ChrisWeigant.com

Friday Talking Points [186] -- Foreign Policy Issues Reappear

[ Posted Friday, October 21st, 2011 – 15:46 PDT ]

It has been a big week on the foreign policy front, with the death of Libya's dictator and President Obama's announcement today that all U.S. troops would be out of Iraq by the end of this year (leaving roughly 150 to guard the embassy). But before we get to all of that, I've got some domestic advice for the president's re-election team.

So, to the folks planning the "Obama 2012" effort: Spend some money. Please, please, spend some money right now. Buy an ad or three. By doing so, you can change the whole flavor of the political debate overnight.

This is, I will fully admit, fairly unconventional advice, so allow me to explain. Conventional thinking would be to carefully husband your financial resources right now, allow the Republicans to burn themselves out attacking each other, and then flood the airwaves with pro-Obama ads after the primary season is over (or even after the national conventions take place next year). This way, you'll have an enormous advantage over the Republican candidate in terms of money in the bank when the true campaign starts.

But Obama's team doesn't have to be bound by this conventional thinking, for a couple of reasons. The first is their target of one billion dollars in fundraising. If they meet (or even come close) to this massive amount of money, it will be far more than has ever been spent in a political race before -- and far more (most likely) that Obama's Republican challenger will be able to raise. So there's not going to be any reason for penny-pinching, in other words. Secondly, airing these ads doesn't have to cost a whole lot (relatively, of course). Steal a page from the late Steve Jobs' playbook (the famous "1984" Apple ad), and pay for only one airing of your ad... say, in the middle of the first quarter of a Sunday night football game. The media will take care of re-airing the ad many times, meaning a single ad buy is all that will be necessary -- which wouldn't cost all that much. Thirdly, the Obama campaign already has plenty of money in the bank, so paying for the ad right now won't be a problem, either. Alternatively, perhaps the Democratic National Committee could run the ad, if you wanted to funnel the election money in a different way.

President Obama has been doing a great job pushing his American Jobs Act, so far, but it's been mostly on a retail level. The wholesale approach of a national television ad would raise the public's awareness of the issue in a big way. Giving speeches to friendly audiences of committed Democrats (even in swing states), as Obama has been doing, is fine and good -- but it really doesn't get the message out far enough. Television news might show an eight-second clip of such a speech, meaning almost everything Obama says doesn't get reported. By running your own ad, however, you control the message yourself (for a whole 30 or even 60 seconds).

Obama's American Jobs Act was never going to be passed in the first place -- virtually everyone agrees that it is solely a political statement. Even if, by some miracle, it got past the 60-vote filibuster threat in the Senate and passed, the Republican House is never going to take it up. Harry Reid is actually doing a good job of scheduling a number of votes, to get the Republicans on the record over and over again voting against jobs. He isn't normally this good at playing this particular brand of politics, it should be mentioned, but in the last week or so he's been doing much better at it.

This political game is played by both parties on legislation they know is not going to pass. You can decry this as crass Machiavellianism if you wish, but that's the way life works in Washington. Obama made the opening move with his version of the American Jobs Act. The Senate Democrats changed the bill to pay for it solely with a tax on millionaires and billionaires. The whole package was brought up for a vote last week, and it failed. So Harry Reid is breaking the bill up into pieces. The first of these was voted on this week, and failed. The second is being teed up for a vote next week, and it will fail too. The point of the exercise is that Democrats can then campaign on: "Senator Jones voted against creating jobs!" But there are two ways which Democrats usually blow such opportunities, and both could be solved with a few Obama ads right now.

Democrats usually wait too long to make the argument. By the time next year's elections roll around, the public will have forgotten about the American Jobs Bill fight in the Senate. Democrats are essentially betting that if the economy is still bad next year, they'll be able to say: "We tried to fix unemployment, and the Republicans voted it down!" This message would be much better, however, if the argument was made at the beginning instead of the end -- now, in other words, instead of a year later. The other problem Democrats usually have is that they fail to coalesce around a truly national theme when making this case. By having Obama himself take the lead (with an ad, right now), this problem would be averted as well.

Writing such an ad for Obama is easy:

"Good evening, America. I'd like to take a moment of your time and update you on a very important issue. I'm trying to put Americans back to work with legislation in Congress right now, but it's a tough fight. This week, we tried to save the jobs of tens of thousands of teachers, firefighters, and police. It got voted down by every single Republican in the Senate. They still haven't explained how they can be against keeping teachers and front-line responders on the job. All across America, we've seen plenty of firefighters and police laid off in the past few years, by the thousands. We're trying to say 'enough is enough' and protect those jobs. To pay for this, the Senate proposed a half-cent tax on every dollar made above one million dollars. That is fifty cents on every 100 dollars made after your first million, and I do not believe that is too much to ask of the wealthiest Americans to keep tens of thousands of teachers, firefighters, and police on the job, bringing home a paycheck to their families. Republicans fought hard to protect someone making two million dollars a year from paying an extra one-fourth of one percent of their income in taxes -- and by doing so, they killed tens of thousands of jobs for police, firefighters and teachers. They chose, instead of saving these jobs, to do nothing. I'm trying to save these jobs, and I need your help. Call up your senator and let him or her know that you are standing on the side of saving jobs, rather than on the side of the millionaires. I am President Barack Obama, and I approved this message. Thank you, and let's get back to some football...."

Trusting that the media is going to get this message out is foolish. Waiting until next year to attempt to make this argument is also foolish. The "Obama 2012" team has enough money to run two or three of these ads (one per week, during the same football game). The ads pretty much write themselves -- just take any random two paragraphs out of one of those speeches Obama's been giving recently. The media would fall all over themselves reporting on such a bold campaign move -- and give the ad lots more airplay than what has actually been paid for.

The more I ponder this idea, the better it looks, in fact. Here's hoping someone in the political office of the White House will take note -- soon.

[Note: Didn't want to co-opt this idea, but did want to encourage everyone to check out Andy's Ostroy's excellent framing of this issue this week, as well: start referring to Republicans as "Jobs Bill Killers."]

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

President Obama certainly deserves a victory lap on the foreign policy front this week, but (again) we're going to cover that in the talking points section of our program today.

Likewise, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deserves at least an Honorable Mention for the excellent and serendipitous timing of her unannounced visit to Libya, mere hours before Ghaddafi was captured and killed. But while this timing looks brilliant in hindsight, it really was nothing more than an extraordinary stroke of good luck (as evidenced by Clinton's "Wow!" response upon hearing the news, if nothing else).

But this week we're going to eschew the obvious and get a little wonkier instead. Senator Jim Webb has been pushing a bill for a while now to create a National Criminal Justice Commission, to study America's entire criminal justice system, and then make recommendations based upon this study. Such a study hasn't happened since 1965, and it is a good idea which is long overdue. America's prisons are crowded because we lock up more people than any other nation on the planet. Examining the system and figuring out how to fix it seems to be an uncontroversial idea.

Until you realize that the Drug War is a large part of the problem, that is. Republicans are apparently scared that any commission made up of sane, level-headed individuals might come up with suggestions that are not politically advantageous to them -- such as legalizing marijuana, for example.

While Webb's bill failed this week to overcome a Republican filibuster, he did manage to get the votes of all the Senate Democrats, and four Republicans as well (Lindsey Graham, who had co-sponsored the bill with Webb, Scott Brown, Orrin Hatch, and Olympia Snowe). These days, a 57-43 vote in the Senate is impressive enough.

Webb's idea is a good one, and it is shocking to realize this subject hasn't been studied by such a government group since before even Richard Nixon declared war on drugs (and long before Nancy Reagan's era). For pushing this idea, and for getting within three votes of seeing it pass the Senate, Senator Jim Webb is our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week. We can only hope that when he brings it up again, more Republicans will get on board.

[Congratulate Senator Jim Webb on his Senate contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

Of course, the big news in the Senate this week was over the failure of the first of the bills broken out from the American Jobs Act to pass. This vote was even worse: 50-50.

Which means that three Democrats voted with the Republicans on the side of millionaires not having to pay a half-cent tax on the dollars they make over their first million, each year -- and against the side of teachers, firefighters, and police.

Our first winner of the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week is not technically a Democrat any more, because Joe Lieberman got successfully "primaried" by a real Democrat, and had to run as an independent. We don't care, however, and will continue to hand him further MDDOTW awards, every time we see fit. The biggest joy of the 2012 election cycle is going to be seeing the last of Joe Lieberman, who is not running for re-election (because he knows his chances of winning are virtually non-existent in Connecticut). Don't let the door hit you on the way out, in other words, and here's your eighth MDDOTW award in the meantime, Joe.

The other two Democratic senators who voted with the Republicans were Ben Nelson of Nebraska (for whom this is the twelfth MDDOTW award), and Mark Pryor of Arkansas (only his fourth such MDDOTW award).

This wasn't a vote for or against the jobs bill, mind you. This was just a procedural vote to show party strength -- all three of these folks could have stood with the Democrats now, and then voted against it later. It is called "party unity" -- apparently a foreign concept to these three individuals.

[Contact Senator Joe Lieberman on his Senate contact page, Senator Ben Nelson on his Senate contact page, and Senator Mark Pryor on his Senate contact page, to let them know what you think of their actions.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 186 (10/21/11)

OK, with all that out of the way, let's turn to foreign affairs, shall we?

Barack Obama deserves not just one but two victory laps this week, in the foreign affairs realm. The successful conclusion of the rebellion in Libya, with both the rebels controlling the whole country and with the capture and death of Ghaddafi, was a rousing end to America's military involvement in the country. It's really hard to put any of it in a negative light, although Republicans will no doubt try to do so in the next few days (they may already be doing so, I've been busy writing this and haven't had time to check, I admit).

The second victory lap due Obama is on his announcement today that all American troops will be out of Iraq in time for the holidays this year. Well, OK, around 150 will still be there guarding the embassy, but nobody can begrudge this considering there were over 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq the day Obama took office. Many -- especially on the Left -- never believed that this announcement would ever come from Obama, and that American troops would still be in Iraq for years to come. This could help Obama enormously with his base.

Obama should indeed talk about foreign policy, especially on his upcoming Tonight Show appearance next week, because it clearly shows the difference between him and just about every single one of his Republican opponents. Republicans haven't said much on foreign policy in their debates, other than the occasional swipe at China or to talk about the fence/wall/moat-full-of-alligators on the Mexican border. Obama should talk about foreign policy whenever he gets the chance, because it paints a stark difference in leadership style with the Republican field right now. And, with all the troops coming home from Iraq, this is a message America has been waiting a long time to hear.

So I'm offering up seven foreign policy talking points this week, for Obama's consideration. They can really be used by any Democrat, though, with a few shifts in pronouns. I should mention that some of these borrow heavily from Obama's own remarks on both ending the war in Iraq, and on the Libyan victory, so read both of these originals, if interested.

 

1
   Home for the holidays

The first one's easy. I was actually predicting the announcement of a full withdrawal from Iraq earlier this week, and while I was surprised it came so soon, I was glad to hear it stated in such concrete terms.

"When I campaigned for president, I promise I would responsibly end American military involvement in Iraq and bring all our troops back home. When I took office, there were almost 150,000 American troops in Iraq. When the new year dawns, there will be none -- other than a normal embassy guard, as we have in every other country around the globe we do business with. The war in Iraq is almost completely over. The troops -- all of them -- will be home for the holidays. That is a promise."

 

2
   This just in...

...Moammar Ghaddafi is still dead.

OK, you really have to be an old-school Saturday Night Live fan to get that joke, but I simply couldn't resist it, sorry. This one is also pretty easy to write.

"The people of Libya have now won their revolution. They have gotten rid of one of the worst dictators in the region, and they have consolidated their control over their entire country. We stood with the rebels, because it was the right thing to do. I got some criticism from both sides when I made the decision to aid the rebels, but I think things have turned out pretty good, so far. Libya still has a long way to go to achieve the goal of democracy, but the United States will stand by and be ready to help them walk this path as friends. This friendship between our countries simply would not exist if we had not acted when we did, and I'm glad we're in the position we are now with the people of Libya. They should be proud of what they've accomplished, because this victory belongs to the people of Libya."

 

3
   Greeted as liberators

This is just too good a chance to pass up.

"When the fall of Tripoli took place a few weeks ago, the Libyan people joined in a spontaneous celebration of their victory. And in the midst of the crowds was a giant sign thanking France, Britain, and the United States of America. While they celebrated their liberation, they also thanked us for the help we gave them. Just think for a moment what an extraordinary thing that is, in that part of the world. That one moment was, for me, the best commentary on the Libyan revolution yet -- made by the Libyan people themselves."

 

4
   Libya may even pay us back

This one is even more extraordinary, because (like the previous item) it just draws a clear contrast to Iraq and Libya. This is a good contrast for Obama to draw, however subtly.

"The liberation of Libya cost America not one single life -- not one single American in uniform. No N.A.T.O. troops died, either. We also didn't -- as some were darkly predicting -- put any American boots on the ground in Libya. The war was over in a matter of months, not years. Our air power made a decisive difference. The total cost of us helping the Libyan rebels was less than we spent in one week in Iraq, or in Afghanistan. And the most amazing thing of all -- the Libyan government is now considering whether to completely reimburse all of America's costs in the conflict. The American taxpayers may wind up not paying one thin dime for doing what was clearly the right thing to do. That's a pretty good record, for an American military involvement, I have to say."

 

5
   More troops on their way home

This one is an excerpt from Obama's speech, because he framed this issue so well I simply couldn't improve on his phrasing one bit:

Now, even as we remove our last troops from Iraq, we're beginning to bring our troops home from Afghanistan, where we've begun a transition to Afghan security in leadership. When I took office, roughly 180,000 troops were deployed in both these wars. And by the end of this year that number will be cut in half, and make no mistake: It will continue to go down.

 

6
   DADT is never coming back

Obama should use this one as a clear challenge to his Republican opponents, because so much of the public is behind the president, and so few remain opposed.

"While we're on the subject of American troops, I'd like to say once again that I support all of our troops -- whether they are gay or not. I challenge my Republican opponents to join me in this strong support for every single American who wears the uniform of their country. I will even make a bold prediction: no matter what the makeup of future Congresses or future White House administrations, I predict that the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy will never be reinstated in the American military. The public has spoken, the law has changed, and I just don't see America going backwards in this regard."

 

7
   You don't have to say "War on Terror" to be winning it

I'm still waiting for all those Republicans who tried to make this an issue to apologize to the president -- but I'm not holding my breath.

"Ever since I took office, some politicians have tried to make political hay over the fact that my administration stopped using the term 'war on terrorism,' as the previous administration did. But you know what? It doesn't matter what you call it, when you are out there winning the battle against Al Qaeda and its affiliates worldwide. I don't think Osama Bin Laden cared what term I was using when he was successfully taken out. We have been crippling Al Qaeda by targeting their top ranks throughout the world, and we have achieved a goodly amount of success by doing so. This is definitely one case where actions speak much louder than words."

-- Chris Weigant

 

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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: Democrats For Progress
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post

 

16 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [186] -- Foreign Policy Issues Reappear”

  1. [1] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    "they may already be doing so" -- they were, Chris. Over at Foreign Policy, Josh Rogan made sure to quote a hack from Liz Cheney's "think tank" along with Republicans and an Israel lobbyist in making his case that Obama "bungled" negotiations with Iraq. These are the same folks who were wrong then, wrong now, and will be wrong again tomorrow -- and they can't stand it.

    BTW, Chris, remember what I said about Libya as the beginning of the end of manned combat flight? Turns out there were more than twice as many drone strikes in Libya as Pakistan. Considering that every phase of the conflict involved another pair of drones being redeployed to the war zone, that's unsurprising -- and a big reason why the entire Libyan conflict cost about the same as one week in Afghanistan.

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    Harry Reid is actually doing a good job of scheduling a number of votes, to get the Republicans on the record over and over again voting against jobs.

    Uh... Point.. Democrats are a bigger problem than Republicans with regards to the so-called Jobs Act.. As you mentioned, two Democrats sided with Republicans over the whole Jobs package.

    But when the Senate voted on the first break-up piece of the Jobs Act, another five Democrats voted with Republicans, including Al Franken and Bill Nelson of FL.. (I knew there was a good reason to vote for Nelson.. :D)

    You can't lay the Job Act debacle solely at the feet of the Republicans...

    As to all the talking points..

    Sorry to say (not really :D) it ain't gonna help Obama a bit.. Bush Sr enjoyed a 90+% approval rating after the Desert Storm.. We all know what happened next..

    "It's the economy, stupid"
    -Bill Clinton

    For the record, those are Bill Clinton's words.. I would NEVER call anyone here "stupid"...

    On another note, why doesn't Obama trot Osama out more often?? The same reason why Obama won't trot out Iraq too often..

    Because those are BUSH victories.. Obama just happened to be President when they occurred...

    And we all know that the left would rather cut off their wee-wees rather than give Bush credit for ANYTHING...

    Present company excepted, of course. :D

    Finally, I still think Biden is much more deserving of the MDDOTW award..... :D

    Matt,

    Over at Foreign Policy, Josh Rogan made sure to quote a hack from Liz Cheney's "think tank" along with Republicans and an Israel lobbyist in making his case that Obama "bungled" negotiations with Iraq. These are the same folks who were wrong then, wrong now, and will be wrong again tomorrow --

    Time will tell if they were wrong or not.. It all depends on how quickly Iran moves and if Iraq will be strong enough to stop it.

    and a big reason why the entire Libyan conflict cost about the same as one week in Afghanistan.

    If you are trying to say that the Libya action is a pattern for all future US conflicts, I have some swampland in FL I am just DYING to sell you.... :D

    Obama got lucky.. Pure and simple... No if, ands or buts about it..

    But let me ask you the same thing I asked before. Is it that you don't mind a war mongering president, as long as they have a "-D" after their name???

    :D

    Michale......

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    But when the Senate voted on the first break-up piece of the Jobs Act, another five Democrats voted with Republicans, including Al Franken and Bill Nelson of FL.. (I knew there was a good reason to vote for Nelson.. :D)

    ACK!!

    I stand corrected..

    TEN Democrats (Count them.. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10) voted for the GOP alternative to the Democrat's Jobs Act...

    As a matter of fact, the Republican alternative garnered MORE votes than the Democrat's bill, 57 votes to the Democrat bill's 50 votes....

    For those keeping score, the Democrats in question are:

    Al Franken (Minn.)
    Kay Hagan (N.C.)
    Robert Menendez (N.J.)
    Amy Klobuchar (Minn.)
    Michael Bennet (Colo.)
    Ben Nelson (Neb.)
    Jon Tester (Mont.)
    Joe Manchin (W.Va.)
    Claire McCaskill (Mo.)
    Bill Nelson (Fla.)

    For the record, Franken, Klobuchar, McCaskill and Tester all signed on as co-sponsors for the Republican legislation.

    As I said, Obama's problem isn't the GOP.. It's the Democrats who don't see his way as the best way to go...

    When you have ten Democrats going over to the GOP, that really says something. It says to independents and NPAs that maybe the Democrat's way is not the best way..

    I'm just sayin'...

    Michale.....

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:
  5. [5] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Um, no. Democrats are not a bigger problem on the jobs act. The original jobs act would have passed an up-or-down Senate vote. The first breakout piece would have, as well (it is the one referenced in the article above, 50-50 with Biden casting the tie vote).

    I'm not sure what GOP bill you're talking about (got a bill number?), but it wasn't a breakout piece of the AJA. I'm not saying you're wrong on your facts, but you are getting the bills mixed up. Give a link to a story or a bill number about the one you're talking about, and I'll check it out.

    So, OBL and Iraq are Bush victories? Um, well, you could make the case for Iraq (but my case is slightly different to begin with -- keeping to the withdrawal is an Obama victory, not "winning Iraq" per se... but maybe that's splitting hairs, to you). But there's simply no way you can make the case that OBL is a Bush victory. Two words show what a monstrous lie this is: Tora Bora.

    Your bias is showing. You have said, over and over, "Bush kept us safe from terrorism (after 9/11)" and then you even admit it when I point out the fact that the anthrax attacks happened afterwards, but you state it as a fact, as if Bush personally stopped everything. But then, with Obama, it's all "he was in the right place at the right time" or "he just got lucky". That right there, my friend, is bias.

    Either both got lucky, or both did a good job. You really can't have it both ways. Personally, I think it's a mixture of both -- I think BOTH got incredibly lucky in quite a few instances, but I also think both are doing (and did) everything they possibly can think of to keep America safe. I didn't agree with everything Bush did (and I certainly don't agree with everything Obama did), but I don't doubt either one's intentions.

    I saw you make the point about Iran on another comment thread -- you've got this wrong, too. That was all BUSH, all the way. The invasion of Iraq and the war itself was ALWAYS going to benefit Iran -- that's just a cold, hard fact. The timing of our withdrawal has very little to do with that fact.

    I am astonished at the idiocy of both the press and the GOP politicians on this issue -- what the heck would they have done differently than Obama, for Pete's sake? Kept US troops in without a SOFA, and with them subject to Iraqi law? Somehow (not explained, ever) strongarm Maliki into doing what we wanted -- even though his parliament is NEVER going to pass any extension? Maliki is the winner in all of this. He put the screws to Bush, and Bush caved. He held firm with Obama, and Obama's hands were tied (by Bush, incidentally). Maliki has been calling the shots all along. The American media hasn't figured it out, but that doesn't make it any less true. Go back and look at what Bush was pushing for in the SOFA -- go look at his list of demands. You know how many he got? Zero. Now look at Maliki's demands. You know how many he got? Almost all of them. Maliki has been in control since long before Obama got to town, and nothing has changed. What happens with Iran (good, bad, or indifferent) is now on Maliki's shoulders alone. And you know what? The American public is just fine with that.

    Oh, so Obama got lucky on Libya, too? Is that your way of saying "I was incredibly wrong about virtually every aspect of this conflict, from the get-go" and apologizing for bitching about Obama not saying the words "war on terror" when you wanted him to?

    Let's see...

    * Pirates dead.
    * OBL dead.
    * Those guys in Yemen dead.
    * More drone strikes in Pakistan (far, far more than Bush ever dreamed of).
    * Limited air-war actually works wonders in Libya, with no * US ground troops and no quagmire.
    * Ghaddafi dead.
    * Underwear bomber pleads guilty in federal civil court, no terrorist attacks happen as a result.
    * US troops out of Iraqi cities (Iraq did not fall apart).
    * 100,000 US troops out of Iraq, on Obama's withdrawal plan (Iraq did not fall apart)..
    * Remaining US troops out of Iraq, on Bush's withdrawal plan (on schedule... Iraq not falling apart so far...)
    * TWO surges in Afghanistan, after Bush completely ignored the place for about 7 years, and then the most modest of withdrawals announce post-surge, just as Bush did in Iraq (Afghanstan as bad as ever, which will continue whenever we leave).

    OK, on that last one, I think Afghanistan ain't gonna turn out as rosy as anyone wants -- but I've thought that all along (there's a reason they call the place "Graveyard of Empires").

    But on ALL the other ones, your conclusion is "Obama got lucky."

    Guess Obama's luck is one whale of a lot better than Bush's, eh?

    I do give Bush credit where due -- as I do every single time on the SOFA. But you need to give Obama credit when it's due, too -- as on OBL, the clearest case of bold and decisive action from our C-in-C which trusted the military to do a job right. Bush deserves not one tiny shred of credit for the OBL raid, sorry. Do I think, say, President McCain would have done the same thing? Probably. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't have given him credit for it, in that alternative universe.

    -CW

  6. [6] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Thanks, Chris.

  7. [7] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    OK, it's bugging me, so I looked it all up (search my site for SOFA to see all the times I've mentioned it). Bush's initial demands:

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2008/06/10/news-from-the-iraq-sofa/

    That's from three years ago, in June.

    Maliki asserting his own country's sovereignty (where I said "a SOFA may be forced upon us by the Iraqi government"):

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2007/10/10/sovereignty-in-iraq/

    Bush begins to back down, under Maliki's pressure:

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2008/07/16/war-is-over-if-maliki-wants-it/

    That one's fun, because the title is now proving to be 100% accurate: "War Is Over (If Maliki Wants It)"

    My too-early prediction of a deal:

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2008/08/07/iraq-timeline-deal-imminent/

    This is where Bush begins bargaining away continued troop presence in Iraq, for his own political needs. Maliki initially offered a two-phase timetable for withdrawal, all combat troops out by Oct, 2010, and all US troops gone "sometime in 2013". If Bush had agreed to this, Obama could have kept troops there until long after the 2012 election -- please note this fact. BUSH changed this final date, because he wouldn't accept anything that sounded like a "timetable for withdrawal" again, for his own political reasons. This one's called "Maliki's Leverage Over Bush":

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2008/09/08/malikis-leverage-over-bush/

    Then Bush "stepped on his wee-wee" (as you would put it), because he didn't like the 2010 date -- because that's what Barack Obama was calling for. So he got the date pushed back to "the end of 2011" (where we find ourselves now), but Maliki doubled down and said "OK, fine, 12/31/11, but that date is when ALL US FORCES WILL LEAVE." Which Bush, for purely political reasons, immediately caved to:

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2008/10/14/maliki-running-out-bushs-clock/

    Here is my two-parter on the SOFA itself, which explains how Maliki got almost everything he wanted, and we got virtually none of what Bush was pushing for:

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2008/12/08/a-close-look-at-the-iraq-status-of-forces-agreement-part-1/

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2008/12/09/a-close-look-at-the-iraq-status-of-forces-agreement-part-2/

    Bush could have agreed to US troops in Iraq until 2013. He chose the end of 2011 for his own political reasons (and not any sort of "conditions on the ground", sorry). That is why we are stuck with it. I know this is one tough cookie for you to chew, but those are the facts.

    Throughout the whole negotiation, Maliki was driving the bus. I consistently pointed this out at the time. Now, with Obama, Maliki is also driving the bus. Obama could have argued until he was blue in the face, and it wouldn't have changed the outcome one tiny little bit. A hypothetical "President McCain" would have been in exactly the same box -- the same box that Bush put any future president in, which gave Maliki the power to say "No."

    Sorry to rant on about this, but you got under my skin.

    -CW

  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Kevin -

    De nada. Drank too much caffeine this morning, I guess...

    Heh.

    :-)

    -CW

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    I think you should drink more caffeine in the morning, more often ... or something. :)

    Michale,

    Why does Biden merit a MDDOTW award? Don't make me sorry I asked. :)

    Kevin,

    That felt good, didn't it! :)

  10. [10] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Elizabeth,

    Yes, it did. A caffeinated Chris is a feisty Chris, and I LOVE it!! :-)

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    You have obviously researched your response carefully. It's only courtesy that I do the same. However, it will likely have to wait until tomorrow night as I just got in. I am going to curl up with a nice cold beer or 6, watch Supernatural and then go to bed.. My day started about 0230 this morning and will start up again at 0230 tomorrow..

    Rest assured, I will address everything you have posted, in great (some might say nauseating) detail.. :D

    Liz,

    LIZ!!!! How ya been!!! I was truly getting worried about you.. We haven't heard from you in a while..

    Hope things are well with you....

    Why does Biden merit a MDDOTW award? Don't make me sorry I asked. :)

    That complete and utter felgercarb about how rapes and murders will increase if Obama's jobs bill is not passed...

    That is pure unadulterated fear-mongering beyond ANYTHING that the GOP has tried in the last several years..

    For an in-depth analysis as to why it's total BS, here's a link...

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/bidens-absurd-claims-about-rising-rape-and-murder-rates/2011/10/20/gIQAkq0y1L_blog.html?wprss=fact-checker

    Call it the Smell Test or the Pinocchio Test, but it stinks, it's BS and it's sad and pathetic fear-mongering...

    Glad yer back amongst us, Liz!!! :D

    Michale

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hey, Michale!

    I missed you, too!!!

    I've been fine, thanks for asking. Just peachy, in fact. Well, I guess we all need a break from all of this crazy political stuff every now and again.

    As for Biden, I'm sorry I asked. :) And, that's all I'm gonna say about that.

    Happy to see that you haven't missed a beat in my absence ...but, I think you should just concede to Chris on this one and rest up to fight another day.

    Have you been thinking about what wager you'll be making in the second annual CW.com Thanksgiving Fund-raiser? I hope I haven't missed any news about that!

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    Happy to see that you haven't missed a beat in my absence ...but, I think you should just concede to Chris on this one and rest up to fight another day.

    Awwwww, now how could ya'all POSSIBLY respect me if I did that! :D

    Have you been thinking about what wager you'll be making in the second annual CW.com Thanksgiving Fund-raiser? I hope I haven't missed any news about that!

    I think the best present I could give CW.COM is to not be such a pain in the arse.. :D

    But then ya'all wouldn't respect me in the morning. :D

    Unless someone comes up with a better idea, I'll probably go with my standard $.50 per post between T-giving and Xmas... :D

    Now, to work I go...

    Michale....

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    Apologies for the delay.. Two 20 hour days in a row left me utterly zonked.. Time was I could 4 days w/o sleep and still be ready for a fight.. I guess one year shy of 50 slows a man down, eh? :D

    Alll righty then... To business... :D

    I'm not sure what GOP bill you're talking about (got a bill number?), but it wasn't a breakout piece of the AJA. I'm not saying you're wrong on your facts, but you are getting the bills mixed up. Give a link to a story or a bill number about the one you're talking about, and I'll check it out.

    The bill I am referring to was a GOP alternative to the first break-up of Obama's Jobs Bill.

    thehill.com/homenews/administration/189067-defections-by-senate-dems-hamper-obamas-message-on-jobs

    I am not making this up just to piss ya'all off. Really I am not.

    The fact is, Democrats aren't all on board with Obama's Jobs Bill..

    Even the initial vote AGAINST the full Jobs Bill had BI-PARTISAN support...

    When a GOP Jobs Bill garners MORE support in the Senate than a corresponding Dem Jobs Bill..... Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that Democrats, in addition to Republicans, have a problem with Obama's Jobs Bill...

    So, OBL and Iraq are Bush victories? Um, well, you could make the case for Iraq (but my case is slightly different to begin with -- keeping to the withdrawal is an Obama victory, not "winning Iraq" per se... but maybe that's splitting hairs, to you). But there's simply no way you can make the case that OBL is a Bush victory. Two words show what a monstrous lie this is: Tora Bora.

    It's actually somewhat funny because I was thinking the opposite, that you could make a case that Iraq was more of an Obama victory, but Bin Laden was definitely a Bush victory. :D Go figger...

    The fact that Bush screwed the pooch at Tora Bora does not negate the fact that it was the Bush policies that ultimately led Obama to Bin Laden.

    Credit where credit is due. Obama had the good sense to ignore his base and ignore his critics and continue AND expand the Bush CT policies..

    But the fact is, the ONLY reason that Obama got Bin Laden is because Obama ignored practically EVERY foundation of Democratic Party principles and fully embraced Bush era tactics up to and including torture...

    Here's a question and answer honestly. Do you honestly believe that Obama would have got Bin Laden if Obama had stopped ALL of Bush's practices as the Left had wanted?

    Of course not..

    As for Iraq? As I said, you could make a compelling argument that Iraq was Obama's victory except for one thing. If we had done what President The-Surge-Is-Wrong-And-Will-Fail Obama and Harry The-War-Is-Lost Reid wanted to do, then Iraq would have been a dismal and embarrassing failure..

    It was Bush's surge that made Obama's "victory" possible..

    So, in both Iraq and Bin Laden, w/o Bush and his policies, Obama would not have been able to accomplish squat...

    Iraq and Bin Laden were Bush's victories.. Obama was simply lucky enough to be in office to claim the credit...

    Your bias is showing.

    Yes, I admit it. As much as it pains me to say it, I am not the totally objective person I would like to be, when it comes to Obama.

    Why??

    Because I got con'ed, pure and simple...

    Obama con'ed me and that simply pisses me off..

    So, yes... When it comes to Obama, my objectivity is somewhat wanting.

    But that is not the same thing as being wrong..

    You have said, over and over, "Bush kept us safe from terrorism (after 9/11)" and then you even admit it when I point out the fact that the anthrax attacks happened afterwards,

    There are two schools of thought regarding the anthrax attacks..

    One is that it was part and parcel to the 9/11 attacks and simply was planned for later..

    The prevailing theory (the one the media runs with and the government wants us to believe) is that it was the work of a disgruntled worker..

    Now, if the former is accurate, then my statement about Bush keeping us safe from terrorism since 9/11 is accurate because the anthrax attacks were part of the 9/11 attacks. I use the term "9/11" as the name of the attack, not the date...

    On the other hand, if the latter is accurate, then the anthrax attack wasn't even terrorism at all, so my claim is STILL valid...

    Whichever theory you believe in, it's a fact that there hasn't been a terrorist attack on US proper since 9/11 (the attack, not the date).

    but you state it as a fact, as if Bush personally stopped everything. But then, with Obama, it's all "he was in the right place at the right time" or "he just got lucky".

    You are correct. I should be more specific. The Bush Administration policies is what has prevented terrorist attacks on US proper since 9/11 (the attack, not the date) :D

    The only time I have claimed that Obama "got lucky" was in his Libya non-war. And I do believe you yourself made the same claim in one of your commentaries. I could be wrong about that.

    But the simple fact is, in the Libya campaign, Obama did get extremely lucky... Even the killing of Daffy was a stroke of pure unadulterated luck...

    It's entirely possible that Libya could have gone the way of Iraq '91 when the rebels were slaughtered...

    It is simply undeniable that, in Libya, Obama got lucky...

    Now, yes... It can be argued that Bush got lucky as well in his war on terror. But to make the argument that it was ALL luck, spanning 7 years??? Naw, that is not a logical argument... There was more at play than luck. It was sound CT policies that took the fight to the enemy...

    Bush deserves not one tiny shred of credit for the OBL raid, sorry.

    Really?? If Obama had stopped the torture, stopped the intel gathering, do you HONESTLY think that Bin Laden would NOT be alive today??

    Looks like it's a run on Swampland in FL!! Get it while ya can!! :D

    Seriously, Obama channeling Bush was what got Bin Laden. No ifs, ands or buts about it...

    Throughout the whole negotiation, Maliki was driving the bus. I consistently pointed this out at the time. Now, with Obama, Maliki is also driving the bus. Obama could have argued until he was blue in the face, and it wouldn't have changed the outcome one tiny little bit. A hypothetical "President McCain" would have been in exactly the same box -- the same box that Bush put any future president in, which gave Maliki the power to say "No."

    The fact that Obama couldn't change Maliki's mind is simply a testament to Obama's lack of skill as a leader. We're the US of A for chreest's sake..

    But, to be fair to Obama, he likely COULD have made the case to keep troops in and make it stick. But I am sure he didn't WANT to keep troops over there... His heart wasn't in it. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if he told Maliki that he was going to make the case just for show, but will not really push to keep troops in..

    So, while it's true that the Iraq "victory" belongs to Bush, it will also be seen (fairly or no) that the aftermath of Iran invading Iraq will be Obama's failure..

    What's to stop Iran from moving on Iraq?? The ONLY thing that kept Iran in check to date was Iran did not want to risk direct contact w/ US troops.

    What will stop Iran now?? Public outcry?? SANCTIONS!!???? Com'on.. Iran is one of the top earners of international sanctions already.. And has it deterred Iran's quest for nuclear weapons??

    NOPE.. Not a bit...

    So, I have to ask.. What's to stop Iran from moving on Iraq after the US troops go home???

    Nothing.. Abso-tively and posit-loutly nothing...

    Look, I don't disagree that Obama has wracked up some pretty impressive foreign policy victories. Credit where credit is due.. When it comes to foreign policy, Obama has made the right call more often than not..

    But with regards to Bin Laden, he simply stood on the shoulders of Bush. It was BUSH'S policies that got Bin Laden..

    This is undeniable..

    Why do you think Obama is not out there touting Bin Laden each and every day??? Because he knows that all it will do is remind each and every American that it was Bush's policies that got Bin Laden and Obama had very little to do with it. If Obama and the Democrats had gotten their way, Bin Laden would be alive today and who knows HOW many terrorist attacks would have been successful...

    Again, Obama has had some foreign policy successes...

    But Iraq and Bin Laden are not among them...

    I DO give Obama credit for ignoring his base and doing what's right with regards to torture, rendition, assassinating American terrorists etc etc etc...

    But ya'all have to ask yourselves something..

    Why are virtually all of Obama's foreign policy successes at the expense of the Democratic Party's principles??

    I mean, look at it from a Democrat's perspective.

    A Democrat would have to wonder....

    "Is President Obama wrong?? Or are my Party's principles wrong??"

    Michale....

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    On another note..

    They want $lice of the occu-pie
    $500G fight at Zuccotti

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/they_want_lice_of_the_occu_pie_9xKCxcI4aectFYkafMb8UJ

    Looks like the Oowsers are as money-grubbing and greedy as the 1%, eh???

    I would have liked to say I was surprised at this, but I am not...

    Michale.....

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    As I said, Obama has made the right call on Foreign Policy decisions more often than not..

    U.S. pulls out ambassador from Syria: diplomats

    Washington, seeking to convince Assad to scale back an alliance with U.S. arch-foe Iran and backing for militant groups, acted to improve relations with Damascus after President Barack Obama took office in 2009. Obama sent Ford to Damascus in January to fill a diplomatic vacuum prevailing since Washington withdrew its ambassador in 2005.

    But relations deteriorated anew after the uprising broke out and Assad ignored international calls to respond to protester demands that he dismantle the Syrian police state and allow political pluralism.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/24/us-syria-usa-idUSTRE79N22G20111024

    Unfortunately that's not one of them...

    President Obama needs to understand that there ARE people in the world that are simply evil and no amount of talking or diplomacy will work..

    Michale

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