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Tuesday, May 22, 2007
(8:38 AM) | Stephen:
Congressional Drama

The ongoing drama surrounding the Iraq War appropriations bill is fascinating. The Democrats played a dangerous game by sending a bill that they knew Bush would veto. Not only that, but they knew that the Republican Noise Machine would immediately crank into high gear about how Democrats don't support the troops, hate America, don't like freedom, blah blah blah.

This has of course happened, but two things have happened along with it that really surprise me. One is that all the GOP blather in the media hasn't really seemed to make much of a difference with the American people. The other is that there has been a near-constant stream of stories coming out about how the Dems are going to cave and give Bush a bill that he likes.

The AP just reported that the Democrats are going to give in. They're going to give Bush a bill without timelines, without accountability. And us regular folk all over the country have just sighed, shaken our heads and swallowed the whole story. Some have gotten mad, outraged, but for me, whenever I see that type of thing, it doesn't really affect me all that much, because I expect it. I think that the liberal blogosphere as an organizing tool for the real grassroots is in the midst of remaking the Democratic party into something that actually cares about what happens outside of DC - unlike the GOP and its relationship to the conservative blogosphere - but I don't expect this to happen immediately or even quickly.

But here's the thing, as the link above shows, the Democratic leadership denies the story. Again. No such decision has been made. There's a couple of possible reasons for this. One is that people are deliberately misinforming the AP and other news organizations in an attempt to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. I've long wondered if that's been the source of leaks in the past, with news articles creating a sense in the Democratic Caucus that members feel a certain way even though there really isn't anyone with those opinions.

Another possible reason for stories like this is that the Congressional Democratic caucus is holding together on this, is going to hold together on this, but it's a difficult thing to pull off. The disparate interests and backgrounds of Congressional Dems have not disappeared by any means, and while things look good for us in 2008, it doesn't mean that we don't have to worry about close races. I'm quite certain there are Democrats who want to just give Bush what he wants. They see the columns, they hear the pundits and even the supposed straight-up news anchors and their first reaction is to run and hide, to give in so they don't look like they're weak on security or that they don't support the troops.

If anyone could show me a Democratic political consultant in DC that isn't lobbying for a bill that gives Bush exactly what he wants for exactly the above reasons, I'd probably have a heart attack.

But Pelosi and Reid are damn good strategists, and somebody is listening to the actual American people. It helps that Democrats care what the blogs are saying, because in spite of what the GOP would like everyone to believe, the liberal blogosphere is about as good a cross-section of the American people as you're going to get.

Things are going to be tense for a while, not least because the stream of leaks, and therefore articles, about Democrats caving won't stop. Our press has shown that they will believe anything a Republican or blue dog Democrat will tell them, while showing extreme skepticism of what comes out of the mouths of Reid or Pelosi. Here's hoping they stand firm.

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