The first sign of trouble was Congress' choice of Maryland Representative Steny Hoyer for majority whip over Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi's choice of Jack Murtha. Murtha made a reputation for himself earlier this year calling for a general withdrawal of troops from Iraq, a plan that raised the rancor of his fellow democrats and republicans alike. But Murtha was voted down soundly for the powerful House position, ostensibly due to some minor ethics violations. Hoyer, like so many of his colleagues, has a wishy-washy vision on the Iraq situation, acknowledging that something needs to be done, but offering no ideas.
Pelosi correctly saw the democratic win as a rebuke of President Bush's Iraq policy. She wanted to use the occasion of the Tuesday night massacre as a way of doing the hard work on Iraq. But her fellow democrats have a different belief, that democrats can fight the war better, and ultimately lead to a higher standing among voters in the soon to come presidential elections. The problem is, democrats are being rather cryptic about their plans, and whatever they do needs to be acted upon shortly to have a major impact in 2008.
The second sign of trouble was New York Representative Charlie Rangel's proposed renewal of a military draft, announced just yesterday. Rangel offers two opposing reasons for this bill, which has pissed off a lot of voters the last couple of days. First, Rangel said "If we're going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to Iraq, we can't do that without a draft. I don't see how anyone can support the war and not support the draft." On the other hand, Rangel said if his fellow lawmakers knew their own children would be sent to fight, they might not have voted to invade Iraq. I don't know what Rangel's rationale was for this move, except to possibly rally college students against the war. If that's not it, then he must foresee a long, hard slog for the American military.
The third piece of this triangle was put in place yesterday by Senator Barack Obama, who is considering a presidential run in 2008. Obama told a Chicago group that he is in favor of a 'gradual withdrawal' of troops in Iraq, re-deploying many of them in the Kurdish North and making them more available for the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. "Only through this phased redeployment can we send a clear message to the Iraqi factions that the U.S. is not going to hold together this country indefinitely -- that it will be up to them to form a viable government that can effectively run and secure Iraq" said Obama.
As you've likely noticed by now, not one of these democrats mentions anything about our troops coming home, something that progressive and mainstream democrats have called for since early 2004. No, the democratic leadership wants to win an unwinnable war; two in fact, hoping to keep these twin flames lit long enough to win majorities in Congress and the presidency in the next two years. And not one of these democrats are mentioning hearings on the billions of dollars wasted or stolen by defense contractors, investigations into the amazingly corrupt Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority, or restraining the president's hand in pursuing further military actions.
No, the new democratic majority isn't interested in taking real action against President Bush's war agenda. Instead, they want to capitalize on it, perform a little alchemy to turn these horrible desecrations of American foreign policy into a platform to sustain the party's own future, which is exactly what the voters didn't want them to do.
We're racing towards the status quo, folks. Nothing is going to change unless you make it change.