Sometimes, an article comes out from a corporate media source that epitomizes the conventional wisdom of the DC establishment. This piece, by Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray of the Washington Post, is remarkable both for what it says and for the assumptions it makes. The title is 'Democrats Push Toward Middle On Iraq Policy'. After discussing the failed bills pushed the party's 'left flank', Weisman/Murray writes.
But after months of false starts and dead ends, Democratic leaders are taking a pragmatic turn.
"We want to get something to the president's desk," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
House and Senate Democratic leaders are now working in tandem on legislative efforts, knowing that if Iraq legislation can make it through the Senate, GOP moderates in the House will be more likely to change sides, Van Hollen said.
"If the Senate starts actually passing legislation, that could really change things," agreed Rep. Michael N. Castle (Del.), a GOP moderate who has been working with Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) on a more bipartisan approach to Iraq.
The notion that pragmatism means bipartisanship and bills that do not restrict the President is Weisman/Murray's opinion, but it is voiced as fact. So is this.
MoveOn.org provided Republicans a life raft when it ran a full-page newspaper advertisement Monday taunting Petraeus as "General Betray Us." Ever since, Republicans have spent far more time condemning the ad than defending the war.
Weisman/Murray presents no evidence whatsoever that the Moveon ad has been ineffective, but it is nonetheless stated as fact. And then there's this, from Bush Dog opinion leader John Tanner (TN-08).
Tanner said he is ready for a fight as he pushes a bipartisan bill that would give the White House 60 days to present Congress with a withdrawal plan. Antiwar activists say the bill will succeed only in giving Republican moderates political cover, easing the pressure on them to embrace stronger measures.
"When these soldiers, sailors and airmen are buried, they're not buried as Republicans or Democrats," Tanner said. "I care a hell of a lot more about them than I do about partisan politics."
Tanner and Weisman/Murray are tacitly working together in this messaging. Antiwar proponents are portrayed as irresponsible, irrational, and strategically unsound partisans that will not put aside their instincts to save the lives of solders. Tanner says what Weisman/Murray wants, and Weisman/Murray writes as conventional wisdom what Tanner believes. It's a nice trick. And Tanner is willing to go the mat to beat back those crazy anti-troop liberals that actually want to compel Bush to withdraw troops, since that apparently is partisan politics.