You Hate the Troops and Your Criticism Helps the Republicans

by: Matt Stoller

Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 17:46


Sometimes, an article comes out from a corporate media source that epitomizes the conventional wisdom of the DC establishment.  This piece, by Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray of the Washington Post, is remarkable both for what it says and for the assumptions it makes.  The title is 'Democrats Push Toward Middle On Iraq Policy'.  After discussing the failed bills pushed the party's 'left flank', Weisman/Murray writes.

But after months of false starts and dead ends, Democratic leaders are taking a pragmatic turn.

"We want to get something to the president's desk," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

House and Senate Democratic leaders are now working in tandem on legislative efforts, knowing that if Iraq legislation can make it through the Senate, GOP moderates in the House will be more likely to change sides, Van Hollen said.

"If the Senate starts actually passing legislation, that could really change things," agreed Rep. Michael N. Castle (Del.), a GOP moderate who has been working with Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) on a more bipartisan approach to Iraq.

The notion that pragmatism means bipartisanship and bills that do not restrict the President is Weisman/Murray's opinion, but it is voiced as fact.  So is this.

MoveOn.org provided Republicans a life raft when it ran a full-page newspaper advertisement Monday taunting Petraeus as "General Betray Us." Ever since, Republicans have spent far more time condemning the ad than defending the war.

Weisman/Murray presents no evidence whatsoever that the Moveon ad has been ineffective, but it is nonetheless stated as fact.  And then there's this, from Bush Dog opinion leader John Tanner (TN-08).

Tanner said he is ready for a fight as he pushes a bipartisan bill that would give the White House 60 days to present Congress with a withdrawal plan. Antiwar activists say the bill will succeed only in giving Republican moderates political cover, easing the pressure on them to embrace stronger measures.

"When these soldiers, sailors and airmen are buried, they're not buried as Republicans or Democrats," Tanner said. "I care a hell of a lot more about them than I do about partisan politics."

Tanner and Weisman/Murray are tacitly working together in this messaging.  Antiwar proponents are portrayed as irresponsible, irrational, and strategically unsound partisans that will not put aside their instincts to save the lives of solders.  Tanner says what Weisman/Murray wants, and Weisman/Murray writes as conventional wisdom what Tanner believes.  It's a nice trick.  And Tanner is willing to go the mat to beat back those crazy anti-troop liberals that actually want to compel Bush to withdraw troops, since that apparently is partisan politics.

Matt Stoller :: You Hate the Troops and Your Criticism Helps the Republicans

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A Dem Not Looking for the Middle on Iraq (0.00 / 0)
Richardson is holding town halls on the Iraq War in Iowa today - taking his message to those generally most supportive of the war.  He spoke at the National Guard Armory in Council Bluffs and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Sioux City. 

Governor Richardson outlined his plan for redeploying all U.S. troops from Iraq in six to eight months without leaving behind residual forces.

"Redeploying all of our troops is the only way to truly end this war," Governor Richardson said to the audience in Council Bluffs. "We cannot make real progress until all of our soldiers are out of Iraq. Our troops have served honorably and bravely, but they are mired in a conflict with no military solution. The best course is to redeploy them to areas where they are needed, like Afghanistan."

See http://www.richardso...


One or two thoughts (0.00 / 0)
Far be it from me to defend the Post - but...

Their business is peddling CW, and, in this case, their suppliers are none other than the Dem leaderships! [They goose it up a bit - but then only suckers ever believed in the possibility of  objective journalism.]

Not only that, we get on the record quotes from the Senate maj leader and DCCC chairman - and the sense of the piece follows the line the leaderships have been putting out for a day or two now, at least.

If Harry says reaching out to Republicans on the record, that legitimizes the whole storyline.

The reason the hacks go to Tanner and Abercrombie is that the top Dem guys are telling them that hands across the aisle is how they're going to play Iraq. There have been a lot of pieces in the last days touting the Tanner bill as the way forward, so natch, they get quoted.

The Progs as bomb-throwers fits the narrative to a T - but Tanner and Abercrombie are only Ikettes: Harry and Nancy (as subbed for by Van Hollen) are out front.

And Betrayus? That fits the narrative too.

Harry and Nancy's narrative.


So Much For The Old Chestnut About 'Demagogues of the Left And Right' (4.00 / 1)
"When these soldiers, sailors and airmen are buried, they're not buried as Republicans or Democrats," Tanner said. "I care a hell of a lot more about them than I do about partisan politics."

Tanner is double-plus-good demagogue of the center.  No one can touch him with a 10-foot pole.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


I Just Noticed Something (0.00 / 0)
Although they use different ways to make the argument, Tanner and Ogonowski are both making arguments that being anti-war means you're anti-troop because you're going to keep the troops in harms way.

This is a dramatic flip-flop from the earlier position, which has clearly become untennable, that being anti-war means being anti-troop because you want to save their lives.  But what has made this flip-flop possible is the failure of the Dems to demand withdrawal from the moment they took power.

Tanner's argument, essentially, is that anti-war legislation can't pass, and thus can't get the troops out of Vietnam Iraq.  Hence, he can posture:

"When these soldiers, sailors and airmen are buried, they're not buried as Republicans or Democrats," Tanner said. "I care a hell of a lot more about them than I do about partisan politics."

Of course, his alternative won't do a damn thing except give Republicans cover.  But by then he'll have figured out some new blame game to run, and five will get you ten it will also involve attacking "partisans on both sides."

And as for Ogonowski, Matt observed:

Ogonowski is running against Bush, on a Petraeus withdrawal, and is criticizng Tsongas for wanting to keep troops in Iraq indefinitely.  The argument, that Tsongas's desire for an irresponsible withdrawal will necessitate returning troops to the region, is crazy, but Republican grassroots are pretty psyched about it and it makes sense as a pitch to independents, with whom Ogonowski is competitive.

Again, it's an argument that only makes sense in light of the Democrats lack of resolve to end the war already.  And, of course, the Petraeus withdrawal is a withdrawal of pure necessity, with an opportunistic cherry on top.

But it shares with Tanner's argument the premise that being anti-war means keeping keeping the troops in danger for no good reason--except of course because the anti-war crowd hates teh troops and wants to see them all die. Right?

It just goes to show that if you keep lying long enough, the lies start telling themselves, and all you have to do is kick back and watch.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


Exactly right ... (4.00 / 2)
...with this But what has made this flip-flop possible is the failure of the Dems to demand withdrawal from the moment they took power.

This kind of pathetic bipartisanship is what will kill soldiers. I'm not suggesting any exact symmetry here, but it shouldn't be forgotten that withdrawals began within five months of Nixon's Inaugural and nearly as many American soldiers and certainly as many Southeast Asians were killed in the next four years as went down under LBJ.


[ Parent ]
Life raft? (4.00 / 2)
All these concern trolls beating up on MoveOn... what was their plan for challenging Petraeus' credibility?

  Because that's the best, most direct way to blunt the impact of his report. Did the concern trolls have a strategy in place towards that end?

  If so, what was it? And why didn't they unveil it?

  I mean, they do want this war to end, don't they?

 

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


Several points (4.00 / 1)
The types who lionize Petraeus have had a horrible track record ascross American history.  These are direct descendants of the Republicans led by McCarthy who called George C. Marshall a traitor.  They are also related to the hacks who wanted to replace George Washington with Horatio Gates (Gates nearly lost the battle of Saratoga that Benedict Arnold won but had a big PR machine), the people that wanted to replace Grant (he's a drunk after all), and the ones who called Sherman insane for offering a plan that he wound up following two and a half years later (with tthe same manpower) to win the war.  This is a leading indicator that they are wrong.

Rudy Giuliani came out swinging at Hillary yesterday for giving Petraeus a hard time on the witness stand.  One wonders, if he can't stand up to a few questions, how will the little chicken s**t stand up to Osama Bin Laden.


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