Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Set-Up

I agree with this take:
But from the moment Bush went into Iraq, Americans were screwed. And that includes the Democratic Party, which is being set up to take the fall.

I'm a severe skeptic on the likelihood of anything that looks like success in Iraq. But I don't think career public servants such as Ryan Crocker and David Petraeus are acting as partisan Republicans in their Iraq efforts. I think they both are sincere, experienced men attempting to retrieve what they can for America from Bush's catastrophe. They may as well try, since the Democrats can't over-rule Bush and get the troops out, anyway. If the troops are there, they may as well at least be deployed intelligently, which is what Gen. Petraeus is doing. I wish them well in their Herculean labors. Because if they fail, I have a sinking feeling that we are all going down with them, including the next Democratic president. And their success is a long shot.
Democrats have a basic, important choice to make here. They can bask lazily in the waning days of an unpopular administration and allow Iraq to play out to their continued advantage, or they can get to work and at least try to put limits on the White House. The former will probably lead to victory in 2008, but it carries huge longer term risk for the party. For Dems, the worst-case scenario might be to inherit a failed, unpopular occupation upon which Congress has placed no tactical or funding limits, then having to put limits on themselves. Ultimately this might allow Bush to escape sole accountability for Iraq and empower the usual suspects to infect political and social discourse with the Weimar meme for the next new decades. Imagine the scenario of a cautious, vacillating Hillary clinging to an updated version of "peace with honor" while fighting off an alliance of Congressional Democrats and some Republicans who, after November '08, will no doubt rediscover their vestigial anti-interventionist instincts. How's that as a prescription for party and national disaster?

22 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly. I've said it before and i've said it again, Bush will go down in history as a great president, whose plans for remaking the middle east were ruined by wobbly Dems.

Our nation's historians love warmonger presidents. Wilson, LBJ... and someday Bush.

No one cares about Calvin Coolidge.

This war will destroy the next presidency, no doubt a Dem. And frankly they deserve it by their current cowardice in not trying to stop this stupid war/occupation.

9/12/2007 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Bush will achieve something. I will bet that by the time we leave Iraq, they way we left Vietnam, we will have killed more Iraqis than Hussain did during his 30 plus years in power. AND we will in addition have left enough pollution, aka depleted uranium, etc, behind that will guarantee to kill the population for decades to come.

I would say that that is quite an achievement for our country.
We should be very proud of this. The rest of the world will have a different opinion of us but we do not give a damn because we are a democratic freedom loving country and therefore anyone we kill or torture is guilty for being in the wrong place and time.

We naturally are never guilty of anything, because we are christians.

9/12/2007 10:56 AM  
Blogger The Prudent Investor said...

I wish there were more two-eyed Republicans like you. It is totally incomprehensible to me how they neocons believe their own crap.

9/12/2007 1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe worse things are afoot, and that Congress (Dems and Republicans) have just a few days to act.

1) Cheney has, since early 2001, been given executive authority over DOD. What's up with the 'accidental' movement of nuclear warheads from Minot to Barksdale AFB, a staging area for the ME? These warheads were mounted on missles, transported on wing pylons in violation of a long list of protocols. It has been reported that the President's personal code was used to authorize the transfer. What's going on here?

2) Two scheduled theater wide exercises, NORTHCOM and TOPOFF, are being held during a period of extremely high threat. There's a lot of buzz on this. Could these exercises be masking another paradigm-shifting national crisis?

3) Rumors circulating that Karl Rove's departure resulted from losing the internal fight with OVP over Iran.

Cheney and others in the Executive branch are currently in contempt of Congress. Isn't that enough to send the Federal Marshals Service over to either detain them or put them under house arrest? I'd sleep a lot better knowing that they were talking with the Federal Marshals in the comfort of a detention facility pending compliance, rather than staging false flag operations or 'accidentally' triggering a nuclear incident with Iran.

9/12/2007 5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And don't forget--Bush goes to church on Sunday so whatever he does the rest of the week is A-OK

9/12/2007 5:05 PM  
Anonymous Thomas Daulton said...

TCR is, as usual, totally spot-on here. And frankly so is Anonymous of 8:57 there at the top of the page. Welcome to the Cassandra club.

9/12/2007 7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's not even counting the impact of the economy. It looks like the current administration's policy is to desperately hold things together until they can hand off that unfolding disaster to the next president too.

9/12/2007 8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And that's assuming there is a next president. I know, I know, the tin foil hats are coming out, but there is something to be said about Americans longing for a strong "unitary executive" in times of national crisis (I'm talking about a real national crisis that precipitates martial law, suspension of habeas corpus and the bill of rights, and a "prudent postponement" of the national election.) Americans would much rather be "safe" than free—that's a given. Remember who the decider is, and it ain't us.

9/13/2007 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Huntington said...

I see something of a contradiction here: if you agree that "the Democrats can't over-rule Bush and get the troops out, anyway," then what are the Dems supposed to do to avoid the scenario you envision for the next president? It seems to me that there are very few politically possible avenues open at this point that haven't already been pursued.

Screwed, indeed.

9/13/2007 1:09 PM  
Blogger Bill Sharp said...

And before anyone mentions Obama's speech today in Maquoketa, I don't think that putting a ceiling on troop numbers by mandating time off between tours of duty, while a laudable no-brainer, will take care of the problem described here.

9/13/2007 2:08 PM  
Blogger David S./ Southern Calif. said...

I think Anonymous 8:57 may be ignornig something. WWI was never unpopular; Wilson was seen as betrayed, not a failure. Think Truman and LBJ. Korea, and of course esp. Vietnam, were unpopular. Nixon is blamed for Watergate, but the blame for Vietnam, at least until recently (when it is of only historical interest) went to LBJ.

What I'm driving at is this. The Dems do need to create an effective strategy, and risk all if they're seen as doing nothing at all. But this is Bush's war, and always will be for the political future.

9/13/2007 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Anon 8:57. Call me "Hankest" for now.

David you are wrong, WW1 ended up being extremely unpopular, as was Wilson in his final years.

9/13/2007 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Jeff in Texas said...

But this eventuality-- a presumably Democratic President and Congress being handed the war more or less as is in January 2009-- was predestined the moment Democrats rolled on the Iraq supplemental at the beginning of this year. Reframing the debate, standing firm, sending Bush bill after bill to veto, could have started the long painful process of bringing the war to an end. It would not have been without political risk, but given the political realities and the ridiculously long campaign season, that was the first, last, and only chance the Dems had to put the brakes on. Once they caved, it was over. Because whatever political fears they had back in February were only going to get larger as time went on. Remember when the decision was going to be "revisited" in June (kind of like the FISA "fix" is going to be revisited next year)? Remember when September was going to be "make or break"? How did that all go? Who thinks the Dems will grow a spine next year, with the elections only months away?

So Hilbama and a Democratic Congress take over in January 2009 with 130,000 troops in Iraq. With all important midterms less than two years away, and a second Presidential term to be campaigned for before you know it, what the hell are they going to have the guts to do then?

9/13/2007 4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So who now thinks Wilson was a good President? He prolonged WWI (said Churchill) by putting us in it. He couldn't get what he wanted at Versailles--the treaty that guaranteed WWII. We didn't join the League of Nations. He segregated the previously integrated Civil Service and ignored lynchings and race riots.

Frankly he was one of the worst presidents we had in the 20th C.

9/13/2007 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Hankest.

Anon, 4:05, i fully agree Wilson was awful, one of the biggest maniacs to ever sit in the oval office (and that's saying a lot).

Who is saying he's great? Most historians place him among the great or very good.

Want to have a legacy? Get the US involved in a stupid, costly, pointless war.

9/13/2007 5:06 PM  
Anonymous mary said...

I think it's all too easy to call the Dems "lazy" and spineless -- and god knows I'm very frustrated by their inability to make Bush change course. But here's the reality (courtesy of Kevin Drum):

"ENDING THE WAR....Can Democrats force President Bush to begin a withdrawal of troops from Iraq? The short answer is that — constitutional questions aside — any resolution mandating specific troop deployments out of Iraq would require 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster and 67 votes to overcome a veto. "That's obviously not going to happen. So Markos Moulitsas, echoing others, endorses Chris Dodd's approach: 'What was clear to me before, and what should be abundantly clear to my colleagues after today, is that this President is not going to change course unless we force him to. There is only one way to do that — we must set a clear, hard and fast deadline for redeployment and, in order to enforce it, that deadline must be tied to funding.'

"This sounds more plausible since budget reconciliations can pass with a simple majority and Bush can't veto Pentagon funding forever. Unfortunately, there's a problem: Democrats don't have a simple majority. There are 49 Democrats in the Senate, and if you assume Bernie Sanders would join in, you're up to 50.

That's not enough. The only way to defund the war is for the Democratic leadership in the Senate to maintain absolute, 100% iron control over its own caucus and get at least one Republican to join them. But while there are a handful of Republicans who have been critical of the war, I can't think of even a single one who'd come within a country mile of voting to defund it. Can you?"

9/13/2007 5:54 PM  
Anonymous mary said...

It's all too easy to call the Dems "lazy" and "spineless" -- and god knows I"m frustrated by their inability to end the war. I think they are trying too hard to reach a "compromise" with a Republican minority that is still, after all this time, pretty much in lockstep with the White House. But here, courtesy of Kevin Drum, is the reality of the situation:

"ENDING THE WAR....Can Democrats force President Bush to begin a withdrawal of troops from Iraq? The short answer is that — constitutional questions aside — any resolution mandating specific troop deployments out of Iraq would require 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster and 67 votes to overcome a veto. That's obviously not going to happen. So Markos Moulitsas, echoing others, endorses Chris Dodd's approach: 'What was clear to me before, and what should be abundantly clear to my colleagues after today, is that this President is not going to change course unless we force him to. There is only one way to do that — we must set a clear, hard and fast deadline for redeployment and, in order to enforce it, that deadline must be tied to funding.'

"This sounds more plausible since budget reconciliations can pass with a simple majority and Bush can't veto Pentagon funding forever. Unfortunately, there's a problem: Democrats don't have a simple majority. There are 49 Democrats in the Senate, and if you assume Bernie Sanders would join in, you're up to 50.

"That's not enough. The only way to defund the war is for the Democratic leadership in the Senate to maintain absolute, 100% iron control over its own caucus and get at least one Republican to join them. But while there are a handful of Republicans who have been critical of the war, I can't think of even a single one who'd come within a country mile of voting to defund it. Can you?"

9/13/2007 5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey at this point i'd be satisfied if the Dems insisted that Bush cannot bomb or otherwise committ war on Iran without congress first issuing a declaration of war.

Remember those?

9/14/2007 8:19 AM  
Anonymous Thomas Daulton said...

Well, Mary of 9/13 5:57, ummm...

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/091407N.shtml

The point made by these media outlets again and again is that the Democrats have little power to affect policy in Iraq because it would be difficult to pass legislation over a potential Republican filibuster, and even harder to pass a bill over a presidential veto. This sentiment is also voiced by many Democratic politicians, many of whom consider themselves opponents of the war. But passing a filibuster- or veto-proof bill is not their only option. ...

The problem with all these accounts is that Congress does not have to pass legislation to bring an end to the war in Iraq -- it simply has to block passage of any bill that would continue to fund the war. This requires not 67 or 60 Senate votes, or even 51, but just 41 -- the number of senators needed to maintain a filibuster and prevent a bill from coming up for a vote. In other words, the Democrats have more than enough votes to end the Iraq War -- if they choose to do so.

The Democratic leadership may believe -- rightly or wrongly -- that such a strategy would entail unacceptable political costs. But that's very different from being unable to affect policy. To insist, as many media outlets have, that the Constitution makes it impossible for Congress to stop the war obscures the actual choices facing the nation -- by confusing "can't" with "won't."


[emphasis mine]...[Thomas' comment]... So, we hear again about "unacceptable political costs". Unacceptable to who? Is it really worth another several hundred or thousand American soldiers' lives in order to keep people like Diane Feinstein in power? We didn't send these people to Washington in order to live a cushy life and shirk responsibility, we sent them there to make the hard decisions that the country needs made.

Sure, any politician who votes to cut off funding will be villified by their opponents. But frankly, I think that would be a wonderful and positive way for all the gullible congressmen and -women who voted to authorize this idiotic war in the first place to "fall on their swords".

Believe you me, the villification goes on either way. I had the unfortunate opportunity to listen to a lot of right-wing talk radio this week as I was on a long driving trip with my parents, and pretty much every five minutes the hosts such as Rush and Sean play audio clips from these Dem congressmen, for example how Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq War "with full conviction", and how Hillary and Barack and everyone else heaped praise and honorifics upon Gen. Petraeus when he was unanimously confirmed several months ago, and now are changing their rhetoric completely. Keeping these convictionless political hacks in office is very low on my list of priorities. We can replace them with better ones.

9/14/2007 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Thomas Daulton said...

Thomas Daulton wrote:
Is it really worth another several hundred or thousand American soldiers' lives in order to keep people like Diane Feinstein in power?


Ooops, please forgive me, I made the usual Jingoist mistake there. I should have said "Is it really worth another several hundred or thousand American soldiers' lives, not to mention several thousand Iraqis..."

9/15/2007 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...I should have said 'Is it really worth another several hundred or thousand American soldiers' lives, not to mention several thousand Iraqis...'..."

Sure, anything for the support of "tough guy" Bush.

Who the s**t give a damn about our soldiers and about Iraqis, that is a hoot?

Just look what the GOP said about giving the troops more time at home!!!

That should give the military pause about the GOP. Will they?

Of course not, since when have lemings a brain?

9/20/2007 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Think said...

"But I don't think career public servants such as Ryan Crocker and David Petraeus are acting as partisan Republicans in their Iraq efforts. I think they both are sincere..."

Um... what?? Did anyone with more than 5 brain cells to rub together think that Petraeus was going to say anything that contradicted the official Cheney administration line on Iraq? Really?? And get his Shinseki walking papers the next day? It was for good reason that Adm. Fallon (Petraeus's superior) called him "an asskissing little chickenshit". This is a guy that is supposed to provide a fair, unbiased take on the situation in Iraq? Come on. If you buy that then you'll just LOOOOVE my bridge I have for sale. Come buy it before somebody else does.

9/27/2007 7:43 PM  

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