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The LiberalOasis Blog
The daily view from the oasis

November 23, 2005 PERMALINK
The Senate Dems Have An Iraq Plan
They Just Won't Tell You About It
(posted Nov. 23 1:30 AM ET)

Last Friday, LiberalOasis said that the downside to Murtha’s call for ground troop withdrawal was that it would muddle the Senate Dem attempt to articulate a unified position on Iraq.

But LiberalOasis didn’t factor in the Senators’ ability to muddle it themselves.

A little recap.

Last Tuesday, Senate Dems proposed an amendment (the Levin Amendment) which called for, among other things:

-- [That] calendar year 2006 should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq, thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq

-- United States military forces should not stay in Iraq indefinitely and the people of Iraq should be so advised

-- A campaign plan with estimated dates for the phased redeployment of the United States Armed Forces from Iraq as each condition is met, with the understanding that unexpected contingencies may arise.

Almost every Dem voted for this (39 yes votes, 5 no votes – would’ve been 40 if Sen. Corzine wasn’t getting ready to become NJ Gov.), but it lost on the floor.

GOPers then offered a compromise proposal (the Warner Amendment), which kept the 2006 part, but watered it down by dropping the “campaign plan with estimated dates for the phased redeployment”.

(Read: 2006 would be nice, but let’s not have an actual plan to get it done.)

And the GOP also took out the part about how our troops “should not stay in Iraq indefinitely,” swapping in a vaguer -- and in turn, more ominous – phrase: “should not stay in Iraq ... any longer than required”.

That amendment passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support.

Still, the earlier party-line vote gave Senate Dems the ability to say they have an alternative strategy from the GOP:

A real, though flexible, timetable for redeployment that would kick into gear in ’06 (which is right around the corner), and a clear pledge not to permanently occupy the country, which the GOP refused to make.

So, did the Senate Dems rush to the airwaves to make clear to the public what the Senate Dem Iraq plan is and how it’s superior to the GOP approach?

Not exactly.

We are seeing a bit of a rush, but it’s a rush of Senators touting their own individual plans, not unifying around a single Senate Dem plan.

Last Thursday, Sen. John Kerry relayed his plan on CNN.

On Sunday, Sen. Chris Dodd offered his plan on Face The Nation.

On Monday, Sen. Joe Biden gave a speech about his plan.

And on Tuesday, Sen. Barack Obama gave a speech on his.

All four talked about what “I” would do, not what “Senate Democrats” would do and have already proposed -- despite the fact that they’re all saying pretty much the same thing.

To make matters worse, both Obama and Biden glossed over the party-line vote, and instead stressed the watered down bipartisan amendment in their remarks -- missing the opportunity to show how the Democratic Party is superior on Iraq and national security in general.

By not talking about Iraq in a team fashion, they are failing to counter the notion that Democrats “have no plan” of their own to end the war.

For example, on Monday, CNN’s Jeff Greenfield offered this analysis:

[One] reason why Democrats want to talk about how we [went to war, is] it relieves them of a very difficult burden -- mainly, answering the question, what would you do now?

...I think it's a lot more comfortable for critics of the war to say, “we were misled, we stumbled into this. The post-war period was handled badly,” ... than for them to say OK, and here's our plan for what we do now.

Joe Biden tried to do that today here in New York in a speech. But I think a lot of Democrats would just as soon avoid that specific point of saying, OK, what's next.

Now, you could point out that Greenfield is a hack for completely ignoring last week’s Senate Dem amendment, which was all about “what’s next.”

And while you’d be right about Greenfield, that doesn’t excuse the Senate Dems for failing to sell their own plan, to shout about it loud enough so even hacks can’t miss the point.

It’s Sen. Harry Reid’s job to keep his caucus in line.

Granted, he’s got a big problem, in that several members of his caucus want to be President, and are more interested in selling themselves than the party.

But he’s gotta get it through their thick narcissistic skulls that none of them are going to be President if they are leading a party that people think can’t handle foreign policy.

And we should help by communicating to these Senators that grassroots Dems want to see effective team play before the primaries, not counterproductive self-promotion.

November 21, 2005 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted Nov. 21 3 AM ET)

The Bushies realize that with public support for the war so low, Rep. John Murtha’s call for ground troop redeployment from Iraq could strike a chord with the public and gather momentum.

So Defense Sec. Don Rumsfeld hit four Sunday shows to insist that there was progress in Iraq and Murtha was way off-base.

Rummy had a three-prong strategy to push back on Murtha.

1. Dismiss Murtha’s proposal as on the fringe

On Friday, House GOPers rushed a troop withdrawal resolution to the floor, so it would lose and they could claim Congress rejects Murtha’s plan.

One problem: it wasn’t Murtha’s plan that the GOP put on the floor.

Murtha did not simply call for ground troop withdrawal. He also called for a “quick reaction force in the region” and “an over-the-horizon presence of Marines.”

But what the GOP put on the floor only had a crude call for immediate withdrawal and nothing else, yet they are describing it as Murtha’s plan.

The sham resolution lost 403-3, as Dems denounced the vote as a shameful stunt.

Shamless as usual, Rummy milked the vote as the House GOPers intended. For example, on Fox News Sunday he said:

[Murtha's] views were not broadly supported in the House or the Senate either by Democrats or Republicans.

Indeed, [an] overwhelming majority of Republicans and Democrats disagreed with the views that were expressed.

One problem with that characterization: Murtha himself was in that “overwhelming majority” that voted “No.”

That’s a bit of a tip-off that they weren’t exactly voting on his plan.

(The W. Post reprinted Rummy's comments on vote without sharing that info.)

2. Subtly accuse Murtha of aiding the enemy

Rummy (following Dubya’s lead) clearly sensed his party was overshooting in their Murtha attacks.

He still wanted to attack Murtha, he just had to finesse it.

So Rummy managed to simultaneously laud and denounce policy debates during wartime.

Also on Fox, first he lauded:

...there have always been debates over wars...We live in a free country and it's proper for people to raise questions and to have views.

Then he pivoted:

...everyone has a right to say what they think. And that's fair enough. We also have to understand that our words have effects.

Effects, like helping the terrorists win!

Put yourself in the shoes of the enemy. The enemy hears a big debate in the United States, and they have to wonder maybe all we have to do is wait and we'll win.

Problem with this tack is simply that the country wants a full debate over the future of Iraq policy because it is decidedly unsatisfied with the current policy.

It’s Murtha who is in touch with the public. As he said on NBC’s Meet The Press:

I'm convinced that the people -- I have never seen such an outpouring in the 32 years I've been in Congress, of support and people with tears in their eyes, people walking along clapping when I'm walking through the halls of Congress, saying something needed to be said.

So they're thirsting for a solution...

3. Warn The Public: Murtha Wants To Give Up The Oil!

Murtha’s key contention is that a ground troop pullout would help Iraqis achieve self-determination, and not lead to bloody civil war. From MTP:

I'm convinced that we have to give the incentives to the Iraqis.

We have to redeploy our troops to the periphery.

And I've sat down with the former secretary of the Army, four distinguished officers who served in combat, and we've come up with a plan which we think will work.

Since we've become the enemy, I don't think [the current strategy will] work...

...At one time I thought that [would lead to civil war], and at one time I thought Iran would have undue influence.

But I tell you something, I've come to the conclusion these Iraqis are very proud people.

They can run the country themselves. They've had a history of civilization that goes back much further than ours.

And I think we just have to give them the incentive to take it over.

They're going to let us do the fighting, as long as we're there, and, until we turn it over to them, they're not going to be up to standard.

Rummy offered a counterpoint on CBS’ Face The Nation:

Well, there's no doubt in my mind but that were we to pull out precipitously that the American people would be in greater danger than they are today...

...Picture turning over Iraq to Zarqawi -- the person who beheads people, the person who is out killing innocent men and women -- ... turning that country, with its oil, with its water, with its population, into a haven for terrorists.

(There they go again. Making it all about oil and water. Crazy conspiracy nuts.)

This, however, ducks Murtha’s argument: that a pullout would not lead to a terrorist takeover, but to true Iraqi self-determination for their government and their use of resources.

The mainstream media has yet to delve deep into the question: what would really happen if we left sooner, if we left later, or if we never left?

Most people in DC are still comfortable simply asserting that civil war would break out, and terrorists would run rampant, if ground troops left relatively soon.

And most interviewers still aren’t forcing anyone to back up their assertions (they’re content just covering the politics of the Murtha move, and glossing over the substance).

Maybe it would be a bloody mess. Maybe it wouldn’t. We need to shed more light on the issue so we can make an informed course correction.

It’s a debate the public wants, as Murtha has found out. But we’ll need to keep pushing the media if we ever are to really have it.

QUICK HIT

Biden Shifts on Alito

Two weeks ago, Sen. Joe Biden nearly sealed the deal for Sam Alito, pooh-poohing the idea of a filibuster.

Yesterday, on Fox News Sunday, he helped resurrect it.

Biden raised a red flag over the disrespect for “one man, one vote,” found in Alito’s 1985 job applications for the Reagan Justice Dept.:

BIDEN: If he really believes that reapportionment is a questionable decision, that is the idea of ... one man one vote, then clearly you'll find a lot of people, including me, willing to do whatever they can to keep him off the court...

... And that would include a filibuster...

CHRIS WALLACE: And very briefly, you're saying the chances for a filibuster have increased.

BIDEN: Well, I think based upon that job application where he said he strongly held these views, yes.

And the momentum continues to shift away from Alito.

The Blog Wire
Tracking the liberal blogosphere

Save The Court: Sign the petition to stop Alito

Daily Princetonian: "Alito wrote that he was 'a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton University...' ... Marsha Levy-Warren '73, who was a member of the University's first coeducational class [said,] 'They stated explicitly that they were not in favor of coeducation and that they weren't in favor of affirmative action ... Implicitly, they were opposed to any form of diversity on campus.'"

Baghdad Burning: "These torture houses have existed since the beginning of the occupation. While it is generally known that SCIRI is behind them, other religious parties are not innocent ... This is hardly news for Americans in the Green Zone."

Tikkun interviews the new leader of Israel's Labour Party, Amir Peretz

Feministing: "In response to Virginia’s laws banning same-sex marriages, a local pastor and his church’s governing council have decided to protest in a big way -- the church is no longer offering wedding services."

IndependentCourt.org releases new ad: 'The right wing has already taken over the West Wing…don’t let them take over your Supreme Court,' says the ad, which mentions Alito’s efforts as a federal judge to weaken protections against job discrimination, his dissent that would have upheld the strip search of a 10-year-old girl without a valid warrant, and his declaration that the Constitution does not protect a woman’s right to an abortion."

The Stakeholder: Noted Dem hawk Rep. John Murtha today: "It is evident that continued military presence in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States, Iraq, or the MIddle East ... The main reason given for war has been discredited"

Informed Comment: "First, the Pentagon was forced to admit that it had in fact used white phosphorus as a weapon ... Then there was more bad news when 8 GIs were killed within 24 hours ... In a third wave of bad news, the scandal of the tortured Iraqi prisoners has continued to grow ... a fourth blow [was a] major contracting scandal ... that involves enormous graft on the part of officials of the Coalition Provisional Administration ..."

Supreme Court Watch: "Judge Alito says [his '85 job application was] just the words of an advocate eager to land a political job ... But his 15-year record on the bench shows something different ... rulings [that] consistently track the hard-line legal views he articulated in the application." (PDF file)

firedoglake: Could Woodward's source be John Bolton deputy Fred Fleitz?

TalkLeft: "My bet: Woodward's source is the State Department or CIA official mentioned in Paragraph 6 or 7 (and 33) of the Indictment against Libby ... David Wurmser seems to me to be the most likely."

The Washington Note: "Woodward's celebrity-status has seriously blinded him and affected his judgment about quality journalism and his responsibilities to the public ... he must be held ACCOUNTABLE for his irresponsibility in the Plame case."

AlterNet: "In targeted moves since the election, McCain has continued his Bushification by changing positions on conservative priorities like creationism, gay marriage and tax cuts."

Nathan Newman: "Alito ... was against the Supreme Court decisions requiring that all state legislative districts be designed to guarantee 'one person, one vote', instead of giving some districts with very few voters the same representation as urban districts with far more voters."

Oliver Willis: "So it’s clear these little childish speeches from Bush are going to continue ... there’s always a strong desire on the left to debunk these mewlings [but] The only way to fight back is to just keep repeating what’s true. The President misled America into war with Iraq, and has no plan to succeed in Iraq."

Pacific Views: "the reason it is so complicated is that this [drug] benefit was written to benefit the drug companies - and not the seniors who are only a means to the end."

Lawyers, Guns and Money on Alito Apologists

Bitch Ph.D.: Alito's Smoking Gun

Basie! interviews George McGovern

War and Piece: "If the White House has nothing to hide, why are they trying so hard to prevent an investigation of how the policymakers used the intelligence they received?"

Weekly Radio Address: President Bush's message to the people following the '05 elections (not work safe)

**************

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