Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Blowin' In The Wind

It looks like Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) are the most recent defectors from the War Party to join their Democratic Party colleagues in asking for a draw-down of U.S. trooops in Iraq that would begin in four months: read about it here. Pete Dominici (R-NM), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Richard Lugar (R-IN) beat them to the punch; John Warner (R-VA) is apparently involved in shaping the Republican insurgency, and will publicly break with President George "What--Me Worry?" Bush any day now. You can read the New York Times story here. Just to be nice let's call them Peace Republicans. Or Late to Dinner (did your mother ever say that -- "Call me anything, but don't call me late to dinner?") At least they finally got to dinner, which is more than many of our soldiers will ever do again.

As of today, the body count of U.S. soldiers alone (no Iraquis, no Coalition forces from other countries, no contractors) is 3,607, with three deaths pending confirmation: read about it here, Senators.

I guess the Republicans dropping over the side of the ship put the "grand" back in Grand Old Party, didn't they? Better late than never, is what I say. The fact that several of them are up for re-election next year -- Dominici is the most prominent -- should not exactly classify this as a cynical move, I suppose. But it does make you wonder whether they watch the Lehrer News Hour: I know Snowe and Hagel are sometimes on it. Those of us who see the casualties reported in silence day after day, week after week, month after month, would have voted to leave Iraq several years ago.

I also don't want to get snarky about the fact that both those advocating withdrawing our troops and those advocating that we fight until the last U.S. soldier is left standing, keep demanding that the "Iraquis" take "responsibility" for "their own country." When I try to parse a thought like that, I think of other phrases like, "Why do the gays have to flaunt their lifestyle," "Black men need to take responsibility for their actions," and "The government should stay out of people's lives." The subject of each sentence is so inclusive, and the action being taken so obscure, that such phrases inevitably say more about the speaker than the group or entity that is being spoken about. Another analogy might be the colleague who gets a bad set of exams and gets angry at the students rather than asking first what it is s/he hasn't taught them.

I don't mean to trivialize a horrible situation. But is the bipartisan coalition that finally gets us out of Iraq (and not, by the way, Afghanistan -- our next Iraq) really going to blame the people of bleeding Iraq for this? Really?

Stay tuned: this could be the most riveting summer since Watergate.


While we are talking politics, did anybody read Joe Klein's piece in the June 7 issue of Time Magazine Beware the Bloggers' Bile? It's all about how he made a mistake on his blog about which way a congressperson would vote on the recent bill to (de)fund the war -- actually, she told him one thing and then changed her mind ("Women!") -- and left wing bloggers "blasted" him unmercifully. I'm sure they did -- it's a strange atmosphere, blogging, and it is uncivil and unpretty when in the wrong hands. But does this conclusion follow? "The spitballs aimed at me don't matter much," Klein writes. "The spitballs aimed at Harman, Clinton and Obama are another story. Despite their votes, each of those politicians believes the war must be funded. (Obama even said so in his statement explaining his vote.) Each knows, as Senator Jim Webb has said repeatedly, that we must be more careful getting out of Iraq than we were getting in. But they allowed themselves to be bullied into a more simplistic, more extreme position. Why? Partly because they fear the power of the bloggers to set the debate and raise money against them. They may be right--in the short (primary election) term; Harman faced a challenge from the left in 2006. In the long term, however, kowtowing to extremists is exactly the opposite of what this country is looking for after the lethal radicalism of the Bush Administration."

Oh. Please. Left wing bloggers are responsible for the incoherence and shilly-shallying of the Democratic party on this war? And it's not like writing that nasty novel about Bill Clinton was a huggy-kissy thing to do, Joe.

Might I also add, for those of us who have had to deal with right wing bloggers and their wacky poison-pen followers, Klein's view that the left is particularly prone to Extreme Blogging is just wrong and deliberately misleading.


ks said...

I'm worshipping you a bit right now...

Thanks for your eloquence.

Ralph Luker said...

The NYT was incorrect about Olympia Snowe. She is not up for re-election next year.

Tenured Radical said...

Ralph: Yes -- they got it right this morniing, but I'm glad it wasn't just me mis-reading

Neophyte said...

I'm with you on this, Radical -- what took these guys so effing long? I was expecting a Republican mutiny in the run-up to the 2004 presidential, and -- remarkably unforesightedly, as it turns out -- expected John McCain to lead it. So now, since November, I've been sitting here twiddling my thumbs waiting for those in the GOP whose souls still remain more or less intact to wake up and smell the IEDs.

But I wonder if it isn't, in some ways, too late. That the White House was able to get away with congressional carte blanche for so long has created an atmosphere in which any threat that now develops to the hypertrophied executive causes ever deeper and ever more blind entrenchment behind the same old stubborn policies. It reminds me of the permissive parents in New Eden who let their kids get away with anything, so that by the time the kids get around to getting drunk and clubbing a guy in a wheelchair with a baseball bat (this happened), a parental "You've gone too far" has lost all meaning. The moral, ethical, and political lines in the proverbial and literal sand have been extended so far beyond what is acceptable, by any definition, that any censure now just seems doomed to remaining a ridiculously ineffectual gesture.

Not that I've lost hope, but, well, yikes.