A new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll tells us what we already know: a strong majority of Americans favor bringing troops home from Iraq. Specifically, 55% support a withdrawal, while just 36% back Bush's position that current troop levels should be maintained.
This latest poll is consistent with other polls that show Americans oppose the war, want an exit strategy, believe the conflict is damaging U.S. national security, and think the war is hurting the effort to win the War on Terror.
Yet, as we see in Sen. Joe Biden's (D) Washington Post op-ed today, top Democrats still can't find the guts to push for withdrawing troops, and instead continue to drone on with the same split-the-difference posturing and weak-kneed whining that has marked their electoral decline in the last few years. As Atrios's Duncan Black notes, all Biden and the D.C. Democratic Establishment seem to be able to muster is, "If only a bunch of stuff that won't happen would happen, Iraq would be a lot of fun."
This kind of pathetic cowering isn't limited just to the Senate. Roll Call reports today that House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D) "has assembled a kitchen cabinet of fellow moderate Members to shape the Democratic strategy on national security issues." What's troubling is that every single member mentioned in the article as working with Hoyer recently voted against legislation to force President Bush to detail an exit strategy from Iraq. Similarly, nearly every member voted for the Iraq War (including Hoyer).
This apparent exclusion by D.C. Democratic Establishment types like Hoyer of those who want troops withdrawn from Iraq doesn't seem inadvertent. In fact, it seems like Hoyer is going out of his way to put a thumb in the eye of the few courageous Democrats who are trying to get their party to take a real position on the war. As the article notes, Hoyer is unveiling his group's agenda "just as some of the Caucus’ left-leaning Democrats are becoming ever more vocal about their opposition to the war in Iraq and heightening their call to bring U.S. forces home."
As I have written before, the longer the insulated D.C. Democratic Establishment practices its trademark thumb-in-the-wind, split-the-difference politics on the most important national security issues, the more the public will perceive the Democrats as standing for nothing. And ultimately, no matter how much we drive down Republicans' approval ratings, America will not reward a political party that tries to win by taking no clear positions at all.
© 2005 Working Assets Inc.