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Category: Sunday Talkshow Breakdown (page 1 of 4)

Tears of a Clown

The inimitable Bill Scher normally posts a round up of the Sunday morning gasbag shows on Liberal Oasis each Monday morning. He watches these shows on Sunday while everyone else nurses hangovers, thus sparing us the pain.
Rather than try to reach for, and then fall short of, Bill’s high standards, I at least thought that yesterday’s Fox News Sunday (aka Making Colonoscopy Seem Like Fun in Comparison , hosted by Chris Wallace) warranted a followup commentary. Digby, apparently, http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/ , felt the same way.
Digby, one of my favorite bloggers, was generous in her account of watching George H.W. Bush break down and cry crocodile tears during his fond reminiscences of the Persian Gulf War. Compared to this Iraq War and to his own son, the Persian Gulf war and George H.W. Bush do seem a little less awful than they actually were. Old “Poppy” Bush, though desperately trying to defend his son’s excellent adventure in Iraq on this Fox News Sunday episode, could not disguise his sadness and disappointment for very long. Chris Wallace–now, here’s another guy who probably reduces his elderly dad to tears on a regular basis–just sat and watched the old guy weep.
There, there, Poppy.
I’m sorry, but I couldn’t work up even a scintilla of compassion for Bush the Elder. On the contrary, I am at least consoled by the fact that the Bush family name has now been permanently soiled by association with the Boy King, that it is a name that will forever live in infamy.
You can see the footage for yourself by going to Digby’s site, and clicking through the posting. You make the call.
Do you feel bad for George H.W. Bush?
Am I just a big meanie?

Sunday Talkshow Breakdown

We are caught up in a worldwide war against an irreconcilable enemy who seeks to destroy us and will use nuclear or biological weapons if they can get them. And they mean literally destroy us … whether it’s Afghanistan, it’s Iraq, it’s Iran, it is the problems in Syria, it’s the 300 people who were killed in Algeria a week ago, the 200 people killed in India a month ago…
Newt Gingrich, CBS’ Face The Nation, 5/6/07
…Iraq is not about a civil war. Iraq is about Al Qaeda and 76 other terrorist groups operating there, and all of their effort is aimed at defeating the United States … it’s Al Qaeda and their affiliates who have made Iraq the central front in their war with us. And we have to remember they started this, not us. And if we don’t take on Al Qaeda there, in Iraq, where do we take on Al Qaeda? Where do we take on radical Islam who is hellbent on killing Americans and our allies?
House Minority Leader John Boehner, Fox News Sunday, 5/6/07
Bush is at 28%. 64% of Americans want a timetable for a 2008 withdrawal from Iraq. Twice as many as Americans believe, if we stay in Iraq, that terrorist attacks on the U.S. are more likely than less likely.
Yet we should be not sanguine about the state of our foreign policy debate. Because we’re barely having one.
The intentionally oversimplified conservative worldview is still being consistently articulated, without being challenged directly. As it was on Sunday with Gingrich and Boehner.
That’s a dangerous situation. Conservatives may be down. But by allowing them to inaccurately frame the overall debate, they can get back up.
Democratic opposition to the Iraq war has become clearer and stronger. Presidential candidates are beginning to give speeches offering foreign policy vision.
But we do not see those speeches become centerpieces of debate. We do not see Democratic leaders regularly debunking the false premises of the conservative worldview, to best crystallize the choice the people have for our foreign policy direction,
What exactly needs to be challenged?
On the region: That we face a singular “Islamofacist” terrorist threat.
This is how they justify staying in Iraq, and set the stage for future invasions, by saying it’s all part of a larger war.
But there is not a singular threat. We are not in a World War III against a global Islamofascist army.
We face a region where average people are suffocated and manipulated by various autocrats, theocrats, terrorist organizations and political militias, with different agendas and allegiances.
Misrepresenting and demagoguing the situation is how we got mired in Iraq, and how we will get mired in more countries.
On Iraq: That withdrawing would happen in a vacuum.
Redeployment is only part of a fundamental change in strategy — unequivocally scrapping the neoconservative goal of a permanent military presence in Iraq.
That would dramatically change the political dynamic — dissipating Iraqi animosity towards us and giving neighboring nations reason to work with us, maximizing our ability to make diplomacy work.
On Iran: That Ahmadinejad runs the place, and that negotiations would be pointless.
Ahmadinejad is not the Supreme Leader, not commander-in-chief, and not in control of any nuclear program. Further, his political standing was weakened in Iran’s most recent elections. There are other members in Iran’s fractured government we can more easily talk to.
Conservatives are fond of asking: “just what are you willing to give up” to Iran, and no one ever seems to answer the question.
But the common ground to be had is easy to articulate:
Intrusive weapons inspections, border control and an end to support for anti-Israel groups, in exchange for normalized relations, economic assistance and renouncement of U.S. permanent bases in Iraq.
On Israel: That the current foreign policy course we’re on is good for Israel.
We need to encourage peace between Israel and its neighbors, not undermine potential progress as has continually happened in the last several years.
There have been openings for an agreement with Syria, for moderation of Hamas following democratic elections, for strengthening of Lebanon’s elected government and weakening of Hezbollah.
But they have all been missed under the current myopic foreign policy.
To protect ourselves and others from the threat of terrorist organizations, we need to be a positive force for freedom and stability, and take away the ability for terror organizations to gain political support and grow their ranks.
Unilateral military strikes, occupations against the will of sovereign people, hypocritical support for autocrats, and ignoring diplomatic opportunities have all served to destabilize the Gulf region and impede democracy.
That’s the choice.
Or at least, it would be if Democratic leaders consistently challenged the false conservative worldview, and made plain what the differences are.

Sunday Talkshow Breakdown

Dubya’s veto of the Iraq bill is expected on Tuesday,
While the veto will be no surprise, it will still be a historic act, a monumental snubbing of the public will as expressed by Congress.
And there will be a need to put the event in proper context, and counter the spin that the veto is somehow good for the troops.
That spin will center on funding for troops in the field. But there is no dispute about that.
No one believes that a soldier already in the field should be deprived of necessities, and the bill that Bush will veto provides those resources.
But it’s not necessarily helpful to simply blame Bush for holding up those funds. It may be true, but again, that’s not the dispute.

The dispute is over strategy:
should we permanently occupy Iraq or not.
When Bush vetoes the bill, which includes a ban on funds for permanent bases, he should be called out for vetoing a strategy that would end the occupation.
On ABC’s This Week, Secretary of State Condi Rice provided fresh material to help make that case/
Rice tried to sound as if the White House believed in benchmarks for the Iraqi “government”
But faced with the prospect of benchmarks that are actually tied to consequences if the installed Iraqi leadership can’t meet them, Rice said:

The problem is that if you try and make consequences about these benchmarks, you’re tying the hands of General [David] Petreaus and the hands of Ambassador [to Iraq Ryan] Crocker


We’re happy to fill up their hands
with an occupation feeding a multi-party civil war, but we won’t tie their hands with expectation of progress.
In other words, we’ll support benchmarks, so long as they are completely cosmetic and meaningless and don’t lead to any “consequences” like troop redeployments.
If you’re bending over backwards to avoid anything that opens the door to leaving Iraq militarily, the only reasonable conclusion is you don’t ever want to leave Iraq militarily.
That’s what the veto will show.
The public and the majority in Congress want to leave Iraq. The White House and the congressional minority do not.

Sunday Talkshow Breakdown

Some Republicans are pushing for Alberto Gonzales’ resignation, in hopes of ending media attention on the Prosecutor Purge scandal.
But on the Sunday shows, Democrats indicated that they would not consider a resignation a substitute for getting to the bottom of the Purge.
Sen. Patrick Leahy said on CBS’ Face The Nation:

…who would [Gonzales] be replaced with? If it’s going to be another person who is going to be really run by the White House, and if the White House is continued to be allowed to interfere with the criminal justice system throughout this country … then it does no good.

On CNN’s Late Edition, Sen. Ron Wyden subtly called out the GOP tactic:

I, for one, am concerned that some of the people who are saying he’s a dead man walking are essentially trying to have Mr. Gonzales walk the plank for the administration, when we still ought to be digging into exactly what the role of the White House was.

And Sen. Chuck Schumer, on Fox News Sunday, kept up the drumbeat for White House officials to testify

When Attorney General Gonzales says he doesn’t know what’s going on, and his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, says he doesn’t know what’s going on, or at least he didn’t compile the list, the deputy attorney general the same, and so do all the lower-level people who we’ve interviewed in private, the arrow seems to point at the White House more and more.
Someone had to come up with this scheme. And getting Karl Rove, getting Harriet Miers and other White House officials to testify is really essential.

Dems are smartly looking beyond any potential resignation, and setting the bar where it belongs.
Not on scalps for scalps sake, but on diving the truth of what happens and restoring the credibility of our system of justice.

Sunday Talkshow Breakdown

On ABC’s This Week, Gov. Bill Richardson had his first national interview since he declared he would leave behind “no residual forces” in Iraq at last week’s MoveOn.org Virtual Town Hall.
How does Richardson respond to aggressive questions about his position? Here’s the bulk of the exchange with George Stephanopoulos:
STEPHANOPOULOS: You would pull out American troops more quickly and more completely … than any of the other Democratic candidates. [Editor’s Note: except Rep. Dennis Kucinich]
You say, all troops out by the end of this year, “no residual force whatsoever.”
Senator John McCain gave a big speech this week, where he warned that that kind of a pullout would lead to chaos [and] the collapse of the Iraqi government … is that a price you’re willing to pay?
RICHARDSON: Well I believe that assessment is totally wrong.
Right now, there is a civil war in Iraq. There is continued sectarian violence. I don’t believe the situation can get any worse.
What I am proposing is, no residual forces, because I don’t believe that they’re needed. They’re … going to be continued targets.
I believe in bringing other nations — Moslem nations, NATO, Iran, Syria, as the Iraq Study Group suggested — in a new security framework.
…I would withdraw the forces by the end of this year, but I would set up two diplomatic efforts.
One that would ensure a reconciliation of three religious groups [and] a division of power into three entities. And then a security conference that would involve Turkey, Saudi Arabia —
STEPHANOPOULOS: But if that diplomacy fails, you’re saying you’d pull out the troops anyway.
RICHARDSON: What I am saying is that you use the leverage of that withdrawal to affect those two very strong diplomatic initiatives.
George, what we’re looking at here is not just Iraq. We’re looking at the totality of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
You have to use diplomacy, aggressive diplomacy. Then you use other efforts that involve an international support for what we’re trying to do…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But why would other nations go in if we are pulling out?
RICHARDSON: …you would offer them the stability of the region. You would offer them an ability to shape events in terms of reconstruction and security. Everybody in the region wants stability.
And I believe what you need to do is bring all the parties together, and basically say: There’s going to be a sharing of power in Iraq. There’s going to be a sharing of oil revenue. There’s going to be three different sectors.
And then you bring the major security powers — Moslem nations, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Syria, NATO countries — into a security framework, to guarantee security and reconstruction for that country.
What is the alternative? The alternative is our policy now, a surge of more troops, at a time when … we don’t have those additional forces —
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Senator Clinton has a different alternative … She would leave a residual force next year of about 75,000 or so … that would be there to fight Al Qaeda in the north, protect the Kurds in the north, deter Iran.
Why isn’t that a more responsible course?
RICHARDSON: Because by leaving American troops in Iraq they become targets. They become incentives for more violence.
I would use some of those troops outside of Iraq. I would put some possibly in Bahrain, I would station some in the region. I would put a majority of them in Afghanistan, where Al Qaeda and the Taliban are really, right now, resurrecting.
But I would not put them in Iraq. I believe I would leave Marine forces to protect our embassy and other vital American installations.
But the point here is that leaving a residual force is going to invite more violence and make our troops targets.

The last answer in that exchange is the most interesting.
Because the question Richardson will now have to repeatedly deal with is: why would you pull out all troops in Iraq when Al Qaeda in Iraq [a group that did not exist before the occupation — ed.] is still there?
Few support our troops being mired in Iraq’s civil war. But most everyone supports use of the military to go after Al Qaeda.
So Richardson will surely have to address the perception that leaving Iraq completely, without a (ostensibly temporary) counterterrorism force, would leave Al Qaeda unchecked.there.
Stephanopoulos made a passing mention of this when discussing Sen. Clinton’s plan, but did not ask it narrowly, and Richardson did not fully address it.
But Richardson seems to suggest he believes Al Qaeda in Iraq simply isn’t the big fish, and so, isn’t the worth the blowback that an ongoing military presence would generate.
In the end, it’s not for LiberalOasis to tease out Richardson’s remarks. He will surely be asked about it going forward, and how he handles it will be a big test.
Because successfully answering the question requires upending the assumptions most journalists and most voters have about the significance of Al Qaeda in Iraq.
If he can do it, legitimize the position, and shift the debate, he will have shown he can counterspin the neocons and fundamentally reframe a major foreign policy issue.
That’s a task extremely difficult to do single-handedly, but if accomplished, certainly would show presidential leadership.
So LiberalOasis will be watching.

Sunday Talkshow Breakdown

On Tuesday, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid properly framed Bush’s expected veto of the eventual Iraq bill as keeping “in place his strategy for failure,” LiberalOasis said that would only succeed in framing the overall debate if “all congressional Dems” articulated the same.
Yesterday on ABC’s This Week, Senate Armed Services Chair Carl Levin failed to so, and instead, trapped himself in Dubya’s inaccurate frame.
Levin did not explain how a veto means Democrats (and a few Republicans) will only fund a new strategy that rejects permanent occupation, and the president is thwarting the people’s will by continuing the current failed strategy.
Instead, flinching at Bush’s veto pledge, Levin offered up a major concession:

…we can keep the benchmarks part of the bill, without saying that the troops must begin to come back within four months.
If that’s doesn’t work, and the president vetoes because of that — and he will — then that part of it is removed. Because we’re going to fund the troops.
And what we will leave would be benchmarks, for instance, which would require the president to certify to the American people, if the Iraqis are meeting the benchmarks for political settlement which they the Iraqi leaders have set for themselves.

Instead of standing up to Bush and putting a political price on his veto, Levin is trying to find a way to appease Bush, treating the veto as no big deal.
And it’s a major concession, taking out the mandate that a redeployment actually begin. Benchmarks not tied to anything else are meaningless.
Is Levin speaking for all Senate Dems? Or he is freelancing?
Unclear.
Over on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer kept with Reid’s frame about this being a debate over strategy, but cracked the door open to some sort of “compromise.”

In this resolution that we will send the president, we are giving actually even a little more money for the troops than the president has requested. And nothing will stand in our way of supporting the troops in every way.
But, second, at the same time, we believe very deeply that we need a change in strategy in Iraq. We are now basically policing a civil war…
…Should he veto this bill, which means he will be vetoing the money for the troops, we will try to come up with a way … to compromise with the White House, that both supports the troops and yet changes the strategy in Iraq, which we feel is misguided.

You can read that different ways, depending on how seriously he means “change the strategy.”
It certainly isn’t accurate to claim there’s potential common ground for a compromise on strategy. Either you want to stay permanently or you don’t.
But it only takes one key Democrat to screw up a good frame. And it was Levin who did that yesterday.

Sunday Talkshow Breakdown

Last week, the GOP talking point on the Prosecutor Purge was that Dem Sen. Chuck Schumer shouldn’t be involved in the investigation because he also heads the 2008 Dem Senate campaign committee.
But that talking point didn’t stick. Mounting evidence of misleading comments from the White House and the Attorney General’s offices overshadowed a made-up conflict of interest claim.
So this week, out of rhetorical ammo, GOP senators left the talking points at home.
As the mainstream media has noted, several on the Sunday shows distanced themselves from Attorney General Gonzales.
While none directly called for his resignation, the critical comments clearly indicate that they have no interest in blindly defending him and dragging out the scandal. They’d rather dump Gonzales in hopes of moving on.
What’s unclear is if this shift means anything to President Bush, who defended Gonzales to the hilt in his weekly radio address (not to mention, this weekly radio address.)
As noted here before, Gonzales has been close to Dubya for a long time and knows where a lot of bodies are buried.
GOPers in Congress, who have to worry about their careers after 2008, don’t care much about that. But Dubya certainly does.
GOPers may also be hoping that this new pressure will prompt Gonzales to resign amicably on his own accord, resulting in no blowback for Dubya.
Beyond Gonzales, GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham and Arlen Specter also tried to put together a mushy compromise to avoid going to court over potential subpoenas of White House officials, suggesting private interviews that would have transcripts.
But Graham and Specter can’t be endearing themselves to the White House by jabbing at Gonzales.
And Senate Judiciary Chair Pat Leahy — surely recognizing the weak position Graham and Specter are in — rejected the idea on CBS’ Face The Nation, insisting on a public hearing with White House officials under oath.
So it’s not terribly evident on what ground Graham and Specter stand to bring about any deal.

Sunday Talkshow Breakdown

How eager are the Bushies to talk about anything but the Prosecutor Purge?
They’d rather talk about the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq.
Yesterday, they prevented Attorney General Alberto Gonzales from going on the Sunday shows (see post below).
Instead, they dispatched Defense Secretary Bob Gates and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, in attempt to shift the media spotlight to Iraq.
But the gambit failed.
The big news from the Sunday shows was all about the Purge, not the Surge.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, on CBS’ Face The Nation, linked Carol Lam’s progress in investigating HookerGate with moves to oust her:
FEINSTEIN: …on May, I think it was May 10th, [now-purged US Attorney Carol Lam] sent a notice to the Justice Department saying that there would be two search warrants sent in the case of [former top CIA official] “Dusty” Foggo and a defense contractor.
The next day, an e-mail went from the Justice Department to the White House saying, “We have a real problem with Carol Lam.”
SCHIEFFER: Really?
FEINSTEIN: Yes, really.
That sparked coverage in the Washington Post and McClatchy Newspapers
And Sen. Pat Leahy, on ABC’s This Week, announced that the Judiciary Committee will be voting Thursday to issue a subpeona for Karl Rove if he does not testify voluntarily.
The NY Times reports today that it’s unclear if the White House will try to defy any subpoena of its staff.
If they do try to defy, they better figure out some better pushback that what Senate Republicans offered yesterday.
For example, Sen. John Cornyn on This Week tried to appear as if he cared about the truth, while pathetically positioning himself to vote against subpoenas:

I just want to be careful that we conduct a legitimate inquiry, and we don’t overstep into this political witch hunt environment…

Left unexplained is how compelling key players to testify, when they’re trying to duck hard questions, is somehow illegitimate.
Most of the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee hold safe seats and may feel comfortable casting a defiant “No” vote on any subpoena.
But they will have to ask themselves, how will it look if every Republican votes against conducting a “legitimate inquiry,” and for allowing the White House to escape accountability?

Sunday Talkshow Breakdown

Saturday was the international conference on Iraq featuring all of Iraq’s neighbors, including Iran and Syria. The US was in the room as well.
Major shift in our diplomatic strategy? Not quite. Here’s the Associated Press dispatch:

In their first direct talks since the Iraq war began, U.S. and Iranian envoys traded harsh words and blamed each other for Iraq’s crisis Saturday…
…During the talks, U.S. envoy David Satterfield pointed to his briefcase, which he said contained documents proving that Iran is arming Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq.
“Your accusations are merely a cover for your failures in Iraq,” Iran’s chief envoy Abbas Araghchi shot back…

But that’s not the story the White House wants to tell.
It wants Americans to believe it’s really giving diplomacy the ol’ college try, lest the public think it’s hell-bent on permanent occupation and expanded war.
So it sent ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, to NBC’s Meet The Press.
Khalilzad made no mention of any harsh exchange, instead playing up the conference as “constructive” and a “good meeting.”
There’s a huge risk in allowing the Bushies to give the impression that they are sincere about diplomacy.
Because when Iraq continues to disintegrate, neocon forces will be spinning hard that diplomacy with Iran failed.
When in fact no good-faith efforts were ever made.
Unfortunately, on ABC’s This Week, Dem Sen. Jim Webb was praising the conference as a “very important confidence builder in the region” because “we now have the beginnings of a true diplomatic process in place.”
Webb has been pushing for regional diplomacy for years, so it’s understandable why he wants to be consistent.
But he can be consistent while still setting an appropriate bar for the While House.
That regional diplomacy will only work if there is a sincere effort to find common ground. Signals of further regime change will negate the whole effort.
It’s not just Webb. Coordinated Democratic messaging on Iraq and beyond has been nonexistent in recent days, as Congressional leaders are preoccupied with internal vote counting at the expense of media strategy.
So there’s been little organized response to these developments.
Once can only hope that will change once the votes — for establishing a deadline for troop redeployment — are nailed down.

Sunday Talkshow Breakdown

The first step is completed. Both the House and Senate held votes showing a bipartisan majority opposes an escalation of the war in Iraq.
(The House passed a resolution. Senate Republicans technically filibustered a resolution, but with 56 Senators supporting it, the point was still made.)
The question now is: what is Congress’ next step?
On the Sunday shows yesterday, two different tracks were discussed.
On the House side, Rep. John Murtha is in charge of drafting the next supplemental funding bill for wars in Iraq and Afganistan.
And he plans to put conditions on that funding, such as:

  • No troops to Iraq without proper training and equipment
  • No protracted tours of duty in Iraq
  • Closing down Gitmo
  • Ban on permanent bases in Iraq

The sad reality is: there aren’t enough available trained soldiers around to surge with.
So that may force war backers to insist Congress allow Bush send poorly trained and equipped soldiers into harm’s way.
On the Senate side, Sen. Joe Biden talked more seriously yesterday about what he floated last month — changing the Authorization of Force that gives Bush the authority to use the military in Iraq.
On CBS’ Face The Nation, Biden said:

I’ve been working with some of my colleagues to try to convince them … to repeal and restate the president’s authority.
Make it clear that the purpose that he has troops in there is to in fact protect against al-Qaeda gaining chunks of territory, training the Iraqi forces, force protection and for our forces.
It’s not to get in the midst of a civil war.

The Murtha strategy, which would be the first exercising of Congress’ “power of the purse” to try to change course, is getting more attention.
Especially since The Politico’s slanted characterization of it as a “slow-bleed strategy” is being giddily repeated by conservatives.
White House spokesperson Tony Snow, on NBC’s Meet The Press, sought to reframe the debate around funding, in hopes of scaring folks out of backing Murtha:

…if you ask the American people, “Do you like the way things are in Iraq right now?”, the answer is, “No, we don’t. We think they ought to be better.”…
…Interestingly, if you also take a look at polls, Tim, and they ask people, “Well, do you support continued funding for the forces?”, 67 percent say yes.
They say, “do you, do you oppose efforts to take away funding for the additional 21,000?”, 60 percent say, “No, we don’t support that.”
So it’s an interesting debate in the country … the president understands that war’s tough, they’re unpopular. … But the cost of leaving before we’ve succeeded is too high for this president or any president to risk.

Then asked about the likely Murtha bill — which puts conditions on funds, but does not cut off funds — Snow tried to pivot:

… I think it’s been referred to by some as a slow bleed … The president believes that what you need to do if you support the troops, is to provide the reinforcement for the people who are already on the ground to get the job done and finish the job.

So, does Snow have the goods to beat back Murtha?
Snow was pointing to the recent AP-Ipsos that showed strong opposition to “cutting all funding for the Iraq war” and “cutting funding for the additional troops.”
But it also showed strong opposition to “sending more troops to Iraq” and support for “a time-table for withdrawing all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of next year.”
There’s also a Pew poll this month, showing 53% support for bringing “troops home as soon as possible.”
To read between the lines, there’s an unsurprising concern for “cutting funding,” if that means soldiers get stuck out in the field without supplies.
Which of course, would never happen. Any banning of money for war would be linked to troop redeployments out of harm’s way.
But again, that’s not even Murtha approach anyway.
Yet Republicans have begin painting Murtha with that brush.
That’s the nub of the debate, and to beat back Snow’s frame, Dems will have to show their bill won’t leave a single soldier high and dry.
It would appear that with Murtha still hammering out details, and Pelosi lining up ducks, House Dems aren’t quite ready to launch a full-blown campaign to explain and rally support for the bill.
And the two Dem Senators on the shows yesterday — Jack Reed on MTP and Carl Levin on Fox News Sunday avoided saying anything directly about Murtha when asked — a sign that there’s no House-Senate coordination.
(In fact, GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel, on MTP, did a better job of boosting Murtha.)
But the game is on, so they better get on it.
Reed and Levin, however, did sound eager about the Biden approach of revamping the force authorization.
Is one approach better than other?
Not necessarily, and they are not mutually exclusive.
They can easily complement each other, and so, House and Senate leaders should be coordinating their messages.
And those messages need to be framed carefully.
Both the Murtha and Biden approaches need to convey a fundamental change in foreign policy — away from permanent bases and unilateral imposition, towards multilateral diplomacy to resolve sectarian differences and renewed focus on actual terrorism.
That is the fundamental objective. To win the foreign policy debate and build a mandate for a real change in course.
There should be no expectation Bush will allow Congress to change his long-held plans in the short-run.
Bush will ignore Congress — either by veto, signing statement or creative interpretation of the law.
But if the public recognizes that the Congressional majority has a clear plan, and it’s snubbed by Bush, it will be quite evident that a change in the Oval Office is needed to reverse the chaos in the Gulf Region.

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