Sunday, November 27, 2005

Bush Was Against Cutting and Running Before He Was For It

Just how insane is the Bush administration? According to the latest news reports, it is currently at Level Four on the Insanity Meter (Crispin Glover on "Letterman") and moving swiftly to Level Five (Tom Cruise anywhere).
The White House for the first time has claimed possession of an Iraq withdrawal plan, arguing that a troop pullout blueprint unveiled this past week by a Democratic senator was "remarkably similar" to its own. It also signaled its acceptance of a recent US Senate amendment designed to pave the way for a phased US military withdrawal from the violence-torn country.

The statement late Saturday by White House spokesman Scott McClellan came in response to a commentary published in The Washington Post by Joseph Biden, the top Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in which he said US forces will begin leaving Iraq next year "in large numbers."

According to Biden, the United States will move about 50,000 servicemen out of the country by the end of 2006, and "a significant number" of the remaining 100,000 the year after. The blueprint also calls for leaving only an unspecified "small force" either in Iraq or across the border to strike at concentrations of insurgents, if necessary.

In the White House statement, which was released under the headline "Senator Biden Adopts Key Portions Of Administration's Plan For Victory In Iraq," McClellan said the administration of President George W. Bush welcomed Biden's voice in the debate. ... McClellan said the White House now saw "a strong consensus" building in Washington in favor of Bush's strategy in Iraq. ...

Less than two weeks ago, McClellan blasted Democratic Representative John Murtha for calling for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. McClellan accused Murtha of "endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore," a stridently anti-war Hollywood filmmaker.

Biden's ideas, relayed first in a November 21 speech in New York, however, got a much friendlier reception. Even though Bush has never publicly issued his own withdrawal plan and criticized calls for an early exit, the White House said many of the ideas expressed by the senator were its own. ...

The measure was largely seen as a reprimand to the Bush administration, which has often been accused of lacking a viable strategy in Iraq. But the White House insisted again the Senate was reading from its own playbook. "The fact is that the Senate amendment reiterates the president's strategy in Iraq," the statement said.
Where to begin?

First, I love the sudden change in both their policy and politics. For the last two weeks, we've been hearing nothing from the administration but assertions that anyone who dared to call for a troop reduction or withdrawal from Iraq was "despicable," "reprehensible," and borderline treasonous. And now, suddenly, in what would be derisively termed a "flip flop" if the perpetrators were Democrats, the Bush team has decided that it was for troop reduction and withdrawal all along!

And that is the proper phrasing -- "troop reduction and withdrawal." It's only proper to characterize this as a cowardly call to "cut and run" if the person proposing it is a Democratic veteran who spent 37 years in the Marines. If true patriots like President AWOL, Vice President Deferments and their Purple Heart Band-Aid Brigade make the same suggestion, it's a much more dignified and reasoned call for "troop reduction and withdrawal."

Finally, lest the liberal academics engage in even more "revisionist history," the fact that John Murtha and Joe Biden announced their plans for troop withdrawal several weeks before the administration doesn't mean that they somehow provided leadership on this issue. As the White House has made clear, Bush and his associates were kinda sorta thinking about this too, long before Biden announced his plan. Therefore he is following them. This is, after all, the brave leadership we've come to expect from this administration -- boldly leading the American people to the decision they made on their own several months ago.

Any minute now, we should see the president come out and condemn his plan for the privatization of Social Security. Seriously, who thought up that stinker?


Mr Furious said...

Where to begin?

At moments like these, I always begin with the fact that the Dems left Murtha go out on a limb instead of really being out in front on this issue.

Too fucking tentative as usual. Really, too afraid to be called pussies. Too afraid to take a politically risky position, which will give the Administration an opportunity to frame this issue themselves instead of the other way around.

Now some Dems certainly had Murtha's back, but watching the ground shift on this issue from Murtha to Hillary, to Edwards and Clinton, there was no coherent platform for the Dems to get credit for leading on this. Even if you don't worry about the credit (which, frankly the Dems desperately need on a foreign policy issue), Bush will get away with a blatant flip-flop and brazenly political maneuver all while outflanking the Dems.

I'm all for a well-planned withdrawal, but it would be nice for the Dems to lead on something, and for the withdrawal to actually be well-planned and well-executed. And honestly, one has to be seriously concerned about the Bushies fucking THAT up too.

S.W. Anderson said...

Otto Man makes a good point. Bush & Co. obviously wants badly to find some way to be (1) out in front and, in time, (2) out from under on this issue.

Of course, the administration and right-wing noise machine will parse words (weren't they against that when Bill Clinton was indulging?), pointing out this plan they're "leading" with" doesn't set benchmarks and any kind of hardened timetable, etc.

S.W. Anderson said...

mrfurious, I get where you're coming from. To some extent it's a legitimate beef. But try to remember a couple of things.

During the long, hard, divisive conflict about Vietnam here at home, some gonzo-radical antiwar crazies attached themselves to the Democratic Party like barnacles on a boat's hide. These radicals said and did some things that were way out of line.

The upshot was that radical right-wing Republicans were handed a generation or two's worth of mud to sling at Democrats, for being anti-America, unpatriotic, cowardly, blindly pacifist, etc. They slung and it stuck.

In the Deep South, already plenty P.O.'d at Democrats about Civil Rights and the most militaristic part of the country to begin with, the GOP got more traction than they had previously dared to dream about.

But that's not all. Those developments occurred during a period when a large infrastructure of Democratic D.C. insiders of various kinds (not just elected officials) that had come to prominence during the New Deal and Truman Years were aging, retiring and dying off. These people had given the party a lot of strength and influence, and had projected both deep into states all over the country. They also helped bring a lot of money in from many places.

Plus, to top it all off, unions have declined mightily, sapping Democrats' strength in volunteer workers, money and clout.

The fallout has been almost 30 years of declining fortunes for the Democratic Party as a whole and for a whole lot of individual Democrats.

So, it doesn't surprise me that there's been some reticence among elected Democrats to get out front against the Iraq war until they were convinced people had grown deeply disgusted with the way things are going.

It also doesn't surprise me that it fell to an especially solid background-type guy, Murtha, to step up and show real leadership on this. To be fair, Ted Kennedy early this year and John Kerry just a few weeks earlier, had put forth calls for some kind of rational plan, some kind of timetable for getting out.

Kennedy was a little early. Too many Americans were preoccupied with other matters and the afterglow of the Iraqi elections still had many thinking upbeat thoughts. Kerry's call wasn't as short and punchy as Murtha's, plus Murtha gained attention for seeming to have come from out of nowhere, as far as the public was concerned.

As for the withdrawal being well planned and executed, first we'd better demand to know what changes if any Bush & Co. thinking has undergone with respect to its plans for building several hard-site, longterm military installations, plus the world's largest U.S. embassy in Iraq. If they haven't given up on that nonsense, they're just blowing smoke about a Biden-like withdrawal plan.

If they're just blowing smoke, they will pull out (or fail to rotate in) just enough troops to show progress for the '06 elections, then will likely ship more back in, in response to some "crisis," of course.

Thrillhous said...

Great post.

I tend to agree more w/ SW on how this has unfolded. The right-wing noise machine has pretty much convince the librul media that dems love nothing more than cutting and running, so they've got to be careful to avoid that stigma at all times. I also agree that Kennedy's call for withdrawal was a little early.

The Bushies have done this stealing of ideas so many times, dems call them on it, and then the press just goes with the "Bush is showing courage with his brand new idea" line anyway. Let's see if his terrible approval ratings changes the formula this time.

Otto Man said...

Actually, I think the bitterness of the Republican attacks against Murtha -- which were so pronounced even SNL did a spoof on them -- will prevent them from revising this bit of history.

Thrillhous said...

Good point. They went totally hog wild over Murtha; one of the rare instances their swiftboating has met with broad disapproval.

Studiodave said...

If this is really happening, my opinion of W is LOWER than before. Before if I agreed or disagreed with W, at least he was (generally) true to his word. I did respect the fact that he was taking punches for saying we will be there until the job is done.

Also, when did they decide to dig up Rumsfeld again? I can't get him off the TV now. Luckily, he still has that smug "I can't believe you asked such a stupid question / awe shucks / golly" grin on his face.

And I actually liked him when he first took the job.


Otto Man said...

In my mind, the biggest scandal of this administration is that Rummy wasn't fired as soon as it became clear we had no post-war plan. What happened to the era of personal responsibility?

Mr Furious said...

What happened to the era of personal responsibility?

It's still in effect—liberals and Democrats everywhere are personally responsible for undermining the war and our troops. That's why it's going badly. See?

I'm with you SDave, much as it pains me to admit it, I thought Rumsfeld was a welcome change from wonk to a blunt-spoken Cabinet Secretary who treated the press with entertaining disdain. Too bad he's just turned out to be a completely incompetent and ineffective jackass costing thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars...

S.W. Anderson said...

"What happened to the era of personal responsibility?"

Let me commend to you Molly Ivins' excellent chapter on W in his role as the audit trustee Harken Oil (now Harken Energy, I think), in her excellent book "Bushwhacked."

In fact, one thing the whole book makes abundantly clear is that the Bush family, its friends, plus more recently the right-wing political and corporate powerstructure in this country, have spent the last couple of decades, at least, shielding George W. from consequences that would have done most commoners in long ago.

This BTW, falls in neatly with my long-held formula:

Bush + Rove = J.R. Ewing - the womanizing