"It was a concession to reality," said Representative James P. Moran, Democrat of Virginia, who said he intended to oppose the war spending portion of the bill.
"I would never vote for such a thing," Ms. Pelosi said as she entered the office of Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, to put the final touches on the $120 billion proposal.
''I think it's a giant step to begin the end of the war,'' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Did the Democrats count on Monica Goodling for cover? Will her personal relationship with Jesus, her Ann Coulter hair and her good work as a biblically inspired handmaid to perfidy push the debacle of the Democrats' capitulation on the supplemental war funding bill off the media radar, and squeeze out the disingenuous drivel leaking out of the party's mouthpieces? Probably. Unfortunately, however, when the Goodlet has shuffled off the stage, we'll still be knee deep in George Bush's zombie blood fest, with none but Alberto Amnesia to enforce the law.
First the drivel: To what reality is the passage of a war funding bill on Bush's terms a concession? Harry Reid says it's that "we don't have a veto proof majority." Hmm. Well Harry, the Republicans don't have any majority, and you can't pass a bill without one, which means that if the Democrats and Bush hold firm, you can't pass a bill. So what? The money runs out and the war ends. Sounds good to me.
Are we, the voters, supposed not to have figured this out? How dumb do you think we are, Harry? Okay, maybe I'm being unrealistic. If the Dems don't pass a bill and the money runs out, the Republicans will blame them for "losing Iraq." Yes, they will. And, while it might be nice to have national leaders that didn't consider the risk of losing their jobs a compelling reason to indefinitely prolong the pointless and lethal carnage in Iraq -- making concessions to reality, we might have to face that we don't. But, come on Harry, if the Dems do pass a bill, the Republicans will blame you for "losing Iraq" anyway.
The salient question is will anyone believe them? The available evidence suggests not. To say that the president is unpopular is an audacious understatement. That electoral judgment is, after all, why you're the majority leader, Harry. People want this war to end. Even the bubble boy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has figured that out. Democrats -- or, as we might call ourselves, the folks that put you in office -- especially want the war to end.
Now comes the dark and scary part: I think you know, Harry, that the tide has turned on the war and the administration. I surely think Nancy "I'd never vote for it" but "it's a giant step toward ending the war Pelosi" knows it. The presidential contenders who are falling all over themselves to state how, they, personally, find this deal regrettable, act like they know it. The point here is that they are all acting scared -- of us. But, if the Democrats are acting out of political fear (and they certainly haven't stepped forward to claim they're acting on principle), whom do they fear, even more than us, the folks who put them in power and will be needed to keep them there?
Here's a best case scenario: on the basis of their personal intelligence gathering, the Congressional Democrats have determined that Bush, Cheney and Co are: a) utterly contemptuous of constitutional process (it would be hard to argue with that one), b) quite possibly nuts, c) both a and b are true. Provoking them risks a dangerous constitutional crisis. Cheney has already said that if congress cuts of funding for the war, the administration will find "a work around." Anyone who remembers when the Boland Amendment cut off aid to the Contras, has a fairly good idea what he means. If Congress refuses to fund the war and the Administration keeps it going through extra-constitutional means, we will reach a scary impasse. I happen to think that, given the administration's sub-stellar approval rating and sheer destructive potential, a confrontation between Bush and a congress determined to restore constitutional government might be a good thing, but I suppose that's a risk assessment serious people can disagree about.
But then why doesn't the congressional leadership explain its capitulation in those terms? American's are grown-up enough to understand an argument along the lines of "hey, you don't want to provoke this guy, because he's unstable," or, even, we're afraid that if we cut off the money, the president, in a fit of pique, will leave the troops in the field without supplies. Can an explanation along those lines possibly make them look worse than the nonsense they've been putting out about not having a veto-proof majority? Once again: that's not our problem. Congress already passed a bill to fund the war. Bush vetoed it. If he wants a bill, he'll have to sign what Congress sends him.
So, if the politics are such that the Democrats are afraid to be seen not stopping the war, and they stand to prevail in a constitutional crisis, should Bush pursue the war by extra-constitutional (that is, illegal) means, why are they more afraid of stopping the war? Of whom are they afraid?
Here's the darker scenario: Why did the Democrats "cave" -- and to whom? I truly don't know, but the darkness gripping my heart whispers, "cui bono?" which is Latin for, as Mark "Deep Throat" Felt famously translated it, "Follow the money." Are they afraid of the corporate war profiteers upon whose largesse they have become as dependent as the Republicans? Do even defense contractors still want to prolong this war? I'm not saying they do or that it's them the Democrats fear. I don't have any direct evidence that it is. But the logic (or lack thereof) behind the Democrats' actions and the sheer puerility with which they seek to justify them makes it a possibility to be considered.
Whatever it is the Democrats are afraid of, the voters' recourse is the same. We've got to get fiercer, until they are more afraid of us than they are of "them."