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The LiberalOasis Blog
The daily view from the oasis

August 17, 2005 PERMALINK
Pathetic
(posted Aug. 17 1:30 AM ET)

It doesn’t get much more pathetic than this.

After Tuesday’s W. Post quoted several top Dems (anonymously) saying they wouldn’t going to fight the Roberts nomination, today’s W. Post chronicles the aftermath: fingerpointing and face-saving among Senate Dems and liberal civil rights groups.

The nut graf:

The day's events revealed the tensions on the Democratic side as senators and liberal interest groups make different strategic calculations on how to position themselves for next month's nomination showdown.

The interest groups want senators to be more aggressive.

Meanwhile, some senators, according to aides, blame the groups for not doing more to build public opposition and to create the political climate in which it would be easier to speak out against Roberts without looking extreme.

Liberal leaders say that they simply were being responsible and prudent, and that now their patience is paying off.

Welcome to The 3rd Grade: “You should be more aggressive!” “I’m not going to be aggressive, unless you’re aggressive first!” “No, you first!” “Nuh-uh” “Uh-huh.”

The bottom line is everybody blew it.

Everyone was scared of looking “political” if they opposed Roberts too quickly, so they held fire and let the GOP spin to their heart’s content.

They let the GOP go up 5-0 in the first inning.

Now we’re about in the fourth inning and barely anyone on our team has even swung the bat, despite all the fat pitches coming across the plate.

And this is not a line-up known for great late-inning rallies.

Of course, there’s a first time for everything. But the only way to start a rally is for someone to get on base.

The liberal groups need to get some ads on the air, drive news coverage, drown out the voices of squishy Establishment Dems and pundits, and puncture the aura of inevitability the GOP is successfully creating.

The Senate Dems need to put the burden on Roberts to clear the job interview, and lay down a set of markers that will be seen as fair by the public: candid responses about past cases and judicial philosophy; supportive of the right to privacy; and supportive of the right of our democratically elected Congress to pass laws protecting workers, consumers, public safety and the environment.

The lone thing to be thankful for is that news of this circular firing squad was pretty much confined to the W. Post, which few outside the Beltway read.

There is still time to come out swinging, and the silence the GOP guffawing surely going on behind closed doors over this sorry spectacle.

August 15, 2005 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted Aug. 15 3:15 AM ET)

It has been 766 days since Karl Rove violated his obligations under Standard Form 312 without the White House taking “corrective action.”

As Republicans fret that Iraq is turning out to be a colossal failure, the fingerpointing has begun.

And its between the neocons, who believe more troops is the only way to defeat the insurgency, and Defense Sec. Rumsfeld, who the neocons claim doesn’t have the will to send more troops.

First, a little chronological recap:

On Aug. 5, the self-appointed king of the neocons, Bill Kristol, ripped Defense Sec. Rumsfeld in a Weekly Standard piece:

...Defense Department civilian officials...have recently been willing to indicate a desire to get out, and sooner rather than later.

After all, Rumsfeld has said, insurgencies allegedly take a decade or so to defeat. What's more, our presence gives those darned Iraqi allies of ours excuses not to step up to the plate. So let's get a government elected under the new Iraqi constitution, and accelerate our plans to get the troops home...

...[That’s] the inescapable whiff of weakness and defeatism.

Rumsfeld either doesn't believe we can win, or doesn't think we can maintain political support for staying, or doesn't believe winning is worth the cost.

The title of the piece was “Bush V. Rumsfeld,” as Kristol sought to drive a wedge between the two, in hopes of getting Rummy sent packing.

(It’s dated Aug. 15, but was posted online on Aug. 5.)

Right after that, the public vacillation by those Defense officials on future troop levels began.

On Aug. 7, the NY Times reported on a plan to possibly reduce troop levels by 20,000 to 30,000 in spring ’06.

Gen. John Abizaid, head of Central Command, and Gen. George Casey, the commander in Iraq, were associated with the plan.

On Aug. 11, the W. Post ran a story, citing “a top U.S. military official,” saying we shouldn’t expect any sort of incremental withdrawal of troops until summer ’06 at the earliest – seemingly giving pushback to the spring ’06 plan.

The conflicting signals caused Bush later that day to dismiss any talk of withdrawal, sparking a particularly odd NY Times story, which read in part:

The recent Pentagon signals have angered some conservative allies of the White House...

...Administration officials cited an editorial in The Weekly Standard that chastised the administration for appearing to give up on Iraq...

“Administration officials” are calling a reporter’s attention to a right-wing editorial that basically demanded Rummy’s head?!

Clearly, it’s not all rainbows and cotton candy inside the Western White House this month.

The other odd part of the NYT story was that “military officials in Washington” blew the cover of the W. Post source for its “summer ’06 withdrawal at the earliest” pushback story.

And it was Gen. Casey! Who had been linked to the spring ’06 plan!

Apparently, Casey wasn’t giving pushback in the W. Post. He was just trying to walk back the spring '06 plan to damp down neocon criticism.

But it would seem no one bought the walkback. Otherwise, his cover wouldn’t have been gratuitously blown.

Finally, yesterday’s W. Post front page blared this bombshell: “U.S. Lowers Sights On What Can Be Achieved in Iraq -- Administration Is Shedding 'Unreality' That Dominated Invasion, Official Says”

The story didn’t say what department the “official” came from, but on Fox News Sunday, the neocons pinned it on their new enemy: the Pentagon.

First, Sen. John McCain went after the “Pentagon planners,” after host Chris Wallace ran through the above and asked “what’s going on here?” McCain responded:

I don't know, because the President, I think, very appropriately made it very clear in the strongest terms that we are there until Iraqis are capable of carrying out their own security responsibilities...

...And now you're seeing these statements, both before and after, which are in contradiction to what he had to say.

Look, I've got an idea for our Pentagon planners:

The day that I can land at the airport in Baghdad and ride in an unarmed car down the highway to the green zone is the day that I'll start considering withdrawals from Iraq.

We not only don't need to withdraw, we need more troops there.

And if we aren't able to get more troops there, which I've been advocating for years, as you know, then the Iraqi military, as they're trained up, should be a supplement to the American forces that are already there, not a replacement for.

Later, Kristol (who, you should remember, endorsed McCain over Bush in 2000) piled on in the pundit roundtable, calling Rummy a “defeatist” who is “looking for every excuse to get out” because:

[Rumsfeld] doesn't believe in creating a democracy in the middle of the Middle East. He thinks it's unrealistic.

And I think he basically is not on the same page as President Bush.

The joint Kristol-McCain attack is not new.

Last December, McCain announced he had “no confidence” in Rumsfeld while Kristol called for his removal for not sending in more troops.

So, is there a good guy in this fight?

Are Kristol and McCain the good guys for recognizing that the war planning was ridiculous?

Is Rummy the good guy for recognizing a potential quagmire when he sees one?

In all likelihood, the answer to all the above questions is “No.”

Keep in mind that no one out of Pentagon has called for a complete withdrawal and a dismantling of their permanent bases, just a partial withdrawal.

And the hardcore neocons want those bases too.

This is most likely a disagreement over tactics, not goals.

Both have the same rotten goal: an installed, friendly Iraqi government that will allow permanent military bases so we can exert unilateral political, economic and military control over the region.

But the neocon purists believe the cloak of democracy is needed to execute the strategy, and they’re fearful that without it, their precious strategy will fall apart.

The more pragmatic Rummy appears to believe the strategy is already falling apart and sees the need to change course if anything is to be salvaged from the war.

The big question: what does Dubya think?

The neocons are putting pressure on Rummy, which puts pressure on Bush to signal where he stands by either firing Rummy or keeping him (or keeping him but reining him in).

Firing Rummy is no easy matter, as he knows way too much.

Furthermore, it’s doubtful Bush would fire anyone while Bush himself is under so much political fire – it would make him look weak, like he was cracking under the pressure.

If he does want to whack Rummy, he’s more likely to wait for a calmer time when Rummy could more plausibly say he was retiring to spend time with family.

The Blog Wire
Tracking the liberal blogosphere

Think Progress has created "a comprehensive database cataloguing the connections of 21 administration officials to the outing of an undercover CIA agent. It will be updated regularly to reflect news developments on the case and will serve as a reference for anyone looking for the most up to date information on the investigation."

Bush v. Choice, the NARAL blog, announces "a change in the organization's much-talked about ad campaign": Bitch Ph.D. and Pandagon react

Off The Kuff and The Stakeholder on the Abramoff indictment

Echidne of the Snakes and Lawyers, Guns and Money have more on the NARAL ad

Media Matters tracks the smear of Cindy Sheehan (via Eschaton)

MeetWithCindy.org has a petition urging Bush to meet with Cindy Sheehan

Ask John Roberts: Dem senators report (via email) that their interactive page -- for citizens to give the Judiciary Cmte their questions about Roberts -- has received 15,000 responses so far

Sacred Space: Liberal religious community organizes to counter right-wing Justice Sunday II

firedoglake: Gonzales expresses support for Special Counsel Fitzgerald (via The Sideshow)

Yellow Dog Blog: Join Cindy Sheehan in Crawford

Feministing: "NARAL Pro-Choice America launched a national television ad campaign today that draws attention to John Roberts' association with some less than desirable folks. You know, the kind that bomb clinics."

Huffington Post's Rep. John Conyers: Why Won't Scooter Libby Grant Judith Miller a Personal Waiver?

American Prospect: "Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, has told federal investigators that he met with ... Judith Miller on July 8, 2003, and discussed CIA operative Valerie Plame ... Libby's failure to produce a personal waiver may have played a significant role in Miller’s decision not to testify"

Newsweek: New Deputy AG, with oversight responsibility over Special Counsel Fitzgerald, may be old Skull and Bones Bush pal

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Scamboogah !!

Scrutiny Hooligans

semidi

Shadow of the Hegemon

Shakespeare's Sister

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Simon Templar

Sisyphus Shrugged

Slacktivist

SmithAntics

Something Requisitely Witty and Urbane

Speedkill

Stone Court

Suburban Guerrilla

Suckful

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Technopuritanism

ThatColoredFellas Weblog

Tins

Total Information Awareness

Uggabugga

Under The Same Sun

Uppity Negro

Wampum

Watching The Watchers

Waveflux

We Don't Agree, But

Why Now?

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