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Dems on Iraq: Now What? Part II
Posted by: McQ on Friday, November 30, 2007

I covered the fallout from the Murtha admission below and how that will effect Congressional Democrats.

However, what is the major campaign issue the Democrats have been pushing during the run-up to the '08 Presidential election?

Iraq, of course.

Uh oh:
Congressional Democrats are reporting a striking change in districts across the country: Voters are shifting their attention away from the Iraq war.

Rep. Jim Cooper, a moderate Democrat from Tennessee, said not a single constituent has asked about the war during his nearly two-week long Thanksgiving recess. Rep. Michael E. Capuano, an anti-war Democrat from Massachusetts, said only three of 64 callers on a town hall teleconference asked about Iraq, a reflection that the war may be losing power as a hot-button issue in his strongly Democratic district.

First-term Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.) — echoing a view shared by many of her colleagues — said illegal immigration and economic unease have trumped the Iraq war as the top-ranking concerns of her constituents.

In an interview with Politico, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) attributed the change to a recent reduction of violence and media coverage of the conflict, saying there is scant evidence that more fundamental problems with the Bush administration’s policy are improving. Even so, he agreed voters are certainly talking less about the war. “People are not as engaged daily with the reality of Iraq,” Hoyer said.
They normally aren't "engaged daily with the reality of Iraq" when they are able to satisfy themselves that things have changed for the better. That's simply human nature, and the reaction Democrats are seeing speaks to that dynamic pushing Iraq from the top issue to, perhaps, a concern. But it appears a possibility that it won't be the hot button issue Democrats expected, and frankly, were counting on to ride into the White House this next year.

Obviously all of the good news in Iraq could change pretty quickly with a new round of violence. But at the moment that doesn't seem particularly likely.

So what might Democrats be stuck with if the positive trend continues in Iraq? Well they might be stuck with trying to explain why they ended up on the wrong side of the Iraq issue (and how that burnishes their national security creds) while trying to change the subject to domestic issues by offering everything under the sun to voters "for free".

This election is becoming more and more interesting every single day.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Iraq may once again be the Wild Card in 2008.

So may Illegal Immigration.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
Improved security is a statistic based on the number of sectarian murders and killings - among other things.

If the sheer number of ‘potential’ victims is lower, it stands to reason the number of ‘actual’ victims will also be lower. This lowered casualty figure, in some small way, can be attributed to the surge, but more than likely it is based more on my initial points (exodus and ethnic cleansing).

And still, since the surge was supposed to provide ‘breathing room’ for the politicians, we still have to consider the dubious success based on this important benchmark.

If the surge doesn’t do what it was put in place to do: breathing room for political discussions and compromises, then one cannot call the surge a success no matter how low the killing statistic is.

The right side talking points generally try to elevate the success and downplay the failure, and I see that happening in this instance. If the surge does not improve the political reconciliation (it’s intended goal), then it is a failure.

 
Written By: Tom
URL: http://
Maybe they could finance Al Queda?

Oh ho...wouldn’t THAT be an October surprise!
This lowered casualty figure, in some small way, can be attributed to the surge, but more than likely it is based more on my initial points (exodus and ethnic cleansing).
Meanwhile, Tom, are you actually suggesting that their population has been thrice decimated or something as a reason for the reduction in casualties?
The coincidence of this reduction in population with the surge reaching the magic reduced casualty tipping point is truly a statistical phenomenon ain’t it!

A new low in inventing reasons why things really aren’t as good as they look on the surface.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
The entire purpose of the surge was to create the breathing room for said reconciliation. That has been accomplished. The variable here is, and has been, outside of the control of the US Military and outside the control of, well, anyone. If our own congress takes an entire year to half-@ss funding for our troops and accomplish, well, NOTHING in that same period how can anyone reasonably expect this to magically fix itself in a few short months?

Establishing the security is necessary. Maintaining the security is equally necessary. Now we have to wait.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
What both sides need to do is to recognize that President Bush has made a fundamental shift, moving from brash neo-conservatism towards realism. The goals of the Iraq war have been completely redefined, and US has shifted from cowboy diplomacy to an emphasis on compromise and partnership. The US stopped trying to "win" in Iraq, and instead is building a system which, with Iranian and Saudi help, could at least avoid chaos. The dream of a model Iraqi democracy is dead for now, you’ll probably see a single party state, close ties to Iran, and continued massive corruption.

The real challenge now is to define a foreign policy in a multipolar era with a myriad of problems, and with the US no longer seen of as virtually invincible. Will the parties have a clear and open debate about the future of US foreign policy? We’ll see (more on my blog entry today, click link for my blog below)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Jim Cooper is my representative. I’d say his take is about right for Nashville. People here were frustrated when Iraq was nothing but gloom and doom. But when the news is fairly muted and what they do hear is a balance with plenty of good news to balance the bad, then they get the impression (no matter what Iraq’s leaders are doing) that progress is being made.

The whole "the surge is a failure unless we see x, y, and z" chorus from the anti-war types does not resonate with the average citizen. They want Iraq to turn out well. If we’re there, but violence is way down, they don’t mind that we’re there. What does it matter if it takes a year or five years from now for the Iraqis to learn how to run their country as a reasonably stable and open society? If the violence during that period is damped down, then I don’t believe the typical American citizen has a visceral dislike of the fact that we have troops on the ground there. (However much the anti-war left would like to believe they do.)
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Scott? You do realize Woodstock ended 38 years ago, right? I don’t know what LSD you might be on, but that has got to be the most absurd thing I have read since I put down Noam Chomsky.
If the violence during that period is damped down, then I don’t believe the typical American citizen has a visceral dislike of the fact that we have troops on the ground there. (However much the anti-war left would like to believe they do.)
A true statement.

Germany exhibit A
Japan exhibit B
Korea exhibit C
The Balkans exhibit D
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
I don’t know if this is quite the electoral liability for Democrats you might think it is. If Iraq is fading as a central issue, that could allow anti-war candidates to neatly escape consequences for their positions. If Iraq is in the background, Republicans will find it harder to press Democrats on the issue (since fewer people will weight that issue so heavily.) Since Democratic candidates have been so inarticulate and inconsistent about Iraq, one of their potentially weakest debate points is no longer such a juicy target (i.e. they can just hand-wave it and change the subject now, claiming domestic issues are more important.) A Republican candidate who tries to force the issue now may end up looking too hawkish to voters (who may take the position on Iraq to "let sleeping dogs lie.")

Some Republican candidates could still pressure Democrats on illegal immigration (helpful for those candidates,) but they will likely also have to deal with a renewed interest in spending programs like a national healthcare system. I think that a focus on domestic issues might be something of a wash for GOP candidates.
 
Written By: James O
URL: http://
Jim Cooper is my representative.
This might also be a good time to mention that he’s a Democrat, and that I voted for him.

If we listen very closely, we may be able to hear a popping sound in the brains of some of our left-liberal, Bushbot-accusing commenters when they read that.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Obviously all of the good news in Iraq could change pretty quickly with a new round of violence. But at the moment that doesn’t seem particularly likely.
I remember reading this blog back during the time of the Iraqi elections. At that time, all the happy talk on this blog was about how we were turning the corner, and that things were now going to get better. Of course, nothing could have been farther from the truth. Violence and chaos ramped up after the elections, not down.

Simply put, the prognostications on this blog about the future of Iraq have for years been wildly off the mark. Odds are that something is predicted on this blog, the opposite will happen.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Provide a quote, MK, or STFU.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
The goals of the Iraq war have been completely redefined, and US has shifted from cowboy diplomacy to an emphasis on compromise and partnership. The US stopped trying to "win" in Iraq, and instead is building a system which, with Iranian and Saudi help, could at least avoid chaos.
Huh. So the recent success in Iraq is due to Bush abandoning his previous plan (whatever that was, eh?) and undertaking the mo’-brilliant Democratic plan of "compromise and partnership"? Unbelievably deft triangulation, Erby! That way, any success from this day forward can be embraced by the Dems ("This is what we’ve been calling for all along!") and any failure can still be lain at Bushie’s feet ’cause, well, he’s the cheese. Really. How do you adjust all those mirrors so precisely?
 
Written By: Rob
URL: http://
Violence and chaos ramped up after the elections, not down.
Implying that post election, there should have been a linear decline in violence to this day, since bloggers said things are looking better. Could you be more juvenile? Are you thinking before you type? BDS pills. Look into ’em.
 
Written By: Rob
URL: http://
right, so let me see if I follow your logic:

"you guys said a few years ago that, because of the elections, things would get better in Iraq. Instead, terrorists began killing everything in sight.

Now, the military has killed tons of terrorists and deaths are down dramatically, to the point where marines are bored and want to go to Iraq, and you expect me to believe that you’re right?! Bah! The corpses of these terrorists will rise and the Marines will have to fight Zombie Insurgents!"

Yup. Flawless.

Logical fallacy, mkultra.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
only replace ’marines want to to go Iraq’ with ’marines want to go to Afghanistan’
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
Germany exhibit A
Japan exhibit B
Korea exhibit C
The Balkans exhibit D
Dude, you can’t do this. This injustice will not stand, man. Everybody knows that this war exists in a vacuum and history began with the crowning of our new King. From the moment our boots hit the ground, there better be steady, linear progress in all facets of the campaign (militarily, politically, and economically) or else it’s a... say it with me... a quagmire. If you must point to those non-entities you mentioned and inquire (which I’ve already pointed out, YOU MUST NOT!), I will tell you that George Bush was not involved in any of them. Rove, yes, Bush, no.
 
Written By: Rob
URL: http://
Zombie Terrorists? Wow is there no end to the Perfidies of the GWoT?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I remember reading this blog back during the time of the Iraqi elections. At that time, all the happy talk on this blog was about how we were turning the corner, and that things were now going to get better. Of course, nothing could have been farther from the truth. Violence and chaos ramped up after the elections, not down.
And now after the surge its down, not up.

So where’s your "happy talk" about all the gloom and doom likely in Iraq which has been your constant refrain from day 1?

As a reminder, most of the "happy talk" here has also carried the disclaimer that anything can happen to change the situation (as was noted in this blog post), and in many cases it did.

But now? Well now, all you can do is dwell in the past and point to times when it didn’t go as well as we thought it might given the events unfolding. Got nothing much to say about what is happening at the moment though, do you?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
mk also predicted dissenters would be rounded up and put in concentration camps. What kind of concentration camp is he in that has internet access?
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
The entire purpose of the surge was to create the breathing room for said reconciliation. That has been accomplished. The variable here is, and has been, outside of the control of the US Military and outside the control of, well, anyone. If our own congress takes an entire year to half-@ss funding for our troops and accomplish, well, NOTHING in that same period how can anyone reasonably expect this to magically fix itself in a few short months?

A few short months? is that what you wrote? It has been years and years - and $1 trillion. The right side may have limitless patience, but our treasury does not. We are all witnessing the bankruptcy of our country. We are watching it happen - right now.
 
Written By: Tom
URL: http://
The right side may have limitless patience, but our treasury does not. We are all witnessing the bankruptcy of our country. We are watching it happen - right now.
Did you give up on the idea that the reason casualties are down is because there’s only 6 Iraqi’s left sitting on the ruins in Baghdad, each one trying not to be the first to fall asleep?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Did you give up on the idea that the reason casualties are down is because there’s only 6 Iraqi’s left sitting on the ruins in Baghdad, each one trying not to be the first to fall asleep?
Hey, give him credit ... at least he knows when to abandon a dead meme. Tell that to the "Iraq is a quagmire" Democrats.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Murtha is sublimely stupid, but not as totally clueless dumb moonbat moronic as Dingy Harry Reid & his cowgirl pal Nancy.

If the Republicans can zero in on Iraq and the Dems hatred of America, then trump it with illegal immigrants and the Dems’ carelessness with national security, THE REPUBLICANS CAM WIN IN ’08!

The Democrats are loo-zers, and their leadership demonstrates that daily.
 
Written By: daveinboca
URL: http://www.daveinboca.blogspot.com
Some hallucination from above:
A few short months? is that what you wrote? It has been years and years - and $1 trillion. The right side may have limitless patience, but our treasury does not. We are all witnessing the bankruptcy of our country. We are watching it happen - right now.
I think the direct budget costs for Iraq are around $620 billion to date. A few weeks ago someone tried to float a tally with "hidden costs" that put it up around $1.6 trillion, which included everything down the road, along with all sorts of dubious assumptions.

But let’s say that the cost of Iraq to date is $1 trillion, and that’s the cost over five years, such that the average per year is $200 billion.

We now have an economy that’s up around $14 trillion GDP, so $200 billion a year is about 1/70th of GDP, or about 1.4% of GDP.

By historical standards, that’s one incredibly inexpensive war.

And given that the federal deficits are now below the 40-year average, hardly a war that is bankrupting our country.

These numbers are approximate, but in the ballpark.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
few short months? is that what you wrote? It has been years and years - and $1 trillion
from the surge? No.

We finally start doing things right, getting things fixed, and NOW you STILL want to leave?

It’s like a team getting beaten at a game and they finally come around during the third quarter and are winning and you still have yahoo fans who are screaming to throw in the towel.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://

We finally start doing things right, getting things fixed, and NOW you STILL want to leave?
Nothing is getting fixed, things changed because the Bush administration completely redefined the goals — as I note in my blog, he morphed from LBJ to Nixon. I give him credit for that, though it’s still just finding a way to gracefully exit a failed policy. The idea that Iraq will ever be considered a "success" is absurd on its face. (See my blog for today "Bush and Nixon")
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott Erb:

You are a very creative fellow.

I am afraid that your predictions, however, will be found inaccurate.

At last, someone who is both competent and a dynamic leader is commanding the Iraqi theatre. I believe that history shows that this is the formula for success (e.g. Grant, Eisenhower, MacArthur, Nimitz). Bush has 12 more months to use his power as CIC to support this capable commander.

I am willing to bet you $199.50 that Bush will succeed in this endeavor.

You have my email address.
 
Written By: vnjagvet
URL: http://www.yargb.blogspot.com
The idea that Iraq will ever be considered a "success" is absurd on its face. (See my blog for today "Bush and Nixon")
Well, certainly not in any class you’ll ever teach.
You can see to that personally, eh?
Your little contribution to truth in history.
gracefully exit a failed policy.
Meanwhile, if, 10 years from now, we’re still in bases in Iraq, and the country is stable, I’m sure you’ll still be talking about failed policies, right?
Well, you’re not Churchhill, so you can’t write history, but teaching it your way will be almost as good won’t it.

Yeah, I’m questioning your integrity.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
If I had a few months of free time, I’d travel to UMaine and audit Erb’s classes just to watch his head explode when someone in his class contradicted him and didn’t care what the consequences to the grade for the course was.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
things changed because the Bush administration completely redefined the goals

Pres. Bush, from March 2003-
In the event of conflict...We’ll help that nation to build a just government, after decades of brutal dictatorship. The form and leadership of that government is for the Iraqi people to choose. Anything they choose will be better than the misery and torture and murder they have known under Saddam Hussein.
So the administration ’redefined the goals’ to be exactly what they were at the beginning? Shocking. Or maybe someone just didn’t understand what the goals were. Something close to our style of democracy would be a bonus, but any government chosen by the a majority actually is a stark contrast to Iraq’s neighbors. Then again, he keeps trying to claim that it was supposed to be over in a few months, but even the New York Times knew the administration’s plan would take far longer:

October 22, 2002:
The Bush administration is now debating a postwar occupation of Iraq modeled on the United States occupation of Japan after World War II. Under this approach, Iraq would initially be ruled by an American military officer while a new Iraqi government is formed. Coalition military forces would perhaps remain in Iraq for years...

 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Thank you, Ted, for injecting actual facts into the debate rather than politically inspired fantasies. The strategy has remained exactly the same since Day 1 of the occupation after the incredibly successful war. Establish and maintain security until the Iraqis can stand on their own two feet.

As the US military has tried to establish security using different tactics, the enemy has (shockingly, just shockingly!!!) adapted its tactics to compensate. The US military has then changed its tactics to adjust to the enemy’s changes. The antiwar types such as Erb have latched onto every single shift in tactics, deliberately confused that with a change in strategy, and then used that to "substantiate" their claims that the Bush Administration’s strategy was flawed from the beginning.

Meanwhile, despite all the errors in tactics, the Administration has has remained steadfast in pursuing its strategy in Iraq. If you listened to Osama before 9/11 and actually examined what factors led this group of psychopaths to believe that they could defeat the US, steadfastness is the most important thing that the US needed to demonstrate to win. No, it’s not sufficient to win, but it is certainly essential to win.

That’s why every single Democrat strategy since the beginning of the war has been to either scream that "the US can’t do it alone so we must be helped by X (where X mostly = the UN)" or to declare defeat early and withdraw. The first set of strategies was to give them the wherewithal to claim later that the whole situation only worked out ’cause our good buddy Kofi covered our asses. When the occupation seemed to be faltering and the UN turned out to have absolutely no taste for any type of risk whatsoever, they felt it was safe to abandon that strategy and turn to screaming "Quagmire, Civil War, Genocide, We gotta cut support for the troops to force Bush to abandon Iraq!!" This second strategy is, of course, a straightforward attack on US steadfastness, the one factor that is within their power to control that would guarantee a loss.

Guys like Erb are REALLY panicking. Seeing that there is a possibility that things might actually be getting better and that the attack on US resolve may not work, they are now doing everything in their power to redefine the terms so that, no matter what happens, the US loses. Seriously, if Iraq suddenly turned into Sweden tomorrow, Erb would somehow declare that a defeat for the US.
 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
I think you just pulled out the proverbial crucifix to Erb, and how he’s running crazed.

I imagine he’ll return to blatantly ignore said quotes and continue down his path. I mean, after all, throw enough $hi+ at a wall and eventually some of it will actually stick.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
Erb is a defeat triumphalist now fighting a rear guard action against victory.

"Defeat at any cost" has just become "victory is too high a price to pay for defeat."

And "we will accept nothing less than defeat" has become "we will accept nothing less than the impossibility of victory."

And "Iraq is a fiasco" is now "Iraq is suffering from battered-colony syndrome."
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Erb, like the rest of the leftmost 75% of the Democrat Party, is a Copperhead who has wished this country ill since he’s been a teenager. I’d love to trade his passport for a one way ticket to one of the dictatorships he admires so much.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
If it takes 5 years for the Iraqis to sort themselves out politically, I don’t think anyone will care if we have 50,000 troops there.

BTW, Bosnia has not yet fully reconciled from their civil war. Just recently the Serbs in Bosnia have been making noises. Kosovo is not settled either. We have troops in Korea, despite Korea being a divided country where both sides seem to be at loggerheads on how to achieve a lasting peace.

Why should we expect Iraqis to be any faster than Bosnia, Kosovo, or Korea?

I still want to know when the next Iraqi elections will be held.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Viva HERB!
 
Written By: Rob
URL: http://
re: Dems and Iraq
Some cogent insight is that the continuing war was a call to national defense and so for the Republicans. As the war dies out as an issue, domestic concerns arise, where the Dems have the advantage.
Not that the war should continue, but it’s not necessarily good for Republicans.
 
Written By: Ed
URL: http://
Ted, don’t mistake Bush’s rhetoric for world public opinion as a statement of American goals. Read the memoirs and histories of the conflict that have come out, and the recounting of internal debates within the administration. That’s where the real information is. Public speeches by the President are PR exercises.

Terry, I think you’re living in an alternate reality. The failure in Iraq has one upside: it shows the limits of military power and has essentially pushed away the kind of hawkish neo-conservative agenda that was pursued right after 9-11. We won’t go that route, we’ve learned the limits to our power.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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