Advocating on Behalf of the American Military and Defense on the War on Terror

The Politico.com has a detailed look at how the Democrat's are fractured over how far they'll go to back-stab our troops, and with which strategy they want to proceed.

Lynn Woolsey, with whom I share a zipcode, is the prime mover in the crackpot crowd.

Harry Belafonte, Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey, CA get ready to march 

Anti-war Dems divided over strategy
By: Josephine Hearn
August 7, 2007 07:33 AM EST

Neil Abercrombie and Lynn Woolsey are in perfect agreement on the war in Iraq: It's a disaster that should be ended now.

But the two House Democrats are sharply divided on how to use the limited powers of Congress to make it happen.

Abercrombie believes in making common cause with wavering Republicans to create a powerful coalition that will force President Bush to change policy.

Woolsey has little interest in a political strategy that requires any compromises with the GOP in the name of consensus. She believes the anti-war movement can only succeed in Congress by mandating a quick and clear end to the war.

The two approaches clashed vividly last week in a behind-the-scenes battle among House Democrats over a measure sponsored by Abercrombie, backed by some liberals and many moderates, requiring Bush to report on the status of an Iraq plan. The measure was poised to win the support of many Republicans -- until Woolsey and her allies stopped it cold.

The weeklong legislative tussle underscored the difficulty anti-war forces face in agreeing on political strategy -- a problem that threatens to hamstring Democrats when they return in September and face a series of confrontations with Bush over Iraq.

Woolsey feared that any measure which allowed Republicans to argue that they were holding the administration's feet to the fire -- without actually imposing policy changes -- could be worse than nothing.

"I don't want legislation that takes us backward," Woolsey said, noting that the House had passed a bill several weeks ago calling for a complete redeployment of combat troops by April 1, 2008. "While we're standing here, our troops are dying, and we're not moving the ball forward to bring them home."

Abercrombie argued that his approach would have demonstrated that the anti-war movement is not just a partisan cause.

"We attracted the overwhelming majority of Republicans to go with us, which is the most powerful element working in this right now," Abercrombie said. "If you keep passing bills on issues that have a bare majority, then it becomes Democrats versus Republicans and people make up their own minds as to who is really participating and who isn't."

In the end, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), after heavy lobbying from prominent House liberals, sided with Woolsey and scuttled the Abercrombie plan.

Both Abercrombie, from Hawaii, and Woolsey, from the Bay Area of California, have impressive anti-war credentials. Abercrombie sponsored one of the first troop withdrawal resolutions to gain bipartisan support. He is a member of the Armed Services Committee and a close ally of Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), one of the war's foremost congressional critics.

Woolsey is an original founder of the Out of Iraq Caucus and a co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She sponsored a 2005 resolution, urging the president to present a withdrawal plan to Congress. Along with fellow California Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, Woolsey is part of a trio of vocal anti-war Democrats calling themselves "the Triad."

In part to reconcile such different approaches, Pelosi created a "working group" early in the year to develop House Democrats' Iraq strategy. And she asked her close ally Rep. John B. Larson (D-Conn.) to head up the group, Larson said.

"The speaker said we've got to start coalescing and building a consensus around this," Larson said. "We needed to decide what to do to move the ball forward and prepare for the August debate," when members return to their districts and discuss the war with constituents.

Larson tried to draw members, both moderate and liberal, into the group. Reps. Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts, Kendrick B. Meek of Florida, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, John Tanner of Tennessee, Abercrombie and others joined him.

The group ultimately backed several proposals, including one banning permanent military bases in Iraq, another requiring stricter troop readiness requirements and the Abercrombie bill, co-sponsored by Tanner.

The bill originally contained a detailed section on the "comprehensive strategy for the redeployment of United States Armed Forces in Iraq." But that section was removed in the House Armed Services Committee in order to attract the support of Republicans. Twenty-six Republicans voted for it after the change, along with all of the committee's Democrats.

Abercrombie had to fight to get Democratic leaders to agree to bring the bill to the floor, but by midweek it looked as though he had succeeded. He anticipated that the measure would send the first broad bipartisan message to the president.

But the Triad had leapt into action to kill it, a move that pitted progressive lawmakers like Woolsey, Lee, Waters and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) against others like Abercrombie, Delahunt and Kaptur.
That earlier legislation was indeed much stronger, but it had the support of only a few Republicans. Abercrombie wanted to offer more modest language to win the backing of dozens of Republicans.

Still, the Triad wasn't convinced. At its urging, the Progressive Caucus passed a resolution on Tuesday vowing to "firmly oppose any Iraq-related bills or amendments that come to the House floor that do not include a clear timeline and date for the redeployment of U.S. troops and military contractors from Iraq."
The Triad sent out an "action alert" Thursday, urging more than 70 members of the Progressive Caucus to oppose a procedural maneuver that would have brought the bill to the floor.

"This is a sneak attack to pass a weak bill to allow the president to give a report on the status of a redeployment plan -- with no deadline to end the occupation," the three wrote.

Just six minutes later, a high-level staff member in Pelosi's office shot back a reply that the action alert was "premature."

Pelosi called a meeting of the parties, the latest of several last week, and afterward decided not to bring the bill to the floor. The Triad was assuaged: Republicans would not be given the chance to back a measure directing the president to take certain actions regarding Iraq.

Schakowsky explained the thinking in the anti-Abercrombie camp.

"I don't think the words of bills we pass here will change (Republicans') minds. ... This bill allows people who have no more conviction about ending the war than the president to claim they asked the president for a new plan," she said.

"Republicans won't change until they feel the war is an albatross around their necks and they have no other choice."