Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 18, 2009

ROHRABACHER'S PLEASANT SURPRISE.... Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) is not someone I'd consider a moderate. He's dismissed Abu Ghraib torture as being similar to "hazing pranks from some fraternity." He rejects evidence on climate change, and has argued that warming was caused by dinosaur flatulence.

But credit where credit is due -- Rohrabacher has taken some sensible positions of late.

[S]peaking on the House floor last night, Rohrabacher said that the president is right not make any "brash" decisions [on Afghanistan]: "President Obama will soon make a decision that will chart the course for America's involvement in Afghanistan for years to come. I personally am not upset that it has taken President Obama this long to determine his response to General McChrystal's request for an additional 35,000 U.S. combat troops to be sent to Afghanistan. This is a monumental decision [...]

"This is not the time for business as usual nor is it time for brash decision making. A decision to send U.S. troops to Afghanistan will cause money -- lots of it -- and it will cost lives."

Rohrabacher added that calls from the right for more combat units in Afghanistan would be "counterproductive and perhaps disastrous." The California Republican went on to condemn the Bush administration's efforts in the region: "The competence of the last administration in carrying out that war and building a peace was abysmal."

All of this comes just a month after Rohrabacher said his party's caucus is overly invested in "political games," adding, "The Republican leadership in the House right now is constantly trying to play a political game every day to try and get a headline, and I don't think that's going to take us anywhere."

Maybe it's the soft bigotry of low expectations, but when a House Republican says something sensible, it stands out as noteworthy.

Update: Atrios reminds me that Rohrabacher, while not insane on this one issue, has a colorful background on counter-terrorism. It's a good point. For that matter, an emailer also reminds me of Rohrabacher having been up to his ears in the Abramoff scandal.

Steve Benen 2:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (12)

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Comments

Rohrabacher was an early clown on Afghanistan -- way way early, way way clown...

'haps he's making amends to those who remember...

Posted by: neill on November 18, 2009 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Dana loved him some Mujihadeen long before the Bushies were in power. I think this more a case of a stopped clock being right than a thoughtful right winger.

Posted by: Greg on November 18, 2009 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm, possibly, but let us not prematurely rule out the possibilities of demon possession or zombification.

Posted by: bleh on November 18, 2009 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'd doubt any real change of heart. But, you never know... it's possible he's looking around at what other members of his caucus are saying, and thinking... wtf?

Posted by: MattF on November 18, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Can't make money on your turf with a gang war going on.

Posted by: bird on November 18, 2009 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Greg's point is the one I'm signing on to. Dana probably has some connections -- old Northern Alliance guys or jihadi muhjs who have since come into warlord status and/or Taliban hierarchy and whose power derives from providing "protection" that additional American troops might deprive them of if more are added. Or maybe he's getting a taste of the opium trade. Those scenarios are at least equally probable (and probably more so) as him being an honest player on the political scene.

That said, his stated rationale isn't wrong. And his, and Obama's, prudence is welcomed.

Posted by: Jay B. on November 18, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Jay B. probably isn't wrong. It's also worth noting a couple of things:

1) Rohrabacher has been remarkably quiet since the last election.

2) He didn't exactly have a scare from his last democratic challenger, but it wasn't a cakewalk either..Dana had to work a bit for it, for a change. His district is changing too..albeit slowly. It's not quite as rock-ribbed Orange County conservative as it was when he was first elected..a long time ago.

Aside from any interests he may have in Afghanistan, he now needs to be a little more cognizant of voters back home. A little.

Posted by: LL on November 18, 2009 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

All of this comes just a month after Rohrabacher said his party's caucus is overly invested in "political games," adding, "The Republican leadership in the House right now is constantly trying to play a political game every day to try and get a headline, and I don't think that's going to take us anywhere."

Yes, he did say that. But as we pointed out at the time, he said it in the context of supporting the bagger-birther movement, not in trying to get the "mainstream" GOP to act like grownups.

Posted by: shortstop on November 18, 2009 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Rohrabacher, unlike most Republicans at this time, may have finally realized that when one speaks the truth, one does not have to try to remember what one has already said!

A little more honesty regarding policy disputes would be a great thing! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on November 18, 2009 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with LL above, Dana did have an actual challenger last year (53.2-42.4 is close for that district), not that it was a barn-burner, but it may have jarred some sense into him that he's not representing a 60%-wingnut constituency anymore and he's tempering his nutty outbursts a bit.

After all, this is how he behaved after the 2004 election. Between his adventures with the Taliban and drunkenly hooting "We just saved America" by re-electing W, acting sane in 2008 in a district he doesn't have completely sewed up doesn't impress me much.

Posted by: JB on November 18, 2009 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

sounds like he may be getting ready to challenge someone in the House Republican leadership

Posted by: tas on November 18, 2009 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

Rohrabacher said that the president is right not make any "brash" decisions [on Afghanistan]

Apparently the word "rash," like "quash" just doesn't have enough letters in it for some people.

Posted by: DrBB on November 19, 2009 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK
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