Nov
01
2007

Turning 'Won't' Into 'Can't'

In addition to explaining why the U.S. shouldn’t end the war in Iraq, corporate media frequently tell Democrats that they can’t end the war—citing the Republicans’ ability to filibuster in the Senate and George W. Bush’s power to veto any anti-war legislation (FAIR Media Advisory, 6/1/07, 9/13/07). “As long as [Bush] can keep most of the Republicans in the Senate, in the House with him, there’s no way to overturn the policy because of the way the Constitution reads,” Newsweek’s Howard Fineman told the Chris Matthews Show (NBC, 9/2/07). “I hate to keep coming back to the Constitution. Sixty votes to stop a filibuster, 67 to overturn a presidential veto in the Senate.”

In reality, Democrats need just 41 Senate votes to stop the war—enough to maintain a filibuster (which is not, incidentally, part of the Constitution) and prevent any new war funding bills from being passed. The problem with this strategy is that if Democrats adopted it, it would mean taking responsibility for ending the war—rather than sharing it with the White House and/or Republicans in Congress. In the conventional wisdom of Beltway media and Democratic insiders alike, ending an unpopular war is the political kiss of death.

Walter Shapiro, the online Salon’s thoroughly conventional political correspondent (9/26/07), pointed to the presidential primaries as the reason nothing will happen to end the war in 2007:

The victorious Democrat in particular will want nothing to happen in Congress that could possibly jeopardize winning back the White House. And congressional leaders (along with most back-benchers) will be shrewd enough to understand that electing a Democratic president is the only surefire route to ending this debilitating war.

Shapiro argued that anti-war activists should just lay off: “That is why . . . this is not the moment for guerrilla theater and mau-mauing the moderates. . . . The coming battleground instead is the familiar terrain of Ohio and Florida—and the hearts and minds of the swing voters who will decide the 2008 election.” In other words, the best way to end the war is to stop talking about the war and concentrate on getting a Democrat elected president. Shapiro did not explain why the Democrats who are now too terrified to take responsibility for ending the war will, once in the Oval Office, be happy to do just that.