Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

September 11, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE SURGE SURGE....Matt Yglesias turns on the contrarianism and argues that yesterday's soporific congressional hearing was a big win for Democrats:

The war was incredibly unpopular on the morning of September 10, 2007 so the Republicans needed not just a solid performance, but some kind of show-stopping one from Crocker and Petraeus to turn things around. A dull hearing guaranteed that the game would end in a draw, and a draw is a political win for the Democrats.

....The "surge" itself was hail mary strategy, and it didn't work. Then we had the surge of dog and pony shows, but that didn't bring anyone other than Michael O'Hanlon over to Bush's side. Now the surge of testimony has begun, and it looks to be, in essence, another dud. Something the administration's dead-ender supporters can feel good about, but that's not going to change the public's accurate perception that if ever there were a time when this policy could have been saved, it came and went years ago.

This sort of confirms my view that contrarianism should be attempted only by people named Kinsley — and probably not even by him anymore.

This seems exactly backward to me. All the White House needs is enough support to prevent Congress from defunding the war, and the August PR surge more than accomplished that (it wasn't just O'Hanlon who came home from Iraq burbling about the Dora market). To have any hope of affecting the course of the war, Democrats need a home run of some kind, something that really puts pressure on congressional Republicans and therefore on George Bush. That didn't happen, and that means both the surge and the war will continue. It may be a low bar, but that's a win for Bush. Right?

Kevin Drum 11:52 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (74)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

"All right. You've covered your ass, now.”

~President Bush, to a CIA briefer who delivered the memo titled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US” to Bush on Aug. 6, 2001, about a month before the September 11 attacks happened- a memo he ignored.

We will never forget.

Posted by: Republicans Are Traitors on September 11, 2007 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

You are assuming that Democrats want to change the course of the war. That may be true of Democrats generally, but it is not true of Democrats in Congress.

Posted by: reino on September 11, 2007 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

I think Matt Y is looking at it from a political and not a policy perspective. Look, if you haven't figured out Iraq is a disaster by now, then nothing that happened during the Petraeus hearing was going to change your mind (short of an Iraqi insurgent killing Petraeus in mid-testimony). I think Matt Y is focusing on the hearings failing to change the public perception of Iraq, which means in September of 2008 we'll still have an overwhelmingly anti-war public choosing between pro-war Republicans and (relatively) anti-war Democrats. Matt Y is probably just assuming that there's nothing anyone will be able to do about Iraq until the next elections.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on September 11, 2007 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

You're both right.

It's a win for our prospects in 2008 and a loss for our prospects of getting out of Iraq.

Posted by: B on September 11, 2007 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Again, it depends if you're talking about the Beltway or the rest of America.

The Petraeus farce is a big win for the Repubicans in the Beltway, as Kevin pointed out.

As for the rest of America, the farce is another Republican disaster, which what Matt is saying.

In either case, though, the Beltway Democrats look like losers.

Posted by: ferg on September 11, 2007 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

All Democrats have to do is not send up a bill that continues funding the war. its very simple.

But they don't want to end the war, they want to win the next election, and as long as the war is going, they will be able to make gains in the next election and win.

Posted by: exhuming mccarthy on September 11, 2007 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

There was a moment when we might have united the world against the kind of religious fanaticism that resulted in the September 11 attacks. This site, which I hope never disappears memorializes that moment. George Bush, Karl Rove, and the Republicans ignored the promise of that moment and hijacked it for their own political purposes. It is our shame that we let them.

Posted by: David in NY on September 11, 2007 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

How are we going to get out if we don't know why we went in.

To this day, we still do not know the real reason the US invaded Iraq. We know what the fear-monger reason was (WMD) and the Pablum-for-Bush Reason is (Freedom and Demoncracy), however the our actual Iraq policy and raison d'etre is a closely held secret inside Cheney's office.

It begs the question - does a country have to know what the hell it's doing in order to sensibly stop doing it?

Posted by: bcinaz on September 11, 2007 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

What happened was a win for Bush, a loss for the GOP, and a tie for the Dems. Bush wins because he gets to kick the can further down the road. The GOP loses because it means their very unpopular war will be going strong at the height of the election cycle. It's a tie for the Dems because they lose on the policy but win on the politics.

Posted by: fostert on September 11, 2007 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

"But they don't want to end the war, they want to win the next election, and as long as the war is going, they will be able to make gains in the next election and win."

I think that non-funding is a non-starter. Forcing the C-in-C to do anything in particular is very hard for Congress to do. They can tie his hands beforehand, but that chance was lost.

The political strategy is to make the Republicans want to leave just as much as the Democrats do. And the way to do that is make them face their own day of reckoning at the ballot box.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on September 11, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Agree with Kevin; Matt's all wet on this one. We don't need to win over the public. We have them. We need to get Congress to do what we sent them there to do.

To that end, I'd amend this: To have any hope of affecting the course of the war, Democrats need a home run of some kind, something that really puts pressure on congressional Republicans and therefore on George Bush.

Right now, we need a home run that puts pressure on Congressional Democrats. We can worry about Congressional Republicans after our representatives start representing us on this issue.

Posted by: shortstop on September 11, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Oh yes, Rove may be gone but the Bush administration is still following the "50 plus 1" approach of governance. Or in the case of Iraq, the "35% or so will do" approach.

Posted by: Xanthippas on September 11, 2007 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Right?"

--right.

Posted by: Trypticon on September 11, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

It just depends whether you think the Week of Surge was supposed to impress the American People or the Democratic Leadership.

Posted by: thump on September 11, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Sadly, Kevin, you're right.

And so's E.J. Dionne this morning - when he says that Bush is still on course to keep 100K soldiers in Iraq until the next admin takes office. Which means a Dem gets to be in office when we have our Saigon moment.

Posted by: left-handed screwdriver on September 11, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think the crucial point is that almost any victory for Bush (short of the Iraqis actually arriving at an accommodation in the next year - an outcome devoutly to be wished by any decent human being) is pyrrhic. As awful as it is to say, the longer we are stuck in the quagmire because the Dems can't force Bush's hand, the worse it is for the Republican party. And not just in the next election, but for a generation to come. So the one worthwhile sacrifice that our troops may make is that they ensure that a large majority of voters - and especially young ones coming of age during the fiasco - will permanently view the entire right-wing agenda with suspicion. That may lay the groundwork for a domestic and international American political agenda that yields beneficial outcomes for a change: universal health care and related social goals, social tolerance for minorities, less religious interference in the political process, sounder fiscal policy, international cooperation on terrorism, climate, immigration, and resource problems. Hey, it could happen!

Posted by: DCBob on September 11, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

***

Posted by: mhr on September 11, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

"I think Matt Y is looking at it from a political and not a policy perspective."

Exactly. This was a win for the democrats, no question. Kevin's right that it isn't enough of a win to defund the war but realistically that's never going to happen. Bush will always be able to cobble together a credible threat of destroying dems with the "you don't support the troops" meme.

Congressional dems aren't going to risk it, at least not enough. Feingold by himself is not a congressional majority.

Petraeus performance isn't going to win the GOP any votes next november.

Posted by: Tlaloc on September 11, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

You could not be more worng Kevin. Matt is right.

Right now the politics on Iraq is TERRIBLE for the GOP. The Republicans wanted a big day from Petraeus to turn around the POLITICS for them.

Petraeus did nothing on that.

As for the policy, PEtraeus has always been irrelevant. The GOP was never going to abandon Bush on Iraq. It amazes me that you seemed to believe that was a possibility if there was some home run. That's nuts.

The only was policy will be changed before to 2009 is if extreme pressure is placed on Dems on the funding issue.

Your post is entirely perplexing to me.

Up to and including the notion that Michael Kinsley does good contrarianism. He is awful at it.

Otherwise, good job . . .

Posted by: Armando on September 11, 2007 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

I've gotta go with Matt on this one.

Commenter Mike at the top of this thread has it right...

"I think Matt Y is looking at it from a political and not a policy perspective. Look, if you haven't figured out Iraq is a disaster by now, then nothing that happened during the Petraeus hearing was going to change your mind (short of an Iraqi insurgent killing Petraeus in mid-testimony). I think Matt Y is focusing on the hearings failing to change the public perception of Iraq, which means in September of 2008 we'll still have an overwhelmingly anti-war public choosing between pro-war Republicans and (relatively) anti-war Democrats. Matt Y is probably just assuming that there's nothing anyone will be able to do about Iraq until the next elections."

Posted by: Detroit Dan on September 11, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

It's a win for our prospects in 2008

Yes, it is a win for the defense contractors' and oil companies' Democratic candidates in 2008.

Posted by: Brojo on September 11, 2007 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Really, the ability and willingness of Bush and the Republicans to keep large numbers of troops in Iraq until January of 2009 is essentially pre-ordained. By hook or by crook, they will see to it that it will happen, even if it means that they hold the troops hostage in Iraq until Congress coughs up the funds. Everything else, including any legislation or amendments likely to be passed by the Democrats, is probably nothing more than political theater, even if important political theater declaring a moral position. Bush holds all the real cards here, like it or not.

But what Bush and the Republicans win in policy until the next election they lose in politics. Come November 2008, it's the Republicans who will need a grand slam on the last strike of the game to get out of their mess.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 11, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

The President has a target audience of 535 people. He just has to win 41 senators or 217 blue dogs and Republicans to his side and he wins. Yesterday he won.

The Democratic performance is a problem for the elected Democrats. As a group they look like they are hopelessly ineffective or in bed with the Republicans. The anti-war base is saying "end the war." When a politician becomes separated from his or her constituents they politician has a giant problem.

Maybe their are enough AIPAC members and neocons to make up for the loss of the anti-war constituency but since about 60% or more of all Americans are anti-Iraq war and the Likudites would rather elect Republicans, I think the Democrats are going to rue the day they came off as being ok with an endless war in Iraq. Given their muted tones, it is hard to deny that yesterday Congressional Democrats sounded pretty ok with the current policy.

Posted by: corpus juris on September 11, 2007 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

mhr: Actually, "waging" is not the apt word; these peace lovers are experts on the losing of wars as long as the country they live in is the loser.

It amuses me that in mhr's world, the term "peace lover" is an epithet.

Posted by: Cheney's Third Nipple on September 11, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

The Senators are blowing these toads out of the water. I was absolutely mesmerized by B Boxer. Very powerful, very moving, very strong.

The Senators are not kissing butt, but they are kicking butt and taking names.

Posted by: POed Lib on September 11, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

It's a win for the Democrats, if and only if, they go in for the kill and hang this war around the Republicans necks.

Forcing the repubs to walk the plank and vote, once again, to keep the war going, is in Bush's self-interest, but not in the interest of the future of the Republican party. The only silver lining for them is the possibility of a secondary strategy of blaming the dems for losing the war when victory was so, so close.

Democrats need to pound the message at every turn. This is a war of choice, based on lies from a Republican president and enabled by a corrupt and sycophantic Republican party.

Posted by: David Helms on September 11, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

POed Lib, I hope you are right because yesterday the House Democrats came across as looking like they are part of the problem and not any part of the solution.

Posted by: corpus juris on September 11, 2007 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

an overwhelmingly anti-war public choosing between pro-war Republicans and (relatively) anti-war Democrats

Almost all of the mainstream party candidates will be pro-war. Democratic sympathizers seem to think a veteran whose legs were blown off in Iraq is somehow an anti-war candidate. The next Democratic controlled Congress' first act will not be to withdraw American troops from Iraq, it will be spending money reconstructing the military for more war.

Posted by: Brojo on September 11, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Matt Y is probably just assuming that there's nothing anyone will be able to do about Iraq until the next elections.

Bush will always be able to cobble together a credible threat of destroying dems with the "you don't support the troops" meme. Congressional dems aren't going to risk it, at least not enough.

But what Bush and the Republicans win in policy until the next election they lose in politics. Come November 2008, it's the Republicans who will need a grand slam on the last strike of the game to get out of their mess.

Maybe so. But it makes me want to scream and vomit and bang my head against the wall that so many have to die while we wait out the clock. And I remain pissed that in the meantime, the Dem leaders aren't coordinating the message and driving home, over and over, who's prolonging this war; why they're doing it; and what it's costing in human life and misery, wasted billions and American reputation. So many missed opportunities there.

Posted by: shortstop on September 11, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

"POed Lib, I hope you are right because yesterday the House Democrats came across as looking like they are part of the problem and not any part of the solution."

I agree. The House Dems were totally feckless and ineffectual. Their lack of spine was amazing and appalling. I heard only one person actually hold them to the wall, and force them to acknowledge reality.

Right now, we are listening to that enormous piece of crap Saxby Chambliss. What a suck-up shit he is.

The Republican Senators, with the exception of Lugar and Hagel, are administration toads and buttkissers.

These guys MUST be confronted. They have a huge papertrail, which gives the lie to every false word they utter. Now they are trying to tout the next war, against Iran. Appalling.

Posted by: POed Lib on September 11, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin and most posters that Bush will keep US military in Iraq as long as he is President. He sincerely believes that it's in the interest of the US and the civilized world to do so.

I would quibble with David Helms's wording. The US does not have the ability to end the war. In fact, withdrawal of our troops would likely lead to a bloodier war.

I don't know whether you Dems are correctly reading the public. A poll asking whether we're dissatisfied will get a majority. Chances are even the President is dissatisfied. But, I think a majority of Americans still would like us to succeed, if we can achieve success with reasonable additional effort. As long as Americans believe there is a good chance of success, they won't want to just withdraw.

The pro-war side is aided by alluding to what the US has already spent in blood and money. I think that's poor decision-making, but it's a factor.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 11, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Armando and Matt-- the subsequent reaction (see Senate today) to the Pet General has been cold to lukewarm. The RNC has got to be crestfallen at the inability of Pet to "shock and awe".

Posted by: magisterludi on September 11, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

A win? A draw? To what end? It doesn't matter what the broader public thinks. We aren't leaving Iraq now, next week, next year, or next administration. If we are very lucky, we will leave next generation. Maybe.

Posted by: model 62 on September 11, 2007 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know whether you Dems are correctly reading the public. A poll asking whether we're dissatisfied will get a majority. Chances are even the President is dissatisfied. But, I think a majority of Americans still would like us to succeed, if we can achieve success with reasonable additional effort. As long as Americans believe there is a good chance of success, they won't want to just withdraw.

That's why it's so convenient that there are several polls asking specifically whether voters want us to withdraw, and the answer is 70-something percent yes. Oopsy for you.

Posted by: shortstop on September 11, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

'To have any hope of affecting the course of the war, Democrats need a home run of some kind, something that really puts pressure on congressional Republicans . . .'

No, they don't.

I understand that it's nice to be bipartisan, if possible, but the Democrats don't actually need a single Republican vote to alter the course of the war. They write the laws; all they need to do is introduce legislation authorizing funds sufficient to bring the troops home, and refuse to consider anything else.

If Senate Republicans want to filibuster, that's fine. Dems can tell anyone who'll listen that the GOP are playing politics with the troops by keeping them in harm's way and blocking a bill to bring them home. Ditto if the bill gets passed and Bush vetoes it.

Pelosi and Reid should be prepared to welcome Republican defectors, if there are any, but they need to stop worrying about getting GOP support for an Iraq bill. They don't need GOP support; what they need is to have cojones to do the right thing.

Posted by: David Bailey on September 11, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Fans, here I go again. Democrat or Republican-- they'll leave Iraq when the oil runs dry.
Hey, we're still in South Korea, Japan and 100's of other places around the globe.

The religion as well as the politics of the USA is globalized capitalism. Ask anybody.

We bomb/invade/regime change other countries in order for them to get with the program.

So, you heathen communists, terrorists, or whatever out there-we're gonna get you...

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on September 11, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Great comment on the subject at hand from Juan Cole today:

Can Gen. Petraeus and Ryan Crocker Save the Next Democratic President?

Posted by: nepeta on September 11, 2007 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's a complete win for the Democrats. The CW all along was that Petraeus was going to shock and awe Congress. Anything less, and its a failure. He just made the Democrats job easier.

Posted by: DR on September 11, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats and Republicans are just two wings of the Money party, why would anyone expect anything to change?

If the war in Iraq doesn't end and Bush and Cheney aren't impeached, it pretty much proves the existence of the Money party, doesn't it?

Want to end the War? Take the profit out of the Defense industry. Complex problems sometimes require simple solutions.

Posted by: slanted tom on September 11, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Matt Yglesias turns on the contrarianism and argues that yesterday's soporific congressional hearing was a big win for Democrats ... This seems exactly backward to me. ... It may be a low bar, but that's a win for Bush. Right?

—Kevin Drum

Absolutely. Ineffectual grandstanding in the hearing notwithstanding, this has been a complete disaster for dems. Our so-called leaders, particularly HRC, look pathetic in the public's eyes.

As far as I'm concerned -- and I've never EVER voted Republican -- we dems now own this war.

Posted by: Econobuzz on September 11, 2007 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know whether you Dems are correctly reading the public.

It is the public who is misreading the Democrats. The public thinks the Democratic Party is an opposition to the Republican Party and the administration.

Posted by: Brojo on September 11, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Every day we stay in Iraq the potential combatants of the next war become more heavily armed and obstinate. Basically, all the money we spend there is like pouring gasoline on a fire. Even the day laborers we hire are virtual slaves imported from other countries.

The basic insanity of all this is easily seen in the current policy of encouraging the Sunnis who once supported Saddam.

Changing this in the Congress would just take a lot of hard work by congresssmen. If incumbents won't do it, primary challengers should be chosen who will. If this means Republicans take some seats held by Democratic incumbents, so be it. Let them carry the water for the inevitable defeat.

What's going on, there and here, is unsustainable. Eventually, something has to give. Nixon was doing pretty good with his spin-out-the-war policy and suddenly we were waiting in hour long gas lines to fill the tank, or maybe just buy five or ten gallons.

Something always comes next.

Posted by: serial catowner on September 11, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-lib, what you say about many American's still wishing for success is true. But wasn't that why they backed the surge 8 months ago? Now what? How much dissatisfaction can they swallow?

The Petraeus report was a win for Bush, at the expense of his party. And he HAD to know that going in.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on September 11, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Anything that doesn't result in GWB's impeachment is a win for him.

Posted by: Disputo on September 11, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Fans, here I go again. Democrat or Republican-- they'll leave Iraq when the oil runs dry."

Sadly, this is very true.

Posted by: fostert on September 11, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Why is Haliburton still getting money from us.??

Posted by: john john on September 11, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

After an unlamented absence, dishonest neocon too "ex-liberal" stinks up the place with his usual bullshit: I agree with Kevin and most posters that Bush will keep US military in Iraq as long as he is President. He sincerely believes that it's in the interest of the US and the civilized world to do so.

Of course, unless "ex-liberal" is Bush's shirnk, he has no way of knowing the latter; it's just deliberately and insultingly obvious bullshit neocon propaganda. Par for the course.

The pro-war side is aided by alluding to what the US has already spent in blood and money. I think that's poor decision-making, but it's a factor.

It must have given you a special, sick thrill to make such a bad faith argument, "ex-liberal." It's stacking up the waste of American lives and treasure (and yes, "ex-liberal," we know you don't care, since you don't have to pay the costs) against the disaster of Iraq that makes the American public conclude they want to get out. Sunk cost arguments cut no ice at all, and Powerline or whoever's pushing that argument must be more deranged than usual.

Whether the chaos in Iraq caused by Bush's incompetent occupation worsens is only part of the story; the question is should the American people -- you excluded of course, "ex-liberal" -- pay the cost in blood and treasure to forestall the inevitable stain on Bush's reputation? And the overwhelming answer is "no." (Those with a different answer can get to a recruiting station, thank you very much.)

But you know all that, "ex-liberal." You aren't here for good-faith argument, or even to propagandize on behalf of your odious neocon faction. You're here to act out your psychodrama in which the recognition of the fact that Bush's incompetence and the fecklessness of the neocons has ruiend the GOP's decades-long brandign effort on defense causes you to insult your betters here by pissing on the foor.

kevin's moderator(s) have been on the ball lately, and there's no reason they or we should have to tolerate your bad faith. It's a shame they have to clean up your shit, but hopefuly they won't leave it stinking up the place.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

For those of us that care about America's honor and long-term credibility it was a win - we won't be leaving before Bush's term ends. For obnoxious fuzzy little dweebs like Yglesias it was a win - he gets to squirrel back to the dark corners and preen with his oh-so-precious groovy guy friends about how much smarter they are than every body else. I don't think it was a win for elected Dems, who are more and more making the Repubs look like pikers in the special interest group pandering contest. If Fred Thompson can get a message and connect with Repub voters he will beat Hillary/Obama.

Posted by: minion on September 11, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

"To have any hope of affecting the course of the war, Democrats need a home run of some kind, something that really puts pressure on congressional Republicans and therefore on George Bush."
What you describe does not exist in the real world.

Posted by: david on September 11, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

It's wierd...in another thread, the redoubtable shortstop wrote: It certainly does demonstrate a difference in mindsets when these fellows "debate" via moved goalpost, red herring, strawman, outright fabrication and/or screams of victimhood, then piously maintain that they're acting "respectfully" because their posts lack profanity. I don't suppose they'll ever get it, because their screens and scrims are designed to obscure what they're doing from themselves as well as from us.

And "ex-liberal" appears here as if on cue.

As for minion of Rove, no one is fooled that you care about anything but the Republican Party, or that you know anything at all of honor or credibility.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

I like Kevin, but, honestly, Kevin Drum denouncing liberal contrarianism is like Karl Rove denouncing negative campaigning.

Posted by: C.L. on September 11, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

I love how the R's paint this as a loss for the Dems and a win for Bush.What about the R's explain how they won yesterday,You guys still have to stand behind Bush who at 26% is not in the win coulum at all.Black and White baby Black and White.Oh and Bush is going to ask for more money is that a win for the R's also.

Posted by: john john on September 11, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Bipartisanship is using epithets to describe citizens against the war.

From here:

"As soon as Rep. Ike Skelton gaveled a joint Congressional hearing to order this morning, protesters could be heard yelling "war criminal" at Army Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who were about to testify about conditions in Iraq.

"At least one woman could be heard shouting briefly, before Skelton (D-MO) ordered anyone who disrupted the proceedings to be removed from the hearing room.

“That really pisses me off down there, Those assholes,” a sharp-eared Wall Street Journal reporter overheard Skelton say to the committee’s ranking Republican member Duncan Hunter of California. A staffer came to the rescue later, shutting off Skelton's microphone."

Posted by: Brojo on September 11, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop: That's why it's so convenient that there are several polls asking specifically whether voters want us to withdraw, and the answer is 70-something percent yes.

Sure, most Americans want US troops to withdraw from Iraq, as do almost all Iraqis. However, there is disagreement on when the withdrawal should take place. As far as I know, there is not a majority in either Iraq or the US supporting immediate withdrawal.

Also, polls asking whether American troops should withdraw by a certain date may be ambiguous. Many of us want to see substantial American troops withdraw within a year, say, because we expect conditions to have improved enough so that fewer troops will be needed at that time. The point is, supporting the withdrawal of troops within a time period doesn't necessarily equate to opposition to US involvement in the war,

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 11, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, remember that there are two political games being played.

One is Bush vs. war opponents, fighting over whether to end the war. 'War opponents' includes some (but not all) democrats and some (but few) republicans. A draw favors Bush, and allows him to continue the war until the end of his turn. The war opponents needed a home run to change this dynamic, and they didn't get it.

The other game is Democrats vs. Republicans, fighting over congressional seats and the white house in '08. A draw favors Dems, because the public is angry and are ready to vote Repubs out in masses next year. The Repubs needed a home run to convince the public not to turn them out on their asses, and they didn't get it.

I think Yglesias was talking about the Democrat/Republican political game when he said the Dems won. The war opponents got nothing out of this. Yes, it's very possible that Bush could win while the Republicans lose, and Bush seems happy to play for that kind of endgame.

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on September 11, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

And I remain pissed that in the meantime, the Dem leaders aren't coordinating the message and driving home, over and over, who's prolonging this war; why they're doing it; and what it's costing in human life and misery, wasted billions and American reputation.

It's certainly a disgrace that Democrats have not done more to draw the brightest of lines between their views on Iraq and those of the Republicans. That is the one thing the Democrats really do have in their power.

But I've become philosophical in my view of the prosecution of the Iraq war itself, as I have more generally about the Bush WH. Democrats are effectively powerless to stop the evil here until the next election. There is little point to essentially impotent rage.

I adopt instead the long view. The Iraq War and the Bush WH were likely mistakes that had to be made and suffered through, given the entirety of the context of American politics at the time. The American people simply were at a place in their thinking in which they needed to be instructed in the downside of war in the only way they could really understand and fully accept, namely the loss of blood and treasure to no discernible end. Likewise, the American people needed to experience the Bush WH more generally to degrade the viability of Conservatism in their minds.

Mostly politics progresses most readily in the form of simple, clear lessons. I don't think anyone who has endured the Bush administration will ever forget the pitfalls of a Republican hegemony.

It's deeply tragic that the Iraq war has, and will continue to have, truly hellish consequences for both Americans and Iraqis. But, in the long view, it may be that every life lost today might spare us many lives in the future because of the wars we will in consequence refuse to fight.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 11, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Wake up!!! Matt is nuts on this one.

What Petraeus bought for Bush yesterday is not only time but also a plausible argument that we're winning. From here on out, every time Petraeus (and Bush) address the public, the message will be that we're winning. If you think that we got bad data this time around, from here on out, it will be cherry-picked, massaged, and skewed to the nth degree. And the MSM -- particularly Faux and Katie -- will buy it hook, line, and sinker.

A constant drumbeat -- even if fabricated with horrendously bad data -- that we're winning will turn American public opinion around on a dime. And HRC -- or whoever our candidate turns out to be -- will be spouting the line as loudly as the repugs.

I read the comments above. With all due respect, most are forgetting a key element. This guy is simply not leaving office without engaging Iran. And, when the time comes, HRC will be right there with him -- to protect the troops.

Posted by: Econobuzz on September 11, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Franken0,

Americans would have learned very little if this ill-conceived and falsly justified war had not been mismanaged so spectacularly.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on September 11, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" wrote: Sure, most Americans want US troops to withdraw from Iraq, as do almost all Iraqis. However, there is disagreement on when the withdrawal should take place.

Of course -- the Republicans want to delay it long enough to blame the unfolding disaster in Iraq on the Democrats. Sadly, "ex-liberal," that dog won't hunt, but it's a further indictment of you, minion, and the rest of you loathsome toads that you condone and even embrace this deception, not to mention the American lives sacrificed to perpetrate it.

As for the rest, no one is fooled that you're commenting in good faith, so your professed ignorance and hypotheticals are easily dismissed as yet more insultingly obvious bullshit.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Matt is wrong; you're right. The Repugs were wavering, Petraeus has helped Bush get them back in line.

But the victory is contingent on what happens next. If Iraq really goes down the tubes before the 2008 election, Bush's victory will be Pyhrric.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on September 11, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it's very possible that Bush could win while the Republicans lose, and Bush seems happy to play for that kind of endgame.

"Permanent Republican majority." Heh.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

The American people... needed to be instructed in the downside of war

The only way the American people will understand the 'downside' of war will be to lose unconditionally. The American people did not understand the downside of war after the Vietnam occupation, and they have not/will not learn it from the occupation of Iraq. Until every American shares in the defeat through material deprivation, or at least sees their most wicked leaders hanged by an international court, nothing will be learned.

Posted by: Brojo on September 11, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

The American people did not understand the downside of war after the Vietnam occupation, and they have not/will not learn it from the occupation of Iraq.

I actually think that the American people have more decisively turned against the Iraq war than they did against the Vietnam war.

The best evidence of this is the 1972 landslide election of Nixon, who supported "Peace with honor" -- not so very different from the slow withdrawal Bush has advocated -- against the fully antiwar George McGovern. Americans on the whole were, I believe, far more ambivalent about the Vietnam War than they are about the Iraq war. I think the vast majority of Americans simply don't accept that there is anything remotely approaching a good rationale for the Iraq war; most Americans did believe that fighting Communism in Vietnam was an important goal, even if the war itself could end only in futility.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 11, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo: Until every American shares in the defeat through material deprivation, or at least sees their most wicked leaders hanged by an international court, nothing will be learned.

I disagree with Brojo's assumption about how Americans would be affected by experiencing defeat. I think it would make them more warlike.

One group of Americans does understand the defeat and material deprivation associated with losing a war -- the Southerners. The Civil War was a long time ago, but I understand it's not forgotten in the South. Yet, opposition to American involvement in Iraq is not higher in the South. On the contrary, I suspect the war has more support in the South than in other regions of the country.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 11, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory: Of course -- the Republicans want to delay it long enough to blame the unfolding disaster in Iraq on the Democrats.

Gregory, I disagree about Bush's motivation. If our cause Iraq were lost and a Dem President withdrew our troops in 2009, would you blame her/him for the loss, rather than Bush? Of course not. Nobody would. For better or for worse, Iraq is Bush's war.

Bush wants to keep Americans fighting in Iraq because he believes our troops there can do good. He may turn out to be wrong, but I have no doubt at all about his sincerity.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 11, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal," no one mistakes you for an honest commentor. What you profess to "agree with" or not isn't worth a bucket of piss.

And spare us -- of course I wouldn't blame a Democratic president for the loss of Iraq, but you and your fellow neocon toads have been contructing the Dolchstosslegende, as your own history here demonstrates.

Furthermore, again, what are you, Bush's shrink? Your lack of doubt about Bush's sincerity -- which is emininetly questionably given his overall mendacity -- isn't worth a spit in the ocean.

But you know all that. You're only here to insult your betters with insultingly obvious bullshit assertions. Why Kevin's moderator(s) tolerate your pissing on the floor in here is a mystery.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: You say the Dems have to vote to "defund" the war. Not so. Funding does not stay constant and require action to rescind. All the Dems have to do is cut, trim and/or eliminate funding from any future appropriations, and the deed is done.

Posted by: Dan on September 11, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

the American people have more decisively turned against the Iraq war than they did against the Vietnam war.

Since the most anti-war Democratic candidate barely registers in the polls, and the Democratic candidates who voted for the invasion poll number one and three, I would have to disagree.

I think it would make them more warlike.

I was speaking of unconditional defeat, like that experienced by the Germans and Japanese, many of whom still undersand war is wrong and disastrous for the nation. Unfortunately for the people of the American South, Reconstruction did not purge enough of the South's political criminals from the public sphere, nor did it remain in place long enough to oversee real political change, instead it ushered in the Jim Crow era.

Posted by: Brojo on September 11, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: frankly0: I actually think that the American people have more decisively turned against the Iraq war than they did against the Vietnam war.

Intellectually perhaps, but since the military seems content with its mission and sacrifice, and borrow-and-spend into bankruptcy has become our custom, there is no real fire in the opposition.

Posted by: Luther on September 11, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK


ex-lib: Americans believe there is a good chance of success, they won't want to just withdraw.

then

However, there is disagreement on when the withdrawal should take place.


58%....a new high, said they want to decrease the number of U.S. troops in Iraq.

55% support legislation that would set a deadline of next spring for the withdrawal of American combat forces.

More than six in 10 said the Iraq war is not worth fighting.

- Wash. Post/ABC poll 9/8/07


A record 60% say the U-S should set a timetable to withdraw forces 'and stick to that timetable regardless of what is going on in Iraq.
- USA Today/Gallup 9/9/07


ex-lib: The point is, supporting the withdrawal of troops within a time period doesn't necessarily equate to opposition to US involvement in the war,


why? because you say so? any proof to back up your empty assertion?

other than your feelings...

ex-lib: The Civil War was a long time ago, but I understand it's not forgotten in the South.


don't you think its good that traitors never prosper?...

one more poll result...

Only....5%.....that's right....5%.....said they most trusted the Bush administration to resolve the Iraq war.

- NYT poll 9/10/07

5%...lol...heckofajob

Posted by: mr. irony on September 11, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

There is little point to essentially impotent rage.

When it grows so large as to impede other, more productive activities, perhaps, but a little impotent rage helps keep us cognizant that there are real parents, children, siblings, friends and lovers behind statements like "It's deeply tragic that the Iraq war has, and will continue to have, truly hellish consequences for both Americans and Iraqis."

And a little impotent rage can do a great deal to help achieve what we agree is fully within the Democratic leadership's control: stepping up the volume, consistency and frequency of our protests of the continuation of a failed war, and making the differences between the two parties on this issue very clear.

But, in the long view, it may be that every life lost today might spare us many lives in the future because of the wars we will in consequence refuse to fight.

It may be. That is certainly a potential silver lining to this disaster, assuming that we as a nation will be intelligent enough to make use of this lesson going forward. I doubt, however, that these words would provide much comfort to the families of those dying now in the cause of the long view.

Posted by: shortstop on September 11, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Since democracy is dead in America, impotent rage is about all that is left the citizenry for political expression. Soon even that will be denied.

Posted by: Brojo on September 11, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

"As far as I'm concerned -- and I've never EVER voted Republican -- we dems now own this war."

I yield to no one in the level of my contempt for the amazing fecklessness and mindboggling political ineptitude that Congressional Democrats have displayed on every issue having to do with Iraq.

However, there is absolutely no chance—and no evidence—that anything more than a tiny minority of understandably angry progressives and other anti-war citizens will view the Iraq catastrophe as anything other than the very ugly bastard child of George Bush and the Republican Party.

From the standpoint of its own political interests, the GOP leadership in Congress would be politically smart to "allow" the Dems to pass the most far-reaching anti-war resolutions and bills possible, because that would give their assertions of Democratic sabotage more traction with the populace at large. As it stands now, if you went out beyond the Beltway and asked one million Americans in all parts of the country, across all demographic groups, whether George Bush and the GOP or the Democrats bear primary responsiblity for the war, the vast majority will pick the former without hesitation.

With each American combat death or serious, life-altering injury, an inexorably-expanding circle of sorrow, anger, and blame radiates out from the affected families to touch friends, co-workers, colleagues, and neighbors. Before anything else, it is this ground-level social phenomenon that explains the dramatic decline in public support for the war and for Bush and the GOP. As long as our troops are dying against the backdrop of a bitter civil war full of shifting alliances and adversaries, there is literally nothing Gen. Petraeus or George Bush can say or do that will stem this decline in American support.

Posted by: bluestatedon on September 11, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

There are no winners. Bush maybe looks like a winner now but he's just doing what he has the power to do. But anyone who supports him will pay the political price in the next elections. War supporters will not be elected or re-elected--they'll be defeated in massive numbers.

Everyone screams about the Democrats losing, but what exactly can they do without a veto-proof majority? The only thing they can do with less than a veto proof majority is vote not to fund the war, but that could be construed by many voters as putting the troops in danger, and the troops are not to blame for the failed policy. So that is not a clear cut victory strategy for the Dems, and that is all they have to use to stop Bush's war now.

Bush's war is being kept alive by the Republican minority in Congress, and as I said, I believe this will cause the Republicans supporting the surge and not voting to end the war to be dumped in record numbers in the 2008 elections. That said, the Dems do have to make their anti-war position very clear by going on record as trying to pass war-ending legislation, even if it's filibustered by Republicans or vetoed by Bush.

The tragedy of this is that many more people will die because of Bush's obstinacy. But it is the depth of that tragedy that will contribute to a massive overthrow of Republicans the next time Americans can express their wishes in an election.

Posted by: Bob C on September 11, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly