One of the dangers in being a demagogue is that some of your own supporters — those who take you literally — can turn against you when you start letting your actions be influenced by realities, instead of following the logic of your ringing rhetoric.
That is what seems to be happening to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other liberal Democrats in Congress.
Antiwar protesters in Washington and outside her home in San Francisco are denouncing Pelosi and other congressional Democrats for not cutting off the money to fight the war in Iraq.
If the war in Iraq is such an unnecessary and futile expenditure of blood and treasure as Pelosi et al. have been saying, why not put an end to it?
But to do that would mean taking responsibility for the consequences — and those consequences would be disastrous and lasting. They would probably still be lasting when the 2008 elections come around.
The Democrats cannot risk that. They have taken over Congress by a very clever and very disciplined strategy of constantly criticizing the Republicans, without taking the risk of presenting an alternative for whose results they can be held responsible.
There is no sign that they want to change that politically winning strategy now. Their non-binding resolutions against the war are a perfect expression of that strategy.
These resolutions put them on record as being against the war without taking the responsibility for ending it.
Unfortunately for the congressional Democrats, their left-wing supporters have taken the antiwar rhetoric of Pelosi, Murtha, et al., at face value and consider it a betrayal that they talk the talk but will not walk the walk.
It has been painfully clear that Speaker Pelosi was serious only about scoring political points. Her big grin when she won a narrow vote for a non-binding resolution was grotesque against the background of a life-and-death issue.
You don’t grin over a political ploy that you have pulled when men’s lives are at stake.