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Tilting at Windmills

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September 27, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

WITHDRAWAL....Why were all three of the leading Dem candidates at last night's debate unwilling to promise a full withdrawal from Iraq by 2013? James Joyner takes a guess:

There's no doubt that the major candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination are reluctant to give a firm commitment on withdrawing troops from Iraq. The reason, I suspect, is that there's a vast difference in running for president and running for Congress. Those with a plausible chance of being elected Commander in Chief have much less luxury to be glib and reactionary in their foreign policy pronouncements, since they would actually have to execute those policies upon taking office.

I don't think this holds water. Candidates make promises all the time and then break them. And this one is even easier to break than most: there are certain to be dozens of events over the next four years that will provide a president with a perfectly plausible excuse to stay in Iraq even if he or she had promised otherwise during the campaign.

I think the problem is simpler: the major Dems aren't promising to get out of Iraq because they don't think it's a winning position. Even in the Democratic primaries, they don't think it's a winning position.

Why? Perhaps they've decided that the median Democratic voter isn't really as hellbent on total withdrawal as the median liberal blogger. Perhaps they think that a promise to begin withdrawing is good enough for most people. Perhaps they think that a firm promise to withdraw runs the risk of hurting them in the general election — and anything that even remotely looks like a flip-flop would hurt them even more. Perhaps they're scared of elite Beltway opinion. Perhaps they genuinely believe that we need to keep some troops in Iraq.

But whatever it is, they've all apparently decided that taking a fuzzy withdrawal position isn't going to hurt them too badly. They don't think advocates of total withdrawal are going to punish them enough at the polls to make a bolder position necessary. Time will tell if they're right.

Kevin Drum 12:44 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (88)

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Comments

They are not promising to get out of Iraq for a simple reason - oil. The sooner someone says the truth: the economy can't run without it and we are years from transitioning to alternative fuels, the sooner everyone will shut and accept what needs to be done.

Posted by: aline on September 27, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure I agree.

The kind of very specific hypothetical questions candidates often get asked during debates are generally best unanswered. I see this one as similar to the question about whether we'd support Israel if Israel attacked an Iranian nuclear facility.

Yes, we need to get out of Iraq. But asking if there will be any US troops in Iraq in 2013 is a ridiculous question. Suppose Russia invades Iraq? Or aliens attack? Or Iraq is hit by a major earthquake? And what about having 100 or so Marines to guard our embassy there? It was a poorly phrased question and was an effort on Russert's part to play gotcha.

Posted by: Rob Mac on September 27, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Rob Mac: This isn't really a hypothetical. It's a straightforward policy question, and it's been a staple of the campaign. All of the candidates have had months and months to think about it, and the Big Three have all decided that total withdrawal isn't a winning position. I'm not quite sure why, but there's no reason they couldn't take a firmer stand if they wanted to.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on September 27, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

you left out: "Perhaps they're pussies."

I can't think of any other reason.

Posted by: craigie on September 27, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

It may have been asked before but that doesn't mean that it's wise to answer it. Nobody knows what's going to happen in the future.

Posted by: Renwick on September 27, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

It's a losing position in the *general* election.

They've calculated that they do not need to be for total withdrawal for the primaries, and that a total withdrawal position opens them up to charges of weakness from the right in the general.

Posted by: Greg Abbott on September 27, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK
Why were all three of the leading Dem candidates at last night's debate unwilling to promise a full withdrawal from Iraq by 2013?

For three different reasons; while that was a question designed to produce a particular line of challenge dividing major candidates from the left of the base, its really a senseless blurring of the lines to lump their positions together.

Edwards envisioned a complete withdrawal in a much shorter time but for regular embassy guards and possibly security forces for humanitarian operations, maybe a brigade total by his own statement.

Obama envisioned a large scale withdrawal, but permanent US bases with US forces defending them as well as securing the embassy, with no estimate of the size of forces that would be involved.

Clinton envisioned substantial forces remaining for the same purposes as Obama saw, as well as continuing active offensive operations, though these would be labelled "counterterrorism" operations and thus somehow be distinct from the offensive operations of the current war.

These positions aren't remotely similar; there is no reason to follow a big media script that blurs the distinctions to satisfy a pre-written narrative.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 27, 2007 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

I think the problem is simpler: the major Dems aren't promising to get out of Iraq because they don't think it's a winning position.

I think you're right Kevin, and I think I know the reason why they think so. What if a terrorist attack occurred between now and the Presidential election? Then we would know the Democrats policy of calling for total withdrawal from Iraq is a failure because it has resulted in America being attacked by the terrorists. This would result in a catastrophic defeat for the Democrats in the 2008 election when the American people vote for change.
It's certainly better for the Democrats to be better safe than sorry by opening up a huge window allowing a devastating attack from the right by the Republicans.

Posted by: Al on September 27, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK
This isn't really a hypothetical.

True, its not a hypothetical, its an infinite number of them rolled into one question. It asks the candidate to pledge that no matter what unforseen circumstance occurs, no US troops will remain in Iraq in any capacity in mid-January, 2013. Or, looked at a different way, it asks for every possible hypothetical situation, will the candidates response not involve keeping US forces in Iraq.

Further, its a question designed to lump together all possible positions on the war into two camps and obscure major substantive differences between the candidates. Now, it wouldn't be so bad if people reported on what the candidates actually said beyond "Yes" or "No", but the simplistic pre-written narrative that MSNBC was pushing, and with which you are cooperating, is an insult to the intelligence of MSNBC's audience, and your readers.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 27, 2007 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

I understand that some people have concluded that there is absolutely no chance things will chaange over the next year and a half to warrant anything but a policy of immediate withdraw.

I certainly do not think its likely but the world will be a different place a year and half from now and it may not be a place where an immediate withdraw is the best option for the United States.

Posted by: Catch22 on September 27, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

merle haggard, regarding:

"they would actually have to execute those policies upon taking office"

"When a President goes through the White House door,
An' does what he says he'll do.
We'll all be drinkin' free bubble-ubb,
And eatin' that rainbow stew."

Posted by: joanie abalone on September 27, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention that BushCo has 15 more months to screw with Iraq and possibly several other ME countries. Who knows what the next President will be faced with when they finally take office: The great Mideast War? WWIV? Armageddon? I wouldn't want to lock myself into a position at this point either.

Posted by: Shivas on September 27, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK


You know, I don't think it's a winning position unless all the well-funded candidates espouse it, and I don't believe they're thinking of possible future reasons to stay.

Posted by: gcochran on September 27, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps they've decided that the median Democratic voter isn't really as hellbent on total withdrawal as the median liberal blogger.

I think you're right on that one. Also, they know that if they come out for total withdrawal by a given date they'll get lumped in with Kucinich and most of the media will follow Fox's lead on the Defeatocrat theme. Who needs all that noise?

Posted by: tomeck on September 27, 2007 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

What??

Edwards said that we will have all troops out immediately, save for a small contingent to guard the embassy. I should hope that counts. Otherwise we should all stop asking where people get the notion that Democrats want a "quick and reckless" or "precipitous" withdrawl.

Posted by: bubba on September 27, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin and this post dovetails with his earlier one about polls not taking into account how soft and ambiguous the American people feel about withdrawing from Iraq. Sadly, for politicians there is no % in advocating immediate withdrawal. That kind of talk plays great on lefty blogs but not in the real world amongst those who will actually vote them into office. Until the American electorate becomes sophisticated enough to reject what Repugs are selling regarding Iraq war=war on terror, Democrats correctly fear being painted weak on nat'l security. It is masterful framing on part of Repugs and many, many voters actually believe it or are confused enough to have not figured out another way to think of it.

Posted by: don'tknow on September 27, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Why? Perhaps they've decided that the median Democratic voter isn't really as hellbent on total withdrawal as the median liberal blogger.

You got that right! The median liberal blogger is a foul-mouthed, vituperative hate purveyor that confuses simple issues and has no relevant life experience.

I've built and destroyed companies, sometimes at the same time. I've worked in finance, worked in business, and made Capitalism my religion. I've owned over forty cars. I've owned seven boats. I've lost two houses to divorce and one to a fire, thanks to my son Chipper. I have travelled the world, spent money on fine things, and enjoyed the company of fine women. I have beaten other men senseless and been knocked around a few times myself. I have broken bones, shaved my head, and flushed my socks down the toilet whenever it pleased me. I have a thing called *life experience*.

The median liberal blogger has a photogenic cat and a problem with gadgets and toys.

Sensible, sober Democrats know--we cannot leave our allies in Iraq to the wolves. You remember the wolves, don't you? Or do wolves cease to exist in the 9/10 mentality of starry-eyed liberals?

Posted by: Norman Rogers on September 27, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Bush has very effectively painted firm timetables as irresponsible. As soon as you set a date, you open yourself up to accusation of going to slow or too fast. So, better to say "get out" and let every voter determine for themselves when that is - hopefully, by coloring this conjecture with their own timetables.

Posted by: Memekiller on September 27, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK


The idea of leaving five thousand troops to guard the embassy is downright suicidal. And since we can always make a phone call anyhow, why the hell is that embassy so important?

Think it through.

Posted by: gcochran on September 27, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

The reason they won't commit to pulling all troops out by a date certain is as simple as "read my lips, no new taxes." All the crap about a President being able to find an excuse to stay doesn't change the reality that a commitment made and broken is deadly in Presidential politics no matter how much the situation has changed. If you don't believe me ask George W.H. Bush.

Who ever is elected in 2008 wants to be re-elected.

Posted by: corpus juris on September 27, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Perhaps they're scared of elite Beltway opinion."

BINGO

Apparently, we are not going to see a real debate over whether it makes sense to leave residual forces in Iraq.

My own view is that it is incredibly stupid, though I understand its appeal to the establishment class for a number of reasons some with merit and most a product of psychological comitments rather than more nefarious motives.

While we won't see this debate in politics, I still would like someone to present a persuasive, compelling cost/benefits analysis of why it would
be a good idea so we can have a debate. How will residual forces really contribute to Iraqi security and stability, much less serve the national interests of the United States.

Posted by: benbrackley@hotmail.com on September 27, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Those with a plausible chance of being elected Commander in Chief have much less luxury to be glib and reactionary in their foreign policy pronouncements, since they would actually have to execute those policies upon taking office.

Why? Being glib and reactionary certainly seems to be George Bush's approach, and he's already the Commander-in-Chief.

A recurring annoyance, by the way: the candidates are not running to be "elected Commander-in-Chief," they are running for President. The President is not C-in-C of the American people, but only of the US military.

Posted by: Stefan on September 27, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

I certainly do not think its likely but the world will be a different place a year and half from now and it may not be a place where an immediate withdraw is the best option for the United States.

What if the world is a different place a year and a half from now so that our continued presence in Iraq is the worst option for the United States? In that case, of course, you'd want an immediate withdrawal.

Posted by: Stefan on September 27, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

The median liberal blogger is a foul-mouthed, vituperative...

And proudly so! Not only that, my blog is rated NC-17, and I have a "Good Blogkeepign Incivility" badge too - some of the double-digit Publican I.Q.'s only understand a baseball bat to their kneecaps. I am angry enough about the last seven years to oblige.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 27, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Or maybe the simplest answer is that it's turning out that leaving Iraq isn't going to be the right thing to do.

The "leave a few troops" crap is a certain recipe for a repeat of Blackhawk Down. Or worse.

Sorry, netroots. The bus is pulling off without you. Hillary has a lot of sources of money besides Soros and the like (what's HE going to do now?) and a lot more voters in the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

The far Left isn't going to take this lying down. Again I predict: Denver 2008 = Chicago 1968. Wait for it.

P.S. The sooner somebody tases Norman, the better.

Posted by: harry on September 27, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

The idea of leaving five thousand troops to guard the embassy is downright suicidal. And since we can always make a phone call anyhow, why the hell is that embassy so important?

Can't anyone play this game? Did you get hit on the head with a bucket of stupid today?

The US Embassy complex in Baghdad is situated in the middle of a *war zone* people. It is a high value target. It consists of not just *one* building, but many buildings and recreation areas, not to mention barracks and support facilities. This is to ensure that we provide maximum support to our allies and comprehensive support to American interests in Iraq. This is not a three story apartment building in Funkytown, Rathole Foreign Country. This is the biggest embassy we have in the world. We must secure the battle space, provide interlocking fire to control all avenues of approach, and maintain the tactical initiative if we are attacked.

That means a *combat brigade* and their equipment MUST secure our interests. Lest you think this is a bluff, remember what happened in Tehran in 1979. That will not happen again. Our troops *will NOT* allow unshaven students to parade our embassy personnel around with blindfolds on their heads. Hence, the water barriers, Claymore mines, and the punji stick pits on the vulnerable north side of the complex.

Simpering idiots abound, apparently.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on September 27, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

I was wondering the same thing as Kevin. The answers given at the beginning of the debate were pathetic, especially Obama's (but Clinton's and Edwards' too). The top tier candidates are forcing me to vote for Kucinich or just sit the election out.

We are spending one American life and one billion American dollars each day in order to destroy a nation and increase hatred towards us. If a candidate is not committed to ending this monstrosity, then s/he is not a leader.

If a terrorist attack on America does happen between now and the election, it will not be because a Presidential candidate talked about leaving Iraq, so the idea that it would get blamed on a candidate by anybody other than Limbaugh, Hannity, and Al is silly.

Posted by: reino on September 27, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Random thought provoked by this debate: let's "redeploy" our 160,000 troops to Israel.

Seriously: why are we playing all these bankshots in the Middle East? If Saddam was a menace to Israel; if Ahmadinejad is a menace to Israel; if the neocons won't shut up about threats to Israel; if defending Israel is a cornerstone of our foreign policy; why don't we just plant our goddam army in Israel?

Nobody would dare invade the place, or nuke it for that matter, if we had 160,000 soldiers stationed there. Halliburton could keep the catering contract, for all I care. Israel would be as secure as military force can ever make it, and we would not be taking 100 KIA per month just to keep Joe Lieberman happy.

-- TP

Posted by: Tony P. on September 27, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Again I predict: Denver 2008 = Chicago 1968. Wait for it.

Ha ha hee hee ho ho (knee slap!)

How'd that work out for you, Defeatocrats? Filthy hippies being clubbed by police, on national television is what it got you! And because of Chicago, you lost 5 of the next 6 elections!

Put yourself in for a gold star for *brilliant* ideas for that one, butt-head. And don't forget to give Beavis your car keys.

P.S. The sooner somebody tases Norman, the better.

I cannot be "tazed" or have a "Taser" used against me. I have a pacemaker, and if someone Tazes me Bro, I will die and you will rot in Federal Prison. They will put you down with the Sodomites if you kill me, *Bro.*

And you wonder why I think you're a moron.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on September 27, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of white elephants. Norman, why the hell did we build "the biggest embassy we have in the world" there. In 10 years or less, I bet it will no longer be a functioning embassy but will have been put to alternative uses, much like all of Saddam's palaces.

Posted by: Ben Brackley on September 27, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK


Norman, our interests are furthered most efficiently by getting the hell out of that deadly, expensive rathole. Judging from your comments here, you're a traitor who spends all his copious spare time trying to think of ways to fuck the United States. Keep it up and you might make me mad.

And trust me, you wouldn't like me when I'm mad.

Posted by: gcochran on September 27, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

harry: P.S. The sooner somebody tases Norman, the better.

Why? He shares your worldview, but with a lot more money, wit and verbal skill.

Posted by: shortstop on September 27, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

>"Why no firm position on withdrawl?"

1) If you don't take a position, there's nothing for the opposition to attack you over.

2) The mainstream candidates have already caved in to the money. (AIPAC et.al.)

Posted by: Buford on September 27, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats have already assumed the anti-war advocates have no where else to go and will receive their support even if they call for another surge of troops into Iraq, like Kerry did. Democrats take the anti-war advocates for granted. The anti-war advocates are either too few in number or prevented from showing their poilitical strength by the MSM. It does not matter, because they have already been co-opted into the Democratic Party, regardless of what they think and want done. Anti-war democrats must rally their base and either run challengers to contest incumbents in 2010 or abandon the Democratic Party for good, when they discover the next Democratic administration and Congress have no intention of withdrawing American troops from Iraq.

Posted by: Brojo on September 27, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

The Iraqis will ensure that the troops depart well before 2013.

Posted by: McGruff on September 27, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

>>median liberal blogger

this number is very small, my guess. we see the same people on the blogs everyday screaming for withdrawal tho. Can anyone quantify the number? 1 mil? 500K ? 100K ?

Posted by: bob on September 27, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Leaving the embassy is indeed bad policy. But in a campaign it is a token to stave off those idiot assholes who scream "precipitous withdrawl". It is a token that the candidate will not pull everything out without considering conditions at the time, that we will not "abandon our Iraqi allies". When 2009 rolls around, though, and after we get the soldiers and marines off the FOBs and back home, then we can claim Mission Accomplished and uproot the embassy.

To claim we can do otherwise only invites ridicule. It is the notion that we can pull everything out at once. That is what keeps the debate deadlocked with claims from the dead-enders that any plan for withdrawl is a hasty and reckless one. That is what allows them to cling to some shred of moral superiority, that "they" (us) are reckless.

Promising to pull the troops but leave the embassy is the only way to make the argument that we will indeed have a sensible total withdrawl in our current political environment. We might not like it, but that is reality and politicians really do have to play politics.

We also have to consider also that some folks will have to be the last ones out, organizing the troop withdrawl and putting the finishing touches in place. That task goes to the administrators at the embassy compound.

Posted by: bubba on September 27, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

So can we revise the post's title to reflect that Edwards is again in front with the best approach to a major challenge?

Posted by: bubba on September 27, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps they've decided ... Perhaps they think ... Perhaps they're scared ... Perhaps they genuinely believe ...

—Kevin Drum

IMHO, none of the reasons cited adequately explain HRC's reluctance to promise that most combat troops will be out by 2013. Simply put, she does not want to be branded as wanting to leave Iraq because she believes that there is a good chance that repugs with the help of Petraeus and the MSM might be successful over the next 6 months or so in persuading voters that we're "winning" in Iraq.

She also knows that the chances are better than even that we will engage Iran militarily (and she will be forced to support it -- "to defend our troops.") If that happens, there will be no drawdown of troops whatsoever. Calls for withdrawal then would be branded as traitorous.

This is essentially the same calculation that was made in her original vote for the war. She simply can't take the chance that victory -- real or apparent -- or a wider war with Iran with public support become realities with her on the opposite side.

She knows that the repug candidate will be running on two themes: we're winning and we must stop Iran. She can't beat her opponent by stating that she will remove troops from Iraq any time soon.

Posted by: Econobuzz on September 27, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

And trust me, you wouldn't like me when I'm mad.

Do you close your eyes, make a sourpuss face and stomp your feeties?

If any of you idiots tries to employ a Taser against me, I'll sue you and take *everything* you own. I'll sue your Mom. I'll sue your dog. I have lawyers that eat little people for breakfast and knock off for a lunchtime feast on people who actually walk with a swinging pair. I have sent lawyers into three countries to represent my financial interests, and in all three cases, they broke no laws and won me massive amounts of money.

I once had a man send me a dead rat in the mail, thinking it would be cute. Do you know what I did to him? After his wife divorced him, because of something I did, he had to sell his own kidney to finance a plane ticket so he could leave the country and hide from me in the Republic of Ireland. So what did I do? I sent a courier in a leprechaun outfit to serve him a subpoena to return to this country and face a personal defamation and harassment lawsuit and I billed his travel to HIS OWN LAWYER.

You wouldn't like ME when I'm angry, either. I ruin people. And I *like* it. I like it a whole lot, thank you very, very much.

If you want to run with the big dogs, then you better be ready to bark, little man.

*Woof. Woof.*

Posted by: Norman Rogers on September 27, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

harry: P.S. The sooner somebody tases Norman, the better.

Why? He shares your worldview, but with a lot more money, wit and verbal skill.

are you kidding? Those two idiots deserve each other. Moron Rogers is a wealthy master of the universe only in his own warped mind--the real deal wouldn't waste two seconds arguing with a bunch of "hippie losers" or whatever his adhom of the day is.
They both have to hope and pray for some sort of disaster at the convention, because they both know that it's the only way for the conservatard nominee to avoid having his ass handed to him in the general election, as opposed to losing by a smaller margin.

Posted by: haha on September 27, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

there's only one "big dog", he's the last competent president and spouse of the next president--and he sits back and laughs at losers like Moron Rogers and harry, just like I do.

Posted by: haha on September 27, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, okay, haha. I guess I was being naive and gullible.

Posted by: shortstop on September 27, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

It is idiotic to ask presidential candidates to state a firm policy for a world situation that won't exist for another year and a half.

Tim Russert was an idiot for demanding that Clinton say now whether she would do anything and everything to prevent Iran from going nuclear (whatever that actually means in Tim's deranged mind) when we can't possibly know the status of our armed forces, the actual level of nuclear attainment in Iran, the status of the surrounding region, the military and political situation in Russia, the need to address more pressing dangers (a radical Islamic state in nuclear Pakistan which will have more capability of impacting US foreign policy and security than Iran for decades), or a host of other unforeseeable circumstances.

It is just as idiotic for presidential candidates to play that game and answer these idiotic questions.

Posted by: anonymous on September 27, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

They both have to hope and pray for some sort of disaster at the convention, because they both know that it's the only way for the conservatard nominee to avoid having his ass handed to him in the general election, as opposed to losing by a smaller margin.

That Sheehan woman and Tommy Chong will appear at your convention, full frontal nudity and all, and they will spank each other on top of a Denver police squad car, screaming, "no more war" and "legalize it!"

Thousands of masked protesters will run wild with tear gas cannisters exploding everywhere. Broken glass will crunch under the feet of riot police. Terrified Denverans will run from the burning buildings around the Arena where this travesty will be held. Once the Defeatocrats hold a convention in a building, no team has ever won the Stanley Cup or the NBA championship in that building ever again, so bad is the karma.

We'll be treated to the sign of a fifty-six year old man with a rainbow wig, a tie-dyed shirt, Mork from Ork suspenders, and a pair of torn corduroy pants, being held down by body-armor wearing cops, as this demented soul screams to put forth into nomination the name of Mike Gravel for Vice-President.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on September 27, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Dave Lindorff has alreaday created a Quit the Party movement:

Former Rep. McKinney Quits the Democratic Party!

So how about you? Think about it: If you were to accept the official line, George Bush won the presidency in 2000 by capturing the state of Florida by 537 votes. And this movement has already got more than that number of people who are no longer going to be Democrats! If we could get 537 people in each state of the union to sign on and drop their party affiliation in protest, the Democratic leadership would have to start contemplating how many close states they are going to lose next year because of their abject failure to act on principle and with courage in Congress.

Instead of sending the Democrats a thank you note for all that they have not done to oppose W. Bush and his policies, tell them to fuck off. It will make you feel better and you can still vote for Hillary and continuing the occupation in 2008.

Posted by: Brojo on September 27, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Former Rep. McKinney Quits the Democratic Party!

Darn it! What will we do without her bugged out freakshow eyes staring back at us? I have thousands of fundraising pamphlets for Rudy that feature a small inset photo of Ms. McKinney that I now have to discard.

Thanks for nothing, Cynthia! How about hitting another cop in the mouth for doing his job?

Posted by: Norman Rogers on September 27, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

But two Democratic presidential candidates promise a full withdrawal from Iraq quickly.

Sensing an opening, Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson provided the assurances the others would not.

"I'll get the job done," said Dodd, while Richardson said he would make sure the troops were home by the end of his first year in office.
Too many media are covering the race as if there are only three Democratic candidates for president. Hello?

Extra line to avoid signature line wrapping to the end of previous paragraph, because of a blockquote bug in this blog software

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on September 27, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Um, was I asleep for months or what? When did 2013 become the target date for withdrawal? That's a whole lot of Friedman Units!

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on September 27, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Extra line to avoid signature line wrapping to the end of previous paragraph, because of a blockquote bug in this blog software

You need to shut the hell up, sir! You need to stuff it back in your pie hole! That's outrageous and I WILL NOT STAND FOR YOUR BLATANT HATE SPEECH!!!

I am so angry, I need to sit down with a cool washcloth over my eyes and think for a while.

ANGRY!!! GRR!!!

Posted by: Norman Rogers on September 27, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

The median liberal blogger is a foul-mouthed, vituperative...


Fuck you.

Posted by: Memekiller on September 27, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Thank god for Norman Rogers. The more people who read, see, hear, or smell this foul little prig of a man the more likely it is that civilisation will return to the USA.
Just keep writing Normie. I figure if you could be a guest on Rush Limpdick's radio show he'd be out of business instantly.
Oh in regard to your "experiences". They may seem more meaningful to you but believe it or not anybody elses experiences are probably more meaningful and exciting than your vile shallow bullshit. That's not hate speech, just a an observation loser.

Posted by: Gandalf on September 27, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Thank god for Norman Rogers. The more people who read, see, hear, or smell this foul little prig of a man the more likely it is that civilisation will return to the USA.
Just keep writing Normie. I figure if you could be a guest on Rush Limpdick's radio show he'd be out of business instantly.
Oh in regard to your "experiences". They may seem more meaningful to you but believe it or not anybody elses experiences are probably more meaningful and exciting than your vile shallow bullshit. That's not hate speech, just a an observation loser.

Posted by: Gandalf on September 27, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

They don't promise to withdraw for the same reason that Democrats on the Hill have not come together to end the occupation.

They support a permanent occupation of Iraq. There is a consensus in Washington that leaving is unthinkable--and the candidates reflect that consensus.

They also, effectively, oppose any sovereign representative government in Iraq as well, because a sovereigh government that reflected the will of the Iraqi citizenry would not permit a US military base, in support of Israel and in opposition to Iran, to remain on its soil.

And these stupid lies about force protection and guarding the embassy make it very clear that they know they may well lose the nomination if they say, out loud, what they really believe--that the US is in Iraq until there is a helicopter on the embassy moment.

Posted by: jayackroyd on September 27, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps they are pussies or perhaps they are just being honest. Only time will tell.

Posted by: ohcomeon on September 27, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

They may seem more meaningful to you but believe it or not anybody elses experiences are probably more meaningful and exciting than your vile shallow bullshit. That's not hate speech, just a an observation loser.

Oh great Wizard, with your ample life experience, wielding your magical staff and casting your spells on undersized little dwarfy thingies, please do educate me!

My life experiences mean something, sir. They mean that I have lived and that you had *better* listen to me and you had *better* heed my advice.

It's not for nothing that I tell you this--the love of a good woman can settle your soul. I have searched for that love, that tender moment of understanding between a man and a woman that brings peace to the soul and ease to the heart. I have walked many a mile thinking about the arms of a woman who is blessed with kindness and understanding. I have sought her out, looking for my true soulmate. Sadly, both of those fleabags took my houses and my money.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on September 27, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Um, I haven't read all the comments. But has it occurred to anyone that perhaps the "major" candidates were trying to be prudent, wise, and reasonable? Obama said at one point that we should be more careful about getting out of Iraq as we were getting in. Listen, we're all eager to see this war end, but let's recognize that a true quagmire has been created by Bush & Co. Responsible leaders may recognize that the US needs to continue its presence in a reduced capacity in order to avoid a humanitarian crisis or further instability in the region. An those responsible leaders are found mostly in the Democratic side of the aisle.

Posted by: CT on September 27, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

God that was touching Normie. I almost feel sorry for you.
NOT!!

Posted by: Gnadalf on September 27, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Aline had it right at the top of this thread: you are imperialists, you like the benefits of imperialism, and you must dominate peoples to retain those benefits. Much of the rest of the world is on to you. Only your sappy candidates cannot figure it out.

Posted by: g-lex on September 27, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

If the surge had obviously failed all of the top three Dem candidates would have insisted upon a full withdrawal ASAP. Many Republican would have joined them. The obvious military success of the surge has changed the game across the board. 3 months ago NO ONE predicted the success the surge has enjoyed, NO ONE. If the Dem's came out for withdrawal now they would risk looking defeatist and anti-troops when good news is taking hold. What happens in 6 months with more good news, like the Mahdi militia being broken for good? The Sunni/Shia tribes bind together in an anti-cleric coalition? The Iraq military steps up to the plate in the field AND in politics demanding concessions on all sides to end the madness? Don't assume the good news is temporary or limited, it very likely the news will get better and not worse. The American people are not anti-war, they are anti-LOSING a War. Americans love winners and the Dem Presidential candidates are wisely hedging their bets on the side of the troops and against the nut cases over at Moveon.org

Posted by: Mike Corcoran on September 27, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Norman Rogers: "If you want to run with the big dogs, then you better be ready to bark, little man."

Spoken like a man who still harbors bitter resentment over always being picked last by his schoolmates, when forming teams during school recess or gym class.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 27, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

WTF are you talking about Mike Cororan? America loves winners.Are you fucking kidding.As to All the rest of the nonsense you spouted. Where were your born? On the turnip cart at sunnybrook farm.
Haven't you been paying the tiniest bit of attention. Even your heroes say it will be years and years that we'll be in Iraq. The amount of fraud and waste over there could buy every welfare cheater 2 cadillacs, a Mcmansion and a vacation home in the Bahammas.The people over there don't have electricity,water, decent medical services, garbage pickup and even a government that a mafia don couldn't run better. Oh and let's not forget our own brothers and sisters are being killed and maimed at a nonstop pace.And you have cause for optimism.Jesus.

Posted by: Gandalfd on September 27, 2007 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

I'm forced to go with the "prudent" school; I don't believe any of the candidates said that all the troops wouldn't be out, simply that they couldn't guarantee that they would be. There is a difference.
You can call it what ever you want, but refusing to be pinned down 12 months before an election over something as volatile as withdrawal from Iraq only makes sense. Don't forget, there are also 435 members of the House up for election and 22 Senators. If a majority of them pass legislation to effect a quick withdrawal does anyone here think any of the present frontrunners would veto it?
to Donald from Hawaii - That was perfect.

Posted by: Doug on September 27, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Could it be that a powerful interest group has made the frontrunners "offers they couldn't refuse"?

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on September 27, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

It continually baffles me how many of the regulars keep acting as if "Norman Rogers" is real. For god's sake, IT'S AN ACT, PEOPLE! No need to get personally offended -- he's a liberal doing a parody impersonation of a Republican.

Posted by: Stefan on September 27, 2007 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

It continually baffles me how many of the regulars keep acting as if "Norman Rogers" is real.

Yeah, I don't get that either. Every single one of his posts seems to have at least one clear sign that he couldn't possibly be serious.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 27, 2007 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

People should think of Norman Rogers as the Stephen Colbert of Washington Monthly.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 27, 2007 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0

Stephen Colbert is funny. Norman's tirades get tiresome halfway through the first one.

My theory is not that he's a liberal parody but that he's a conservative hired gun who job it is to make people sick of coming to liberal blogs.

Posted by: tomeck on September 27, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

he's a liberal doing a parody impersonation of a Republican.

I woulda stuck a brilliant in front of parody, but yeah. What Stefan said.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 27, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

[NR]'s a liberal doing a parody impersonation of a Republican.

And he's on something of a roll today. The para about "life experience?" Nice one.

Posted by: JM on September 27, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Stephen Colbert is funny. Norman's tirades get tiresome halfway through the first one.

Oh come on. The guy has some real talent.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 27, 2007 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

The para about "life experience?" Nice one.

Excellent work, yes. I also enjoyed the tender passage about seeking true love until the fleabag takes your money and house. Norman's shining skills are many, but his timing may be the greatest among them.

Posted by: shortstop on September 27, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

And Donald, you gotta admit him calling you "Duke Paoa Kahanamokluless" the other day was pretty damn funny.

Posted by: shortstop on September 27, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Funny thing. I just posted on James' "OTB' blog. He was quoting you.

Thank you, Kevin, for recognizing there is a center point of view in this country. I believe you have pretty well nailed it concerning the Iraq war in this post. We shouldn't be there, but we are. Since we are, we can draw down - since we have no other plausible choice - but think it through as we go. Try new strategies as the old ones puke out. At least for now, arming the Sunni tribes who are fighting AQI seems to be helping a lot more than trying to build an Iraq wide army & police force. The Senate just passed a resolution that supports the idea of partitioning Iraq to some degree, which passes along the message that if Iraq decides to do it this way, we won't stand in their way. Whether these will help or not will be decided down the road. But at least we aren't using the same old, tired, useless strategy we had been. If it doesn't work, fine; try something else. While we are at it, we might just stop trying to dictate to them what they must do. In other words, treat them as a sovereign country capable of learning from their mistakes..

Maybe in the end, we will withdraw completely. But before we get to that point, it makes sense to try to remain in the country in a minimal capacity & regain at least a neutral relationship with them because (...drum roll...) it is in our overall best interests. It will be as long as we are dependent on Asian oil to fuel our economy & also as long as Islamic terrorism is a threat.

Posted by: bob in fl on September 27, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

"They don't think advocates of total withdrawal are going to punish them enough at the polls to make a bolder position necessary."

Yep. They know that there's no way in hell we will vote for a Republican. They're counting on us to hold our noses and vote for, in all likelihood, 4 more years of war.

They're probably right.

Posted by: scarshapedstar on September 27, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

The Senate just passed a resolution that supports the idea of partitioning Iraq to some degree...treat them as a sovereign country

Maybe the Iraqis will counter with a partition proposal for the US. The first thing that needs to be done is build a wall around Texas.

Posted by: Brojo on September 27, 2007 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

it makes sense to try to remain in the country in a minimal capacity & regain at least a neutral relationship with them because (...drum roll...) it is in our overall best interests.

If you want to make friends with a majority of Iraqis, keeping a military occupying force in their country is probably the worst way to do it.

The best way to make friends with a majority of Iraqis would be to publicly hang W. Bush for invading Iraq.

Posted by: Brojo on September 27, 2007 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

"...Perhaps they've decided that the median Democratic voter isn't really as hellbent on total withdrawal as the median liberal blogger. Perhaps they think that a promise to begin withdrawing is good enough for most people. Perhaps they think that a firm promise to withdraw runs the risk of hurting them in the general election — and anything that even remotely looks like a flip-flop would hurt them even more. Perhaps they're scared of elite Beltway opinion. Perhaps they genuinely believe that we need to keep some troops in Iraq..."
-------

I vote for "a promise to begin withdrawing is good enough for most people". What about these other reasons?

1) They want to keep any kind of withdrawal plan under their hat, because once they mention it they will get drawn and quartered over the details by the *Democratic* competitors, and they don't want to risk having it trashed in advance. Maybe after the convention we might see more commitment?

2) They don't want to publicly commit to a withdrawal in case there is a spectacular AQ attack just before the general election (like what happened in Spain) that might get them blamed if they won: "If it wasn't for your withdrawal plan, AQ wouldn't have attacked us..."

3) They don't want to commit to a detailed withdrawal plan because they don't have the access to all of the detailed intelligence which would likely alter the details of any withdrawal plan.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on September 27, 2007 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Doc,
Congratulations! #3
Finally, someone poses a possible motive that is not a political calculation, not based on fear, or a conspiracy, or any of the other self centered, self interest, self serving reasons suggested.
It just might be the right thing to do and say, you know, sorta presidential.

Posted by: majarosh on September 27, 2007 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

3) They don't want to commit to a detailed withdrawal plan because they don't have the access to all of the detailed intelligence which would likely alter the details of any withdrawal plan.

Bingo.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 27, 2007 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

reino says:

"The top tier candidates are forcing me to vote for Kucinich or just sit the election out."

Yeah, that'll work. Just like voting for Ralph Nader in 2000. That's the ticket. THEN you'll get the government you want.

Take a good, long look at Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson. Listen to their simplistic GWB-like jingoistic rah-rah let's-kick-some-Arab-butt nonsense (mixed in with insane proposals for FURTHER tax breaks for the most obscenely wealthy).

Then get real. We've got some decent candidates this time. Get behind one of them.

That is all.

Posted by: shystr on September 27, 2007 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

shystr

Exactly right, but I'd add that folks should also take a look at the candidates the so called Christian (?) Right would prefer. If Republicans really are getting discouraged, low turnout in the primaries could lead to a Brownback or somebody like him getting the nod.

After the last two elections, any Democrat or Progressive who sits out the election or goes to a Nader-type proves they just haven't been paying attention.

Posted by: tomeck on September 27, 2007 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Who knows what awaits. The candidates were wise to not fall into the "read my lips/now new taxes" problem of Bush the poppy.
I thought they did well.Russert was an a------/

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 27, 2007 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

Finally, someone poses a possible motive that is not a political calculation, not based on fear, or a conspiracy, or any...self-centered, self-interested, self-serving reasons...

I like motives of that sort, too. Too bad there weren't any motives like that for invading Iraq...or for refusing to consider ending this occupation.

Posted by: shortstop on September 27, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

I gotta say, a chill went down my spine as I watched the debate. I always thought Invasion of the Body Snatchers was just a movie, but by God, it seems that the pod people have taken over our Democratic candidates as one by one they start parroting the words that the military industrial complex loves to hear- war, more war, and still more war. We'll be tough on Iran, we'll keep thousands of troops in Iraq past 2013- that must have brought tears of joy to the eyes of stockholders of Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Halliburton.

And what the hell is wrong with Hillary Clinton? Her slightly insane, robotic laugh, savagely mocked on The Daily Show, is right out of the Batman movie when the Joker has managed to poison beauty products.

Aaaarrggggg!

Posted by: Jim on September 27, 2007 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

Tim Russert said very specifically, "ALL troops out of Iraq." I was generally disappointed in the responses, but I admit that questions like that are difficult to answer unequivocally. For example, some troops must remain to guard the embassy and other facilities.

Edwards later explained that he would promise to end combat operations, which everyone took to mean end the war as such.

I was just "okay" with this answer. I still wasn't happy with the other answers.

Posted by: bob on September 27, 2007 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop: "And Donald, you gotta admit him calling you 'Duke Paoa Kahanamokluless' the other day was pretty damn funny."

I must have missed it. When I tended bar at a popular downtown Honolulu watering hole back in the late '80s - early '90s, big talking know-it-alls like Norman Rogers were a dime a dozen. For the most part, they're harmless.

I remember one impeccably groomed gentleman, a shameless 50-something name-dropper (since deceased) who claimed to be a personal friend of Gen. Alexander Haig and a special diplomatic operative for the State Department, assigned to CINCPAC at Pearl Harbor. Being all of 23 years old, I was initially quite impressed by him, until I subsequently discovered to my disappointment that he lived in a rundown Waikiki boarding house not too far from my own not-exactly-posh digs near the Honolulu Zoo.

Anyway, this guy would, whenever he was drunk (which was a lot), constantly insult people and argue with other patrons, and because of him I learned a valuable lesson early in my working life -- the two worst subjects for discussion in a bar are politics and religion.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 27, 2007 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

This is about the elites in the Democratic Party and their relationship to AIPAC. Remember what happened to Dean after he indicated in December 2003 that his Israel-Palestine foreign policy would be, like Clinton's,"balanced". That was not good enough. No serious Democratic presidential candidate can take the chance that AIPAC will turn on them (remember the wash post reported in 2004 that 50% of the Democratic primary money came from Jewish sources). Our withdrawal from Iraq, when it does occur, will be a serious blow to Israel's ambitions in the region (sharon and the neo-cons believed that our stabilizing presence in Iraq would remake the middle eastern map in Israel's favor).

Posted by: steve on September 28, 2007 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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