It's All For Show, Nothing Else
As General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker ready themselves for their spin jobs to Congress over the next two days demanding another Friedman unit, I’m sure not one Democrat will ask them:
1. General, since the surge hasn't delivered what it promised, where's the Plan B? For that matter, where the hell is any plan at all?
2. Why is General Petraeus giving an exclusive interview to Fox tonight?
3. Why do the Iraqis feel the surge has been a failure?
4. Why are you manipulating statistics to make your case?
5. What pressure was brought upon the Prime Minister to follow the script one more time, after he said just last week that he could find other friends? Why is al-Maliki making the same discredited claims about violence reduction, if he isn’t reading from the same script?
6. Why are we taking steps that appear to be aimed at a long-term provocative presence in Iraq?
The Bush Administration knows that the public trusts the military more than itself or Congress to end this war. Since Bush always intended to dump this problem off onto his successor, just like he has his entire political career, all he needed was a political hack masquerading as a general to command the enterprise on the ground, who would run out the string through the remainder of Bush’s term. And since the rest of the Pentagon doesn’t have the guts to challenge the White House, this week’s developments are moot.
Since this will all be for show this week and nothing else, and since we know that the entire GOP bloc will go along, Democrats should announce after the hearings that they will vote against the additional $50 billion because there is no plan or endgame put forward by the administration. Reid and Pelosi should tell the White House that the days of rubber-stamping the status quo without an endgame are over, and that Democrats will vote against blank checks. And as I have said before, they should tell McConnell and Boehner to line up the votes themselves for the blank checks.
As for how it impacts the 2008 race, Hillary, Obama, Biden, and Dodd should make it clear how they will vote on the money, as Dodd and seemingly Biden have done already. There is no reason why Hillary and Obama cannot say now that they will vote against a blank check, and all four should start shifting the frame the same way: tell the voters that it will be up to a Democratic president, working with a Democratic Congress to work with the military to get us out of Iraq in 2009, and remind voters that Bush and the GOP will be dumping this problem onto the next administration and Congress.
Update: Sure enough, Petraeus lays it out there for all to see. If things go well, he will be able to withdraw troops back down to the pre-surge level by next summer, and then leave the mess for Bush's successor. What his testimony and the Democrats' lack of skill in questioning him hide is that:
1. He has to withdraw troops back down to those levels starting now because the troop rotations require it and the military is broken;
2. He will still have 130,000 troops in Iraq next summer, in the middle of the presidential race, meaning that Bush is pushing his problem onto his successor.
All the surge was designed to do was delay, delay, and delay.