Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 26, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

LUGAR: FAILED POLICIES OK WITH ME....I noticed Dick Lugar's floor speech yesterday declaring that he now supports withdrawal from Iraq, but didn't get around to commenting on it. Good thing, too, because today his spokesman clarified that he didn't really mean it anyway. A real profile in courage.

Kevin Drum 12:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Politicians rarely mean what they say. Probably someone has already noticed that.

Posted by: slanted tom on June 26, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Tight, terse, large on snark and, most importantly, an unqualified statement. Good post.

Posted by: shortstop on June 26, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove must have pictures of Lugar having sex with a goat or something. But,remember - we are dealing with lemmings here, not free-thinking, independent minds. They are like Captain Ahab, lashed to the white whale, and willing to drown rather than contradict the incompetent criminal in the White House.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 26, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

As opposed to the principled and consistent stands on Iraq taken by, for example, your most likely candidate for President in 2008.

Good luck with that.

Posted by: rnc on June 26, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

I think this is a misread, Kevin. He's not backpedaling, he's just trying to maintain leverage over a possible compromise. He came out against the current strategy... his spokesman didn't unsay that.

Posted by: Wagster on June 26, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Withrawal is the defeatist option.

Trible sheiks in Anbar have come over to the US side. Violence in Bagdad is down over 80%. The surge is expanding into Baquba. Kurds and Sunnis have hammered out a deal on the oil law. Insurgents are being killed. Egypt, Saudi and Paki have not fallen to the radical islamofaschists as the nattering libs had prophecied. Iran, Syria and Gaza are isolated.

And you want to pull out? Thank God for President Bush.

Posted by: egbert on June 26, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Trible sheiks in Anbar have come over to the US side.

"Trible" sheiks, egbert? What is this, Star Trek? Imbecile.

Posted by: DJ on June 26, 2007 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

My sentiments exactly upon reading this piece.

Basically it boils down to his recognition that the war is - in his own words - impossible, but that doesn't mean he's going to support any kind of measure that would actually bring the boys home and save a few lives.

No, no . . . that just won't do. Can't give the dirty fucking hippies any credit, even at this late stage.

Posted by: chuck on June 26, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Lugar is just doing what any competent politician does: representing his constituency. And it should be clear to anyone that the American people want victory, quickly and cheaply, with lots of confetti and pictures of unfortunate brown people holding hands and singing "Kumbaya." Oh, and the troops home before Christmas.

Oh wait, you were expecting leadership?

Posted by: bleh on June 26, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

According to egbert, we've been winning this war for the past 4+ years.

Victory has ALWAYS been - and continues to be - right around the corner.

As long as egbert himself doesn't have to sacrifice anything, that is.

Posted by: chuck on June 26, 2007 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

By the way . . .

read egbert's unsubstantiated claim that "violence in Baghdad is down 80%."

Well, surely you don't mean violence against AMERICANS is down in Baghdad. If anything, it's WAY up. See


Where exactly are you getting your statistics for the current month, egbert? Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by: chuck on June 26, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Basically it boils down to his recognition that the war is - in his own words - impossible
When someone says that something is impossible or maybe just a bad idea, Republicans take that as a challenge that must be proven. Apparently, a lot of Americans think that is a good thing.

Posted by: Qwerty on June 26, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Victory has ALWAYS been - and continues to be - right around the corner.

We have to keep fighting in Iraq until there is no domestic opposition to the Republican party left.

The ability to write legislation, appoint judges, control the regulatory climate, drive monetary policy, etc. is worth any expenditure of treasure and blood.

Iraq -- not so much a war as the world's most expensive campaign ad.

Posted by: Conrad "Con" Sordino on June 26, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Lugar's spokesman made clear he doesn't plan to vote against the war any time soon. But so what? for all his highfalutin' speechifying, a cold couple of weeks ago Lugar already stood up to be counted against putting any sort of accountability on Bush's failed war.

Between the war and his handling of the Bolton nomination, Lugar has carried too much Administration water for this constituent of his to react to his speech with anything but "big deal".

Posted by: Gregory on June 26, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Would the abundance of coliform bacteria in Egbert's statistics help explain where he gets them?

Posted by: chance on June 26, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is nicer than I am. I came right out and called him a sniveling coward (in triplicate!) and I meant it.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 26, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Was Lugar blackmailed into silence?

I think there's a wider question here. Why are we continuing to see so many of these dramatic reversals from Republican politicians?

Time and time again, we've seen bold criticism of the administration, calls for accountability or a change in policy completely abandoned and disavowed a short while later.

Why is that, do you think?

Experienced Senators such as Lugar or Specter don't arrive at these bold criticisms of the administration on a whim, bottle, or lack lack of sleep (cough cough).

So why the quick and extreme reversals?

The expected explanation is that they're being read the riot act by someone in the party, or the administration itself. Perhaps, but do you really think that an administration polling at under 30% has that much sway? Also, Bush only has another year and change left, while senators can go on to serve several more terms.

I have some alternative explanations I thought I'd throw out there.

One, it's the new Karl Rove style of politics whereby you speak out of both sides of your mouth to appeal to two different constituencies at the same time. Lambaste the president publicly, but reverse yourself in print so as not to anger the True Believers. Both sides can believe that the message which comports with their world view is what that politician really means and dismiss the contradicting message as an insincere political expedient (lip service to a voting block so they can get reelected).

Two, the White House (and or GOP) is able to bring major corporate campaign contributors to bear on dissenters. Wander off the reservation and you'll get a flood of calls from important corporate campaign contributors saying they'll pull their support unless you change your tune.

Bob Dole provides a striking example. In his bid for president, he refused to admit that cigarettes caused cancer (never mind that it was common public knowledge) because of the contributions he was receiving from tobacco companies. Also, historically he was fairly antagonistic (publicly so) towards Evangelicals... but was eventually pressured to change his tune, due to the pressure they were able to exert. McCain is another more extreme example.

Three, the crazy sounding theory that the administration's warantless wiretaps have also been used to collect embarrassing information on politicians.

Because you cannot prove or disprove the allegation at this point, it's easy to dismiss. But that is precisely what makes this suggestion so disturbing - that we currently have no legal recourse to ensure that these kinds of abuses are not taking place.

And is there anyone outside of the Dead Enders who still support this administration who really and truly believe that this administration is above blackmail? Besides, we see blackmail all the times in supposedly-legal political contexts, e.g. Tom Delay threatening to oust congressmen from their seats, threatening to make or break the political careers of a politician's children, Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff shaking down Indian Casinos (then work to ban gambling in one Reservation while legalizing it on another), etc. etc.

If the Democrats want to make headway on the investigations into domestic spying abuses, someone needs to float the suggestion that this administration has been abusing the power to spy on politicians and blackmail them. The very allegation provides its own cover as to lack of evidence/support... and makes opposition to investigations all the more problematic for a politician.

But no, Reid and Pelosi will keep sending toothless, "pretty please" requests to Dick Cheney to comply with the law and/or produce documents relevant to their investigations.

Posted by: Augustus on June 26, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, that's hilarious.

Posted by: junebug on June 26, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Pfft. On NPR they are still referring to Lugar's comments as a "watershed" event in the debate on the war.

Well, they are reporting that GOPers who have been silent until now are starting to speak out, so maybe that is true even if Lugar has rolled his comments back. More likely it is merely an orchestrated exit strategy for GOPers to distance them from the toxic Bush.

Posted by: Disputo on June 26, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

* Day 1--Take surprising position against war's conduct on Senate floor.
* Midnight--Receive telephoned invitation to go hunting with Veep.
* Day 2--Whoops, did I say that?!?

That was quick!

Posted by: Trollhattan on June 26, 2007 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

p.s. Voinovich seems to have entered the fray. Et tu, Ohio?


Posted by: Trollhattan on June 26, 2007 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

I'm really getting tired of people finally coming around to the facts. I'd expect it from some guy who works in a warehouse 60 hours a week, but a Senator? Hey Dick, start paying attention, your country is going down the drain and you seem more worried about offending the President or your party. How about this? Pay attention, our President and Vice President are dopes. Operate accordingly.

Posted by: William Jensen on June 26, 2007 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

No way. He said it. It was critical and called for plan B. It can't be taken back.
It opens the way for more repuke-licans to speak out.
It's like when Nixon lost Cronkite.

He specifically criticized the current policy.

Posted by: consider wisely always on June 27, 2007 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK
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