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Posted by on Feb 28, 2007 in War | 8 comments

The (Politically) Retreating Democrats?

Columnist Robert Novak, in his fast-paced Evans-Novak report notes that the Democrats are in retreat on the Iraq issue due to Rep. Jack Murtha’s revelation of a strategy that apparently took other Democrats by surprise:

Thanks in part to Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Jack Murtha’s talk about Democrats’ plans to attach conditions to Iraq-War funding, Democrats are on the retreat with respect to Iraq. In fact, however, Democrats are retreating from their own shadows, even as the public warms to their position.

Murtha had let slip in an interview with an anti-war website that he wanted to paralyze the military by requiring rigorous standards of troop readiness and equipment before funds would be released. This threw Democrats into retreat, despite the fact that a new poll shows support for the Iraq War and the troop “surge” is now a minority position. Most Americans now want a withdrawal date. Support for simply cutting off war funding is now at 46 percent, according to a Washington Post poll.

This underscores something that is becoming increasingly apparent: the seemingly solid unity of the Democratic party is fragile one now, given some key distances on how to deal with the Iraq war. Will the GOP (and the White House) take advantage of what the Murtha revelation suggests is a loosely run ship?

After the failure of the Senate’s “non-binding” troop-surge resolution, Democrats still appear to be cowering when they should probably be bounding forward. They lack the will at this point to take what appears to be a popular step: binding action that would bring about a withdrawal or redeployment.

Republicans’ rhetoric has carefully focused on the problems with Congress’ trying to micromanage a war — repeating the idea of “535 commanders in chief” on the floors of both houses of Congress. For now, this works, and it will continue to work as long as Democrats remain too frightened to act.

What’s interesting in Novak’s piece is that he is now in agreement with the viewpoint of some progressive talk radio hosts who feel the Democrats are intimidated — again.

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