Senate 2008 Guru's Week in the Senate Races

After a brief respite not achieving any progress on the immigration front, the Senate's attention is turning back toward not achieving any progress on the Iraq front.

A few Republican Senators have lately begun voicing (though not yet voting) their discontent with the way things are going, and have been going for quite some time, in Iraq.  What Republicans were dismissing as "cut and run" not so long ago is becoming a more acceptable policy among the GOP, especially to those Republican Senators who are approaching re-election bids in what is shaping up to be another cycle, like 2006, hostile to not only pro-war Republicans but, in many parts of the country, potentially anyone with an R next to their name.

As a renewed push on Iraq is expected, the Senate is expected this week to take up the Iraq Study Group Recommendations Implementation Act, S 1545, or as mcjoan has dubbed it "The Salazar Distraction," as it is questionable whether this measure would do anything to actually further U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.  Nevertheless, in a powerful editorial this morning, the New York Times calls for just that, immediate withdrawal:

It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit. ...

It is frighteningly clear that Mr. Bush's plan is to stay the course as long as he is president and dump the mess on his successor. Whatever his cause was, it is lost. ...

Continuing to sacrifice the lives and limbs of American soldiers is wrong. The war is sapping the strength of the nation's alliances and its military forces. It is a dangerous diversion from the life-and-death struggle against terrorists. It is an increasing burden on American taxpayers, and it is a betrayal of a world that needs the wise application of American power and principles.

But is it principle or mere political posturing that has led the few Republican Senators who have recently spoken out on Iraq to do so?  While Dick Lugar is considered safe, George Voinovich is up in 2010 in Ohio.  While that may seem a long way off, Ohio is where a scandal-plagued state Republican Party is still recuperating and where two-term Senator Mike DeWine got beat by then-Congressman Sherrod Brown 56-44 last year.  Voinovich might simply retire in 2010, as might John Warner in 2008, but whether they are looking ahead to impending retirement or the motivation is fear of retribution from voters seeking an end to Bush's Iraq debacle, freedom from the shackles of allegiance to the Bush Administration is being sought.  Pete Domenici is perhaps the clearest case of political posturing.  Domenici, up for re-election in 2008, has seen his approval rating plummet from 68-25 in November 2006 to 51-42 last month, primarily as a result of his role in the Attorney Purge scandal.  He could use a pick-me-up, and with George W. Bush's approval in New Mexico at 31-66, this could be a quick way for Domenici to score some points.

Much more below the fold.

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Is Rudy Giuliani Too Poor to Be President and Other Questions

We may be witnessing the last days of Rudy Giuliani as a Republican front-runner. New flavor Fred Thompson is getting ready to formally announce and my bet is that Thompson will come out ahead of Giuliani in the red state/blue state GOP smackdown.

But while Rudy is still with us, we can ask a few questions in relation to his dropping out of the Iraq Study Group to speak at one and two hundred thousand a pop. Not whether Rudy was "greedy" or whether he knows anything about Iraq like other liberal bloggers and writers. Since when has greed been bad for the Gordon Gekko Party and who said Republican candidates needed to know anything about the Middle East. George Bush didn't know a Sunni from a Shiite and Doug Feith used to filter out job applicants who knew too much about the Arab world. Why do we think Republican voters will care what Giuliani knows?

1. CAN RUDY AFFORD TO BE PRESIDENT? The president of the United States only makes $400,000 a year plus perks. Maybe that's not enough. Remember, Rudy's a partner in a big law firm (no doubt a rain-making partner rather than actually practicing law) and a big-time public speaker. You have to assume that he's living a seven or eight figure life as well--the houses, the cars, the clothes, the travel, the trophy wife, all the ex-wives and their kids. Hey! Maybe he lost a lot in the stock market slump of 2000-2001 as well. It adds up. Rudy probably needed the $300,000 he got from those speeches. Some $10 million a year anchor who can sympathize with Rudy's problems needs to ask.

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Giuliani Quit Iraq Study Group To Pursue Lucrative Speaking Fees

Like a good Republican, Giuliani put his pursuit of personal wealth before the the nation's security.

From Newsday:

Giuliani left the Iraq Study Group last May after just two months...He cited "previous time commitments" in a letter explaining his decision to quit, and a look at his schedule suggests why -- the sessions at times conflicted with Giuliani's lucrative speaking tour that garnered him $11.4 million in 14 months.

Clearly Giuliani wanted a place on the panel to bolster his warrior facade but didn't want to have to do any work. Good for Baker for making Giuliani choose: "either attend the meetings or quit."

Josh's take:

That's the kind of story that ends a campaign, especially one like Rudy's based on standing up to terrorism and hanging tough in Iraq.

Giulilani's office writes statements:

"As someone considered a potential presidential candidate, the Mayor didn't want the group's work to become a political football.  That, coupled with time restraints led to his decision."

Yeah, Rudy would NEVER use war as a political football.

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Bush to Reverse Course, Embrace Iraq Study Group... Really? Really?!

Taking a look at the front page of tomorrow's issue of The Washington Post I see there is an article by reporter Michael Abramowitz on the perceived resurgence of the ideas put forth by the Iraq Study Group. According to Abramowitz, even President Bush is embracing the ISG report. Well, sort of.

After an initially tepid reception from policymakers, the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group are getting a second look from the White House and Congress, as officials continue to scour for bipartisan solutions to salvage the American engagement in Iraq.

[...]

"I liked what James A. Baker and Lee Hamilton suggested," Bush said in East Grand Rapids, Mich., last month. "And that is to be in a position at some point in time where our troops are embedded with the Iraqi units -- in other words, there's Iraqi units providing security with a handful of U.S. troops -- helping them learn what it means to be a good military."

Such comments highlight an evolution in administration attitudes toward the study group, which delivered its recommendations to the White House along with a withering critique of administration Iraq policy.

It truly amazes me that there are people -- particularly people inside the Beltway who purport to watch politics closely -- who still believe that President Bush will ever be willing to budge one inch from his position on Iraq, that regardless of anything there will be at least a hundred thousand American troops on the ground in the country when he leaves office in January 2009. Perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised, though. After all, it's only been a week since the last time I took Abramowitz to task over his reporting on the White House's Iraq policy, when he implied that Congressional Democrats were negotiating in poor faith with the Bush administration when the opposite was quite clearly more of the case.

But even getting past this particular Post reporter, this story provides yet another example of the establishment media allowing itself to be bamboozled by the President over Iraq. There are simply too many previous instances of this trend to recall here in this post, but just since the end of the year many in the media have failed to comprehend that the real reason behind President Bush's escalation policy is to enable him to keep American forces in Iraq for at least two to three more years. This fact was hammered home again this month when the military all but admitted that they will push forward with the escalation through at least the middle of next year regardless of the planned assessment of the policy this September.

If I haven't said it clearly enough, my apologies. President Bush intends to stay in Iraq for the duration of his term in office and will say just about anything -- including that he is rethinking his opposition to the ISG report -- to achieve this goal.

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If 2003 was a Missed Opportunity, It's a Mistake to Refuse to Talk to Iran Now

Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy, February 16, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, I rise in defense of Condoleezza Rice.

It's great that the Bush Administration's failure to respond to Iran's peace offer of 2003 is again in the news, thanks to the Leverett affair and Glenn Kessler's reporting in the Washington Post.

But 99% of the press, expert opinion, blogging, and commenting on this that I have seen has missed the essential point.

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