The always lefty-reliable Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times sets off this morning (along with Emma Vaughn) to exonerate the Democrats who voted for the war in Iraq. The effect, though, is to paint a picture of utterly empty Democratic opportunists who blew with the wind:
With national security then such a flashpoint in so many campaigns, many Democrats believe, the vote’s timing enormously increased pressure on their party’s wavering senators to back the president, whose approval rating approached 70% at the time.
“There was a sense I had from the very beginning that this was in part politically motivated, and they were going to maximize the timing to affect those who were having some doubt about this right before the election,” Daschle said.
Long-time Democratic operative Jim Jordan recognizes the dilemma this line of argument creates for the party wherein the cut-and-run caucus nests:
“The political currents were extraordinarily strong for everybody involved,” said Jim Jordan, then executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “I’m certainly not implying that Democrats had their finger to the wind and didn’t make votes of conscience, but it was a piece of the puzzle, clearly.”
Of course that is exactly what Jordan, Daschle, and Brownstein are implying –that the Democrats didn’t want to vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq but were too afraid to say so.
Ted Kennedy has a different take: Congressional Democrats are too emotional to be blamed for their votes:
“There was a stampede to vote on this,” Kennedy said. “A lot of our people got caught up in it.”
Still others tell the reporters that it had nothing to do with conviction at all, just timing and elections:
[S]ources said that other Democratic senators supported Bush’s push, in part because the senators believed an early vote might help the party shift attention to domestic issues it wanted to spotlight before election day. Democrats also felt more pressure to act because they recognized that the GOP-controlled House would agree to Bush’s request on the vote’s timing.
Apparently Brownstein and Vaughn could not find one elected Democrat willing to defend the 2002 vote as right at the time and right in retrospect, which tells us a great deal about the Democrats and national security –primarily that they ought not to be allowed anywhere close to its control.