This is a big deal. Here's how Kevin put it, before the votes were in and the deadline language was allowed to stay: "when that happens, George Bush really will be alone, finally forced to make public his commitment to staying in Iraq forever. That will -- finally -- be the beginning of the end, because the public simply isn't on his side anymore."
Precisely. A lot of people were pretty upset at the beginning of this Congress by what seemed like the Democrats' fecklessness. I was one of them. And I can remember at least 336,298 segments of The Daily Show dedicated to lambasting the "non-binding resolution" "expressing disapproval".
But now I've come to believe that their strategy is the only one that will work. Effectively, they've had three choices. The first, I suppose, would have been to do nothing. But that was obviously a non-starter, given all the reasons Democrats were elected in the first place. The second option would have been for the leadership to, from day one, stand behind strong bills. Bills that, in their substance, would have put an end to this mess. (Bills like Russel Feingold's, for instance.) It's frustrating, but those bills don't pass. And they don't get the Gordon Smiths and Chuck Hagels of the world on to your side.
So instead, they picked a third strategy: Keep hacking away. Make Republicans vote no. Make them say, "I want this war to continue." Make them say, with a straight face, "I want the president in charge." Make them answer to reporters and constituents. These people don't have epiphanies. They will not go from a pro-war position to Feingold's position over night. But they will ultimately be nudged, as they have been, into supporting incremental improvements like dates-certain. Then it's up to the president to veto those bills, alienating himself from members of his own party and from the public at large.
And then we can all watch in quiet relief as the wheels come off.