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Tilting at Windmills

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April 3, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE MODERATES....Greg Sargent passes along Andrea Mitchell's version of what moderate Republicans are saying these days:

[Petraeus] is telling them that he will report some progress, that he hopes to be able to report some progress by August. And in turn, what many Republican senators are saying, Chris, is that if there isn't real progress by the end of the summer, that's when there are going to really break with the president, that they're going along with this surge out of respect for the generals.

I dunno. I think I'm with Atrios on this. We've been hearing for about six years that moderate Republicans are going to break with Bush any day now on some issue or another, but the day never seems to come. When August rolls around, Petraeus will give another briefing where he'll provide a seemingly well-grounded and seemingly reality-based assessment of conditions in Baghdad accompanied by seemingly unimpeachable metrics showing that progress is being made — and the moderates will stroke their chins and agree that we're right on the cusp of serious change and we have to give Petraeus a chance to make his plan work.

Or something like that. At most, a few of the senators who are up for reelection might bolt, but that's about it.

Kevin Drum 1:47 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (58)

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{Nice try, but you are still banned.}

Posted by: Seabiscuit on April 3, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

What Democrats SHOULD be saying at every opportunity, on every talking head show, and at every press conference:
"What will it take for Republicans to disagree with Bush? What will it take for them to place the needs of the country above their own party's interests? How many more screw-ups, politically motivated cronyism, incompetence, and sheer stupidity will it take for Republicans to wake up and smell the coffee? Does Bush have to get a blow job before they all get excited?"

Posted by: Blue Steel on April 3, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!!!

I too have seen the light!!

Toot-toot!! Chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga! Toot-toot!!

Posted by: The Fool on April 3, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

It would seem stunts like McCain's are designed exactly to provide Petraeus and the administration cover for continued funding and war profiteering by their campaign contributors. We'll see more of this this summer, with every gambit an unabashed assault on reality. Sort of Bush's presidency in microcosm.

Posted by: steve duncan on April 3, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

"Petraeus will give another briefing where he'll provide ... well-grounded and reality-based assessment of conditions in Baghdad accompanied by ... unimpeachable metrics showing that progress is being made."

Classic Drum. If the facts get in the way of your Bush hatred, the facts must be wrong. I've never seen it so bold-faced, though.

Posted by: egbert on April 3, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Why would we need to wait for August?

Lieberman, McCain, and Pence are reporting that Bahgdad is a virtual paradise of peace and prosperity, no worse than a typical "outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime."

Now those winter outdoor markets in Indiana are absolute hell!

So this is just another in a long line of GOP delaying and obsfucation tactics where they pretend to recognize the reality of the situation in Iraq, while simultaneously trying to convince the public of a false reality, but are unwilling to do anything that would imply they and the president made mistakes.

Mistakes were made, of course.

Just not by the president or war supporters.

Posted by: anonymous on April 3, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

If you want to order the Republicans by the time at which they jump ship,

1. Start with the crew facing reelection 2008 (H of Reps, 1/3 of the Senate), with a sub sort by degree of/trending toward blueness in their state. My R Senator, Gordon Smith is high on that list, and so left already, but the only R Rep in Oregon, Greg Walden, represents a very conservative district and won with 60 percent or so in 2006, so won't be jumping any time soon.

2. Next, look at the R Senators up for reelection in 2010, again subordered by shade of purple, and then

3. Finally, the R Senators up for reelection in 2012 (how deep and long lasting will the Iraq and nonIraq Bush scars be, anyway?)

Posted by: MaryCh on April 3, 2007 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't August a bit less than one Friedman Unit (F.U.) away? Haven't we learned by now that things will always turn around in one F.U., but that when that F.U. rolls around the timeframe is magically reset to one more F.U.?

Posted by: Stefan on April 3, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Instahack: But read the whole piece, which has a certain, er, slant.

Glenn Reynolds' definition of "slant": including all the facts of an event in a news piece about the event, if the facts as a whole tend to put a conservative in a bad light.

Glenn Reynolds' definition of "not slanted": selectively reporting the facts in a news piece by omitting relevant information such that a conservative subject of the news piece is not placed in a bad light.

But read Glenn's whole spiel on the episode, which has a certain, er, slant.

Posted by: anonymous on April 3, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Instapundit (aka, Instahack) should rename himself as "Instadenial" since that is what he provides to and reinforces in his conservative readers.

Posted by: anonymous on April 3, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Princess Bush: "Congress's failure to fund our troops on the front lines will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return to the front lines. And others could see their loved ones headed back to the war earlier than they need to. That is unacceptable to me, and I believe it is unacceptable to the American people."

Assuming this is an accurate quote, why would military families be upset that it takes longer for their loved ones to return TO the front?

And how can their loved ones be sent back to war earlier than they need to be if there aren't enough funds to send them there, which is what the Princess has claimed?

Posted by: anonymous on April 3, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's prediction depends not only on what moderate Republicans (or at least Republicans up for reelection) do, but on what Gen. Petraeus does. He may be right about the Republicans; I'm not sure he's right about Petraeus.

Posted by: Zathras on April 3, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

What's your hurry KD?

If we were being asked to sacrifice something, hell - anything, for this military campaign, we might be in a bit more of a rush for progress.

But we're not.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on April 3, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

The real question is:

When will the DLC break with the President?

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on April 3, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK
... hasn't received the majority of popular votes in a presidential election since the 70's. Seabiscuit at 2:05 PM
Are you the new RNC intern, comrade? Check the election results for 2000, for one. Posted by: Mike on April 3, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK
Are you the new RNC intern, comrade? Check the election results for 2000, for one.

A plurality is not a majority; of course, that the Republicans haven't even managed to score a plurality in the popular vote in 3 of the last 4 Presidential elections doesn't seem to bother lots of Republicans, so I don't know why Democrats should be concerned about the last time we won a majority.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 3, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

At the risk of appearing to insult a true patriot and a general, which I have no intention of doing, I must say that the Bushies and the Republicans are trying to use Patraeus as a Jeff Skilling.

Posted by: gregor on April 3, 2007 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK
When will the DLC break with the President?

When the President is both a Democrat and not from the DLC, of course.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 3, 2007 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Freidman Units are like thin thin mints. Plenty of room for another

Posted by: bill on April 3, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Questions: What happens if Bush vetoes current military funding bills and the vetoes are not overridden? Can Congress at that point just refuse to revise the bills? If nothing passes does that shut off funding? If so wouldn't that accomplish what Reid says he'll do with a separate bill cutting off funding? Is there some mechanism to get money while legislation is in some sort of theoretical dispute stage? Has previous legislation been written to assure future monies in the event continuing appropriations aren't approved? Can Democrats tell Bush to take it or leave it, you'll get your funding only on our terms?

Posted by: steve duncan on April 3, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

badegg: "If the facts get in the way of your Bush hatred, the facts must be wrong. I've never seen it so bold-faced, though."

Talk about your classic projection. LOL! But even if these are all librul lies, they are most definitely not bold-faced. Hell, they're not even italicized!

Back on topic, isn't this Parade of the Ruminative Generals all very reminiscent of—what was that called—oh yeah: Vietnam?

Posted by: Kenji on April 3, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Steve;
We've seen what happens during budget stand-offs. In the 1990's.

The government shuts down.

I remember the stand-off from the Clinton years. Literally - the toll booths shut down, because there was nobody to man them. You didn't drive on the toll road if you didn't have exact change.

The DoD has a huge budget, of course, and they will shift funds from other programs. Contractors working non-critical programs will suffer, there will be lawsuits. I think the president has emergency authority too - but I'm not sure if he's already exhausted that by this point.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on April 3, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, egbert...it's "bald faced" not "bold faced."

Posted by: shnooky on April 3, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

At this point what does it matter? Bush and his Iraq policy will be gone in less than 2 years. If the Dems were smart, they should give Bush everything he wants. Saying he's the President and he gets to call the shots on foreign policy and the war. Since there is a good chance of the next President being a Dem in 08.

If the policy fails, then the Dem nominee would be free to say what she's doing to do about Iraq once elected without the Rep nominee being able to say that the Dems in Congress "lost Iraq" by placing conditions, timelines, whatever on the war funding.

If the policy succeeds (in the minds of the average voter), then the Dem nominee would be able to say how she will capitalize on the success that our military forces worked so hard to achieve without the Rep nominee being able to point to the Dems wanting to cut and run when all seemed hopeless.

Besides, who cares about moderates anyway? By definition, they lack strong convictions and tend to be followers rather than leaders.

Posted by: Chicounsel on April 3, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Something tells me the Status Quo isn't going to change. That would be radical, and old wineskins can't hold new wine.

Posted by: absent observer on April 3, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Chicounsel: At this point what does it matter?

Yeah, who cares if dozens, scores, or even hundreds more troops die in the next two years.

Posted by: anonymous on April 3, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

The rebellious moderate Republicans will surely fall back into line after pondering Bush's reminder from his press conference today:

"And what makes Iraq different from previous struggles is that September the 11th showed that chaos in another part of the world, and/or safe haven for killers, for radicals, affects the security of the United States."

Posted by: Nemo on April 3, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Annoymous:

In that case, why don't you call Reid and Pelosi back from vacation and demend that they defund the war now. Between now and the election of another President, dozens, scores, or even hundreds of troops will die in Iraq regardless of what anybody in Washington does absent an immediate and total pull out.

Posted by: Chicounsel on April 3, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Chicounsel: If the Dems were smart, they should give Bush everything he wants.

Liberals just love "good advice" from conservatives.

They have no ulterior motives, of course; they just want to be helpful.

Since there is a good chance of the next President being a Dem in 08.

What makes you think liberals want any more power in a Democrat president than in a Republican one?

This pretty much shows that your thoughts are partisan and you therefore assume everyone else must think that way too.

That's also why there is IOKIYAR, but not IOKIYAD.

In any event, since Congress is likely to remain in Democrat hands in '08, assuming your own view that Democrats would support a Democrat president's abuse of power just as much as the GOP has supported Bush's abuse of power, whay would any liberal care whether Bush gets such power from a Democrat-controlled Congress?

More nonsense from the nonsensical attorney in Chicago.

Posted by: anonymous on April 3, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK
When August rolls around, Petraeus will give another briefing where he'll provide a seemingly well-grounded and seemingly reality-based assessment of conditions in Baghdad accompanied by seemingly unimpeachable metrics showing that progress is being made

For a whole number of reasons—increasing public distrust of the war, the increasing attention on various voices by the front-loaded 08 campaign coverage, decreasing credibility of the administration more generally with the swirling scandals—its going to be harder for any briefing claiming progress to be "seemingly well-grounded and seemingly reality-based".

Posted by: cmdicely on April 3, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

On "This Week" Fareed Zakaria and George Will agreed that Bush & Company would begin a drawdown late this year. Their opion was that the WH would trot out some BS metrics to prove that things were going great (or great enough) to cover their asses and start pulling troops out.

What do you think Kevin?

Posted by: Teresa on April 3, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK
Besides, who cares about moderates anyway? By definition, they lack strong convictions and tend to be followers rather than leaders.

Um, no. Moderates are not necessarily people that lack strong convictions. They may be, or they may be people with strong convictions that don't . happen to be extreme (or even, strong extreme convictions that happen to be extreme in different directions than that represented by the conventional left-right axis.)

Posted by: cmdicely on April 3, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's prediction depends not only on what moderate Republicans (or at least Republicans up for reelection) do, but on what Gen. Petraeus does. He may be right about the Republicans; I'm not sure he's right about Petraeus.

What Petraeus does is immaterial. If he reports that Iraq is fucked and we must evacuate immediately, he will be branded a Clinton-lover and forcibly retired. In any case Bush will not change his mind, and the GOP drones in Congress will applaud him for his decivishness.

Posted by: Disputo on April 3, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

that neologism should have been "decisivishness".

Posted by: Disputo on April 3, 2007 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK
In any case Bush will not change his mind, and the GOP drones in Congress will applaud him for his decivishness.

I'm not so sure. The whole of the House and 1/3 of the Senate is up for reelection in 2008, after all, and there is a Presidential campaign to consider, too. While some Republicans (like McCain) are choosing to run on the "everything is working" fantasy, the polling numbers don't suggest that idea is likely to have a lot of traction; its quite possible that Republicans in Congress will see acknowledging what the vast majority of the American public has come to believe on Iraq as simply the path of least resistance in maintaining the rest of their agenda, and cutting the Bush Administration loose as a small price to pay for preserving the political prospects of their party.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 3, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Chicounsel: In that case, why don't you call Reid and Pelosi back from vacation and demend that they defund the war now.

You mean leave no funds to bring the troops home or protect those that remain even under the Democrat's plan?

No one is arguing that, Mr. Strawman.

Posted by: anonymous on April 3, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Chicounsel: Between now and the election of another President, dozens, scores, or even hundreds of troops will die in Iraq regardless of what anybody in Washington does absent an immediate and total pull out.

Unlikely, if you believe Princess Bush, which you apparently do, since the Princess has proclaimed loud and clear that the insurgents will just shut down and wait for us to leave once we announce our intentions.

But even if you don't fall for the Princess's inane argument, a gradual draw-down of troops, which is what the Democrats are proposing, means that fewer troops will be in harm's way as each month passes, while the troop level, and the number of troops in harm's way, will remain the same if we let the Princess continue down the same path of failure he's been following these past four years.

Truly, you are either dense, dishonest, or both.

Posted by: anonymous on April 3, 2007 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Besides, who cares about moderates anyway? By definition, they lack strong convictions and tend to be followers rather than leaders.

Fucking moron.

Moderates have strong convictions. They're sick of Extremist freaks fighting ideological battles, and catching everyone else in the crossfire.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on April 3, 2007 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

anonymouse: "You mean leave no funds to bring the troops home or protect those that remain even under the Democrat's plan?

No one is arguing that, Mr. Strawman."

Speaking of straw men, who is this singular Democrat with the plan that you just made up? How can you be so irate when you are not even paying attention to the arguments being raised? I guess that's the point of your existence, isn't it, Mr. Straw Troll?

Posted by: Kenji on April 3, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

An interesting slip by Mitchell regarding what Petraeus told the reptiles:

"He is telling them that he WILL report some progress, that he hopes to be able to report some progress by August." (emphasis added)

I think she caught herself telling the truth (or at least, an accurate account of what her source told her) and then went back and inserted the qualifying "hopes to be able".

One can imagine the conversation actually went something like this:

Petraeus: Don't worry. I know how the game is played. I'll report progress.

GOP Senators: Well you damn well better make sure you report a LOT of progress. Because this just-another-six-month stuff is fucking killing us.

Posted by: Peter Principle on April 3, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

egbert: "Classic Drum. If the facts get in the way of your Bush hatred, the facts must be wrong. I've never seen it so bold-faced, though."

And speaking of fact-free zones -- how's the view up there, egbert?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 3, 2007 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Kenji: I guess that's the point of your existence, isn't it, Mr. Straw Troll?

And the point of your existence is to rant inanely without any point?

Indeed.

Speaking of straw men, who is this singular Democrat with the plan that you just made up?

Ouch! Flamed for a typo.

Couldn't you have made better use of your comment space?

Posted by: anonymouse on April 3, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

"I know why quotes from moderate Democrats are rare these days- there aren't any."

LOL... Don't you just love it when one of our usual trolls labels 60+% of the country as immoderate?

Posted by: PaulB on April 3, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Well, it's total crap. CRAP CRAP CRAP.

Because, in August, the Bush Morons will just say anything, and then blame the dems. This whole surge thing is a huge ramp-up to the 2008 campaign.

The Dems must demonstrate, however it takes, that it has not worked. The Repukeliscum will try to show that it did work.

That's what it will be all about.

Posted by: POed Lib on April 3, 2007 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK
Because, in August, the Bush Morons will just say anything, and then blame the dems.

The "Bush morons", though, are getting less numerous.

This whole surge thing is a huge ramp-up to the 2008 campaign.

Of course it is. But, increasingly, the facts exist from which Republicans who have something at stake in that election could easily conclude that fidelity to Bush is not in their own self-interest.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 3, 2007 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Back on topic, I must confess that I'm somewhat bemused by the powerlessness of moderate Republicans. In the past six years, just half a dozen Senators and a dozen or so Congressmen could have swung legislation in damn near any direction they wanted, it seems to me. But over and over again, on issue after issue, and despite frequent mutterings about how this time, really, they were going to exert themselves, it just never happened.

I'm with Kevin and with Duncan, I think. I understand the election pressures and all that, and some few of them may indeed break, but any significant revolt? I'll believe it when it happens.

Posted by: PaulB on April 3, 2007 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

mhr says:

I know why quotes from moderate Democrats are rare these days- there aren't any.

Barry Goldwater says:

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!


Posted by: cmdicely on April 3, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Moderate Republicans are a breed that has been extinct for the last 50 years. Every report of them reappearing is like the reports of the loch ness monster. the ones who claim to be should be put out oftheir misery.

Posted by: della Rovere on April 3, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Moderate Republicans are a breed that has been extinct for the last 50 years. Every report of them reappearing is like the reports of the loch ness monster. the ones who claim to be should be put out oftheir misery.

Every now and then you do see a Republican dressed in a Nessie suit.

Posted by: Disputo on April 3, 2007 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

I think there's a possibility. But that's because I'm just finishing up transcribing a long pessimistic interview with Tom Ricks which puts the make-or-break moment for the surge at Ramadan -- October. More important than genuine or ersatz "moderate" Republicans (who are all in the toilet now in the eyes of a significant number of voters) is what the people's/voters' view is. That will tend to determine the future strength of the Republican radical right as a political vise and may turn many Republicans into moderates-of-convenience -- at least until December '08.

Posted by: PW on April 3, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't "moderate Republican" an oxymoron? From the Repub voting record, they have followed along with what Bush wanted up until the results of the 2006 midterm elections when not one -- not one -- incumbent Dem lost his/her seat.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 3, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo: Gordon Smith got fitted for his Nessie costume early last November, though I suspect he made the appointment several months before that.

Posted by: MaryCh on April 3, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

I see that Egmoron is here.

Why is it that the Repukeliscum are so stupid these days? They used to be clever, but today's Repukeliscum are invariably bears of very little brain. It's amazing - they can't add, they can't subtract, they don't believe in evolution, they are Homo Stupidus.

Posted by: POed Lib on April 4, 2007 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

From thinkprogress:

Andrea Mitchell (sort of) issues a
correction. Salon.com’s Joan Walsh highlights a strange moment on tonight’s Hardball: “Without mentioning what had been discussed on Sunday, Matthews asked Mitchell, rather out of the blue, to talk about what Petraeus was telling senators. ‘It’s a good thing you bring that up,’ Mitchell replied, and she went on to say that Petraeus recently held a ‘closed circuit briefing’ for senators of both parties, ‘Democrats as well as Republicans.’ But Mitchell also repeated her claim from Sunday that ‘moderate Republican senators’ were privately saying they opposed Bush’s so-called troop surge, but would publicly support it out of respect for Petraeus, and give the general and the president until the summer to make progress in the war.”
Posted by Nico April 2, 2007 10:15 pm

Posted by: consider wisely on April 4, 2007 at 5:06 AM | PERMALINK

We are not at war in Iraq, we are an OCCUPATION
army and the prize is the oil assets of the
country, we are trading American Blood for profits at big oil like Exon, BP, Shell

Posted by: paul ryan on April 4, 2007 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Wait a minute, why is a US General giving a special briefing to "Republicans" anyway? (If that's what it was....)

Posted by: Neil B. on April 4, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

I find it hard to believe that any moderate republicans think there might actaully be significant "progress" by the end of the summer. At least if by progress they mean anything more than cosmetic short term fixes. Have they all had their eyes closed for the last 4 years? Its gotten worse consitently and continuously. I don't know what that means for their actual plans, and whether they will break with the president in september, but based on their record doubt it.

Posted by: francis on April 4, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Newsmaker: David Petraeus

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/newshour_index.html

Jim Lehrer talks to Army Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, about the war, Congress' handling of funding and other matters.

Note: Transcripts are usually available within 24 hours of broadcast

Posted by: iopee on April 4, 2007 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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