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Iraq Still Belongs To Bush

May 25, 2007

Congress passed a funding bill for Iraq that the president will sign. It contains no timetables for beginning troop withdrawal. Is this a victory for the president? Yes. Is it a blow to Democrats? I’m not so sure.

Democrats took the people’s will to the president and sparred with him over it, but ultimately they did not have the votes to override a veto. They did what they were elected to do. If people want a veto-proof bill, they’ll just have to elect more of Democrats next time. (A notion voters may indeed remember in 08.) Meanwhile, the president now owns this disastrous war more than ever. Congress gave him what he wanted. Succeed or fail, it’s still all his baby.

Think about how it would have gone had the congress gotten their first bill passed. Things would still go badly in Iraq. But in this scenario, the president and his shrinking cadre of supporters would blame the Democrats for it. Can’t you just hear it? “The Democrats’ ‘surrender timetable’ has caused the enemy to yadda, yadda….” As things stand now, there’s little cover for them. The failure is their own.

It’s a shame that the linkage between the will of the people and their government is so loose and slow to respond, that it’s going to take more than one election cycle for our voices to translate into a new Iraq policy. But in the longer term, I see no threat to it eventually happening.

The biggest shame of all, of course, is that a lot more people are going to die needlessly before this mess gets turned around.

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  1. His baby…

    “We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and th! e means of delivering them.” – Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI), Sept. 19, 2002

    “We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.” – Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

    “Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.” – Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

    “We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.” – Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002 +

    “In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members … It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.” – Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002

    “We must stop Saddam from ever again jeopardizing the stability and security of his neighbors with weapons of mass destruction.” – Madeline Albright, Feb 1, 1998

    And let us not forget this little gem….


  2. The point you’re trying to make is, I think, a pretty hollow one. Some of the above speakers might indicate that they feel deceived by either the president’s case for war, or alternately, that they were for a better executed war which Bush failed to deliver.

    Whatever the case, voters will not be linking the Democratic party with the mess that is Iraq. Since day 1 the president has been having everything his way there, and he will continue to do so until at least September. The failures will continue to be his.


  3. Another point is that all those guys Fred cited suck too. So what. They’re not the president and those quotations are old. Scott’s whole point is about making a change to reflect the will of the people. What people or congress said in 2002 is waaayyyy less important than what’s happening now. (I realize that Scott stated that the Democrats sparred witht he president on this and Fred’s quotes sort of refute that to a very slight degree. But throughout this mess, many Democrats did fight the war in Iraq and that number has increased for some time now. I can forgive Scott for his party loyalty on this one, as stupid as party loyalty is).

    “If people want a veto-proof bill, they’ll just have to elect more of Democrats next time.”

    Or just fewer idiots and liers, regardless of which party they align themselves with.


  4. Fred, I thought that the President is the commander in chief! He’s the decider. The quotes that you cribbed from Glenn Beck prove that the Democrats have (unfortunately) been nothing but compliant with the decider from the start until today. He has been the one in charge the whole time.


  5. JIJARWM: it’s not out of blind party loyalty that I advise people who want to end the war to elect more Democrats. The record really does support the notion that if there were more in congress today, the timeline bill would be law right now. Electing more Republicans will make that event even less likely. Is it not so?


  6. Put another way, which Republicans can people vote for if they want to end the war?


  7. Ron Paul?


  8. A fair answer. However he seems to be the exception that proves my rule. There aren’t too many Republicans who have broken from the president on the war. There are a lot of Democrats who have.


  9. Actually, my point isn’t that some republicans want to end the war or whatever. My point is that it’s distrcting to draw people’s position on the war along party lines. Well, I think it’s stupid to draw any position along party line since I have no party and have plenty of opinions about politics.

    I just think this is one issue that really illustrates a bigger problem with American politics. We have two parties that are, deep down, basically indistinguishable, that oppose eachother on various random issues for basically random, inconsistent reasons.

    I’d love to end the war, but I can’t just check to see if Candidate X wants to end the war, I have to look at his other issues too. I certainly can’t just look at whether there’s a “D” next to his name.

    Although, I admit that the “D” has been an adequate proxy for “against the war” for the most part. I just don’t like using that sort of proxy.


  10. I thought the Democratic majority in the house and near Senate majority represent the will of the people. The reason they couldn’t override the veto was that many Democrats did not vote for the override. Not every Democrat supports a deadline. Apparently, the will of the majority of people has been represented by their recently elected officials in the House and Senate, not the far left Democrats. Careful when you say your opinion represents all Democrats. I believe the Democratic party leadership is losing touch with their main stream constituents in favor of the far left minority that are most active on the blogs.


  11. “However he seems to be the exception that proves my rule. ”

    No, he’s the exception that proves MY rule. My rule is that there are exceptions to your rule so you shouldn’t rely on your rule so much.


  12. I thought the Democratic majority in the house and near Senate majority represent the will of the people.

    a) I thought it was a bona fide majority in the Senate, too. b) you’re right to question whether they reflect the will of the people. If you’ve seen a poll lately, the people seem to want this shit overwith. Meanwhile, yes, Democrats were somewhat split over the bill. Quite right.

    I believe the Democratic party leadership is losing touch with their main stream constituents in favor of the far left minority that are most active on the blogs.

    No, I think it is you who don’t understand what people want. Am I wrong in thinking that a clear majority of Americans want this war over with? Did I dream that? It’s not the “far left” nutcakes on blogs. It’s mainstreet America.

    Jesus, you’re right. But I’m also right: Democrats are lot more likely to vote for what people want (an end to the war) than Republicans seem to be.


  13. “Democrats are lot more likely to vote for what people want (an end to the war) than Republicans seem to be.”

    Agreed. And I stipulated as much. I don’t think you’re wrong as much as I think you are imprecise–too generalized. You would admit that “People who want to end the war” want to end the war in larger percentages than “Democrats” want to end the war, no? It’s like 100% to 95% or so, but still. My point is just that you’re doing your policy position a diservice by labeling it along a party line.

    When we draw party lines, people tend to alter their policy positions to conform to the party line rather than alter their party lines to conform with the policy positions of the people. So even if 75% of the people want to leave Iraq, only 51% or so will vote to do so since there are other issues tied up with that one along the party lines. In other words, 25% of those people that oppose the war may also oppose publicly funded healthcare (for example) so maybe some of the Socialist party candidates should try to compramise a little bit on that one to try to draw some voters from the Fascist party. That’s all I’m saying.


  14. There’s a difference, though. Yes, a majority of people want the war to be over. But, many want the war to end through resolve. Some want to end it by simply going home. While I think the war is a mess, it’s not impossible things could change. That wouldn’t bode well for the dems.


  15. Well, I think it’s a gross misreading of public opinion to say, as the Bushites are wont to do, that what the polls really say is that people want “victory” in Iraq, not withdrawal. Few Americans believe that it’s possible for us to achieve anything more in Iraq, that it’s up to the Iraqi government and our political/diplomatic efforts to clean things up as best we can.

    And, no, it’s not impossible that things could change for the better. I’m all for that. Even if it brings Bush’s approval numbers up. It will cause me no cognitive dissonance to see some success there. If he somehow manages to pull a rabbit out of his hat at this late date it will by no means justify the ill-considered war in the first place, nor will it undo the vast amounts of damage it has done to our international reputation and our national security.


  16. The polls show that a majority of the people are dissatisfied with the war, but the polls do not show that a majority want a deadline and withdrawal as the resolution. I am dissatisfied with the war, but want it to end through resolve. The consequences of not beating Al Qaeda in Iraq and creating a stabilized a democracy in an oil rich country of the Middle East will cause us to be there again on a much larger scale in five to ten years.

    Maybe your next blog should be on the long term implications of an Iraq deadline and withdrawal to the Middle East, world wide terror activities and US/European security.


  17. the polls do not show that a majority want a deadline and withdrawal as the resolution.

    Where are you getting your news? The polls have showed exactly this for almost a year now.

    Yes, we in the reality-based world understand quite well the implications for leaving an unstable Iraq behind us. Unfortunately, the president seems to be doing nothing that is likely to achieve that goal. He should be engaging in diplomatic negotiations with the Iraq government and the sectarian militias, and possibly even allowing in Iraq’s neighbors in on it. There is no military solution there.

    Citing the dangers of leaving it a mess do not justify doing things that don’t work.


  18. Scott:

    So the solution is to up and leave rather than fixing the “mess”.

    Do you believe there is a solution to the current situation other than pulling out? If so, do you think the Democratic leadership will provide that solution? So far, they have indicated only withdrawal. So if everyone understands the implications of “leaving an unstable Iraq”, why is withdrawal the only course of action on the table for the Democratic leadership? Sounds like a short term political maneuver to win the election, then what? If Democrats follow Clinton’s policy, they will withdraw troops, wait and monitor and take no action until the whole region is just one bigger mess and/or there is another major attack on the US. At least Bush took the war to the enemy, rather than waiting for the enemy to come to us (again). Yes, he did mess it up, but if everyone knows the implications of withdrawing now (as Bush has stated a number of times), then why aren’t the Democrats proposing a better solution. I might even support a Democratic candidate that did offer an alternative solution to deadline and withdrawal.


  19. Well, Bill, yes. I recommend leaving if we can’t fix the mess by staying. Here’s our choices, as I see them:

    a) stay and do nothing (president’s plan)

    b) stand and do something (such as follow through on the core recommendations of the Iraq Study Group.

    c) leave and let the chips fall where they may, with the understanding that even this bleak option is better than “a,” in that our withdrawal announcement may spur some of the political solutions sought by the IRS in option “b.”

    Option “a” has been tried for years now. Anyone who can’t admit that this option is the very last choice we should take is a fool.

    Option b suits me fine. The only difference between it and option “c” is that with “c” we actually announce we’re going at such and such date; with option “b” we still go, maybe even in the same timeframe, but we don’t fuss about announcing it beforehand.

    The choices could really be boiled down to two: do something productive (politically), or don’t. We can choose to go with a timetable for withdrawal in either scenario. To me, whether we set a timetable or not isn’t a critical factor in success; whether we earnestly try to make the political solutions work is.

    And I should say right off the bat, I’m a pessimist on Iraq. I think even if the president did everything right politically in Iraq now, there’s still a very good chance that it won’t work, leaving the country in much the same condition it is in now: civil war.

    The whole issue of whether Iraq makes us safer from terrorism is moot. It has already made us less safe. We could redeem some of that lost security by leaving it stable, but leaving it as it is won’t increase our danger much more than invading has in the first place.


  20. I would only say that if things did improve, and the war came to a resolved end, it would make less hollow the lives lost. That’s of no comfort to, perhaps many, but not all, of those who lost loved ones in the war. But the pill, so to speak, would be easier to swallow. I think it will depend, too, on what exactly happens. I don’t think the war was ill conceived as much as it turned very messy along the way. In terms of the public view, I don’t think the issue of why we went to war in the first place will be as important as what happens now. You may not agree, but it pretty easy to diffuse the dems attempt to shorten people’s memory on their votes and their reasons behind them.

    Sorry. I’m a few posts behind.

    The terrorism issue would be moot only if terrorist acts were being carried out outside of Iraq . . . perhaps even here. You can’t claim we are less safe anymore than I can claim we’re safer. There’s no measure of this other than acts of terrorism. Right now, that’s going on in Iraq . . . not here. It’s a debatable issue. Hardly moot.

    To the original point . . . you make it sound as though the dems have completely washed their hands of this and will come out smelling rosy in the end. I don’t think so. First, they’re divided some on this. Second, they’ve made themselves look the weaker on war with their first bill that included a time table. Public opinion on that issue seems to be divided. Third, they passed a bill for funding the war . . . without a time table. In the opinion of many, they lost this fight. The battle isn’t over. But, again, much will depend on what happens.


  21. You can’t claim we are less safe anymore than I can claim we’re safer.

    Yes, I can. The National Intelligence Report said so. All you have are bold and baseless assertions by the administration.

    There’s no measure of this other than acts of terrorism.

    Yes, and incidents of global terrorism have gone up sharply.

    Right now, that’s going on in Iraq . . . not here.

    The whole idea that terrorists are going to follow us home is BS. not only does it not make sense on its face, but a recent study by McClatchy indicated “the likelihood that enemy combatants from Iraq might follow departing U.S. forces back to the United States is remote at best.”

    I think it’s a wash. Leaving Iraq in chaos may indeed serve as a rallying cry for extremists everywhere. But so is just being there.

    their first bill that included a time table. Public opinion on that issue seems to be divided.

    Yeah. The majority want timetables, and the minority doesn’t. See you at the polls.



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