It goes a little something like this (hit it): Democrats take over Congress in 2007. Bush begins a troop increase, allegedly in the name of bringing the war to a desirable conclusion. It has all sorts of anticipated ill effects: increased deaths, increased chaos, mounting strain on the military. Bush demonstrates no willingness to back down. Increasingly, liberal anti-war legislators in safely blue precincts calculate that the only way they can stop the war is to stop funding it. When other Democrats in the House and the Senate start equivocating on a funding cut-off, liberal activists start recruiting primary challengers who endorse the plan. Bush comes out swinging: "If they really want to end the war," he says again and again, "they should show where they stand and vote against funding the war." Karl Rove's plan is a simple one: facing a rising popular tide against the war in general, he needs to force the opposition into an antiwar position that isn't popular in particular -- like cutting off funding while the troops are in the field.An extremely convincing scenario. In fact, Bush is likely chomping at the bit to utter such words, "the war was on the verge of being won...." Of course, at this point no one in their right mind would believe such a statement, but that's what the "surge" is all about, to get Iraq to a point where it appears to be turning the corner. Deep down, both Bush and Cheney know that Iraq's fate is out of their hands, so best to get things at least heading in a direction that they can spin and distort enough to make Americans believe the once grave situation there has miraculously reversed course for the better.
Let's say the Democrats do it. Congress cuts off the funding; the Dems win in 2008 as the Republicans descend into an acrimonious inter-party feud about the meaning of Iraq. With the Democrats in power, the troops come home, but the expected human calamity for the Iraqis materializes. Bush, in exile, starts saying how the war was on the verge of being turned around, but then the radical Democrats, in an anti-American frenzy, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Instantly, this becomes the Republican and conservative line -- the unprovable counterfactual that the war was about to be won. Over the next fifteen years, this becomes accepted wisdom. A younger generation of liberals, tired of being bludgeoned with the charge, more or less accepts it themselves.
Given the awful degree to which Iraq has descended, in contrast it will only help to make the case of improvement resulting from the additional 20K+ troops. As bad as the KC Royals are in MLB, they're much better than a single-A baseball team -- point being, it's all relative. So look for Rove & Co. to reappear on the scene in about a year to repackage the Iraq story, to spin it as a resuscitated close-failure, a once thought of "cracked egg," now reborn and on its way to success. But alas, it's all packaged hype and in reality Iraq is still a mess, soon to once again become the disaster of not too long ago. Only now when it reverts back to being a debacle, Rove/Bush/Cheney will then spin again, this time blaming the reversion, Iraq's slipping back to mayhem, on the Democrats.
The current Dem leadership appears to be resisting any motion to cut off funding, at least when it comes to anything involving non-"surge" troops. But what is the alternative for the Dems, to go lukewarm and just moderately support measured withdrawal or redeployment -- thus, allowing the slaughter to continue all for the sake of dodging the "defeatist" label? Won't the GOP try to blame the Dems anyway, regardless? Isn't it what they do, to distort and blame, to take no responsibility, no accountability, no admission of mistakes?
Isn't one of the big pet peeves of non-establishment Dems is that the party is already too wishy-washy and non-committal about issues that they should be embracing with passion, clarity, and volume cranked up to "11"? When does the timidity end?