View Full Version : Succes in Iraq; "a real big problem for us"-all you need to know about libs

08-05-2007, 08:51 AM
Clyburn: Positive Report by Petraeus Could Split House Democrats on War

By Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer and Washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Monday, July 30, 2007; 6:26 PM

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Monday that a strongly positive report on progress on Iraq by Army Gen. David Petraeus likely would split Democrats in the House and impede his party's efforts to press for a timetable to end the war.

Clyburn, in an interview with the washingtonpost.com video program PostTalk, said Democrats might be wise to wait for the Petraeus report, scheduled to be delivered in September, before charting next steps in their year-long struggle with President Bush over the direction of U.S. strategy.

Clyburn noted that Petraeus carries significant weight among the 47 members of the Blue Dog caucus in the House, a group of moderate to conservative Democrats. Without their support, he said, Democratic leaders would find it virtually impossible to pass legislation setting a timetable for withdrawal.

"I think there would be enough support in that group to want to stay the course and if the Republicans were to stay united as they have been, then it would be a problem for us," Clyburn said. "We, by and large, would be wise to wait on the report."

Many Democrats have anticipated that, at best, Petraeus and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker would present a mixed analysis of the success of the current troop surge strategy, given continued violence in Baghdad. But of late there have been signs that the commander of U.S. forces might be preparing something more generally positive. Clyburn said that would be "a real big problem for us."

Clyburn's comments came as House and Senate Democrats try to figure out their next steps in the legislative battle. Clyburn said he could foresee a circumstance in which House Democrats approve a measure without a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces, which has been the consistent goal of the party throughout the months-long debate. But he said he could just as easily see Democrats continue to include a timetable.

Clyburn also address the reasons behind declining approval ratings for Congress, which spiked earlier in the year when Democrats took over the House and Senate. The most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed just 37 percent approving of the performance of Congress.

"Remember right after the election it went very high on approval,?" he said. "Then all of a sudden people saw that we were not yielding the kind of result that they wanted to yield."

He said most Americans still do not know some of the domestic legislation that has been approved. Fewer understand that, despite Democratic majorities in both houses, that it takes 60 votes to pass anything legislation in the Senate.

Clyburn noted that while overall approval ratings of Congress are low, people still rate Democrats higher than Republicans. "People feel good about the Democratic Party, they just don't feel real good about the Congress itself."


08-05-2007, 08:51 AM
Democrats mutter at good news out of Iraq -- Kevin O'Brien
Wednesday, August 01,

Just a few weeks ago, it looked as if four years of hard work was about to pay off.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was busily marking his calendar for weekly votes on abandoning the war in Iraq, figuring that one of them eventually would produce the magic number. And since hardly a day was passing without some august Republican member of Congress "breaking with the president" over Iraq policy, it was hard to argue Reid's calculations.

But just as the anti-war left gets both hands firmly on the rug under our men and women fighting in Iraq, bam! The surge works.

Seeing who's glad -- and who's upset -- about that is instructive.

On a fund-raising swing through Cleveland on Tuesday, Sen. John McCain stopped in for a chat with Plain Dealer reporters and editors. Count him among the glad.

"We do have a new strategy," he said. "We have an inspirational general. It is succeeding. I don't care what anybody tells you, I know it's succeeding. . . . I get too many hundreds of e-mails from sergeants and majors and colonels and generals that anyone could argue otherwise."

And he said that, come September, that inspirational general, David Petraeus, will tell our shaky and self-interested Congress precisely that.

The left didn't want it to come to this. Reid and company did their utmost to officially declare the surge a failure before the troops were even in place, but a dwindling number of Senate Republican stalwarts held them off.

Now, congressional Democrats are stuck giving Petraeus a hearing, and he's going to come to them with the last thing in the world they want: good news.

As House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, admitted to the Washington Post the other day, a positive report from the general would be "a real big problem for us."

No kidding.

If the Democrats have a strategy that goes beyond defeat and retreat in Iraq, they're keeping it to themselves. But the U.S. defeat has to happen before President Bush leaves office, so it can still be all his fault, and so any Democratic successor will not be forced to admit that all of that let's-bring-them-home-right-now stuff was partisan hot air.

Say what you will about McCain -- goodness knows I have, and most of it hasn't been kind -- but he does understand what we're up against in the Middle East, who the enemy is and how many fronts this war really has:

"Of course it's military, of course it's intelligence, of course it's diplomacy, but it sure as heck is hearts and minds -- dare I use that phrase? It's who's recruiting whom. Who is teaching that this is one of the greatest evils that we have ever faced in our history? Who is teaching that we believe all people are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights? Who's telling our side of the story in cyberspace? I think you could argue we won the Cold War, to a large degree, because we were able to use propaganda.' . . . Do we have anything comparable -- an effort to sell our side of the story -- now?"

I just wonder if he realizes how perfectly his definition of the problem applies to the situation here at home.

Think about what you've heard over the last four years from the Democrats and most of the mainstream media. The Daniel Pearl story lasted a month, but Abu Ghraib went on and on and on.

Hearts and minds do matter -- especially Americans' hearts and minds. We don't have enough people telling our side of the story here at home, much less in the Middle East.

"I think the transcendent challenge of the 21st century is the struggle against radical Islamic extremism," McCain told us on Tuesday.

He's right, so why should good news for our side in that struggle be bad news for the Democrats? At least, that's what the Democrats say.


08-05-2007, 08:53 AM
Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-KS) walked out of a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee because she couldn't stand to listen to what retired General Jack Keane, former vice chief of staff of the Army, was saying.

"There is only so much you can take until we in fact had to leave the room for a while...after so much frustration of having to listen to what we listened to," Ms. Boyda explained to reporters later.

What did Gen. Keane say to so upset Ms. Boyda? He'd visited contested neighborhoods in Baghdad in February, and again three months later:

"What you see is a stark contrast. All the schools are open. The markets are teeming with people...There is an attempt to provide essential services to the population where in '06 there were none."

"Those kinds of comments will in fact show up in the media and further divide this country instead of saying, here's the reality of the problem," Rep. Boyda said. "And people, we have to come together and deal with the reality of this issue."

It is difficult to say which is the more remarkable: that Ms. Boyda, whose military experience is zero, imagines she knows "the reality of this issue" better than does Gen. Keane; or that she is appalled by good news from Iraq.

08-05-2007, 08:54 AM

08-05-2007, 09:19 AM