Friday, April 27, 2007

Shooting Dionnes In A Barrel

The left's motivation to retreat from Iraq is now so nakedly partisan and political that it can't be covered up. But that will not sway partisan hacks from trying to claim otherwise as they fight to keep middle America from waking up to the changing reality in Iraq and the potential costs to the nation if Reid and company succeed in forcing defeat and retreat. For example, see this today from EJ Dionne which, if it did not appear in the Opinion section of a major newspaper, I would consider an attempt at satire:

President Bush and Vice President Cheney cannot make the case that their Iraq policies have succeeded, so they are doing one thing they do very well: taking a serious argument over the future of American foreign policy and turning it into a petty partisan squabble.

This is not really an argument over the "surge" of troops into Iraq. It is a fight over whether we want to make an open-ended commitment to keeping combat forces in Iraq for many years or whether we anticipate pulling most of them out within a year or two.
Way to stay on message, E.J. The surge is meaningless. We don’t want any reports of improving conditions in Iraq to confuse the decision. I like how you seperate the surge from the issue of declaring defeat in advance and getting out of Iraq. And Bush is the partisan acting for wholly political reasons. I love the way you turn a Dem weakness around by accusing the other side of the failing. Great tactics, EJ.

Even if the surge succeeds in a narrow sense -- by reducing the number of Iraqis killed in sectarian violence in Baghdad -- there is no guarantee that the overall situation in Iraq will be any better, no guarantee that Iraqi leaders will take the political steps necessary to end the internecine killing and create a stable government, no guarantee that we will make progress against al-Qaeda.
Good, EJ. We need to stay away from the original reason to get out of Iraq – that there was a “civil war” going on. Can’t have a civil war without sectarian violence now, can we. Thank God the surge is so narrow in its scope and that it can’t guarantee outcomes. Why the hell did we get into all this anyway if al Qaeda and Iran had not agreed to surrender and make it easy for us in the first place.

Although he conveniently appeared in Washington as Congress was voting on war appropriations, Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, did not play politics.
I like the way you frame this one. Bringing the top general in Iraq, the one leading the effort to stabilize the country, to Washington, for an unwanted briefing on the facts directly in advance of voting on retreat was clearly a partisan political move by the Bushies. And just to attend that briefing, Nancy had to cancel a visit with the art dealer where whe was getting the photos of her talking to Syria's president framed. Ooops - sorry - I forgot, she didn't attend the Petraeus briefing.

Wednesday in assessing the situation there. He spoke, rightly, of progress in Anbar province, a Sunni stronghold, but added: "The ability of al-Qaeda to conduct horrific, sensational attacks obviously has represented a setback and is an area in which we are focusing considerable attention."
See. The Surge is not working. Just because the Sunnis in Anbar (hey, aren’t they the one’s supposed to be fighting the other half of the civil war?) are joining government security forces in droves and are moving al Qaeda out of their Anbar bases is meaningless so long as 1 or 2 suicide bombers from Saudi Arabia can blow themselves up. A good I told you so moment, EJ.

The president's comments this week were less measured. "I will strongly reject an artificial timetable withdrawal," Bush said, "and/or Washington politicians trying to tell those who wear the uniform how to do their job."

Let's parse that statement. The notion that Congress has an "artificial timetable" suggests there must be such a thing as a "natural timetable." But what would that be? Presumably, the president would reply: when we achieve victory. But what is the definition of "victory" in the murky mess we're in? The administration offers only generalities that lead us nowhere.
EJ, you might want to stay away from this one. Its too easy to point out that the natural timetable would be when Iraq and its government are stabilized and can stand on their own. That is, after all, kind of how we left Germany and Japan. Work on that one.

And it's beyond chutzpah for a politician who has lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for more than 2,280 days to attack "Washington politicians." Didn't Petraeus get his orders to pursue the surge from a certain Washington politician otherwise known as the commander in chief?
EJ, this one is pretty weak too. Can you tighten this one up. Bush is criticizing Reed, Pelosi et al for making military decisions that aren’t theirs to make under the Constitution. We don’t want to raise that or the Dems will have to take responsibility for those decisions. Let’s stick to the simple arguments, okay, before we start confusing the issues with facts.

Or take Vice President Cheney's statement on Tuesday: "Some Democratic leaders seem to believe that blind opposition to the new strategy in Iraq is good politics." Cheney assumes that opposition to the administration's policies must be "blind" rather than a considered, rational response to four years of failure. And the opposition must be rooted in "politics" and not in principle, presumably because reasonable people cannot possibly have good cause for disagreeing with the administration.
I love how you do this, EJ. Cheney is acting only for partisan political gain while Reid is the politician acting only on principal. I like how you focus on the pre-surge days and how you sidestep the fact that Reid said he would not believe any change in facts on the ground. No need to dwell on that when we can dwell on the pre-surge days.

What Bush and Cheney are doing is not just wrong. It's dangerous. If they were interested in success in Iraq, they would have turned down the partisan rhetoric long ago.
This is absolutely fantastic. You have made Bush and Cheney out to be the dangers to our national security, and taken the focus off the ramifications for our national security if we retreat. Be careful with the non-sequiturs though. We need to appeal to middle America, not just George Soros.

A substantial majority now opposes their policies. The last thing the administration needs is more polarization, which clearly has not worked in its favor.
That’s better. These republicans should treat war and our national security like good dems – a lot less principle, a lot more polling.

The president needs to convince Americans that a decent result in Iraq is still possible. . . .
EJ and I agree on that one. Wholeheartedly.

With the president set to veto the supplemental spending bill that includes calls for withdrawal, the whole burden of proof in this debate should change.
Good, EJ. We do not want some idiot reporters asking our boys questions about what will happen as a result of a retreat and surrender – at least not before the 08 election is over. Way to keep this debate focused on what matters. Only ask questions and expect reasonable answers from the Republicans. Great stuff.

The burden should no longer be on those who say we are reaching the limits of what military force can achieve in Iraq -- partly because we never sent enough troops in the first place and also because our military is stretched to the breaking point, limiting how many forces the Washington politician in the White House can offer Petraeus.
Watch this kind of argument, EJ. Somebody might figure out that the Congress holds the purse strings and can increase the size and funding for our military at the stroke of a pen. We have spinach farmers, peanut farmers and labor unions who can put that money to much better use supporting Democrat candidates as long as we don’t let the cat out of the bag.

Instead, the burden of proof should be on those who have offered years of bravado and false optimism. Why are Americans supposed to believe Bush's current claims? Why shouldn't Congress continue to pressure the president to bring our combat troops home on a reasonable schedule? And why doesn't the president start talking seriously to Congress instead of just shouting at Democrats?
I like how you do that EJ. Nothing that Bush says about the facts can be believed. We get to take Dems at their word now. Hmmm, what about Petraeus though. He may be a problem. You may want to attack his veracity a little more in advance of his September report. But there’s time for that I guess. And I love the way your euphanism for retreat by the way – “bring the troops home on a reasonable schedule.” That has a great ring to it.

You can read EJ Dionne's dribble here. If this is what we can expect from the Dem's in light of what will most likely be increasingly good news from Iraq, there is a hole there the size of the Grand Canyon to be exploited. Only gross imcompetence in communicating it too the public could possibly fail this one. So why am I still worried?

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