A coalition of activists leading the opposition to the war in Iraq is refusing to give an inch to President Bush, who today unleashed more venom at Democrats for doing what a majority of voters want: a responsible withdrawal from Iraq.
One member of that coalition, Americans United for Change, announced a campaign targeting two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and John Sununu of New Hampshire. Both voted against a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq last week even though they have made statements critical of the administration’s war policy. Both are up for re-election in 2008.
Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans United for Change, said that it is time that “the people who enabled the president” to continue the Iraq war “to be held accountable.”
The group already has spent $200,000 on ads criticizing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for leading the opposition to the antiwar effort.
That initiative is being complemented by activities by MoveOn.org, the Service Employees International Union, USA Action, VoteVets.org and Win Without War. Their goal, while Congress is in Easter recess, is to keep the pressure on President Bush to sign, rather than veto, the funding bill that both houses of Congress approved that mandates a scheduled troop withdrawal.
Woodhouse said that while President Bush has a core of Republican supporters, “we know that support is hanging by a thread, and our objective is to cut that thread.”
One of the coalition partners, USAction, has grassroots efforts underway in 30 states that are successfully getting anti-war resolutions passed either at the state or local level.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., added some fire to the anti-war effort Monday through his declaration that if Bush vetoed the war funding bill, he would back an even thougher withdrawal resolution by Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc. But Tom Matzzie of MoveOn.org said the activity during the next two weeks is not focused on support for a particular piece of legislation, but it is on “the president, and whether he is going to sign this bill. The president should just sign the bill.”
“The president wants a blank check for screwing up, and that is what he is not getting,” Matzzie said, “and he is throwing a temper tantrum.”
After the recent agonizing disagreements over legislative strategy that divided progressives earlier this month, here is an opportunity to unite and reinforce the message that a majority of Americans want a prompt and responsible withdrawal from Iraq—and to increase the political penalty for politicians who stand in the way.