The Beltway disconnect

Arianna Huffington is prone to insufferable hyperbole, but on this occasion, she nails the massive disconnect between Washington, D.C. and the rest of America.

While the rest of the country is dealing with the here and now — exemplified by Bush’s puny approval ratings and this new poll showing rural voters turning against the GOP’s handling of Iraq — the Beltway’s Democratic dinosaurs are acting like it’s 2002. For them, Bush still has credibility on Iraq, Democrats still need to tread lightly in opposing the war for fear of alienating red state and swing voters, and Iraq is still a right vs left issue.

Most alarming is the fact that in spite of the anger and resentment over the Democrat’s capitulation to Bush on the war appropriation bill, there are those in Washington who have somehow convinced themslves that this was not only a vicory for the Democrats, but that they handled the altercation with mastery.

Writing in Roll Call, the Cro-Magnon pundit waxed ecstatic over Congressional Democrats’ handling of the war funding issue, spinning the Dems’ capitulation as having “played the issue like a Stradivarius,” and proclaiming: “From a purely political point of view, Democrats had their cake and ate it too.”

This is in spite of some very stark realities.

What’s more, support for congressional Democrats dropped 10 points following the war funding vote. As Matt Stoller broke it down: “The Democrats lost twelve points among independents and eighteen points among liberal Democrats… If you are politically craven, this was a terrible move.”

The Democrats took both houses in the mid-term elections, not becasue they offered an alternative policy, but just by virtue of the fact that they were not the Republicans. With people like Rahm Emanuel at the helm, and Hillary Clinton supporting the presence of US troops in Iraq for another decade, perhaps the Democrats base is waking up to the fact that their party is not the antiwar party after all.

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