In 2007 and 2008, when George Bush was still President, Democrats took a lot of heat from their supporters for their inability or unwillingness to end the war in Iraq. To the extent that they tried, though, the challenge within the party fell to leaders to convince their right flank to sign on to the efforts.
Now that a Democrat is president and the war in Iraq is (or at least seems to be) coming to an end, the situation’s somewhat flipped. Obama wants to ramp up U.S. efforts in a different war and–with most Democrats in support, but without an exit strategy–the new challenge may lie in convincing their left flank to play along.The Wall Street Journal reports that some high profile members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are demurring at, or downright rejecting, calls from party leaders to sign on to war spending.
Mr. Obama is expected to seek congressional approval of $75.5 billion for the wars, perhaps as soon as Thursday. The issue is already raising tensions on Capitol Hill, especially among liberals who are sympathetic to the president’s broader agenda but voice concerns about his timeline for withdrawal of troops from Iraq and his plans to beef up forces in Afghanistan.
Among the protestors are CPC chair Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)–“I don’t think we should be going there”–Jim McGovern (D-MA)–“I just have this sinking feeling that we’re getting deeper and deeper into a war that has no end”–and John Conyers (D-MI), who had the harshest words for the President of all. He called the strategy, such as it is, in Afghanistan “embarrassingly naive,” saying that though Obama may be “the smartest man in American politics today…he occasionally gets bad advice and makes mistakes. This is one of those instances.”
Supplemental war spending will almost certainly win plenty of Republican support, and the members of the CPC (though numerous) don’t always march in lockstep–so there’s little reason to believe Obama won’t get the $75.5 billion he’s looking for. But we’ll keep our eye on this rift, which could widen and deepen over weeks and months…and even years.