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Tilting at Windmills

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September 16, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

ENDING THE WAR....Matt Yglesias suggests that, politically speaking, Democrats aren't really all that anxious to withdraw from Iraq:

Not only are Democrats afraid of taking certain kinds of political risks to end the war, but they see no prospect of a political upside to ending it. There was a fairly overwhelming belief in Washington in mid-to-late November 2006 that Republicans would start moving to end the war in January. It didn't happen, but then came the belief that they would start to abandon ship in September 2007, which also didn't happen. But given that Republicans aren't doing what everyone expected them to do and reducing their political exposure on Iraq by winding the war down, Democrats are disinclined to go out on a limb to do it for them.

That's true, but I'll take it even further. Consider all the political upsides and downsides of a bruising but eventually successful congressional battle to end the war.

Upsides first. From the antiwar left — and let's be honest here — a few congressional leaders who led the fight would get big props, but the rest of the Democratic caucus would get bupkis. Intead, we lefties would probably spend most of our time complaining that they were too late, that they only acted under pressure, that they didn't pull out enough troops, etc. etc. The odds of a genuine political lift are pretty small.

That's pretty much it for political upsides, such as they are. Now for the downsides. War supporters, of course, would go ballistic and start blaming every bad event on the planet on the Defeatocrats who pulled the plug on Iraq and betrayed our men and women in uniform. Squishy centrists, most of whom say we ought to withdraw, would probably be apprehensive about voting for someone who actually went ahead did it. Iraq itself would probably get worse if we pulled out, at least in the short term, and there's an outside chance that it would get way worse. Dems would get all the blame, of course. And finally, Democrats would no longer have the war as an issue to run on in 2008.

But there's more. Not only are there fewer upsides than downsides, but the upsides are vague and fuzzy while the downsides are sharp and terrifying and potentially career-ending. This is the underlying dynamic that will probably keep us in Iraq essentially forever, no matter who we elect president. It's all very discouraging.

Kevin Drum 11:39 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (101)

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Comments

When considering the downside, the words "stab in the back" and "Weimar Republic" should not be far from anyone's mind. I have the impression that the Democratic leadership have indeed taken this precedent to heart, hence their caution.

Posted by: david on September 16, 2007 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget to take the draft into account. The U.S. will soon run out of troops and will have to draft people. I fail to see how the presence of a draft would not change things immensely.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on September 16, 2007 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

The coming economic problems will push Iraq to the sidelines and the GOP will have GWB to lead them to a solution.

Posted by: CarlP on September 16, 2007 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

All of this blithely assumes that the United States can continue with its deficit spending forever and forever and forever....

Posted by: Duncan Kinder on September 16, 2007 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately (or fortunately), (1) the war only costs us $300 per person and (2) most people don't know anyone in the military. Other than in the moral sense, it really does not matter to the country.

Hate to say that, but I think it is true.

Posted by: benny on September 16, 2007 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

That analysis is probably accurate so long as the liberals in this country continue to steadfastly refuse to develop any kind of media savvy.

The GOP bullshit machine is powerful, but mostly only because there's nothing to counteract it from the other side.

Posted by: phleabo on September 16, 2007 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

"potentially career ending" ... this is true when you have each and every congressman seeking to become the longest serving congressman.

Now, if they were actually leaders, they would lead. They would take potentially career ending risks, because that's what leaders do because it's the right thing, and also because they know the flipside to a career ending risk is the Presidential making moment.

And not every congressman seeks perpetual office. I don't understand why the party leaders don't ask retiring members, or members in safe seats to take point and lead the fight.

This is one of my big beefs with Obama and Clinton. I would like to see some leadership.

Posted by: jerry on September 16, 2007 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

I think Kevin's analysis of the time from now to the election is about right; the Dems don't have enough of a majority to do much, nor an incentive to take the risks they'd have to to do this fight.

However, I think this changes once the election happens. Assume a Dem president with a larger Dem congressional majority. The President would know that it would be politically suicidal to keep the current number of troops in for any more election cycles, and so (s)he will start withdrawal.

Once withdrawal starts, the logic is unstoppable. Fewer troops means force protection is more difficult and the range of missions more circumscribed, so at that point we must either put back in the withdrawn troops (politically unthinkable) or get the rest out. Also, it'll be much better for the Dems to do the withdrawal early and have most of the bad consequences be old news by the time the next election cycle ends.

It was utter political insanity for Bush to keep the troops in Iraq in these numbers, and he has paid a massive political price for doing it. Unless the Dem president is as insane as Bush, (s)he will have to bite the bullet and withdraw. And the sooner this happens, the better politically.

As for being frightened of the dolchstosslegend, well, the right will be promulgating it anyway, no matter what the Dems do. It sucks for the Dems, but this is what happens when your society includes a major political party run by and for sociopaths.

Posted by: jimBOB on September 16, 2007 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

the war only costs us $300 per person

I think this is off by a factor of about 20, at least when you take into account long-term costs. Calculated this way, it comes to $24,000 per household of four, which is not chump change.

Posted by: jimBOB on September 17, 2007 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

This is one of those great posts by Kevin on politics that is both smart and honest He is one of the few lefties who combine those virtues.

But perhaps unintentionally, he also acknowledges the basic problem for our country in this Iraq debate -- that the democrats are acting mostly based on political calculation, not based on the best interest of the country.

The Yglesias post, which Kevin agrees with, is even more remarkable. It effectively (perhaps unintentionally) recognizes that republicans have put the country's interest first by not moving to end the war and to dinimish their political exposure, thereby potentially sacrificing their political well being for the sake of the country.

All of this is true. The partisan nature of the Iraq debate (which is mostly the fault of democrats) is bad for the country and probably something the democrats will wind up paying a price for in the future.

Posted by: brian on September 17, 2007 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

The partisan problem on the Iraq war also is something that would have been diminished if the Supreme Court had not torpedoed term limits. Term limited legislators would be much more likely to act solely in the best interest of the country.

Posted by: brian on September 17, 2007 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

My god. Can't any of them imagine the sheer psychological impact of having this burden lifted from our country's shoulders? Even they would sleep a little easier knowing that our troops were home safe and we could attempt to clean up this shitpile that George Bush left for us.

Is that not worth anything to them?

Posted by: scarshapedstar on September 17, 2007 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

A novel consideration. Maybe you are wrong and it would be a bad idea to stop the war right now.

Posted by: John Hansen on September 17, 2007 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

I think this is off by a factor of about 20

That sounds about right. I remember getting a figure of $6000 per person back when I tried calculating it.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on September 17, 2007 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Brian,

Term limits are not the answer. The President of the United States is being term limited out. His plan? Leave it to the next President to solve. I think that is called cutting and running.

Posted by: Tigershark on September 17, 2007 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe you are wrong and it would be a bad idea to stop the war right now.

Fuck you, you warmongering toad. You fuckers with nothing to lose and who know nothing of service make me sick with your endless cheerleading. Shut the hell up.

We have no reason to think we would suddenly be wrong now, when we have been right about the whole damned mess up to now, and you lot have been totally and disastrously wrong about every last thing.

Skulk away in shame, if you have any decency at all.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 17, 2007 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

jimBOB is correct. There is absolutely nothing that the dems can do that won't draw the derision of the thuggies. It must be kept in mind that is the rethug party we are not dealing with people that respect the Constitution; they are people who want an absolute rulers of their party, not any other group.

If one assumes that it is a career killing move to end our occupation of Iraq, then we will be there for ever. If one also realizes that there will be no applause from the radical destroyers (i.e. limbah, insanity, blech, cauldron, etc.) of our society, then the party leadership (ha, ha) should move as quickly as possible. We cannot afford to stay in Iraq for ever and ever. Other nations will begin to pick at us and we will only be able to bomb the world into chaos.

Posted by: BearCountry on September 17, 2007 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

A novel consideration. Maybe you are wrong and it would be a bad idea to stop the war right now.

I'm willing to entertain the idea. Could you provide any justification for it that doesn't involve resorting to scare tactics or national pride?

Posted by: phleabo on September 17, 2007 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

I assume that 'upsides are vague and fuzzy' refers to 'political' upsides.

Otherwise this is an astounding statement. I know he refers to 'poltical upsides' in the earlier part of the blog. But I don'e know if he drops the qualifier on purpose.

Posted by: gregor on September 17, 2007 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

While I see what you are saying, Governor Richardson has staked his entire campaign on a 6-8 month withdrawal plan. If one is against the war, Richardson is the only candidate that doesn't plan on having troops in Iraq beyond his first year in office.

Vote for Bill Richardson and the Democrats will fall in line. Vote for anyone else and we might as well make Iraq the 51st state.

Posted by: Expat Teacher on September 17, 2007 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

The partisan nature of the Iraq debate (which is mostly the fault of democrats) is bad for the country

Tell us something, brian. Do you believe that every last member of the Republican caucus is clinging to Bush's failed war like a demented barnacle because each one of them truly believes the war is just, well considered and worthy of continuation? If so, does that seem like a reasonable belief to you?

Do you believe that even the Republicans who have expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the prosecution and continuation of this war, but continue to support Bush in lockstep, are doing so for principle, and not for reasons of party? What would that non-partisan principle possibly be? I'm eager to hear you describe it.

Posted by: shortstop on September 17, 2007 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

What a sad commentary. I'm with brian on this one.

Not a single politician with the stature and morality to shift the debate to what is right for the country and what is right for the troops.

Death and injury on one side of the scale, political advantage on the other. That's pretty despicable.

I like Tigersharks observation. Of course the preznit is cutting and running from his responsibilities. This would make a particularly sharp and effective point coming from the right Democrat.

Posted by: notthere on September 17, 2007 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think the term limits on a president can be validly compared to terms limits for legislators. A president is so personally responsible for matters that the effect of term limits on him/her is different than what the effect of term limits on legislators would be. It seems to follow the logic of Kevin's post that term limits would diminish much of the self interest political motive he cites.

Posted by: brian on September 17, 2007 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

This appears to me to be a case of endemically weak PR capabilities.

I mean, if the Dems can't find a way to politically pin any bad news from cleaning up the Iraq disaster on those who rushed in so stupidly, they should just give up now. What's the point of chasing political power if you're do afraid of opposition PR that you won't do anything with it?

Ballistic war supporter are marginal lunatics and will always be so. Centrists will listen to the arguments that it's a tough thing but we have to do it. However bad Iraq is or gets, war-loving Republicans will get all the blame for creating it; if it gets better from the absence of occupying infidel troops, Dems can try to claim that.

Posted by: Max Power on September 17, 2007 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl: We have no reason to think we would suddenly be wrong now, when we have been right about the whole damned mess up to now,

Bush and his supporters have been wrong about the Iraqi insurgency, but anti-war folks haven't always been right.

-- Many anti-war folks wrongly claimed we would unable to quickly defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan because of the fierce Afghan winter. In fact, our rapid victory permitted importation of food that averted mass starvation that was estimated to potentially kill hundred of thousands.

-- Many current anti-war folks explicitly asserted that Saddam had WMDs, including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Sen Rockefeller.

-- Many anti-war folks wrongly thought it would be difficult to defeat Saddam due to his huge army, his huge stockpiles of arms, and the hot summer weather.

-- Of the anti-war folks who thought Iraq would go badly, few of them correctly predicted in advance where the problem would come from.

-- Virtually all anti-war folks wrongly believed Anbar was totally lost a year ago.

Yes, Bush and his supporters (including yours truly) deserve criticism for being wrong on some key areas. But, we are not alone in our imperfect evaluations.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 17, 2007 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

Not only are Democrats afraid of taking certain kinds of political risks to end the war, but they see no prospect of a political upside to ending it.

That's right, the war just isn't unpopular enough. That's the reality we're all facing.

I guess it doesn't mean we stop trying but it does effect the contour of our effort.

Posted by: Swan on September 17, 2007 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

It's costing way too much, though, isn't it? Isn't that what's going to get us out of there when we get a Democrat?

Posted by: Swan on September 17, 2007 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

The loathsome warmongering toad at 12:42 - is dead to me.


Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 17, 2007 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

The media is too pro-war to turn this around on the Republicans very easily. The liberal grass-roots don't venture far enough away from the grass itself in this country.

Turning around rhetoric is pretty easy, though. People just get psyched into thinking they can't do it. I've been too preoccupied to be a full-time anti-war-rhetoric thinker-upper, so I didn't pull out a lot of stuff earlier, but for example: the support the troops thing- how easy is that to answer? You just draw the distinction betwee supporting the mission and supporting the troops. You just say, immediately, "No, you are not asking me to support the troops. The troops did not vote on the mission or pick it out themselves. In fact, they have no choice. The mission was chosen for them by other people, a lot of whom are in no way, and never have been, troops."

Saw McCain v. Kerry for a lil bit on Meet The Press today- frat boy McCain was doing this "In my studies of military history, retreat is not a tactic..." thing, and pulling it off just because he was in the military. Easy answer for Kerry should have been, "When a position is militarily untenable, you don't keep forced there. That's a tactic. When the forces are inadeqaute or inappropriate to the mission, you don't keep them there. That's a tactic." Quit letting them scare us with this military history mumbo jumbo. These guys are not sages. If you can understand any sport you can understand military strategy.

Posted by: Swan on September 17, 2007 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

"It effectively (perhaps unintentionally) recognizes that republicans have put the country's interest first ... "

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Posted by: FreakyBeaky on September 17, 2007 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

Now that I've got that out of my system, there's one other downside that must be considered: the guy in charge of any withdrawl before January '09 would be George W. Bush.

Dear god ...

Posted by: FreakyBeaky on September 17, 2007 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK

"Squishy centrists, most of whom say we ought to withdraw, would probably be apprehensive about voting for someone who actually went ahead did it."
-----

I disagree Kevin. I think those "squishy centrists" have been getting quite pissed since early last year with all the blarney coming from the White House. And it certainly hasn't been getting any better lately. Don't forget the recent poll you highlighted where 77% of the public wants us out of Iraq in less than a year and 80% of the Iraqis want us out in less than a year-WTF? The "problem" is risk-averse Democrats that don't need to be.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on September 17, 2007 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

I think this is off by a factor of about 20, at least when you take into account long-term costs. Calculated this way, it comes to $24,000 per household of four, which is not chump change.

About $100 billion a year divided by 300 million Americans is about $333 a year.

It's not really fair to take long-term costs into account when talking about year-to-year costs. After all, we don't normally do that for other government programs, do we? What would the per-person cost of Medicare be if we just divided the long-term cost by the present population?

Posted by: harry on September 17, 2007 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

Don't forget the recent poll you highlighted where 77% of the public wants us out of Iraq in less than a year and 80% of the Iraqis want us out in less than a year-WTF? The "problem" is risk-averse Democrats that don't need to be.

The American public may want us out in less than a year, but they don't want us out crazy bad, and that's what it's going to take. They don't know it and feel it in their bones. They're not confident enough about it.

Posted by: Swan on September 17, 2007 at 1:37 AM | PERMALINK

Shortstop,

You ask if I believe the republicans who support the war are doing it for principle and not for party loyalty.

I don't usually link politicians and principle, but yes, I think for most republicans it is a mix of principle and party. So I think many republicans still support the war based to a significant extent on principle. Now, if they really thought their political future hinged on withdrawing support for the war, I also think most would bail. It is now an acceptable risk for them to act on principle.

As for the dems, I think it is mostly partisan and political motivation (as Kevin suggests). I always have thought the best evidence of political motivation among democrats is the total absence of support (other than Leiberman). It seems impossible that about 300 legislators would all come to the same anti-war conclusion if they were not acting for partisan purposes. To a certain extent, the same thing could be said about the republicans, but there is at least mild dissent within the ranks and in supporting the war they seem to be acting against their best political interests, which is always a sign of princple. Plus, the most vocal anti war dems are such partisans, Pelozi, Ried, Murtha, Kennedy, etc.

Posted by: brian on September 17, 2007 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

harry, try not to be a complete dumbfuck. Do you know the difference between an ongoing program and a one time expenditure? See, the War on Iraq wasn't sold as something that would be killing Americans and Iraqis on the American Taxpayer's dime for the rest of eternity.

Now, slink away in shame, stop posting if you can't come up with something better than the drivel you just posted, and for God's sake stop voting - letting morons like you vote is why we end up with warmongers like George W. "Kick the can down the road so someone else has to clean up my mess" Bush.

Posted by: heavy on September 17, 2007 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

About $100 billion a year divided by 300 million Americans is about $333 a year.

You might have added that "per year" proviso into your first post.

Again, I think you should multiply this by number of household members to get a better idea of the impact. For a four-person household that's over $1300 a year. "We need each family to kick in the price of a 40" LCD every year so that Iraqis can keep trying to kill our troops with IED's" isn't a real winner of a message.

Posted by: jimBOB on September 17, 2007 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

Well, what are we talking about here? the stupid voters really. You and I know pols would be voted out of office if they vote to cut off money to the troops. Voters generally are not honest, stupid, naive and easily swayed by misleading ads. You know the moment democrats vote to cut off money, they would be charged as reckless and against the troops. It already happened this week when Rudi ran ads caling Hillary a traitor for taking the general to tasks.

Democrats want to keep their jobs too. genrally voters are very dumb and very fucking dishonest.

Posted by: bob on September 17, 2007 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans have already lost the war without the Democrats' help, so all of the downside is going to happen anyway.

People are sick of this war. There's not going to be an upside for Dems among casual voters if they end it, but there will be no downside either, since the only people now that believe anything the Republicans say about Iraq are Bush dead-enders.

On the otherhand, if the Dems don't give it a shot, the base will stay home.

Posted by: Boronx on September 17, 2007 at 3:11 AM | PERMALINK

The leaders who fail to do what is in their power to do in stopping this war, those who continue to place politics over principal even as hundreds of thousands die endlessly in our name, for our flag and the treasure it seeks, these leaders deserve a long steady drink from that river of mud and blood.

Posted by: john stephen lewis on September 17, 2007 at 4:34 AM | PERMALINK

Bullshit. If Democrats spoke truth, the American people would support them. Americans are dying (literally), to hear a politician speak the truth. Here are some unpleasant truths that you will not hear from them -

The truth is that Saddam Hussein was a CIA asset in 1958 when the Iraqi monarchy was overthrown and the Reagan Administration, including men such as Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates, continued to support and arm him even as he was gassing the Kurds at Halabja in 1986.

The truth is that if we really were concerned about brutal dictatorships in the Middle East, we would have invaded Saudi Arabia instead of Iraq, since 15 of the 19 9-11 hijackers were from Saudi
Arabia, not Iraq.

The truth is that our occupation of Iraq has created more terrorists, not less.

The truth is that we are not spreading democracy in Iraq because democracy does not grow out of the barrel of a gun.

The truth is that if Iraq descends into chaos after U.S. troops leave, it is not the fault
of Americans who have opposed this war from the beginning. It is the fault of George W. Bush and the people in his Administration who lied us into this unnecessary war in the first place.

The truth is that there is no "return on success" in Iraq, the truth is that this war is a hideous
waste of lives, of taxpayer dollars, and of our standing as a moral nation.

And finally, the truth is that there is no "progress" at all in Iraq. The truth is that the U.S. invasion has created a humanitarian catastrophe of biblical proportions with thousands of innocent dead, at least a million refugees and perhaps another million people internally displaced.

What a pity that we have reached a point in American history where Americans do not and cannot expect to hear any truth from their leaders.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 17, 2007 at 6:38 AM | PERMALINK

"War supporters, of course, would go ballistic and start blaming every bad event on the planet on the Defeatocrats"

Mah nishtanah?

Posted by: david on September 17, 2007 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't the problem with centrists, the ones that would turn on us if we actually DID start the withdrawal successfully the cause of the fact that many leading Democrats were so goddamn spineless as far as actually pushing against the war, or the fact that they keep cowering because of this risk-averse mindset they've let cripple them since forever?

This is self-fulfilling prophecy. They're so risk-averse out of fear of losing that...they become so wimpy as to lose on issues they have all the advantage on.

Posted by: Kryptik on September 17, 2007 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

Yep, Kevin, spot on. The Iraq war and the Bush years are an exercise in complete cynicism and it is all driven by the American electorate which as a whole does not have the time and education to see through the lies. The "weak on nat'l defense" lash the Republicans use on Democrats would not work if the voter did not buy it to it on a deep level. Corruption/moral decay is what is really turning the voter away from repugs NOT the cries of anti-war progressives (I count myself amongst them.) I discovered blogs primarily because I could not find anti-war, anti-Bush voices in MSM that expressed what I understood intuitively. Now watching Hillary run her campaign in at its cynical best, I am realizing that the progressive left has only so much influence in the real world of getting elected and that progressives must represent a fairly small % of the electorate, otherwise Iraq would already be in our rear-view mirror. No political upside indeed.

Posted by: don'tknow on September 17, 2007 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Well, at some point people will just start shooting Presidents. It's not like they're bullet proof, and it's not like people aren't pissed off enough to do it. They'll have it coming too, because the moment they decided not to obey the will of the American people this stopped being a Democracy.

Posted by: Soullite on September 17, 2007 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

"Not only are there fewer upsides than downsides, but the upsides are vague and fuzzy while the downsides are sharp and terrifying and potentially career-ending."

Of course, one of the vague and fuzzy upsides is to have your friends and neighbors, and total strangers, stop you in the street back home and thank you for saving their soldier's life.
We're asking people to risk their lives for a mistake. Is it too much to ask our representatives to risk a contested election?

Posted by: Steve Paradis on September 17, 2007 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

How many people does conventional wisdom condemn?

Posted by: corpus juris on September 17, 2007 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

The upside? The UPSIDE???.

Holy shit. There are people getting killed over there every day. Slaughtered. Maimed. Crippled.

Well, since the political gain isn't obvious and concentrated enough, then let the slaughter continue!

Bush should put a sign on the White House like on McDonalds: "Over 1 million killed!". But, just like the old McDonalds' make the "1 million" part with numbers you can replace like on an old movie marquee.

Posted by: Junius Brutus on September 17, 2007 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

brian opines: It seems impossible that about 300 legislators would all come to the same anti-war conclusion if they were not acting for partisan purposes.

And yet you fail to acknowledge that some Dems have broken ranks to support, with their votes, the continuation of the war. Meanwhile, you have no trouble believing that the Republicans' marching in lockstep to support Bush--note that not one Republican has yet to vote against the pack--is not motivated by partisanship? Oh, wait, you're getting to that:

To a certain extent, the same thing could be said about the republicans, but there is at least mild dissent within the ranks

Right, dissent within the ranks at press conferences, not on the floor. I specifically asked you whether you thought that those who are expressing verbal dissent but still voting with Bush are doing so for reasons other than partisanship. You declined to provide any suggestions as to what those reasons might be.

and in supporting the war they seem to be acting against their best political interests, which is always a sign of princple.

But, brian, you said that supporting withdrawal was against one's political interests. You said Dems will "pay a price" for it. Which is it?

To recap brian's "thesis":

1) Dems, a majority of whom advocate ending this war, are all acting in a partisan manner and thus foolishly putting their political careers at risk.
2) Republicans, every single one of whom has yet to break ranks with Bush, are acting on principle by supporting the war, and bravely doing so at risk to their political careers.

Thanks for laying it out there for us, bri. When you die, can we put you in a little glass case and show you to the schoolchildren? You really are one of the best examples of your kind.

Posted by: shortstop on September 17, 2007 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

you know, I really do try for those Secret Service visitations I keep hearing about, but despite issuing several Fatwas over the years, calling for the assination of half of the world's leaders, and attempting to incite people to rebel against their government, They never come.

What am I doing wrong?

Posted by: Soullite on September 17, 2007 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

well, that should be assassination. But assination sounds a bit more fun, doesn't it?

Posted by: Soullite on September 17, 2007 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

...I'm more than sorry that you have started to doubt the rightness of ending this war. I may only be one voice, but I will not budge a fraction of an inch on demanding we leave Iraq. It was wrong when we went in, it is wrong now and will remain wrong as long as we stay. Regardless of the lies told by the current administration, there is no upside to our staying.

Posted by: Gordon on September 17, 2007 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Guys, let's not confuse "doubting the rightness of ending this war" with believing that doing so right now could have negative political consequences. Kevin is just being Kevin and separating issues of politics and ethics. He is looking at this from a purely political standpoint at this moment, in this post.

I don't happen to think that it's possible or advisable to do that where the war is concerned, and when I read this post my first thought was that he could have saved himself certain grief in the threads (assuming that he's reading them) by adding a stronger disclaimer that for the purpose of this discussion he is, like Yglesias, focusing solely on potential political ramifications. But let's not attribute positions to him that he hasn't taken.

Posted by: shortstop on September 17, 2007 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

This analysis of the political risks and rewards stands up pretty well for the current Congress but not so for the next President, for whom the bar will be much higher. If that President is a Democrat, s/he will be expected to end the war, and do so in a way that averts disaster. If s/he fails to do that, there will probably be electoral hell to pay. Fair? Maybe not. But that's the way our system works -- when it comes to acute foreign policy problems, presidential elections are expected to be dispositive.

Posted by: amiileoj on September 17, 2007 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

I pretty much agree with jimBOB.

I don't get Kevin's despair about there ever being a good political reason to pull out of Iraq. In the face of the extreme unpopularity of the Iraq war, and the political damage it has already wrought on the Republicans, it's absurd to imagine that Democrats, when they have control of the WH, won't pull out of Iraq pretty much pronto, for political reasons if no other.

Look, the real reason Democrats can't pull out of Iraq now for political reasons is because Bush is President, he has both the power to keep the troops in Iraq and the power of veto, and can shape the political decisions so that they are maximally unfavorable to the Democrats when they try to force his hand. None of that will persist when he is finally escorted from office.

And, while it's certainly true that it's not really good politics for the Democrats to try to force Bush's hand before he leaves office, it's also true that they are essentially impotent to do anything anyway, precisely because of the advantages Bush now enjoys. So of what real importance anyway is the question of what's politically good for the Democrats at this time? They have no real effective choices here; why entertain the possibility that they do, and wring our hands over it?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 17, 2007 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin is just being Kevin and separating issues of politics and ethics.

I don't know, I think Kevin is just being normal and obviously addressing only the political ramifications, which is a worthwhile, smart, and commonly-done thing, and only complements the very substantial amounts of policy ("should there be an Iraq war...") discussion available on the blogosphere.

I think this is certainly obvious to the smart readers of this blog, whether or not they post, and to the extent the comments are personal attacks on Kevin for not saying that ending the wat is in itself an upside, they are obviously ridiculous. Anyone who reads this blog has been just about hit over the head with the fact that Kevin thinks ending the war is a good thing every day.

Posted by: Swan on September 17, 2007 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Kevin, for saying what some of us have been saying for quite some time (and have been catching serious grief for saying).

And I think there's no question that the Democratic leadership has come to exactly the same conclusions. They'll occasionally say things to keep antiwar supporters happy, but they'll never DO anything that will have much of an effect on the course of the war. A few will try to have their cake and eat it too, e.g., by calling loudly for a pullout when they know there's no chance one will be enacted. But the Democrats aren't going to do a thing to pull this albatross off the Republicans' necks.

The interesting question, of course, is what happens AFTER the 2008 elections? Because then the Democrats will be in control, and they'll HAVE to deal with the war. That won't be a very happy task -- especially for a Democratic president.

Funny how this is dividing Congressional delegations from presidents. The Congressional Republicans and the Democratic presidential candidates probably would prefer that the war went away. Congressional Dems and the Republican president are perfectly happy for it to stay around.

(And yes, this is all very cynical and amoral. Such is politics in the Court of Versailles.)

Posted by: bleh on September 17, 2007 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Because then the Democrats will be in control, and they'll HAVE to deal with the war. That won't be a very happy task -- especially for a Democratic president.

I just don't get this. The war is massively unpopular. "Staying the course" has thrown the Republicans out of power in both houses of Congress.

Why do people really think that essentially removing ourselves from Iraq is going to prove a very risky political move for Democrats?

That idea is a pile of toxic crap, as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 17, 2007 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

I have heard so many dems, e.g., loud mouth Murtha and know it all Kerry, say that once we are out, the Iraqis will work things out and that our presence is a detriment to peace there. It is ludicrous that such political "leaders" can even say that with a straight face, but since that essentially is the position of dems, why would they be concerned about the consequences of pull out?

Posted by: brian on September 17, 2007 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

True, but for the sake of the poor troops (Kevin - ?) at least, we should support Webb's plan or similar to reduce tour times versus rest times, etc. The military will get really broken anyway if we don't, aside from political dynamic in and about Iraq, the "Mess o' potamia."

Hey - what do you folks think of Greenspin saying the war was about oil? Admin. apologists already say, sure, we had to protect the oil, what's wrong with that?

Posted by: Neil B. on September 17, 2007 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

You seem to miss one very, very important little consideration. The next President inherits this mess. If pulling out is bad, what's it going to be like when a Democratic President and Congress pulls out -- or worse, STAYS.

Posted by: memekiller on September 17, 2007 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

brian - No, the Dems in general are not very sure that our pulling out would let the Iraqis work things out. We are aware, maybe they would or maybe not. All possible choices here are bad choices, it's just a matter of what's worse and what's sustainable. Thanks to your presumptive hero GWB.

Posted by: Neil B. on September 17, 2007 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

The truth is that if Iraq descends into chaos after U.S. troops leave, it is not the fault
of Americans who have opposed this war from the beginning. It is the fault of George W. Bush and the people in his Administration who lied us into this unnecessary war in the first place.

- sayeth the Conservative Deflator

Yes, that is basically true, but how many Americans will believe it is? We can hope, most, but politicians (especially Republicans) have done very well in the past not underestimating the stupidity and emotional manipulability of masses of US voters. Hence, the stab-in-the-back worries.

Posted by: Neil B. on September 17, 2007 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
You forgot one thing. New Presidents are allowed to make bold actions upon election. Any new President has a two month window from Jan 25 2009 to say, you know what we are out of Iraq in 12 months.

Brain.
You give gullability a bad name. If you honestly believe that the republicans are molding their Iraq policy for 'what's best for america' I have a bridge to sell you. It's all about Bush not wanting to 'lose' under his watch. It is all ego.

Posted by: Northern Observer on September 17, 2007 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2007/09/the-irrational-.html

Sunk cost!

Posted by: reason on September 17, 2007 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

I can't believe the amount of desperate rationalizing for Democratic cowardice (and political stupidity) on this thread. Yes, by all means endorse the war by funding it and wait until you have a Democratic Congress and White House to begin actually applying the brakes. That way the Democrats can entirely own the undoubtedly unpleasant redeployment when it comes. Avoiding ownership of the "helicopters on the rooftop" photo op is going to be a quite compelling motivation after this election, don't you think? The political "logic" that keeps Democratic heads down now (and resulted in the rollover on the Iraqi supplemental and the FISA amendment) will be no less powerful in 2009 after a presumably Democratic President takes office, and will be no less powerful in 2010, another election year, or 2011, when yet another Presidential campaign will be heating up. Better to have had this fight back in February, when there was some chance of reframing the argument and winning a war of attrition against Mr. 28%. Better to have it even now, rather than later. Better to have it all, rather than never, but I am not planning on holding my breath.

Posted by: Jeff in Texas on September 17, 2007 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Are we fighting for democracy in Iraq - or are we burtally fighting for "our vital national interest"?

The Blackwater fall out.

However, it's unclear how the Interior Ministry would expel Blackwater. Unlike other private U.S. security firms in Iraq, as of May, Blackwater hadn't registered with the Iraqi government to operate in Iraq. The Coalition Provisional Authority -- the now-defunct occupational government -- issued a decree in 2004 (pdf) immunizing security contractors from Iraqi prosecution and placing their operations under the jurisdiction of U.S. authorities.

In Congressional testimony last week, Ambassador Ryan Crocker praised private security firms working in Iraq. He is unlikely to allow the Interior Ministry to expel Blackwater without a fight:

Somebody needs to tell Karen Hughes that Osama's poll numbers in the Mideast must be WAY higher than Bush's poll numbers here in the US. Because it's stuff like this that definds the word infidel to people.

Holding Iraqi citizens hostage to brutal acts by bands of private mercenaries isn't bring democracy to the Iraqi people no matter how our government tries to spin it.

Posted by: Me_again on September 17, 2007 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

This is the underlying dynamic that will probably keep us in Iraq essentially forever, no matter who we elect president. It's all very discouraging.

—Kevin Drum

Yes, but what exactly is the "underlying dynamic" you're referring to? Is it a fundamental failure of our system of government?

I don't think so. I submit that it is the belief of our leaders that you can -- no must! -- win elections by subordinating even doing what is right strategically and morally to short term political calculations. It is an "underlying dynamic" OF OUR OWN MAKING. If the fear of losing a righteous argument politically keeps us from waging and acting on the argument in the first place, ALL issues are effectively "off the table."

Remember, this all started with a political calculation on the part of our so-called leaders that they couldn't vote against a strategically and morally bankrupt war to begin with. That was the "original sin" here. Had HRC voted against the war, these so-called "political calculations" would be very different.

The hope was that Obama -- without the "original sin" of having voted for the war -- could discard these "political calculations" and promise to do what was right -- even if it turned out to be unsuccessful politically. Had he done so, he may have lost the nomination or election, but he would be a hero to 2/3 of Americans.

So I agree with you about an "underlying dynamic" making things "very discouraging." But it ain't going to change until we stop basing our actions on "political calculations."

Posted by: Econobuzz on September 17, 2007 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

loud mouth Murtha and know it all Kerry

Careful, brian -- your faux-reasonable mask is slipping. And over an opportunity to insult Murtha again...it's interesting how someone whose job it seems to be to promote the GIOP's myth of competence on defense is so quick to insult American veterans with distinguished service records, while conspicuously refusing to put his own skin on the line for his Party's bloody policies.

As for "ex-liberal," we understand you're here to post in bad faith, but your 12:42 am must have given you a special, sick thrill. Why the moderator(s) tolerate your bullshit is a mystery.

Posted by: Gregory on September 17, 2007 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

If the alternative is no troop withdrawals until January 21st, 2009 then I'm willing to compromise a bit and call for anything anything which will get some of them home now.

Bill Richardson is great, but he might be calling for perfection when we need some good done now.

"Don't let perfection be the enemy of the good."

Posted by: MarkH on September 17, 2007 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Good morning, fellow Political Animals. Sorry to join you and immediately go off-topic and start blogwhoring, but this is kind-of a big deal...The Iraqi Interior Ministry has revoked Blackwaters license to operate in the country after a firefight yesterday that killed eight civilians.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 17, 2007 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP bullshit machine is powerful, but mostly only because there's nothing to counteract it from the other side.

Incorrect. The GOP bullshit machine is powerful because corporate media favors it.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on September 17, 2007 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Kevin: Because there is so much downside for pulling out that could tarnish Democrats, Democrats should wait until they have the Oval Office and Congress before they pullout.

Posted by: Memekiller on September 17, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

In my view, the political work of the Democrats in Congress and the Democratic presidential candidates is to lay the political foundation for a withdrawal after the election.

They need to hammer on a few points:

1. Iraq is a mess created by Bush, who has refused to clean up after himself. Mocking "Mission Accomplished, and Stay the Course" are pretty effective here, as well as getting him to veto benchmarks and timetables.

2. There is nothing to be gained by staying in Iraq that is worth what it's costing us. This is a little tougher, but the crude message is that $1300/year for a family of four isn't worth it.

3. This isn't just our problem to solve. The Iraqi's have the most at stake, and the regional powers have a strong interest too. Maybe they should shoulder more of the burden. Look at the Phillipines. When the people take to the street and cover the tanks with flowers, they will get the democracy they want.

A new face in the White House opens up a lot of diplomatic options that aren't possible with Bush, because he's so despised internationally. I don't know that the candidates can talk about this beforehand. But imagine Bill Clinton as Secretary of State, tasked with getting a UN peacekeeping mission to Iraq, with troops from regional powers, INCLUDING Iran providing security for the Iraqi government.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on September 17, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

One sees a lot of commentary, including upthread here, that "the war is massively unpopular," and therefore that there won't be much political cost to the Democrats for trying to end it.

This is myopic and dangerous.

The war is unpopular NOW because people are seeing some (and only some) of its terrible effects, both on Iraq and on America. And surely it would be even more unpopular if people saw its full effects.

But, when a pullout occurs, there will also be terrible effects -- more terrible, in fact, albeit shorter-lived. And people will see that (as much of it as the GOP machine can arrange), and abhor it, and then the pullout will be unpopular.

The public, in other words, is fickle. Any politician who takes potentially career-ending risks by trusting the public to hold on to an opinion almost certainly WILL have that career ended, and fast.

Posted by: bleh on September 17, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

To me the question of who was right and who was wong in the past is immaterial except to give some guidance. As is always the case, plenty of mistakes have been made. The real question to answer is what should we do now?

I don't understand the certainty of many commenters that it is the right thing to pull out our troops.

U.S. casualties are very low for a war. ( Compare the numbers in Iraq to any former wars. ) So the U.S. casualties although a real palpable tragedy on the personal level, are not at a level where they are the deciding factor.

Spending on the Iraq war is not busting the budget to the extent that a more concentrated effort would, so the economy of the U.S. can not be the deciding factor.

As to the deaths of Iraqi civilians, no one in their right mind can be certain as to whether pulling out the troops would have more or less impact on civilian deaths. However, past experience ( Korea, VietNam ), and interviews I have read with Iraqi soldiers and citizenry would indicate that fewer civilian deaths will come by the U.S. maintaining its presence.

So I can only conclude that the iron clad certainty that the U.S. should pull out as soon as possible, comes from the sort of naíve view of the world prevalent among knee jerk liberals. Please do not just respond to this with the typical "what a warmonger" or "war is not the answer" rhetoric. Such responses are immature and come from minds unable to think in a nuanced manner.

There are times when it is correct to fight. I urge you to consider that for the good of the Iraqi people and the U.S. people and the people of the world as a whole, this might be one of them. If enough of you will abandon your non-well thought out "war is always wrong" viewpoints long enough for America to capitalize on the momentum from finally finding the right General ( Patraeus ) for the job, maybe we can achieve victory here.
JH

Posted by: John Hansen on September 17, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

***

Posted by: mhr on September 17, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

In other words, Kevin believes that Democrats won't end the war, even though it is morally the right thing to do and in the best interest of America, because they are afraid of being criticized by their politcal opponents and also afraid that they might lose the next election. If Kevin is correct, then the Democrats don't deserve our support.

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on September 17, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

mhr: "Years ago President Kennedy wrote Profiles in Courage, about politicians who took great risks. No Democrat alive with the possible exception of Lieberman could make it into Kennedy's book. President Bush belongs in chapter one."

Yes. Two of the biggest advocates for wars of aggression -- one of whom received two deferments for the Vietnam War, while the other went MIA during his assignment to the battle scarred Gulf coast -- most certainly cut courageous profiles. It's no wonder you, who never served a day in your life, admire them so. Tool.

Posted by: junebug on September 17, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK


hansen: naíve view of the world...

62% of respondents say the Iraq war was not worth fighting. - Wash. post/ABC News 9/7/07

Posted by: mr. irony on September 17, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Would

1) yammering four-and-a-half years after the war started about a still undefined, still unspecified "victory"
2) pretending war expenditures have been "budgeted," and
3) unquestioningly accepting the White House-generated Petraeus report's claims of "momentum," which contradict every other report

be examples of the mature and nuanced thinking you advocate, John?

Posted by: shortstop on September 17, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

There are times when it is correct to fight. I urge you to consider that for the good of the Iraqi people and the U.S. people and the people of the world as a whole, this might be one of them. If enough of you will abandon your non-well thought out "war is always wrong" viewpoints long enough for America to capitalize on the momentum from finally finding the right General ( Patraeus ) for the job, maybe we can achieve victory here.

I have no civility left for idiots mouthing such pablum.

First of all, I have never said "war is always wrong" but I have said this war has always been wrong and there is no way to make it just. It simply can not be done. And frankly, debate against your particular brand of magical thinking is impossible. That you cling to the notion that "victory" is possible for the US to achieve in another countries civil war erases any remnant of credibility you might have mistakenly thought you held.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 17, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

It is ludicrous that such political "leaders" can even say that with a straight face, but since that essentially is the position of dems, why would they be concerned about the consequences of pull out? - Brian, please find for me a bill in Congress that calls for all U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. Compare that to the number of bills in Congress that would leave some U.S. troops. Not rhetoric, actual pieces of legislation. We dems know there are perfectly good reasons to have limited numbers of troops in Iraq. Any reasons that include "a unified Iraq," however, were devised under the influence of some obviously good illegal drugs. At this point, any unified Iraq will come under a US-backed Sunni strongman. Damn, that sounds familiar. We went to war in Iraq, why, exactly?

John Hansen, I will ask you the same question I ask all war supporters: What is victory in Iraq this week?

Posted by: Lynn on September 17, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Bush denies possibility of 'victory' in Iraq

If the public has hugely come on board that 'victory' in Iraq is ephemeral or bullshit as it were, then the Bush Propaganda Commissariat has rightly jettisoned the phrase for the new word 'success.'
That in itself is newsworthy.
GOP jettisons concept of victory.

Labels: Bush, cognitorex, criminal incompetence, Iraq victory comes a cropper

Posted by: cognitorex on September 17, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

The American people will be unable to politically save American soldiers and the people of Iraq from more occupation violence. It is up to both the soldiers and Iraqis to educate America's commanders about the consequences of an unjust, illegal invasion and occupation.

Posted by: Brojo on September 17, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

...The Iraqi Interior Ministry has revoked Blackwaters license to operate in the country

Now wait, does this count as "progress" in Iraq? I would argue it does.

Posted by: ckelly on September 17, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

If enough of you will abandon your non-well thought out "war is always wrong" viewpoints

Bzzzzt - strawman.
Though, I'm still waiting for Bush to abandon his none-too-well-thought-out war.

Posted by: ckelly on September 17, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

To me the question of who was right and who was wong in the past is immaterial except to give some guidance.

Yeah, John it guides us as to who has credibility and who doesn't. War hawks like you, who are and remain wrong -- and are so fucking blithe about their wrongness despite the tens of thousands of lives it's shatttered -- don't. Capische?

Posted by: Gregory on September 17, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

There are times when it is correct to fight. I urge you to consider that for the good of the Iraqi people and the U.S. people and the people of the world as a whole, this might be one of them.

Screeds like this would be a little more convincing if you and your warmongering ilk would put their money where their mouths are and join up yourselves.

Posted by: Gregory on September 17, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

The whole purpose of the Iraq Study Group was to bail out the Republican party. That's why Baker insisted that it's implementation had to have unamimous support. So the Democrats couldn't later sayy the Republicans lost Iraq. What the Democrats should do is ask Baker to update the ISG recommendations, since two years will have passed, and as previously push for unamimous congressional approval. The candidates need to start talking about broad bipartisan legislation to end the war. Force each candidate to state, ahead of time where they will stand. If it's true that 77% of the American people want to end the war they can vote for candidates accordingly.

Posted by: David on September 17, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Are you really suggesting the Dems should wait till after the election to do anything because of the political risks?

Any elected official who would continue with a war rather than ending it because they are afraid of what the right wing will say should just quit right now.There is something to be said for doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Turns out that people respect you when you do that.

Posted by: ATLLIBERAL on September 17, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Does Experience Matter? (Clinton and JFK didn't think so)

This Video Is Showing That Obama can be president because two fmr presidents were
where he is right now, history proves experience makes an either worse president( nixon, bush, vp dick cheney, defense sec.rumsfeld)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBy3AKn_2Fk

Posted by: kyle on September 17, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

And finally, Democrats would no longer have the war as an issue to run on in 2008.

What? No. It can't be! One would almost think that Dems are (whisper the ugly word) - politicians.

Power comes first for all of them.

Posted by: Brian on September 17, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

What is victory in Iraq this week?

Bush had the best answer - "Success in Iraq is not no car bombs!"

Posted by: Ferruge on September 17, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

"If the standard of success is no car bombings or suicide bombings, we have just handed those who commit suicide bombings a huge victory." - GWB 4/24/07


see gwb's logic?

hoping for no explosions..plays into terrorists hands

how many are convinced by that argument?

hansen?

that's two...

Posted by: mr. irony on September 17, 2007 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

You probably won't see this but:
The republicans have seen the light ...and it's shining from 2012. Bush knows his party doesn't stand a chance in '08 after the horror of his administration and the current field of GOP hopefuls being such a joke...that the dems will win by default. But the republicans know that if they can help Bush push 'his' war off on the dems then they can blame the dems for all the problems associated with straightening out Bush's mess...giving them a chance to win back the WH in 2012.
Dems claim this is Bush's war but will do nothing to make him deal with ending it and their cowardice will come back to haunt them in 2012. It will sound like, "You had a chance to end it when Bush was in office but you were too afraid to do it and now that you have the WH you see you don't know how to and are just making everything worse...Bush was right all along wasn't he?"

Should have defunded it...should have impeached...should have listened to your supporters. Now nobody likes or respects you because you lost your integrity by not doing these things.

Posted by: bjobotts on September 17, 2007 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

War supporters, of course, would go ballistic and start blaming every bad event on the planet on the Defeatocrats who pulled the plug on Iraq and betrayed our men and women in uniform.

If a Democratic President is elected in 2009, this would happen even if we increased troops in 2009. Dems are going to be labeled as Defeatocrats by the war-right (and the anti-war right as soon as the election is over) no matter what happens.

Posted by: Fred F. on September 17, 2007 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Once withdrawal starts, the logic is unstoppable. Fewer troops means force protection is more difficult and the range of missions more circumscribed, so at that point we must either put back in the withdrawn troops (politically unthinkable) or get the rest out. Also, it'll be much better for the Dems to do the withdrawal early and have most of the bad consequences be old news by the time the next election cycle ends."

jimBOB's post is one of the best posts I've ever read on a thread. Not just a regurtation of trendy thinking.

Posted by: tomtom on September 18, 2007 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

But, but, Kevin, they MUST do it because it is the RIGHT thing to do and politics be damned!

Yes, we will still criticize them and yes they will still lose the majority and the presidency, but WHO CARES as long as we do the RIGHT thing (as we believe the right thing to be).

NO COMPROMISE. EVER. IDEOLOGICAL PURITY FOREVER!

Posted by: Naderite on September 18, 2007 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

No other upsides?

I would consider every soldier NOT killed or mutilated in this illegal war an upside. Every civilian NOT murdered in the name of political cowardice might be an upside. Billions of dollars spent daily on this abomination redirected to Worthy goals would be an upside.

A few pols won't get their asses kissed for doing what they were elected to do and this is a good reason to do NOTHING?!? To hell with that!

Posted by: Eric Paulsen on September 18, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

ylxksav fqhbtank esypoz sljdqguyv dpkbg tsqv nmkjoywc wacheguib bfnjkuoe

Posted by: zyjs tpki on January 13, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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