Yep, you guessed it… Republicans!
How else can we explain Harry Reid's unbending desire to have the Democratic presidential debate broadcast on Fox News? How else can we explain their reluctance to make a serious effort to end an incredibly unpopular president's incredibly unpopular war? How else can we explain them buying into the Republican meme that withdrawal is some sort of fringe leftist commie position, and that defunding the occupation means that our troops will be patrolling in Big Wheels, wearing nothing but their underwear, and facing down Teh Scary Terrorist Hordes armed only with sticks and pebbles?
Or going back further, how can we explain their lack of resistance to the bankruptcy bill, of the nominations of Roberts or Alito? Or, fortheloveofGodandallthatisholy, the "Torture Good, Habeas Bad" Act, which should have been the no-brainer di tutti no-brainers?
I have three theories (as you may have noticed by now, I kinda dig lists; maybe because I really suck at organizing my thoughts), none of them encouraging:
1) The Democrats have seen the growing unrest in the Republican ranks, and have decided to go for the home run, a raid on the Republican base.
2) They still believe the toxic whispers of the DLC, telling them that compromising Democratic values and playing to the right is the only way to get elected. After all, it worked for Bill Clinton (his being the most gifted and charismatic American politician since JFK had absolutely nothing to do with it). Since Bill, well, not so much until last year (which was a gift). But only because they're not triangulating hard enough.
3) This is the one that scares me the most: That the Democrats have internalized the unspoken frame that the Republicans and the media have been using, which is that only Republicans are real Americans. Think about it: All of the claims that they make about what's mainstream and what's not make no sense when you look at the overall poll numbers. But if you look at the Republican-only numbers, that's where you'll find the mainstream that the media keeps talking about, where Dubya is strong and honest and resolute, and everyone hates abortion and immigrants and gay marriage and peace. Or, alternatively, the Democrats simply haven't looked at the polls since late 2001, and think Dubya is still insanely popular.
Whatever the reason, This. Capitulation. Must. Stop. This isn't even pandering to the polls – it's the exact opposite. The Democrats are doing the exact opposite of what the majority of the country wants, and the exact opposite of what they were voted into the majority for.
Even if they don't succeed in ending the war, their opposition to it must be committed and indisputable. To do anything less is to assume partial ownership of the war, and repudiate the voters who demanded an end to it last November. If the American voters feel that the Democrats did everything they could but just didn't have the votes because the Republicans remain committed to the war, then 2008 will be a bloodbath for the GOP. But if they sense that the Democrats were pulling their punches because they were afraid to look weak (oh, the irony), then a lot of them are just going to stay home, or vote Republican.
Now, I'm hoping that this post has become obsolete since I started writing it last night, but the new withdrawal proposal is still pretty lukewarm: long withdrawal timetable, allows Bush to fudge benchmarks to claim that we're still making progress and need to stay, and I'm not sure if it actually has any kind of enforcement provisions. A unified front behind this measure would be an improvement over their posturing so far, but I'm not sure if it's going to be good enough.
UPDATE: Well, I guess you can just ignore this post completely now. Talk amongst yourselves. (h/t Twisted Martini)