February 14, 2007


It appears the Democrats' new Iraq strategy will be one of a legislative "slow bleed" of our military's ability to persevere there. They will hide behind legislation instead of taking an open political stand many of them rightly see as fraught with risk. That would require principle and political courage. None of that going on here.

Fronted by John Murtha, their intent is to make sure the pacification of Iraq is a failure, and that Bush is thus humiliated. This seems to be the only thing they are interested in, and they are willing to risk American lives by restricting the numbers of forces we can utilize in the campaign. A new low indeed.

They will use their legislative power to tie the hands of the Commander-in-Chief in his conduct of the military campaign. They just don't have the guts to do it honestly and forthrightly. I truly hope they seal their 2008 electoral doom with this craven, cowardly stunt.

From The Politico

Top House Democrats, working in concert with anti-war groups, have decided against using congressional power to force a quick end to U.S. involvement in Iraq, and instead will pursue a slow-bleed strategy designed to gradually limit the administration's options.

Led by Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., and supported by several well-funded anti-war groups, the coalition's goal is to limit or sharply reduce the number of U.S. troops available for the Iraq conflict, rather than to openly cut off funding for the war itself.

The legislative strategy will be supplemented by a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign designed to pressure vulnerable GOP incumbents into breaking with President Bush and forcing the administration to admit that the war is politically unsustainable.

As described by participants, the goal is crafted to circumvent the biggest political vulnerability of the anti-war movement -- the accusation that it is willing to abandon troops in the field. That fear is why many Democrats have remained timid in challenging Bush, even as public support for the president and his Iraq policies have plunged.


Murtha, the powerful chairman of the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, will seek to attach a provision to an upcoming $93 billion supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan. It would restrict the deployment of troops to Iraq unless they meet certain levels adequate manpower, equipment and training to succeed in combat. That's a standard Murtha believes few of the units Bush intends to use for the surge would be able to meet.

Could they condescend any more to the American people, or insult their intelligence any more than by trying to dress up a sell-out of the troops in the guise of legislation to keep them well equipped and trained?

The only risk they face now is if we prevail in Iraq despite their efforts to force our defeat. It has indeed come to that. For Democrats to succeed politically, they must take actions with a goal of ensuring America's defeat in this long, difficult four-year war.

So invested politically are they in Iraq being a failure and a defeat for George Bush, that they are willing to gradually choke the life out of the force we have in Iraq, while hiding behind cynical legislation that professes to be about making sure all our troops are properly trained and equipped, when its real goal is to fatally injure the Iraq campaign. And of course you want to give the enemy plenty of advanced notice too, so he'll know he's just got to hang around and wait us out.

What a disgusting display of political cowardice, and of contempt for our troops and our entire military. And this is the strategy they have decided on in order to avoid alienating that considerable chunk of the American public who, if half-hearted or even discouraged about the mission, at least want to see us win! Good luck with that!

At least we know that the gloves are now off, and the Democrats are firmly for defeat.

Is there really nothing beneath these people in their pursuit of power and in their Bush Derangement? Is it alright to question their patriotism now? Are John Murtha and Nancy Pelosi comfortable with being the heroes of Al Qaeda and the Baathist insurgents? How gross an exaggeration is that, in fact? Their goals for Iraq are difficult to differentiate.

They are going to start running TV ads opposing the war policies of our Commander in Chief, monied as they are by "well-funded anti-war groups." Like Bryan at Hot Air, I'd be interested to know just which anti-war groups we're talking about here. More from Bryan:

As I said, dishonorable. If you oppose the war and truly want us out of Iraq, put your own name on the line and move to cut funding. Put your name on your policy. If, as Barack Obama said, you think we’re wasting lives in this war, then the honorable thing to do is to stop that waste immediately. Put your name on your policy as well as its outcome. Not conduct a “slow bleed” strategy that is the political equivalent of the strategy that the terrorists and insurgents have themselves deployed on the ground. We have truly reached a new low in this country when the Speaker of the House and her favorite henchman are running a strategy that will definitely get American troops killed for a war they lack the courage to stop in their own names.

John Hinderaker of PowerLine:

So the Democrats will do their best to make the United States' effort in Iraq fail, but without taking responsibility for that action, and then try to benefit politically from the country's defeat. Nice.

UPDATE: See also Ed Morrissey; Memeorandum;

UPDATE: President Bush spoke to this issue several different times in the press conference today. Excerpts after the jump...

Later this week the House of Representatives will vote on a resolution that opposes our new plan in Iraq -- before it has a chance to work. People are prejudging the outcome of this. They have every right to express their opinion, and it is a non-binding resolution. Soon Congress is going to be able to vote on a piece of legislation that is binding, a bill providing emergency funding for our troops. Our troops are counting on their elected leaders in Washington, D.C. to provide them with the support they need to do their mission. We have a responsibility, all of us here in Washington, to make sure that our men and women in uniform have the resources and the flexibility they need to prevail.


Q Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, it seems pretty clear where this Iraq vote in the House is headed. Your press secretary has said repeatedly that members of Congress ought to watch what they say and be concerned about the message that they're sending to our enemy. I'm wondering, do you believe that a vote of disapproval of your policy emboldens the enemy? Does it undermine your ability to carry out your policies there? And, also, what are you doing to persuade the Democratic leadership in Congress not to restrict your ability to spend money in Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, thanks. A couple of points. One, that I understand the Congress is going to express their opinion, and it's very clear where the Democrats are, and some Republicans; I know that. They didn't like the decision I made. And by the way, that doesn't mean that I think that they're not good, honorable citizens of the country. I just have a different opinion. I considered some of their opinions and felt like it would not lead to a country that could govern itself, sustain itself, and be an ally in the war on terror. One.

Secondly, my hope, however, is that this non-binding resolution doesn't try to turn into a binding policy that prevents our troops from doing that which I have asked them to do. That's why I keep reminding people, on the one hand you vote for David Petraeus in a unanimous way, and then the other hand you say that you're not going to fund the strategy that he thought was necessary to do his job, a strategy he testified to in front of the Senate. I'm going to make it very clear to the members of Congress, starting now, that they need to fund our troops and they need to make sure we have the flexibility necessary to get the job done.


...no question people are watching what happens here in America. The enemy listens to what's happening, the Iraqi people listen to the words, the Iranians. People are wondering; they're wondering about our commitment to this cause. And one reason they wonder is that in a violent society, the people sometimes don't take risks for peace if they're worried about having to choose between different sides, different violent factions. As to whether or not this particular resolution is going to impact enemy thought, I can't tell you that.

But I can tell you that people are watching the debate. I do believe that the decision I made surprised people in the Middle East. And I think it's going to be very important, however, that the Iraqi government understand that this decision was not an open-ended commitment, that we expect Prime Minister Maliki to continue to make the hard decisions he's making.


Q I'd like to follow on Sheryl's question about undermining the troops. Do you have to support the war to support the war here? I mean, if you're one of those Americans that thinks you've made a terrible mistake, that it's destined to end badly, what do you do? If they speak out, are they by definition undermining the troops?

THE PRESIDENT: No, she actually asked "the enemy," not "the troops." But I'll be glad to answer your question. No, I don't think so at all. I think you can be against my decision and support the troops, absolutely. But the proof will be whether or not you provide them the money necessary to do the mission.

I said early in my comment -- my answer to Sheryl was, somebody who doesn't agree with my policy is just as patriotic a person as I am. Your question is valid. Can somebody say, we disagree with your tactics or strategy, but we support the military -- absolutely, sure. But what's going to be interesting is if they don't provide the flexibility and support for our troops that are there to enforce the strategy that David Petraeus, the general on the ground, thinks is necessary to accomplish the mission.

The full text of the President's press conference today.

Posted by dan at February 14, 2007 9:24 PM