Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Democrats Go On The Offensive

Our partisan Dems were kind enough to instruct General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker about the objective reality in Iraq during hearings before the Senate committees today. And, in a few instances, our Dems even managed to work in a question or two. What became clear were the new Democratic talking points. And there were even two award winning performances. The most smacked down award goes to Evan Byah while Obama takes the Slick Willie award:


I’ve spent the day watching and blogging the testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker before Congress, including the three Presidential candidates. Here are my observations as to our partisan left.

1. The laugher of the day has to go to Biden who concluded his speech opening the hearings before the Foreign Relations Committee by saying that those who advocate leaving Iraq immediately are being being "unfairly" labled as "defeatists." In reality, they are "patriots." Right. If that is how we defined "patriots" since 1776, we would be singing God Save the Queen today and Washington, D.C. would be abutting the sovereign nation of the Confederate States of America.

2. Gone is any question that includes the words “bench marks.” That favored of all topics but a few short months ago has been vanished from Democratic vocabulary except for speeches to which neither Petraeus or Crocker are afforded an opportunity to respond. The answer of course would have been that 12 of the 18 benchmarks are substantively met and the other six are all on a forward trajectory.

3. Democrats have become fiscally conservative, seeing the money being spent in Iraq as breaking our nation’s economy. Of course, what was unsaid was that Obama and Clinton have both promised to use the money going to Iraq to fund their vast new experiments in socialism. I guess this would be called highly selective fiscal conservatism.

4. Several Senators tried the argument that Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri have been lying when they have repeatedly said, as recently as four months ago, that Iraq is the central focus of al Qaeda. According to these budding intel analysts, bin Laden is conducting a brilliant disinformation campaign designed to bankrupt America by keeping us fighting in Iraq. The fact that al Qaeda's defeat in the Iraq is having a very negative impact on the popularity of their cause apparently does not enter into Democratic calculus.

5. Many of the Senators claimed our forces are too stretched by the Iraq War so that we are unprepared to respond if our forces are needed elsewhere. The unspoken logical extension of that is let’s surrender in Iraq so that we can bring our troops home and they can prepare for a hypothetical war that no Democrat will committ ground forces to anyway. And that way, Congress will not have to waste money increasing the size of the military that is the smallest in our nation’s history since WWII. Its a far left two'fer.

6. Iran is an ally of the Shia in Iraq and in a close relationship with Maliki. Apparently, allowing Ahmendinejad to conduct a state visit to Iraq a month ago showed the Iraqi Shia led government to be in an anti-American alliance with Ahmedinejad – a bargain they sealed with a kiss. I thought that was a hanging offense in Iran. Perhaps Ahmedinejad is just letting his hair down outside of Tehran.

7. Iran is only conducting its malign proxy actions in Iraq, attempting to recreate Lebanon in Iraq, is only because the U.S. is in Iraq. If only the U.S. would leave Iraq, Iran would immediately stop their attempts at meddling and embrace Iraq. The fact that an Iraq with a real democracy and that honors the millenium old Shia tradition of a wall between mosque and state, if you will, presents a mortal threat to Iran by its very existance on Iranian borders is apparently merely ancillary to this argument.

8. The Basra offensive, with Shia on Shia violence, was proof positive that the surge had failed. The fact that the Basra offensive was the government seeking to stop criminal gangs who contol Iraq’s sole port and economic center were apparently not reasonable justifications for the offensive. Nor was the fact that the only militia to react is armed, funded and trained by Iran. That was not evidence of a civil war. It was evidence of an Iran Iraq war.

9. We have not conducted a "diplomatic surge." Other Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, are not assissting us enough in Iraq because of a failure of Bushian diplomacy. Apparently, the fact that Iraq, if we succeed, will be a shining democracy amongst a world of repressive police states – and will be a particular threat to Iran – simply does not explain the lack of concern amongst Middle Eastern countries with making Iraq a success. It must be Bush's fault. And as to Iran, we have tried to set up meetings with them for months to discuss Iraqi security. Unfortunately, they keep running into "unavoidable conflicts" with scheduling.

10. Multiple Senators strong armed Crocker to submit the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that we are negotiating with Iraq to Congress for approval. The fact that this will be an Executive Agreement within the President’s Article II powers to sign and that Crocker said will not in any way tie the hands of our next president is meaningless to the narrative that this is an end run around Congress. As is the fact that President’s have negotiated SOFA agreements without Congressional approval in 79 out of 79 other similar scenarios. Clearly, the Democrats would love to see our forces in Iraq with no authority under international law or by force of agreement between the U.S. and Iraq.

11. Most of the Democrats did not understand why we could not predict today a bright line set of conditions that would allow us leave as soon as we meet them. Particularly disingenuous was Obama, who was trying to portray those in favor of staying in Iraq as only planning to draw down when every last al Qaeda sympathizer is wiped out or jailed. No one has ever claimed that, though Obama stated it today as if its been part of the Republican platform since 2002.

And the Most Smacked-Down award goes to . . . . .

Senator Evan Byah. Senator Bayh sounded like a lawyer doing just an incredibly poor cross examination.

- Bayh tried to get Petraeus to say that reasonable people could disagree on how to go forward in Iraq – clearly implying that an immediate withdraw is within reason. Petraeus picked it up and responded that reasonable people could differ, but anyone who advocated a quick withdraw would "not be reasonable."

- Bayh was the brilliant mind that suggested it is possible that bin Laden and Zawahiri are both lying about Iraq still being al Qaeda’s central focus, merely trying to stretch our effort and break our piggy bank. Crocker indicated he rather believed bin Laden on this one.

- Bayh asked Crocker to agree that we needed to put more pressure on Iraq’s government by giving a time certain deadline for withdraw. Crocker responded that his experience was that political progress and concessions occur when there is less pressure on the Iraqi legislators, not more. Further, the pressure of a timeline for quick withdraw would end the political gains in their tracks as each side starts to look at what is to come after America pulls out.

- Finally, Petraus responds to Bayh’s suggestion that our effort in Iraq has caused an increase in jihadi recruitment. Petraeus disagrees and then goes on to state he believes bin Laden’s repeated assertions about the centrality of Iraq to al Qaeda and that removing troops cannot be on a date certain. It must be conditions based if it is to be done while sustaining the progress made to date.

The Slick Willie Award for prevarication and disingenuousness in the spirit of William Jefferson Clinton goes to . . .


Obama had a perfect opportunity to let Petraeus and Crocker ponder the ramifications of his plan to get out of Iraq a brigade or two a month. True, in prior testimony, Petraeus and Crocker were both explicit that that a precipitous withdraw would be an incredible disaster – and that of course is what Obama has proposed. Instead of asking about the problems with his surrender plan, Obama spent his time asking rather innocuous questions that sounded sage but were of little substance. Only when his questioning was nearly done did he make a statement, not allowing Petraeus nor Crocker the opportunity to respond. To paraphrase, Obama stated his narrative:

“The decision to go into Iraq was a blunder and it is the cause of al Qaeda and Iran going into Iraq. The surge has not resulted in reconciliation. Basra was done for political purposes. We need a timetable for withdraw and a diplomatic surge that includes Iran. We need Iran as partners to assisst with stabilizing Iraq. The money we are spending is breaking our budget. We have finite resources.”

And for that very disingenuous performance, he of course earned copious praise from the MSNBC crowd.

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