Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Politics, War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 12:27 pm

Superb article by David Nather today in CQ Politics about the “quagmire” in which the anti-war movement finds itself.

I should start out by saying that the lack of progress made by the coalition of groups who want to bring the troops home does not mean that the American people have still bought into the war, or George Bush, or the surge, or anything else. By clear majorities, the American people believe the war was a mistake and want the troops home.


The inconvenient truth that the anti-war crowd can’t seem to grasp is that the American people are also ambivalent about how they wish our Iraq misadventure to end. For that reason, the people are all over the lot on the timing of troop reductions, the number of troops to come home, and what kind of mess we should be leaving in Iraq after we’re gone.

Nather grasps this which is why the article is so good. And he points up many of the problems - both internal and external to the coalition:

These are frustrating times for the collection of political, veterans, labor, and grass-roots organizations that make up the modern anti-war movement. At a time when a solid majority of the American public wants to pull some or all troops out of Iraq, these groups have been unable to turn the public support for their goals into enough votes to get a withdrawal proposal through the Senate, much less override a presidential veto.

Some of the groups have made tactical blunders along the way — most famously, the MoveOn.org advertisement in The New York Times last month deriding Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq — that have alienated their own Democratic allies. But that isn’t why the movement to end the Iraq War has failed to gain more traction in Congress, according to Democratic lawmakers and outside analysts of the movement.

Instead, they say, it’s because the groups simply have won all the Democratic votes they’re going to get. The only place to pick up more votes, at least for the next year, is on the Republican side.

I said at the time that the “Betray-us” ad was “the dumbest, the most spectacularly ignorant political maneuver in modern history.” To continue the idiocy by featuring the ad on their website as Moveon is doing only highlights their tone deafness about the nature of politics and what it takes to be right and win at the same time.

And the gimlet eyed hard left radicals at Moveon and Code Pink have no intention of working with Doubting Thomas Republicans to bring about a true national consensus on when and how to leave Iraq:

Most of the groups in the anti-war coalition have appeared unwilling to work with Republican skeptics of the war on a plan they could all support. “They’re exercising their constitutional rights, and that’s fine, but by and large they aren’t doing anything to help us find a positive solution,” said Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who has been pushing for goals, rather than deadlines, for troop withdrawals based on the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group headed by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Democratic Rep. Lee H. Hamilton of Indiana.

Some anti-war activists say they’re just not interested in dealing with the GOP and want to apply more pressure to the party now in control. “We’re looking at some of the Democrats who were voted in on a platform of fighting against the war, and we’re not really seeing that,” said LeiLani Dowell, a member of the Troops Out Now Coalition, which wants to end war funding and staged a rally at the Capitol last month that reportedly drew fewer than 1,000 people.

But in the view of lawmakers from both parties, the groups have also failed to connect with potential GOP allies because they have unrealistic expectations of how quickly the United States could withdraw from Iraq.

To coin a phrase, “Aye, there’s the rub.” The de facto position of Code Pink, Moveon, and most others in the anti-war coalition is an immediate withdrawal from Iraq - a repeat of Saigon, 1975 complete with the last helicopter lifting off the roof of the unfinished, overbudget boondoggle that is the American embassy being built in Baghdad. They would like nothing better than to see a humiliating bug out of American troops, preferably within 6 months of the day it is begun.

That ain’t going to happen. Even rational Democrats don’t want us to leave that way. At least most of the Democratic timetables include a semblance of rationality in that they stretch the withdrawal out over a year or more. The Moveon bunch wants every American soldier - no residual forces, no bases, - out in 6 months. It’s madness and Republicans won’t even discuss it:

“I think they’re actually counterproductive. They don’t seem very thoughtful,” said Republican Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina, who opposed President Bush’s troop increase this year but wants any troop withdrawals to be based on benchmarks of progress in Iraq rather than a timetable. Democratic Rep. Zack Space, a freshman who will be up for re-election in a Republican-leaning part of Ohio next year, said of the antiwar groups, “By embracing a kind of impractical view of the situation, I think they hurt their cause.”

Ya think? The last Gallup poll showed 18% of Americans believe we should follow the advice of the Moveon crowd and bring the troops home now without regard for what is going on in Iraq or even the military practicality. We would have to leave vast stocks of military equipment in Iraq if we simply loaded 160,000 troops on planes and flew them home. Billions of dollars of stuff left to rot - or be used by both friend and foe in whatever kind of country Iraq will become after we leave it in the lurch.

That 18% is half that of the number who don’t want any timetable or benchmarks at all - 38% want to stay until the “job is done.” What does that say about the political acumen of the anti-war coalition?

And their public personae is nothing to get excited about:

Demonstrators from Code Pink, a peace group formed just before the Iraq War started, routinely disrupt congressional hearings and speeches, drawing the wrath of even Democratic lawmakers who share their views. Last month, when members of the group interrupted a House Armed Services Committee hearing where Petraeus was testifying, Chairman Ike Skelton of Missouri angrily described them to a colleague — and to a national television audience — with a vulgarity.

Even the most anti-war Democrats are scratching their heads at activist Cindy Sheehan’s decision to run for the Democratic nomination for the House in San Francisco next year against Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They insist Pelosi has fought the war every way she can. “This isn’t a weakness for her. It’s one of her strengths,” said one House Democrat who did not want to be identified speaking candidly about his disagreements with the groups.

I suppose this is to be expected of radicals in any age. I fondly recall the Robin Hood aura that surrounded many anti-war types when I was in school during Viet Nam. I would think that young people today would probably look up to the Cindy Sheehans of the anti-war movement in a similar fashion.

But I also remember my anti-war parents thinking the radicals at the time were scruffy looking as well as being a little dangerous. They were used to the 1930’s radicals who were anything but scruffy looking but perhaps even more dangerous considering from where their orders came. Moscow liked their stooges and plants to blend in to the background.

This crowd is scruffy looking and politically inept - which makes for a not very dangerous coalition:

But most of the Republicans who have voiced skepticism about the war say they’ve seen little, if any, effort by the anti-war groups to find a compromise they could all support. “There were so many attempts to score media points rather than actually engage,” said Phil English of Pennsylvania, one of the House Republicans who opposed the troop “surge” in Iraq. He said he has seen anti-war demonstrators in his Erie-area district with out-of-state license plates. One anti-war group, he said, invited him to a rally in August with just a week’s notice — and after his schedule was full — then announced at the rally that he had failed to show up.

Some groups say they have not given up on bringing members of Congress around to their side, but many activists say they have grown so frustrated with Congress’ failure to end the war that they’re in no mood to try to reason with lawmakers from either party. “I think people are done being polite and obsequious with their members of Congress. People are fed up,” said Sue Udry, legislative coordinator for United for Peace and Justice.

Somehow, I don’t think Sue or any of her friends are going to be writing a sequel to “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

The fact that both the radicals and liberal Democrats in Congress are dealing with a severely wounded, lame duck President with approval numbers nearing Nixon territory only highlights their total inability to win the day. Politics is the art of the possible. And both the hard right and hard left have always had trouble defining what is possible and have reached instead for the unattainable. Failure and defeat follows such folly.

We are going to leave Iraq - probably long before George Bush wishes we would. But we are not going to leave on terms set by the radicals in the anti-war movement. It would be best for all if Bush, the Democrats, and the Republicans could all sit down and work to get us out of Iraq as quickly as possible with the least damage to our national security interests.

That’s what grown ups would do. Unfortunately, I hold out little hope for such a meeting of the minds given the poisonous political atmosphere and the constant yammering from the anti-war left who have sabotaged their own cause time and time again.

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