From Dick Morris’ Column on The Politico.
Soon it will be time for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to face a moment of truth and decide whether he is going to lead the anti-war movement or cave in under administration pressure.
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) move toward an accommodation with the White House over funding for the war in Iraq, they are also moving toward a civil war within their own party. If Pelosi and Reid agree to give Bush a new bill providing funding for the war without a deadline for troop withdrawal, they will redeem their party’s image nationally and show their support for the troops, but they will alienate their left wing. A bitter and divisive battle will ensue — one that could cost the Democrats the White House in 2008.
I think the “as” should be an “if”. There is still strong voice for sending the bill back as shown by Sen. Feingold’s reply to the situation. However, this support is from the more extreme part of the Democratic Party, but it is also the base. Hence, a real situation of semi-moderate voices being squeezed out of their party.
If Pelosi and Reid cave in to Bush, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) will most likely support their compromise to preserve her hawkish credibility and offset doubts about a woman’s ability to be commander in chief. With Edwards leading the chorus of critics, the question is: Will Obama join the compromise or ally with the left in voting against it?
This is the big question, and one that Sen. Obama needs to carefully weigh. Whether right or wrong, the perception is that his campaign has snap and crackle but no pop on substantive issues. Another perception is that he is running on “feeling positive” but no stands. This is one time that the Senator from Illinois, will have to take a clearly definied position.
To date, Obama has portrayed himself to the left of Hillary on the war by reminding voters that he opposed it in 2002 when Mrs. Clinton and John Edwards each voted to begin it. That historical differential will suffice until a more current vote takes place. Then Obama will have to decide which he is — a dove or a hawk.
In his appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” Obama seemed to side with those who do not want a funding cutoff, saying that “we have to be more responsible” in ending the war than we were in deciding to begin it. If he hews to this line and backs the Pelosi-Reid-Bush deal, he will leave Edwards with the entire left to himself.
While I would agree with him, partly, I’m not sure how that will appeal to the harder left elements of the Dem Party, which is again, the base.
The question is can Obama try to play the middle on both sides of the Democratic candidates while it is quickly eroding, and which the Presidential veto may have completely eroded.