Pelosi says she miscalculated GOP determination on Iraq
Democrats fail as a party in congress, Republicans win

By Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher is the founder of FireDogLake. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., admitted Thursday that she had underestimated the willingness of Republicans to stand behind President Bush's Iraq policy despite the drubbing the GOP took in the polls in 2006.

"The assumption I made was that the Republicans would soon see the light," she said. Instead, the minority stuck to the president's war policy in the face of unrelenting pressure from congressional Democrats and powerful lobbying campaigns by anti-war groups.

Bush has consistently refused to accept any limitations on his authority to direct military operations in Iraq, or on funds destined for the war effort. Democrats have been unable to muster enough votes to force him to accept a timetable for withdrawal of combat troops or a change in their mission in Iraq.

"That was a revelation to me, because I felt the American peoples' voices were so strong and still are in this regard that I hoped that with some compromise and reaching out there might be some change in direction," Pelosi said. "But they are sticking with the president on this."

The GOP is organized, it operates as a party. I hate to quote Red State again, but I'm gonna have to:

Let me put this in very stark terms: there is no Democratic Party in Congress. There are, instead, a bare majority of Congressmen and Senators who have banded together in order to gather power, influence, and money. Which is fine, as far as it goes - except that they are not actually using any of the resources that they are gathering to benefit the groups and causes who worked to put them in power. At best they are operating under terms of enlightened self-interest, albeit a very small-minded version of it: they are keeping their geographical constituents as sweet as is necessary to ensure re-election. And the Republicans know all of this, and will use this knowledge to pass the bills that we feel the country needs to thrive. And all of this is why 2007 was such a horrible legislative year for the progressive movement - and why 2008 will be no better for them.

The Democrats don't know how to operate like a party; the Republicans do.

The Democrats lost the energy bill by one vote because they couldn't get Mary Landrieu, the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate who's going to need every bit of help she can get from the party next year not to lose her seat, to toe the line. Cracking the whip, hanging together and using their leverage to enforce party discipline -- it's just not what they do.

Recognizing that this is how the GOP functions is not that tough, it's been evident to many for years, and if anybody thought they were going to abandon Bush (and the war) in sufficient numbers to end it they were kidding themselves.

A realistic appraisal of how the Republicans operate is probably a good first step toward combating them. Acting like a real party is probably a good second.