Dems Find Courage
January 9, 2007
Finally, the leaders of the Democratic Party have found their voice—and their spine.
By protesting, Cindy Sheehan and her cohorts let the Democrats know that we in the peace movement will not tolerate backsliding or acquiescing.
After equivocating for months on the Iraq War, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid did what they’re supposed to do: They honored the will of their constituents, and they acted like leaders of an opposition party for once.
Last week, Pelosi and Reid sent Bush a letter saying, in plain English, “it is time to bring the war to a close.”
They told Bush, “Surging forces is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed.” They said a repeat of such a strategy would be a “serious mistake.” As they pointed out, “More combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain.”
They didn’t call for immediate withdrawal, however. In fact, they didn’t call for withdrawal at all. Instead, they advocated a “phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection, and counter-terror.”
That’s not the same as bringing the troops home, and training has proven to be a failed strategy already, as well.
But the Pelosi-Reid letter is a step in that direction. And Pelosi and Reid took another step a few days later when they hinted that the Democrats may finally consider using the power of the purse to curtail Bush’s escalations. (I’m not betting on it, but at least they are raising the possibility that they will do their Constitutional duty.)
The peace movement and progressive talk radio can take some credit for stiffening the Democrats’ spines. In weekly rallies in small towns and big cities across the country, and in a steady drumbeat on the airwaves, peace advocates made sure the Democrats in Washington heard from them. It was no time to relax, no time to celebrate, no time to make nice.
Cindy Sheehan had the right idea. She dared to rain on the Democrats’ inaugural parade. When the new Congress was being sworn in, and Pelosi, Reid, Representative Rahm Emanuel, and Senator Chuck Schumer were doing a victory lap, she showed up, with a few others, and chanted, “De-escalate, investigate, troops home now!” By protesting, she and her cohorts let the Democrats know that we in the peace movement will not tolerate backsliding or acquiescing. It will take more of this kind of pressure on the Democrats to ensure that they bring this war to an end, finally, by defunding it.