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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dem Leaders Struggling to End Iraq Quagmire

The “hawk” vs. “dove” terms now seem outdated in describing current divisions within the Democratic party, given the overwhelming opposition to Bush’s Iraq policies, not only among Dems, but the nation at large. Very few Dems favor open-ended military occupation of Iraq. What we have now is more in the vein of differences over how to get out.
The bad news for Dems is well-reflected in the Senate vote (80 to 14) to support funding for our continued occupation of Iraq, without deadlines or timetables. The progressive blogosphere is generally livid about the number of Democratic Senators who refused to hang tough and oppose any further funding without timelines, including many prominent liberal Senators. Kos‘s Georgia10 calls it “the Capitulation Bill.” And The Left Coaster Steve Soto has the list of Democrats who voted for it here. Others say they feel “betrayed” by the votes of some of the newly-elected Democratic senators, for whom they had high hopes.
But for Dems who favor deadlines and timetable restrictions on Iraq funding, there is also some good news: Three out of four Democratic Senators running for the Presidency voted against funding without timetables or deadlines — Clinton, Dodd and Obama. Only Biden among Dem presidential candidates, voted for funding without time restrictions. Edwards, a former Senator, has also voiced his strong opposition.
Sure the 80-14 vote count is disappointing for those who wanted to see a little more backbone in the Senate, especially since 60 percent of the American people want timelines on further Iraq war funding, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll, conducted 5/18-23. No doubt, many of the Democrats who voted for the bill would have liked to vote against it, but felt they couldn’t survive the political fallout. It is nonetheless encouraging that the Democratic presidential nominee will almost certainly be a strong opponent of any more blank checks for the Iraq quagmire.