“NO OPEN-ENDED COMMITMENT”….This is actually sort of interesting:

Leading Senate Democrats called Monday for a “phased withdrawal” of U.S. forces from Iraq, outlining what they hope will become a consensus position on the war that will help their party speak with a more unified voice.

….The new Democratic proposal sets a starting point for withdrawing troops but does not set an end date or demand a particular pace for the redeployment, said Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee….”Our amendment does not establish a timetable for redeployment,” Levin said. “It does urge that a phased redeployment begin this year, partly as a way of moving away from an open-ended commitment and a way of avoiding Iraqi dependency on a U.S. security blanket.”

On a substantive level, this probably isn’t bad. The key issue, after all, isn’t really setting some precise date for withdrawal redeployment, it’s making clear that an open-ended commitment is a dumb policy.

On a political level, it’s probably the right move too. Not only is it something that Democrats can coalesce around (thus proving me wrong about the impossibility of finding a consensus message on the war for Dems), but it’s also something that’s likely to resonate with the public. Not everyone who’s unhappy with the war supports a firmly timed withdrawal that ties the president’s hands, but I suspect that almost all of them do support the notion that official policy should at least acknowledge the idea that we don’t intend to be in Iraq forever.

But will guys like Kerry and Feingold go along? Stay tuned.