than to lose it (like responsible Democrats and a handful of Republicans), or better to lose it now than to lose it two years and another 2,000 casualties from now (like Kos and his ilk), then it is incumbent on you to change the president's war policies. If you are a Republican who prefers victory to slow, niggling defeat, then you can push the president to change his policies and maybe if you get enough of your party members together even Bush and his team of reality-indifferent cronies will listen to you. (Though the administration's response to William Kristol's calls for a real victory strategy suggests not.)
But if you're a Democrat, your only chance to change the president's policy is to take some of his party's power yourself and then use it to try to influence him. That means winning politically. And the truth is that "stay the course" is not and never has been a winning stance for an opposition party. So in fact the politics does necessarily precede the policy, at least for Democrats.
Give them a stake in government, say, control of the House or Senate, and then you can hold them to the higher standards of a governing party. Until that happens, it is unseemly for Republicans to condemn Democrats for behaving just like Republicans did when they were out of government.
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