Democrats Need To Push Their Advantages And Seize Iraq Debate
Iraqi insurgent groups said today they would join reconciliation talks only if the government committed to withdrawing all US and British forces from Iraq in two years, thereby putting al-Maliki in the tough spot of having to offer the insurgents something that his patron Dick Cheney will not allow him to offer. Note the demand for "all" troops to leave the country.
I come back to what I said last week. Both Gallup (with an 11-point Democratic sample advantage) and the Post (with a far smaller 5-point Democratic advantage) show increasing support for setting a withdrawal timeline. Democrats should push a resolution into Bill Frist’s lap before the recess that would prohibit permanent bases and troop deployments inside Iraq. If al-Maliki needs a 24-month timeline to peel the Sunnis away from Al Qaeda and achieve a true reconciliation, then the Democrats should align themselves with whatever al-Maliki needs. If the GOP claims that leaving within 24 months would be surrender, then Democrats must pointedly question the real GOP agenda in Iraq, and force the GOP to vote in favor of permanent bases and against what it takes for reconciliation in Iraq.
Note that after the Iraq sham debate last week, when the GOP knocked the Dems for wanting a timeline, the public self-identifies as Democratic by a huge 17-point margin over Republicans.
Americans are increasingly likely to identify themselves as Democrats. Including those who "lean" to one party or the other, 55% call themselves Democrats; 38%, Republicans. That's the biggest edge for Democrats since 1998. By 54%-38%, the registered voters surveyed say they'd vote for a Democratic congressional candidate over a Republican one if the election were held today.
Democrats are preferred by double digits to Republicans on four of the five top-ranked issues: Iraq, government corruption, the economy and health care. Republicans are preferred by 11 percentage points on handling terrorism.
Again, this poll was taken after the Iraq debate last week. Democrats need to push their advantage on Iraq. They need to put the Republicans on the defensive by calling them out for being against progress and reconciliation in Iraq, and in favor of an ongoing and costly occupation that does nothing to make us safer from terrorism here at home.