Risk and Reward

Jonathan Zasloff ponders the Democratic leadership's electoral strategy, considers some theories as to why what they've been doing makes sense, rejects them, and says:

[T]hen we have only two more options:
  1. The Senate Democrats are brain-dead; or
  2. They are so cynical that they would like the war to continue through 2008 to give the Democrats an issue.
Or maybe both.

It's not quite that cynical. If, as people keep expecting to happen, some clutch of Republican members get freaked out and turn against the war, Democrats will gladly take advantage of the political cover that provides to join with them in forcing withdrawals on a bipartisan basis. But that's not happening, and there's no appetite for riskier more confrontational tactics because it's hard to see the political upside.

That, in turn, is part of the reason there's a lot of hostility to outfits like MoveOn that are really pushing the envelop. If such groups secure enough power and influence, then suddenly the risk pressures run both ways, and pull different Senators in different directions which is risky on its own terms. And risk, of course, is something the vast majority of politicians despise.

Is this an immoral approach? I think so. As they see it, though, it's Republicans who made this mess and while Democrats will gladly try to clean it up if Republicans are completely removed from power, it's not fundamentally their responsibility to run risks in order to resolve a problem they (often inaccurately, especially in the Senate where there was a ton of support for the war, but that's another story) don't see themselves as responsible for.