61% Oppose Bush's Plan - What The Democrats Should Do
With Bush’s speech behind us and the sales job underway, how did it play last night with the American people? In the first poll done, the ABC News/Washington Post poll done right after the speech finds that 61% of those polled are against sending more troops to Iraq, with 52% saying they are strongly opposed to the plan. Even though this poll has a large MOE, there are some findings that Democrats should take into account when proceeding with their response to Bush’s plans.
53% of those polled supported Democrats’ plans to cut off funding for the additional troops, while 44% were opposed to any funding cutoff. Yet the demographic breakdown of those numbers shows that a Democratic effort to deny funding for the escalation will pay huge dividends with younger voters, even as the GOP lines up to filibuster any such move.
Sixty percent of Americans between ages 18 and 39 support cutting off funding, compared to 51 percent of those between 40 and 59 and 43 percent of Americans over age 60.
Simply put, since the GOP seems ready to walk over a cliff on this issue and take Joe Lieberman with them, Democrats should make it easy for them and force a vote to deny funding for the additional troops, with one exception (which I mention below). Democrats should force the GOP to filibuster on this issue and isolate the GOP leadership and Lieberman in the process.
There are political gains for the Democrats in taking this approach. Although seniors are less favorable to any Democratic effort to deny funding for the escalation, they already support Democrats over Republicans on other issues. Furthermore, Democrats can win over more and more of the public if they portray the escalation as nothing more than:
1) A taxpayer-supported grab for oil by the Cheney Energy Task Force;
2) A budget-busting gutting of the Social Security trust fund;
3) Funding war at the expense of domestic homeland security needs;
4) Bush's plan to pass his problem off to his sucessor,
5) A plan that breaks the National Guard and Army; and
6) A preamble to another new war, this time with Iran.
And the Democrats need to hit the two and 4-year college campuses now for the next six months reminding young voters that George W. Bush and the GOP want to ship their butts off to Iraq and Iran.
My favored approach would be three-fold: Democrats should only fund the one part of Bush’s build-up that is essential, which is the insertion of additional Marines into the al-Anbar province to work with the Sunnis to eliminate Al Qaeda. Democrats should clearly limit this operation for one more budget year, but we owe it to the Iraqi people to get rid of the foreign terrorist element that Bush allowed into their country. Beyond that, I cannot see why Americans should be asked to send more troops into a civil, sectarian war that would involve American troops fighting both Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents for a central government that warrants no such sacrifice.
Second, the Democrats should schedule a vote to rescind the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, so that both the White House and the GOP are forced to defend why this president should be allowed to wage war against Iran and Syria with a blank check when large majorities of Americans reject any new militarism from this administration towards either country, and instead favor the ISG approach.
Lastly, the Democrats should introduce the Iraq Study Group report as a roadmap out of Iraq, and gain the country’s bipartisan support for it as a Democratic alternative to the White House. Doing so will force the GOP to split its caucus between supporting the White House, or standing for a bipartisan alternative that is in their own political self-interest for 2008. Doing this will splinter the GOP and isolate not only George W. Bush, but also Joe Lieberman and the leading 2008 GOP presidential contenders.