Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Support "Support the Troops"

The Democrats recently sent a war funding bill to the White House with no Time Tables or mechanisms for withdrawl attached. Many liberal activists wanted Majority Leader Reid and the rest of the Senate Dems to vote down a bill that many saw as a blank check for the President. Joe Biden, however, voted for the bill, saying, "As long as there are troops who are in a position where, if we don't fund them they are going to be hurt, I'm not going to cut off funding" (via thinkprogress). Joe Biden is right. His clear mischaracterization of de-funding shows he understands the importance of building strawmen, and then knocking them down. Allow me to explain myself.

Whenever anyone, be them Dems or Repubs, politicians or pundits, talks about de-funding, they speak of it as though one day American soldier will run out of ammo, and that'll be that. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. If congress decides to stop funding a war, they speak with the military and set a date at which the troops can be brought home. After that date, there is no funding for the war, but by that time, we have no more soldiers in combat.

Sen. Russ Feingold articulates his position thusly,
"[Congress] must use its power of the purse to safely redeploy our troops from Iraq. Mr. President, let's not be intimidated by the intentionally misleading rhetoric of the White House and its allies when they try to prevent any discussion of any real action by Congress to end the war. This isn't about "cutting off funds for troops." It's about cutting off funds for the war...By setting a date after which funding for the war will be terminated -- as I have proposed -- Congress can safely bring our troops out of harm's way."

Feingold is virtually the only member of Congress to explain and de-mystify the argument for de-funding, while people like Joe Biden continually buy into the "Support our Troops, gotta fund the Troops, their funding is gonna run out and they'll be stuck in Iraq", paradigm. And I love Biden for that.

He gets it. He gets that it's not about "Support the Troops" the military strategy, it's about supporting "Support the Troops" the ad-campaign. And that's who America needs as its next President. Someone who understands the importance of slogans and images, not logic and empirical data.

Biden understands that slogans and marketing are responsible for America's prominence in the world today. McDonalds' "I'm lovin' it" and Nike's "Just Do It" have led to American Hegemony all over the world. His faith that "Support the Troops" could have the same outcome militarily that other slogans have had economically is historically grounded.

Sure, maybe it'll take some time, but why actually support the troops, when you can "Support the Troops." Biden gets it. And the Senate Democrats who voted for the no-exit funding bill, including Majority Leader Reid, get it to. The only people who don't seem to get it are 45% of Americans who support defunding. And 57% who support a funding bill with time tables, which Glenn Greenwald expertly explains are indistinguishable from de-funding.

So Feingold, Greenwald, nearly 60% of American taxpayers, shut up. If we turn our backs on our ad-campaign, we're admitting defeat. Yes, a Democratic Congress could bring the troops home at any time, by simply refusing to fund the war, but how would that look? It might maybe potentially be characterized as weak. For some reason. Much better to capitulate and continue funding a war you were elected to end. Support the banners. Support the bumper stickers. Support the lawn signs. But for the love of god, let it stop there.