Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 1, 2010

THEY'RE IN NO POSITION TO BOAST.... With President Obama ending combat operations in Iraq, the Republicans who got every aspect of this conflict wrong from the start have decided that we owe them our thanks. Indeed, GOP leaders and neocon voices are feeling so good about themselves -- after years of deadly, devastating failure -- that they're inclined to take a victory lap.

Yes, the old gang is all over the media. Republicans like John McCain and John Boehner, who were humiliatingly wrong about U.S. policy in Iraq for so many years, feel justified in bashing President Obama this week -- despite the fact that he was right and they were wrong. Loyal Bushies like Stephen Hadley, Doug Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, and Ari Fleischer have been ubiquitous, trying to convince Americans that the administration that launched this war in 2003 deserves credit now.

Honestly, is there something in the water? Is someone handing out crazy pills to conservatives?

The record is unambiguous. These misguided ideologues made the worst mistake imaginable, and thousands have died as a consequence of their ignorance, incompetence, and hubris. They launched a war for reasons that weren't true, and then screwed up the aftermath in ways that were hard to even imagine. This wasn't some minor misjudgment -- the Republican failures in Iraq carry the kind of human, economic, diplomatic, and security costs that are so severe, they're hard to even calculate.

If our public discourse allowed for reality to have meaning, and for catastrophic errors to come with consequences, those responsible for launching this misguided war would be discredited -- permanently. Their appearances in the mainstream media would be grounds for laughter and derision. They would feel shame and embarrassment. Their names would be synonymous with words like "fool" and "liar."

That these same men are all over the media, being treated as credible, and expecting our gratitude is as keen a reminder as I can think of that Republicans have long given up on the very idea of integrity.

I found Rachel Maddow's segment on this last night quite compelling.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The whole thing is worth watching, but here's the conclusion:

"Two American things have been accomplished in Iraq. Tens of thousands, more than a million Americans served their country in a horrible war for seven and a half years under horrible circumstances and under political leadership that was not honest about why they had been sent there. Those Americans are to be honored for what they did and what they gave and they are to be taken care of as veterans now that they're home.

"The other accomplishment in Iraq is that we have finally found a way to leave, to get combat troops out, now.

"Those two accomplishments belong to this president, who's overseeing the withdrawal from Iraq, and to the people who served -- the people who served honorably for these seven and a half long years.

"Credit for all the rest of it, for the made-up reasons for going in, for going in in the first place, for letting Afghanistan spill out of control in favor of this war, for the constant revisions for the justifications for war to obfuscate the craven petty radicalism that really started -- Republicans, you guys can go right ahead and take that credit. Go right ahead. Credit where credit is due."

Steve Benen 12:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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Republican exceptionalism run amok: they don't want anyone other than themselves to get any credit for any aspect of a war. So they have to blame Obama for something.

They may also be worried that there may be a let up in the recent and continuing wave of unjustified wars of aggression. Although I don't see any reports that the mind-boggling "Defense" budget is likely to see any cuts, so it's not clear what they have to worry about - except that they don't have the power to start another war right now.

Posted by: PowerOfX on September 1, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

What does it say about a country that doesn't discredit those people who are catostrophically wrong?
I mean, sure, "Wrong Way Corrigan" was funny and cute, but all he did was fly a plane in the wrong direction.
"Wrong Way Kristol" isn't.
People like him hijacked a nation after a tragedy, lied it into an unnecessary war, bulloxed that war and occupation up beyong all comprehension, and cost unmeasurable amounts of blood and treasure. And they still get to come on the air and write articles and Op-Eds as "Middle East Experts?"
Please, MSM, for the love of God, either keep them away from us, or create some sort of horns we can put on their heads to show them to be the fools that they are.
Dangerous fools.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on September 1, 2010 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Not worth a tenth of the cost, not even of the price we paid in the thousands of dead and crippled soldiers and the trillions of dollars. That doesn't count all the dead Iraqi non-combatants, though of course only white people count to Republicans anyway.

Posted by: kth on September 1, 2010 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

From Karl Rove's Conservative Playbook

chapter 1 verse 9:

Every news cycle must be dominated by a Republican narrative. Always. Forever.

chapter 2 verse 16:

Project your weakness onto your enemy.

This is just another shining example of Republicans' exceptional ability to steal the news cycle from Democrats and parade their failure around as if it was something we should miss. I don't miss their bullshit and I don't miss Republican government. Fuck them.

Posted by: Oh my on September 1, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans - We rewrite history - You decide. Its easy when you have your own TEEVEE network and the other ones just repeat the talking points with no critical examination.

Exception - Much as I dislike him - Chris Matthews called them out on it last night . and his ratings are.....

Posted by: john R on September 1, 2010 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

"Humiliatingly wrong" is right. You'd think that crowd would be content, and relieved, to receive the "time to turn the page" gift that Obama gave them Tuesday night. Yet they dust off the same talking point brazenly hatched seven years ago when it became obvious that Saddam Hussein had none of those fabled weapons: "Everybody in the world thought he did. . . ." They also cite key politicians who urged the invasion -- John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, etc., ad nauseam.

Oh, sure. As if the United States had eight or nine commanders in chief in those days. As if everyone had seen the same National Intelligence Estimate as Bush (which included the element of doubt concerning stashed weapons) instead of the truncated version given Congress. As if head U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blixt hadn't implored Bush to give him just one more month to verify presence of those menacing WMDs.

Incidentally, months -- years! -- after the weapons hoard story was discredited, Blixt still was the butt of right-wing jokes and cartoons.

Chutzpa on that scale leads naturally to neocons' current demand that Obama admit that "victory" in Iraq stems from Bush's vaunted surge. As if you somehow could win a mistake.

Posted by: Jerry Elsea on September 1, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Carp if you will, but our brave troops, wearing hazmat suits, were NOT attacked by Saddam's poison gases.

-And Das Homeland was NOT attacked by Saddam's drone aircraft, filled with deadly anthrax.

-And it only cost a trillion dollars. (so far).

Posted by: DAY on September 1, 2010 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Its very simple. If the war was a mistake from the beginning, then Bush should be blamed. But if the war wasn't a complete mistake -- leaving aside Bush's failures to plan for the post-occupation "Phase IV" -- then he deserves a large measure of credit for the success. Which Democratic politician is going to say that it was a complete mistake, that we were lied into the war under false pretenses and that there should be an official inquiry into how we were bamboozled? Is Obama (the 2010 Obama, not the 2002 anti-"dumb wars" Obama)? Is Pelosi? Is Reid?

That's the problem with being too cowardly to hold the Bush-Cheney administration accountable.

Posted by: square1 on September 1, 2010 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

That these same men are all over the media, being treated as credible, and expecting our gratitude is as keen a reminder as I can think of that Republicans have long given up on the very idea of integrity.
sounds like someone else has lost their integrity also. Lets put part of the blame squarely where it belongs, on the corrupt media that we know have. Our descent toward third world status can be blamed as much on the media as it can on the corporatist

Posted by: grandpajohn on September 1, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

"These misguided ideologues made the worst mistake imaginable, and thousands have died as a consequence"

You left out the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis killed by starting our war there. Up to a million dead, a million injured, millions displaced.

(A necessary oversight for part of the Obama spin machine or wannabe mainstream pundits. But still).

Posted by: flubber on September 1, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

They have all got the message. It was out earlier in the day.

You have to see Paul Begala destroy Ari Fleischer when he tried to peddle yesterday's talking points.


This is what should be done every time a Republican opens their mouths with their daily talking points.

Posted by: sharkbreath on September 1, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Is someone handing out crazy pills to conservatives?

I suspect that most of them started their lives with crazy milk.


Posted by: Zorro on September 1, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Sharkbreath: Thanks for the link. Begala did indeed destroy Fleischer.

Posted by: chrenson on September 1, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Crazy in the eye of the never subject to reflection , or held to any standard beyond holding fast to the permanent rewrite , object to your characterization of the elixir which gave bones to rising star Jonah Goldberg , and incisor wit barking Malkin . Or so I imagine , with collar bells and and whistle necklaces .
Not that I don't appreciate the drifting wizened head of the Ari Fleischer amongst us gravely shifting stage right then reversing to stage left and finally centered . Speaking into the magic fun machine where any objection is a trifle to chuckle at as if it were children who don't want to take their medicine , then climaxing in a play the semantic exercises which keep the lean mean right wing fit .
Shinseki ? Who was he ? Really Ari ?

I wonder what the kings are doing tonight?
What merriment are the kings pursuing tonight?
The candles at the court, they never burned as bright.
I wonder what the kings are up to tonight?

Posted by: FRP on September 1, 2010 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

What do we expect from the very Corporate Media that, in Scott Mcllenan's words, was 'actively complicit' is making the Iraq war happen ? When is the last time you saw, for example, General Electric, owner of NBC news, declare they made billions from the war ? When Mcllenan made his statement let's remember the comic fiasco of the three nightly news anchors all feeling 'compelled' to show up together on one show to denounce what Mcllenan said ? Oh, and let's forget when it became known that all the Corporate Networks had on those famous generals all the time telling us how necessary it was to go to war with Iraq, the very generals and Corporations that then made big bucks in so doing. And when this was revealed to us let's remember that the Corporate Slut called Brain William refused to acknowledge this role of the generals that he had on his own show. So of course this same evil Corporate Media proudly displays all these evil freaks from the Bush administration who now find it so easy to rewrite the actual history, aided and abetted by the Corporate Media who wanted the war in the first place. This country has been reduced to pure, fucking evil. It's a menace to the rest of the planet, a total evil disgrace.

Posted by: stormskies on September 1, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Begala absolutely did destroy Fliescher last night. That is no bullshit. It was a fucking epic takedown of that jackass. It was a thing of beauty.

By the way, Fareed was pretty damn good in Gergen.

Anderson should stop talking and listen more often.

Posted by: Scott F. on September 1, 2010 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans should be bombarded with pictures of the injured or dead children and pictures of the orphaned children of Iraq. They should be reminded that the war was illegal and immoral. They should be reminded that in Fallujah, America used phosphorous gas burning people alive; and, it is not legal to use such gas.

Posted by: Bonnie on September 1, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

It was the "Sunni Awakening", begun shortly before the "Surge" (commonly known as the "Splurge"), that began diminishing the violence in Iraq....Which could have been avoided for the most part from the very beginning of the invasion had Brimmer not FIRED the Iraq army who volunteered to help America establish a new government.

The "Sunni Awakening" was the re-hiring of the Iraq army...or what was left of them. Republicans are retards and incompetent at every part of government. It is insulting for them to stand up now to take credit for the lies and propaganda they are still selling as some sort of 'victory' in Iraq. Bush and Cheney and their cohorts should all be in jail and republicans will never be able to accept the SHAME they have brought to our nation.

The Republican Great Iraq Hypocrisy...Death and Destruction through lies and incompetency.

Posted by: bjobotts on September 1, 2010 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

To borrow from Microsoft: where do you want the goalposts to go today?

Maybe I missed it, but I didn't hear Rachel mention the "we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here" rationale. (Which ignored the fact that the al Qaeda in Iraq group only came into being after the U.S. invasion. Those pesky details are like gnats. So annoying.)

Posted by: josef on September 1, 2010 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

One other accomplishment, Rachel, has been the transfer of nearly one trillion dollars of the country's wealth to the benefit of the arms industry. Money that could have stayed with small businesses to hire employees & provide health care, gone to state and local governments for building schools, roads, hospitals & bridges. It's money now in the pockets of the weapons manufacturers who complain about needing the Bush tax cuts to be extended instead of being allowed to expire. It's pitiful from every way you look at it.

Posted by: Danny Jones on September 1, 2010 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Give George Bush the credit he's due: If he hadn't started the Iraq war, Obama wouldn't be able to stop it now.

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