by Matthew Hay Brown
A day after the Politico outlined details of a tactical retreat by a dispirited antiwar movement, the executive director of MoveOn.org today unveiled what he called “an aggressive new campaign to bring our troops home as soon as possible.”
“More Americans than ever oppose the war,” Eli Pariser wrote in a message on the Huffington Post circulated by MoveOn. “Yet all the major contenders for the Republican nominations support it, and Congress is unable or unwilling (or both) to take President Bush to task.”
Pariser said MoveOn would pursue a three-pronged strategy. First, he said, the organization will campaign against Republican members of Congress who have supported the war.
“They’ve now cast their lot with President Bush, and it's our job to make sure that they get booted by voters next November,” he said. “And we need to make clear that it's bigger than that: their willingness to give the president the votes he needs to continue the war puts their party into a political death spiral that will doom it for a generation. A growing number of congressional Republicans have already gotten the message and have chosen to retire.”
Second, Pariser said, the organization “will have to build an anti-Iraq war Democratic caucus on the Hill that finally stands up to Bush by blocking his funding requests unless they include a binding and timely plan to exit Iraq” – an effort that could involve launching primary challenges against Democratic incumbents who have been insufficiently against the war.
“We consider it our job to help produce more than a merely Democratic majority,” he said. “We want an anti-war majority in 2008.”
The third prong involves ensuring that the next president “leads us out of Iraq as expeditiously as possible,” he said. “Republican presidential aspirants have been unwilling to break with the President on Iraq, and some continue to be his most ardent cheerleaders. We will work to ensure that none of them has any chance to win election without reversing his stance.”
The Democratic contenders, meanwhile, “must be unequivocal in their commitments to remove all U.S. troops within eighteen months of taking office,” he said.
Pariser’s message comes a day after the Politico reported that a coalition of antiwar groups, disappointed following a year that ended with larger U.S. military presence in Iraq than it began with, was backing away from a multimillion-dollar effort to cut war funding and force Congress to establish timetables for a troop withdrawal.
Instead, the newspaper said, groups including MoveOn, Americans Against Escalation in Iraq and the Council for a Livable World were bowing to political reality and setting their sights on a less ambitious goal: pushing for legislation that would prevent Bush from entering into an agreement with the Iraqi government that would keep large numbers of troops in Iraq for years to come.
Pariser took exception to the story.
”Politicians who believe false media reports that claim the anti-war movement is shifting gears, or lost momentum, do so at their own peril,” he said. “We are energized, organized, committed and ready for this historic election year.”