WASHINGTON, Feb. 26
All of American politics 2007 (and, of course, most of 2008) will be determined by the fallout from Democratic efforts on Capitol Hill to force President Bush to change course in Iraq.
The implications of Democrats' success or -- under today's conventional wisdom -- failure to force the White House's hand will carom far and wide.
The overall Democratic strategic imperative remains the same -- use public opinion to pressure enough Republicans to go to the President and demand a change -- knowing that Democratic votes and voices alone won't do it.
This strategy has run into a number of problems, however, both political and substantive. Okay: mostly political.
Perhaps the Democrats, back in town this week and caucusing ferociously, will find a way to change the trajectory of the political debate, but they are losing fast.
1. Doing massive code breaking on just how much ground the Democrats have lost, warrior Bob Novak Notes in a 100-proof must-read that (even) Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Norm Coleman (R-MN) are not inclined to support deauthorization of the war, illustrating the backward movement. LINK
2. The White House is impervious to facts on the ground when it comes to changing course.
3. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is fearless, tactical, and loyal to the White House -- meaning everything is filibusterable.
4. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) is, once again, Karl Rove's best friend, in terms of creating divisions within the Democrat Party and giving full-blooded life to the White House's "defund the troops" straw man. LINK
5. Most Blue State Republicans up in 2008, typified by John Sununu (R-NH), just aren't all that afraid of losing their seats over Iraq.
6. Democrats in the House and Senate are not coordinating very well on message or legislative strategy, and are starting to point fingers in that classic party circular firing squad manner.
7. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I/D-CT) -- flexing in a(nother) Wall Street Journal op ed today -- challenges Democrats to give the surge a chance to work through the summer, creating the patina of bipartisanship the Republicans need. LINK
8. Speaker Pelosi has allowed herself to be Cheneyed. (Pronounced "chee-kneed," not "chay-need.") The conservative base is fully rallied, easing pressure on GOP officeholders.
9. Chairman Levin saying he wants to "tie the President's hands" and knowing that that is not the best soundbite, but also knowing he can't unring the bell.
10. The White House's deft playing of the Petraeus card.
Sure, you can take your eye off of the Iraq ball and be distracted by 2008 must-reads from the last 72 hours (read them all), but that would be wrong:
1. Somebody has to explain how Newsweek got interviews with both David Geffen and Maureen Dowd -- and how MoDo's explanation of how the interview went (she led) -- and Geffen's kicker quote -- square with the conventional wisdom: "Geffen ...denies any animus against the Clintons. 'I think Bill Clinton is a great guy,' he tells NEWSWEEK. 'I support them both. I just don't think she can be elected president.'" LINK
2. Someone who is an insider you outsiders know is going to have to explain to you the major Gang of 500 signifigance of the Greg Craig vs Cheryl Mills subplot of the Obama/Clinton narrative. LINK