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.Where to begin?
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.
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?