Wednesday :: Apr 25, 2007

Enabling Failure


by Steve

While his paper reports on the increasing vulnerability of US troops due to Petraeus's forward outpost plan, David Ignatius writes in his Post column today about GOP angst:

Something's got to give. That's the sense around Washington this week as the news from Baghdad worsens and the president defiantly continues an Iraq policy that many military leaders question. Unfortunately, what's giving way right now is the national interest. Bush is hunkered down with his troop surge strategy, and the military is expected to pay the price. A grim example of that human cost was Monday's deaths of nine U.S. soldiers from car bombs that hit one of the vulnerable forward operating bases that are a key part of the surge strategy.
Retired Marine Gen. John Sheehan summed up the military's skepticism in explaining why he turned down White House feelers to become "war czar" for Iraq and Afghanistan: "The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going."
If you want to hear despair in Washington these days, talk to Republicans. The Democrats are exulting in their newfound political power and are eager to profit from Bush's difficulties. But Republicans voice the bitterness and frustration of people chained to the hull of a sinking ship.
I spoke with a half-dozen prominent GOP operatives this past week, most of them high-level officials in the Reagan and Bush I and Bush II administrations, and I heard the same devastating critique: This White House is isolated and ineffective; the country has stopped listening to President Bush, just as it once tuned out the hapless Jimmy Carter; the president's misplaced sense of personal loyalty is hurting his party and the nation.
"This is the most incompetent White House I've seen since I came to Washington," said one GOP senator. "The White House legislative liaison team is incompetent, pitiful, embarrassing. My colleagues can't even tell you who the White House Senate liaison is. There is rank incompetence throughout the government. It's the weakest Cabinet I've seen." And remember, this is a Republican talking.

And yet, they will stick with him through the veto this week, and for the remainder of the spring and summer because they feel they have to.

I have advised on several occasions the Democrats to stop giving the GOP chances to redeem itself for rubber-stamping failure. According to the Los Angeles Times this morning, Harry Reid has decided to go in the opposite direction, by moving on from the veto this week to a series of votes that would require the GOP senators to keep voting with the president. I’m not sure how that would play out, since there is also talk that the fallback position for the Democrats would be to pass 60-day strings-free extensions over the spring and summer, making Bush and his GOP allies keep justifying their insistence for an auto-pilot policy with no end game in sight, until the ultimate battle this fall over the 2008 defense budget.

Steve :: 7:08 AM :: Comments (18) :: Digg It!