Another GOP stunt backfires

Posted by R. Neal

As more information comes out about the rush to war in Iraq (along with more polls showing that Americans are finally starting to realize they were played), Republicans are in full damage control mode.

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This "blame the Democrats in Congress who all voted for it, too" tactic is really quite pathetic. Sure, they had the same super-duper-double-secret intelligence as the CIA, the DIA, the NSA, the Whatever-Else-A, and the White House. Right. And what they had access to wasn't cooked or stove-piped or sexed-up or distorted or manipulated or manufactured in any way. Uh, huh. Not by our Commander in Chief. No way. Any speculation or allegation to the contrary is "reprehensible" and "corrupt" and "shameless," and anyone who would suggest such a thing is unpatriotic and a "coward" who would "surrender to the terrorists."

But even if they had the same intelligence, two wrongs don't make a right. The notion that "well, they did it too" somehow makes it all better is bizarre. Especially when they were lied to. But what the administration is really saying is "Congress screwed up -- they trusted us."

Regardless, not all Democrats in Congress bought in to the lies. Former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, didn't. (Gee, I wonder what he knew?) Neither did Senators Kennedy, Boxer, Wellstone, Inouye, or sixteen others (including one Republican). 126 Democrats and six Republicans in the House voted against it, including Republican Rep. John Duncan of Tennessee who said it was a distraction from the real war on terror.

But Democratic Sen. John Edwards voted for it, and now says it was a mistake. Democratic Rep. John Murtha voted for it, too, but now says it we have a "flawed policy wrapped in an illusion" and calls for an orderly withdrawal from Iraq.

Which brings us to this ridiculous GOP stunt in Congress last Friday. See, by calling for a vote on the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, Republicans thought they could set a trap to get Democrats on the record as supporting the war in Iraq (and by extension, culpable in the "big mistake") before the 2006 elections.

And like the Terry Schiavo "emergency session", this too will backfire.

First of all, the GOP calling Murtha, a decorated Vietnam war veteran, a "coward" from the floor of the House of Representatives is beyond the pale, and reveals their true colors. And it's just bad theater.

But more important, if Democrats are smart (a debatable presumption) they will remind voters next November that Republicans introduced a resolution for the immediate withdrawal from Iraq and called a vote on it. What kind of message does this send to our troops? To the Iraqi people? To the terrorits? (Which is just echoing the GOP hawk rhetoric. Reports seem to indicate the Iraqis themselves would prefer we went home.)

They will also remind voters that it was a Republican administration with nearly universal Republican support in Congress who got us into this mess in the first place. They will say that we need a a "roadmap" with milestones towards a competently managed transition to democracy, self-supported by Iraqis who are trained and ready to take responsibility for their own security, so the U.S. can declare "mission accomplished" (again, whatever it is now, except for real this time) and turn over operations to Iraq. You know, like a "plan" or something.

They will also note that our current leadership can't decide if we're going to stay forever ("stay the course", "no withdrawal on my watch!") and never prepare the Iraqis for taking over their own security, or just withdraw before there's security in place and leave the Iraqis to sort it out and fend for themselves.

Which is it, Mr. President? Mr. Speaker? Bueller?

(Oh, and props to Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-TN, for going after the GOP thugs when they called Murtha a "coward." According to reports, he charged across the aisle and challenged some wingnut to say it to Murtha's face. They say Ford had to be restrained.)

OK, then.

P.S. I'm still having a hard time figuring out how everyone was duped by all this "flawed intelligence" Cheney keeps talking about. I'm just some guy with no access to any intelligence (government or otherwise) other than what we were all being fed by "Curveball" and Chalabi by way of Judith Miller and the NYT, and I wasn't buying it. Here's a fake Photoshop parody posted on my former blog in August 2002 that illustrates what I thought about the WMD "intelligence":

And here are some of the images Sec. of State Colin Powell presented at the United Nations six months later in February of 2003 to make the case for war:

You just can't make this stuff up. Well, maybe you actually can.

OK, then, again.