Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Senate Democrats: Determined Idealists or Cynical Politicians?

Tonight the Senate will remain in session all night in the latest effort of Democrats to bring about an end to the Iraq war. Three motives may be in play:

1. They are determined idealists who are sincerely doing their best to end this tragic war.

2. They are realistic, smart politicians who are thinking not so much about Iraq now as about the elections in 2008. By trying to embarrass the Republicans who continue to support the President, they are acting in the long run interest of the country since more Democrats in Congress would be a good thing.

3. They are blatant cynics who know all these efforts will fail since the President is determined to stay in Iraq until whatever objective prevails at the time is achieved regardless of Congressional action or public opinion, so they might as well get as much political advantage out of the situation as they can.

My guess is that all three are present to some extent. Option 1 is naive and futile. Option 3 abandons morality. The second, while it has its own shortcomings, is the only one that comes anywhere close to the combination of idealism, realism, and pragmatism that is needed in these perilous times. There really is not a thoroughly good policy option for the Democrats given their slim majorities and the fact that the President has the final say given the impotence of the Congress to act with sufficient power to overcome Presidential vetoes. I have argued repeatedly that there is no good policy for Iraq at the moment. That is the larger truth. Senate overnighters cannot escape this fact.

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