Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 24, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE WAR....Latest poll results on the Iraq war:

  • 76% believe the war is going badly.

  • 63% support a timetable for withdrawal in 2008.

  • 76% think the surge is either making things worse or having no impact.

  • Only 15% support open-ended funding. The rest either want to cut off funds completely or make them conditional on benchmarks.

  • Large pluralities trust Dems more on foreign policy (51%-31%) and on making decisions about the war (51%-33%).

Sure, politicians shouldn't blindly look to polls to decide where they stand. But when, by huge margins, polls back up the positions you already have, it means you could certainly stand to show a little more spine defending those positions. Dems have a substantial lead over Republicans on foreign policy for the first time in ages, but they could lose that lead pretty quickly by looking weak and indecisive. The American public wants to be out of Iraq by next year. Democrats ought to be the ones to insist that that happen.

Kevin Drum 1:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (82)

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Comments

Memo to Democrats: Show some fucking spine. Please.

You have a mandate. Bush has no cards left to play. Call his bluff.

Posted by: Old Hat on May 24, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

We have to fight
Those People.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on May 24, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Spine? spine? You mean Harry Reid should show some spine? Just because he has all the cards. You couldn't expect him to show spine. After all the President might call him a name and it would make him feel bad.

After the last two days the Democratic leadership can truly be called Surrender Monkeys. The Republicans were right all along. They are Defeatocrats.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 24, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove realized a long time ago you win elections by turning out your base. By their capitulation on Iraq, the Democrats are doing everything they can to encourage their base to stay home next November.

Posted by: exhuming mccarthy on May 24, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

If Bush were a regular president, I'd understand the idea that Bush is bluffing. But this is a man who had more confidence in Gonzales after his testimony that made him look foolish. This is the same president who thought Brown was doing a "heck'uva job". I could go on and on. This is not a president we can count on to be rational. Besides, he has tools in his pocket to help prolong this war.

The bottom line is that the only way this war will end is if there is a veto proof majority in Congress. That's only going to happen with Republican support. And we're not close. There is really very little the Dems can do no matter how big their spine is. Reid is not as spineless or as clueless as people are now saying (while praising him not too long ago).

Posted by: gq on May 24, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

51% is not a plurality. it's a majority.

Posted by: matt on May 24, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

What does Kevin mean by "pretty quickly"? Congress's poll numbers have ALREADY been almost as low as Bush's for some time, precisely because everyone can see they're all talk and no action. This latest cave-in won't exactly help.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on May 24, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

To riff on Uncle Ronnie, the Dems need to turn to the politics of hope. Send the same damn original funding bill, or something similar, back to Bush with these comments:

"Americans, we, the Democratic Congressional leadership, along with principled Republicans, offer Americans in general, and especially our soldiers and their families, the hope of returning home after a job well done, given the constraints of their operations.

"This Administration, on the other hand, preaches the politics of despair by saying, time after time, it has no idea when it can even get our troops out of Iraq. It preaches the politics of despair by continually trying to redefine what our troops' mission is. It preaches the politics of despair by continuing to play on Americans' emotions with these redefinitions.

"We offer the politics of hope. If the President has a better idea of what hope to offer Americans, we encourage him to show it now."

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on May 24, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

If Democratic leadership is this scared to defend their own position, is it any wonder people question their ability to defend the country?

Not sure if I'm embarrassed or disgusted.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on May 24, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

The bottom line is that the only way this war will end is if there is a veto proof majority in Congress. That's only going to happen with Republican support. And we're not close.

Reid and Pelosi will get veto proof majorities by showing leadership and not bending over for that hated, incompetent buffoon in the White House. This war is unpopular across the board. Everyone wants it to end. All of the Republicans are going to run against the war and against George Bush in 2008. If Reid and Pelosi showed some decisiveness and took a tough stand against one of the most deeply unpopular wars and profoundly disliked and distrusted presidents, Republicans would come over to our side. America need leadership.

Posted by: Old Hat on May 24, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

gq has it about right.

You can talk all you want about Democrat "spine". The fact is, they don't have any power to force anything on the president, and Karl Rove knows it.

Until the Dems gain about 10 more seats in the Senate and a similar number in the House, there's nothing they can do, despite all of the posturing.

Posted by: bigcat on May 24, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Have we forgotten already that the huge electoral sweep in 2006, in which Republicans did not win a single seat was because people are sick and tired of the disastrous Iraq war, incompetence, corruption and Bush? The same election that forced Bush to fire Rumsfeld?

He is backed into a corner, he has zero credibility. Why does Congress keep caving into this lame duck, 28% approved, paper tiger of a president?

Posted by: Old Hat on May 24, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

"The fact is, they don't have any power to force anything on the president, and Karl Rove knows it."
WTF are you babbling about? Congress has the power of the purse, and Bush knows it. They don't HAVE to pass any funding bill at all.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on May 24, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Dems = passel of cowards

they were cowards on the initial war approval
they were cowards on torture
they were cowards on demanding accountability
they are cowards on ending it

fuck them

Posted by: cleek on May 24, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

But when, by huge margins, polls back up the positions you already have, it means you could certainly stand to show a little more spine defending those positions.

But did all of the Dems "already have" those positions? Kerry, Edwards, Clinton and Biden seem to have acquired the anti-war stance only after opinion turned. They may well be afraid that opinion will turn again should the surge prove successful, or a rapid American withdrawal prove disastrous.

Do a large majority of American favor a rapid withdrawal even if a massive civil war should break out immediately, or a foreign invasion like the N. Vietnames invasion of the South?

If the majority of Americans were in favor of scuh a plan, and the Dems thought that Americans so believed, then the Dems might vote for immediate or rapid withdrawal. As it is, half the Dems are hedging their bets.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 24, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, I've had a moment to think about it. I'm disgusted.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on May 24, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

You can talk all you want about Democrat "spine". The fact is, they don't have any power to force anything on the president, and Karl Rove knows it.

Rove doesn't know anything. Rove is a blithering moron. President Hindenburg, that's his legacy.

Posted by: Old Hat on May 24, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

We fool ourselves by thinking that the Democrats are less wedded to the military-industrial juggernaut that forms a "bedrock" of the US economy, than are the Republicans.

America won't exit from Iraq.

Have we left Japan? Germany? South Korea?

The profits of war are gladly shared by both political parties.

Look at the B-1 bomber. Components are made/assembled in all 50 states.

We may pontificate about how it's time to get out of Iraq, but we never look in the mirror and see that it's US that is so totally wedded to perpetuawar.

Peace is more than the absence of War.

Neither Party in DC is really able to dismantle the economic engine of our vast global weapons machine.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on May 24, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

But 'noone wants an al-Qaeda victory.'
--George Stephanopolis, WBZ-AM, 24 May 2007

Yes, he actually said that this morning. The reign of ignorance continues.

Posted by: Kerkira on May 24, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

There's a logical explanation for this, you know. It's been in front of everyone the entire time but it's pretty much a taboo topic in the lefty blogosphere.

Posted by: Jim J on May 24, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Have we left Japan? Germany? South Korea?

Uh, yes. We are not militarily occupying any of those countries, and haven't been for over fifty years.

Posted by: Stefan on May 24, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

If we had a more parliamentary system this wouldn't be a problem.

Posted by: cld on May 24, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

My point is that the US will still have troops in Iraq even after "withdrawal." Just like the aformentioned countries where our military still maintains significant bases, etc.

Tom

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on May 24, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

You know, the fact that the Dems have nothing to lose by fighting Bush, and yet they aren't doing it, tells me that they have another fight on their hands that we aren't seeing.

Did Joe Lieberman give an ultimatum, saying he'd throw the Senate to Republican control if the Dems passed an anti-war resolution? Are there some big corporate donors who threatened to sink Dems in 08?

There's something we're not seeing. Nobody is this spineless. There has to be a reason why there aren't two balls to clack together in all the Democratic congress.

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on May 24, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's all about how you interpret the data.

Witness: the majority of the world wants Iran to stop enriching uranium. Therefore Iraq enriching uranium is bad and Iran should stop enriching uranium.

On the other hand, the majority of the country (and the world)thinks the U.S. should withdraw from Iraq. Therefore withdrawing from Iraq would be exactly the wrong thing to do and we must never leave.

That wasn't so hard, now, was it?

Posted by: Raymondo Magnifico on May 24, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Too true. Sampson didn't have to worry about the administration "gumming it to death," these hearings are doing the job for them. Too much talk not enough action.

Posted by: Cali4nian on May 24, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of leadership, where are the leading Democratic candidates on the new funding bill? Instead of leadership, Clinton and Obama even seem pretty quiet about whether they will vote up or down on the bill. How can they expect to lead the country if they cannot take a leading position on this issue?

Posted by: Nemo on May 24, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

My point is that the US will still have troops in Iraq even after "withdrawal." Just like the aformentioned countries where our military still maintains significant bases, etc.

No, we probably won't, because we're going to lose this war, and you only get to keep troops there if you win.

Or, in other words, how many troops do we still have in Vietnam?

Posted by: Stefan on May 24, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised that Kevin would cite to this, or any other poll, as evidence that supports his course of action. I do not care in the slightest what the polls say about anything because they can be manipulated to reach whatever outcome the pollster wants.

For example, this poll was based on the response of 1125 adults. The percentage broke down as follows: Democrats (413) made up 39% of the sample; Independents (391) made 34.7% of the sample; Republicans (328) made up 26.3% of the sample.

Does anyone truly believe that this represents an accurate representation of the partisan breakdown of the American people? When the number of Dems polled exceeds the number of Republicans by 13%, is it really surprising that the Dems lead the Reps by 20 percentage points on foreign policy and handling of the war?

Apparently not to the elected Dems who have caved to Bush whose approval stands at 28% according to this poll.

Kevin, do everyone a big favor and ditch any discussion of polls. They are only for use by the brain dead mainstream media who don't have anything of substance to report, say or think.

Posted by: Chicounsel on May 24, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

MatthewRmarler: "But did all of the Dems "already have" those positions? Kerry, Edwards, Clinton and Biden seem to have acquired the anti-war stance only after opinion turned."

Each one of them has explained very clearly why he or she thinks that the war is an unmitigated disaster. The fact that they voted for it in the first place is seriously regrettable, but it doesn't change the fact that they want us out.

"They may well be afraid that opinion will turn again should the surge prove successful, or a rapid American withdrawal prove disastrous."

Regarding your second point, nobody's talking about Dunkirk. Regarding your first point, you need to get off the crack pipe.

"Do a large majority of American favor a rapid withdrawal even if a massive civil war should break out immediately, or a foreign invasion like the N. Vietnames invasion of the South?"

Or would they rather see us stay there for the next 10 years, bleeding thousands more American lives & hundreds & hundreds of billions of dollars while accomplishing nothing? What are you, a Fox pollster?

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on May 24, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Do a large majority of American favor a rapid withdrawal even if a massive civil war should break out immediately"

Yup. One of the recent polls specifically asked a question virtually identical to that the voters were still overwhelmingly in favor of withdrawal.

As for your point about the "success" of the surge, give me a break. You've been on this "what if this time we succeed" kick for four years now and you've been wrong every time. Few people expect the surge to be "successful," by any meaningful definition of that word, which is why the Bush administration is already working on Plan B.

Posted by: PaulB on May 24, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

"I do not care in the slightest what the polls say about anything because they can be manipulated to reach whatever outcome the pollster wants."

Only the manifestly dishonest polls, which this one was not.

"Does anyone truly believe that this represents an accurate representation of the partisan breakdown of the American people?"

Actually, yes, it's pretty close. You haven't been paying attention, have you? The percentage of people who claim to be Republican has been dropping steadily for the past three years.

As for substance, I will simply note that this post of yours was entirely devoid of substance.

Posted by: PaulB on May 24, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

George W. Bush got us in this mess.

Posted by: MarkH on May 24, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Given all of that, then why don't the Democrats simply cut off funding. It is clearly within their power to do so, and there is nothing Bush can do about it.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on May 24, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB:

Gee, if only we all possessed your ability to identify manifestly dishonest polls from the only slightly dishonest polls.

As to the partisan breakdown of the American people, can you provide any evidence that the numbers used in the poll are in fact accurate?

On the lighter side, the following was taken from a story in this week's Onion:

"In a surprising refutation of the conventional wisdom on opinion entitlement, a study conducted by the University of Chicago's School for Behavioral Science concluded that more than one-third of the U.S. population is neither entitled nor qualified to have opinions."

Maybe that group should include the 35% of Democrats who believe that Bush allowed the 9-11 attacks to happen that was reported in a poll a week or two ago. Or perhaps that was one of the "manifestly dishonest polls" that should be disregarded. Right PaulB. LOL


Posted by: Chicounsel on May 24, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK


matt: 51% is not a plurality. it's a majority.

and 53% is a mandate!

Posted by: G.W. Bush on May 24, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

If the starving the troops out is the only way to get them out, then starve them out we must.

Posted by: cld on May 24, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

chicocounsel: Democrats (413) made up 39% of the sample; Independents (391) made 34.7% of the sample; Republicans (328) made up 26.3% of the sample.


A new Hotline/Diageo poll finds that the GOP is in third place in self-identification by registered voters. Democrats have 35% of voters, 28% say they are Independents, and a mere 26% say they are Republicans.

Posted by: mr. irony on May 24, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK


f...y....i...

the above poll is from last month..

http://www.diageohotlinepoll.com/07_Apr_Data.pdf

Posted by: mr. irony on May 24, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB: Few people expect the surge to be "successful," by any meaningful definition of that word,

If the Democrats in Congress were sure that the surge would fail, they would cut off funding right away. Don't you think so?

chaunceyatrest: Each one of them [Dem presidential candidates] has explained very clearly why he or she thinks that the war is an unmitigated disaster.

Yes, but my question was did they come to that clear explanation before popular opinion turned against the war? If they really believed the disaster to have been unmitigated, wouldn't they vote to cut off funding?

I was questioning KDs assertion that they Democrats had already come to the opinion supported by the current polls. Hence my question: Din they in fact "already" come to that opinion?

If they already have come to that opinion, and if they are not afraid of public opinion swinging back against them, then there is NO EXPLANATION for why they caved to the president. Is there?

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 24, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

John Edwards has has been saying send the President the same bill over and over for weeks. John Edwards looks better and better given Obama and Clinton's obvious punts on this issue.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 24, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

John Edwards has it exactly right....the Democrats should keep on sending Bush the same bill (i.e. with benchmarks/timeline) and force him to continue vetoing it. That way, he is the one who gets blamed for not funding the troops, not the Democrats.

It's just mind-boggling to see that the Democratic leadership is now going to pass a bill that is weaker than the one which already passed and was vetoed by Bush. Makes me lose all faith in Pelosi & Reid.

Even worse is how it undermines their future negotiating position. Now, when the funding issue comes up again in September, Bush knows that he can just wait out the Democratic leadership and that they will eventually cave.

Absolutely pathetic, and makes me ashamed to be a Democrat!

Posted by: mfw13 on May 24, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

trust Dems more on foreign policy

That's the problem with comparative statements. If 51% don't trust Democrats at all but don't trust Republicans at all at all, that's your majority who trusts Dems "more". If the two parties were up against the Middlingly Competent Party right now they'd both lose in a landslide.

Posted by: ogmb on May 24, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

But when, by huge margins, polls back up the positions you already have, it means you could certainly stand to show a little more spine defending those positions. Dems have a substantial lead over Republicans on foreign policy for the first time in ages, but they could lose that lead pretty quickly by looking weak and indecisive. The American public wants to be out of Iraq by next year. Democrats ought to be the ones to insist that that happen.

There may be a better explanation, but to me the most reasonable is that a lot of Democrats are either afraid they might be wrong, or afraid that public opinion will swing against them, or both. Otherwise they would have done what Biden said, they would have kept ramming the previous bill down the President's throat.

Ron Byers: John Edwards has has been saying send the President the same bill over and over for weeks.

My question about Edwards was whether he came to his opposition to the war after public opinion swung against it.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 24, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

it means you could certainly stand to show a little more spine defending those positions.

Apparently, Democratic politicians are fearful of putting vinegar in the milk of defense contractors.

Posted by: Brojo on May 24, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Right, Brojo. If only we had elected Ralph Nader like you wanted to. Douche.

Posted by: Pat on May 24, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

If the US had a parliamentary system Bush would have been out as PM and leader of his party long ago. As it is, we have to wait for the founding father’s mechanism- term limits- to kick in before we can remove this woeful executive. There is an underlying problem here. For the past 50 years (and perhaps longer) American executives have been able to run little and big wars all over the world and, in the extreme examples of Bush and Nixon suspend rights by fiat with very little oversight- not something the founder’s intended. The Congress has been unwilling or unable to limit the power to do this mischief for mostly political reasons. And sure a President, elected by the people, is a powerful thing to confront but what has happened is that any group of ambitious men with an agenda, money and good PR can take control of the Office of President to pull off any caper they want- for personal and ideological reasons. In essence the old mechanism to prevent excess and selfish ambition has collapsed and we must rely on impeachment and term limits to remove nefarious men. By the time the system can get to them they have already dragged the nation into their caper.

Posted by: bellumregio on May 24, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Or would they rather see us stay there for the next 10 years, bleeding thousands more American lives & hundreds & hundreds of billions of dollars while accomplishing nothing? What are you, a Fox pollster?

In the threads related to energy, I have advocated that subisdies for domestic energy supplies be drawn from the defense budget so that, over a 10 year time span, we can dismantle and bring home nearly our entire Middle East infrastructure and quit tying up our fast blue water navy in one tiny gulf. I believe that, if the U.S. does not create a secure domestic fuel supply, there will in fact be Americans still deployed to the Middle East in 10 years, and still waging war, killing and dying.

The Iraq War is not exactly "war for oil", but neither is it independent of our dependence on Middle East oil.

I may be the only person writing here who is in favor of both winning the war (or postponing defeat no matter how long it takes), while planning to withdraw the military over a 10-year time span entirely from the Gulf Region. the resources necessary are approximately what it costs to build and equip two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

One of the reasons that I favor federal subsidies for domestic fuel production of all kinds is that they contribute to American military power both directly (fuel for the ships, planes and vehicles) and indirectly (freeing our navy from what amounts essentially to embargo duty in cramped spaces.)

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 24, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo, you are a peace-loving guy - are you trying to goad me into a flame war?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 24, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

MatthewRmarler on May 24, 2007

It's possible that Edwards changed his mind with the rest of us did. So? To quote John Maynard Keynes, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

You really ought to try readiing the foreign policy speech he gave yesterday. It's really pretty good.

One of Blue Girl's people has a post that links to it on her site.

http://proctoringcongress.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 24, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

MatthewRmarler: "If they already have come to that opinion, and if they are not afraid of public opinion swinging back against them, then there is NO EXPLANATION for why they caved to the president. Is there?"

That was the point of his original post, dipshit. You don't see people here defending their decision to withdraw the timelines from the bill.

"In the threads related to energy, I have advocated that subisdies for domestic energy supplies be drawn from the defense budget so that, over a 10 year time span, we can dismantle and bring home nearly our entire Middle East infrastructure and quit tying up our fast blue water navy in one tiny gulf. I believe that, if the U.S. does not create a secure domestic fuel supply, there will in fact be Americans still deployed to the Middle East in 10 years, and still waging war, killing and dying."

Discussion about oil is completely irrelevant to my comment. 10 years is 20 Friedman Units, which your president continually trots out. He's done nothing to indicate that we won't continue turning corners in the war. Only you & your ilk believe in the magical fairy dust crap about the surge.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on May 24, 2007 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin and Fellow Liberals: Thanks to the likes of you, we got Bush in 2000 (oh, you forgot you voted for Nader?). Thanks to you, we'll get another Republicun congress in 2008. You'll gladly trade political victory for doctrinal purity. And the Republicuns will get to continue their Endless War. Sad.

Posted by: CT on May 24, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

"As to the partisan breakdown of the American people, can you provide any evidence that the numbers used in the poll are in fact accurate?"

From the March 2007 Pew Research study on partisanship trends:

Self-identified D = 50%
Self-identified R = 35%

Read the study. It looks solid - Pew does decent work.

R^2

Posted by: Arr-squared on May 24, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I am reminded of one of my favorite anecdotes, about the Colorado Cannibal, Albert Packer, who ate his companion's bodies when he was stranded in the Rockies. One horrified discoverer of the cannibalism said, "Gol durn it, Al, you went and et every Democrat in the county!" A bystander observed "Nah, they wasn't Democrats. We found backbones."

Never truer than today.

Posted by: J Hill on May 24, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Remarkable story where Dick Cheney, on his own initiative and contrary to the President is trying to force Israel to attack Iran to cause an Iranian counterstrike against the US fleet.

Posted by: cld on May 24, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

CT what do you mean the likes of us. I didn't vote for Nader. I always considered him a Republican plant.

The disagreement you see here today, is the disagreement of people who have reluctantly come to the conclusion that their "leaders" are a bunch of pussywillows who will bend with every wind. In this case they were afraid the President might say something bad about them.

Get a clue CT, we want real leaders willing to lead from the front. Between 63 and 70% of all Americans want timelines. That is an overwelming majority. There is zero risk in standing up to the President on Iraq. He is extraordinarily weak. Sadly our "leaders" either don't understand the reality on the ground, or are motivated by other considerations. Me, I think it might be that most of them have sold their souls to the Israel lobby, but I could be wrong. They sure as hell aren't listening to the 70% of the public who the New York Times now call the "left."

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 24, 2007 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK


Maybe Democratic officerholders are influenced by heavy contributors, not just voters. It's a radical notion but it may have explanatory power.

Posted by: gcochran on May 24, 2007 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.), although you and I disagree about a few things I do not want to goad you to do anything. I respect your opinions. If I did not, I would not have deleted the many posts I wrote in response to your insults to me, which have been more than a couple.

My post upthread was a bit of a zinger, but it was you who said I was putting vinegar in your milk. If my plagiarizing of the expression to insult spineless Democrats goads you to have a flame war with me, you might wonder if accusing me of putting vinegar in your milk does not prompt me to want to respond in kind. It does, but I like you, so I stifle myself.

Posted by: Brojo on May 24, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Until the Dems gain about 10 more seats in the Senate and a similar number in the House, there's nothing they can do, despite all of the posturing.

When you don't have the votes, that's the exact time you start "posturing". Jay-zus H. Key-rist, what is it with these self-proclaimed "political realists"?!?

Posted by: sglover on May 24, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo. Nice post. You forgot to apologize though for voting for Ralph Nader, thereby electing Bush, and starting the whole war in the first place. C'mon dramatic little, Brojo. Apologize.

Posted by: Pat on May 24, 2007 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

That's almost unbelievable, cld -- even for Cheney -- but Steve Clemons is solid. My question is, with the ruling coalition as weak as they currently are, is this a realistic option for them? Would Israeli citizens tolerate the launching of an unprovoked hot war after the debacle of Lebanon? I don't claim to know anything about the political consensus in Israel, but I'm skeptical.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on May 24, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Given all of that, then why don't the Democrats simply cut off funding

It would seem that Bush is the one willing to simply cut off funding since he vetoed a funding bill presented to him by Congress.

Posted by: ckelly on May 24, 2007 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, if only we all possessed your ability to identify manifestly dishonest polls

They are called Fox News polls

Posted by: ckelly on May 24, 2007 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

You forgot one statistic, Kevin:

100% of the dead American soldiers and the dead Iraqi civilians hope George W. Bush burns in hell for this unnecessary war.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 24, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Chaunceyatrest: That was the point of his original post, dipshit.

What, in this case, do yea mean by "that"? That there is no explanation, or that the Democrats are afraid of something?

Discussion about oil is completely irrelevant to my comment.

True. Unless our oil dependence continues president after president, and a future president feels a need to use armed forces to guarantee fuel supples.

There are two claims (and more) about the surge that are false. First, that it is doomed to failure; second, that it is bound to succeed.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 24, 2007 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, excellent post. Couldn't agree more. It's also nice to have you assert it a more forcefully than usual.

Thank you for the great job you're doing day in, day out, week after week. The overall quality of your posts is second to none, in my opinion.

Posted by: Augustus on May 24, 2007 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK
There are two claims (and more) about the surge that are false. First, that it is doomed to failure;

That's a nice, pat assertion. What you haven't done is provided any reason to believe that the surge has any hope of any kind of meaningful success.


Posted by: cmdicely on May 24, 2007 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

"Gee, if only we all possessed your ability to identify manifestly dishonest polls from the only slightly dishonest polls."

LOL... Thanks for confirming that you really have nothing of substance to provide to this discussion. Actually, it's quite easy to determine the manifestly dishonest polls -- you simply look at the methodology and the specific questions. There are certainly gray areas but the manifestly dishonest polls are quite easy to spot. This wasn't one, which is why you have not been able to provide a single bit of real data to back up your assertions.

"As to the partisan breakdown of the American people, can you provide any evidence that the numbers used in the poll are in fact accurate?"

Sigh... Yes, of course I can, which is why I said what I did. However, since the evidence is simply other polls, which you have already stated that you do not accept, I'll not bother. Suffice to say that membership in the Republican Party has been steadily dropping.

Again, nothing of substance in your post.

Posted by: PaulB on May 24, 2007 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

"If the Democrats in Congress were sure that the surge would fail, they would cut off funding right away. Don't you think so?"

Of course not. There are always political issues to consider. This was just a silly response.

Posted by: PaulB on May 24, 2007 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

"My question about Edwards was whether he came to his opposition to the war after public opinion swung against it."

Why does that matter, with respect to the topic of this thread?

"I may be the only person writing here who is in favor of both winning the war"

Oh, nonsense. Nobody here wants to lose this war; we just think that it's already lost and there isn't a damn thing we can do about it. Damn near all of the available evidence points to this conclusion.

"(or postponing defeat no matter how long it takes)"

Given the costs of "postponing defeat," including the damage done to our military, not to mention how much we've managed to strengthen extremism, al Qaida, and terrorist organizations, in general, forgive me if I don't share your concern about "postponing defeat."

Posted by: PaulB on May 24, 2007 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

"There are two claims (and more) about the surge that are false. First, that it is doomed to failure;"

Why is this "false?"

Posted by: PaulB on May 24, 2007 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, Matthew, you've been making basically the same claims over and over again for the past few years - about how this time the latest effort just might succeed if we only give it a chance - going back to at least "Operation Lightning" two years ago and probably further than that. Every single time, we've been right, that the latest "turned corner" or "good news" or "joint operation" or "captured leader" would ultimately turn out to be another failure. Every single time. How many times do we need to be right before you stop buying into the latest bullshit?

Posted by: PaulB on May 24, 2007 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

On the Cheney story,

this may be nothing more than another prong of their talk-tough policy.

Or it may be what it seems to be, literally.

Posted by: cld on May 24, 2007 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

paul b: How many times do we need to be right before you (marler) stop buying into the latest bullshit?

as some here wrote a couple of years ago...


denying the obvious is the entirety of republican genius

Posted by: mr. irony on May 24, 2007 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

13% support cutting off funds. Yet that seems to be the position most people on the internets support.

Posted by: markg8 on May 24, 2007 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB: Every single time, we've been right, that the latest "turned corner" or "good news" or "joint operation" or "captured leader" would ultimately turn out to be another failure.

So far, nobody has lost (except maybe al Qaeda), and nobody has won (except maybe the Kurds.) What I said today is that the Dems are afraid that the Surge might work; I also said that it is false that the surge was doomed to failure. It is also not true that every American operation has been a "failure". This is a complex stalemate. A year ago most Iraqi deaths were clearly caused by direct sectarian violence; currently, most Iraqi deaths are caused by directionless suicide bombers, i.e. any deaths will do as long as they cause discouragement to Americans.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 24, 2007 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

So far, nobody has lost (except maybe al Qaeda), and nobody has won (except maybe the Kurds.)

Yeah, well, except for the hundreds of thousands dead as a result of the war and the millions more injured and displaced.

Except for them.

But I realize they have no direct correlation to Bush's poll numbers or your portrayal of yourself as some sort of gentleman contrarian, so it's clear we should write them off.

What I said today is that the Dems are afraid that the Surge might work

You are on serious crack. There ain't nobody afraid that the "Surge" might work 'cause it clearly ain't gonna, and that includes the generals and commanders on the ground. How many dozens of fucking times do the commanders in charge of Iraq have to tell you that THERE IS NO MILITARY SOLUTION TO IRAQ before you can get it through your addled head?

any deaths will do as long as they cause discouragement to Americans.

Nobody is killing anyone else in Iraq simply to derail your aspirations as a soothsayer or hurt Bush's poll numbers, you fucking jackwad. They are fighting and killing each other BECAUSE THEY ARE GENUINELY VYING TO PUT THEIR OWN GROUPS INTO POWER.

Awww, is all the killing howting youw feewings cuz it keeps making you wong?

Stefan said it best: you are a soulless, fucking scumbag.

Posted by: trex on May 24, 2007 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

trex, you really should go for the more masculine T-Rex after the fiskings you have been dispensing of late.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 25, 2007 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

trex: Nobody is killing anyone else in Iraq simply to derail your aspirations as a soothsayer or hurt Bush's poll numbers, you fucking jackwad. They are fighting and killing each other BECAUSE THEY ARE GENUINELY VYING TO PUT THEIR OWN GROUPS INTO POWER.

And they genuinely believe that getting the Americans out as soon as possible will help them to get their own groups into power. The curious thing about attacking civilians with suicide bombers is that it may be as effective in persuading us to leave as if they kill Americans. It leads to the claim, among others, that the American presence is what motivates the suicide bombers, and the place will be more peaceful when the Americans are gone.

There ain't nobody afraid that the "Surge" might work 'cause it clearly ain't gonna, and that includes the generals and commanders on the ground.

If it is true that the Democrats are convinced the surge will fail, then they were derelict in their duty in not halting it immediately. What is your explanation for why the Dems did not, with the weight of public opinion clearly gacking them, vote to defund the war and order withdrawal to begin immediately?

Yeah, well, except for the hundreds of thousands dead as a result of the war and the millions more injured and displaced.

they are not going to win if we withdraw either. It may still add hundreds of thousands more if the U.S. declares itself defeated and withdraws.


mrm: "My question about Edwards was whether he came to his opposition to the war after public opinion swung against it."

PaulB: Why does that matter, with respect to the topic of this thread?

because KD wrote: polls back up the positions you already have

And I was questioning whether Edwards and some others "already" had the positions before the polls turned against the war.

PaulB: Given the costs of "postponing defeat," including the damage done to our military, not to mention how much we've managed to strengthen extremism, al Qaida, and terrorist organizations, in general, forgive me if I don't share your concern about "postponing defeat."

You're forgiven.

PaulB: Oh, nonsense. Nobody here wants to lose this war;

True, but the quote of mine that you curtailed also supported withdrawing American military installations from the Middle East over a 10 year time span while developing domestic fuel supplies that would be secure in time of war, and not subject to the whims of foreign governments ever. If we keep our military deployed there, and retain our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, then we are going to have war after war after war in that place. Keeping our military deployed there, or redeploying over and over, weakens us militarily.

I favor staying in Iraq now, but withdrawing from the Persian Gulf with all deliberate speed.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 25, 2007 at 3:41 AM | PERMALINK

they are not going to win if we withdraw either. It may still add hundreds of thousands more if the U.S. declares itself defeated and withdraws.

They lose whether we stay or go, dimwit. Think back to your fourth grade introduction to graphs: the more boots we've put on the ground the worse the violence has gotten. Are you able to follow a simple and undeniable upward trend or is that too complicated for you?

Thanks for acknowledging that the misery and death of millions means nothing to you, though. I'm content to expose you as a conscienceless coward day after day.

If it is true that the Democrats are convinced the surge will fail, then they were derelict in their duty in not halting it immediately. What is your explanation for why the Dems did not, with the weight of public opinion clearly gacking them, vote to defund the war and order withdrawal to begin immediately?

You know as well as I do why they don't back a withdrawal. The only trick the administration has ever, EVER had in its bag is to paint the opposition as weak on security. Public opinion is fickle and may be swayed with a single speech, and the Dems are afraid that they'll endure an unending smear campaign from the Republicans if they do the right thing.

And yes, they are being derelict in their duty as far as I'm concerned.

But for you to pretend that this is about them being "afraid" the Surge will work further illustrates your utter inability to grasp the situation. Let me repeat: no one believes the Surge will work, not unless we surge a couple hundred thousand more troops -- and maybe not even then.

Posted by: trex on May 25, 2007 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

"So far, nobody has lost (except maybe al Qaeda), and nobody has won (except maybe the Kurds.)"

Sigh... Nice try at changing the subject. Every time there has been even a hint at a positive move in Iraq, you have been here swallowing the hype. Every single time, we've been right that the hype was bogus and that the latest "turned corner" was crap. I repeat: how many times do we need to be right before you stop buying into the latest bullshit?

"What I said today is that the Dems are afraid that the Surge might work;"

Which is a really stupid, not to mention entirely false, thing to say, and one you should be ashamed to admit having said.

"I also said that it is false that the surge was doomed to failure."

And you were wrong when you said that, based on all of the available evidence.

"It is also not true that every American operation has been a 'failure'."

Sigh... Yes, actually, Matthew, it's quite true. There has not been a single real success in Iraq, which is why we're still there, why the violence has escalated, why basic services are still in trouble, why the political stalemate still continues, and on and on.

"This is a complex stalemate."

It's not a stalemate, Matthew.

"A year ago most Iraqi deaths were clearly caused by direct sectarian violence; currently, most Iraqi deaths are caused by directionless suicide bombers, i.e. any deaths will do as long as they cause discouragement to Americans."

And this was an even dumber thing to say, in a long line of stupid remarks on this thread. I'm not even going to dignify this with a response.

Posted by: PaulB on May 25, 2007 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

"And they genuinely believe that getting the Americans out as soon as possible will help them to get their own groups into power."

So? What does that have to do with anything? Of course espousing a popular stance helps your electoral chances. That goes without saying. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the correctness of the stance.

"The curious thing about attacking civilians with suicide bombers is that it may be as effective in persuading us to leave as if they kill Americans."

You mean that being caught in the middle of a civil war, which our presence is inflaming, is a good reason to leave? Yup.

"It leads to the claim, among others, that the American presence is what motivates the suicide bombers, and the place will be more peaceful when the Americans are gone."

Sigh... And another strawman argument. Nobody knows whether Iraq will be more peaceful when we are gone or not. The fact that we are inflaming certain segments of the population is undeniable. The fact that we are unable to quell the violence is also undeniable. The fact that we are aiding our enemies, damaging our military, harming our reputation, and strengthening radical Muslim organizations is also undeniable. Personally, I find those to be compelling reasons to leave.

"If it is true that the Democrats are convinced the surge will fail, then they were derelict in their duty in not halting it immediately."

Of course they were, which is why they are taking such a beating. And of course there are political considerations involved. Gee, they are politicians; whodathunkit.

"they are not going to win if we withdraw either. It may still add hundreds of thousands more if the U.S. declares itself defeated and withdraws."

Since there are going to hundreds of thousands more even if we do not withdraw, you don't have much of a point.

"You're forgiven."

You, on the other hand, are not, since you refuse to address the very real costs of, and damage caused by, this war.

Posted by: PaulB on May 25, 2007 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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