Dana Milbank at WaPo details the procession of Democratic Senators who shuffled out non-binding resolutions, unpassable legislation, and wishful thinking yesterday on the Iraq Surge. And when I say Democratic Senators, I include Chuck Hagel in that.
As I’ve been saying, the Democrats have been clamoring for a “new direction” in Iraq. Well, it seems the only direction they really want is “out”. It’s what Clinton wants. It’s what Obama wants. It’s what the PuffingTons Host has always wanted.
But nobody has the cajones to force Bush’s hand. Why? Because it’s an awful idea. We can’t leave Iraq now. We can’t leave in a year. We can have a staggered step-down of troop levels as the Iraqis are uptrained to wage a counterinsurgency campaign, but you know what? That’s what we’re doing. We just haven’t reached the step-down stage.
Democrats and Republicans have joined forces to resist the Surge. Great. But in the real world, if you’re going to combat a strategy, it’s best to combat it with an alternative. Nobody has an alternative. Hillary suggested the best course of action was to essentially “stay the course”. And the troop cap at 130,000 prevents any surge or reinforcement, so what does that do? It forces the US to “stay the course”. So these geniuses on the left side of the aisle are saying “stay the course”– the exact same strategy they lambasted Rumsfeld and Bush for having the past four years. Now Bush suggest a change in the counterinsurgency strategy, and the best the Democrats can come up with is “No! Stay the course!”
It’s time for the Bush administration to get off its hindquarter and attack the Democrats. They need to embrace the victory plan, make America realize the good that happening in Iraq, lay out a clear and concise reasoning on why we need to stay in Iraq, and set up a discernible, reasonable, and acceptable timetable for exit. It doesn’t have to be hard-target deadlines. But at least come up with something. Show the US the projected targets on counterinsurgency, training of the Iraqi army, and give status reports. One reason the public has soured on the war is that we don’t know what the hell is going on over there.
Remember the first Gulf War? There were those press conferences where Schwarzkopf was standing in front of a TV showing operations, smart-bomb footage, showing progress made in the war. That was great. Here we have some dispatches from the AP and stories from the military about targets neutralized, or car bombings, or whatever. Those are not going to boost support of the war. Press conferences with the generals– monthly, feel-good progress sessions showing how Iraq is improving will rally the US support for the war. People need to see it on the evening news, on the front page of the paper. And, most importantly, it has to relate to the timetable constructed and addressed by the President or SecDef. If Americans see good, discernible progress, they’ll rally from their despair and support for the war will improve.
It’s time to fight the downer mood of this conflict and get people behind what we’re doing. We’re doing good work. Let’s make sure we get the message out and keep getting the message out.