Strange Defeat

James Vega has a provocative post up about how Democrats can do better next time they face a high-profile political confrontation with a military man. I have to say, though, that I think it's important to reject the premise that the Petraeus/Crocker hearings were some kind of political setback for Democrats. Here's the sequence of events as I recall them:

  • [in the murky past]: War in Iraq becomes unpopular.
  • [November 2006] Republicans lose tons of congressional seats.
  • [December 2006] Baker-Hamilton commission attempts to frame a proposal for gradual withdrawal in a way that would be politically possible for Bush to embrace.
  • [January 2007] Bush rejects Baker-Hamilton out of hand, says unpopular war will continue indefinitely and be escalated via unpopular surge.
  • [Spring 2007] Nervous Republicans back Bush in legislative showdown, but are afraid to endorse his proposal for endless war, say instead that nothing should be decided until Petraeus reports in September.
  • [June 2007] War is unpopular.
  • [July 2007] War is unpopular.
  • [August 2007] war is unpopular.
  • [Early September 2007] Petraeus and Crocker testify that despite the surge's failure to accomplish its stated goals, progress is being made, and the surge should continue for six more months.
  • [Mid-September 2007] War is still unpopular.

Basically, a whole lot of nothing has been happening . . . the war keeps being unpopular and the Republicans keep being intransigent.