Earlier today, Scott wrote that he finds “the Democratic compulsion to mandate our defeat in Iraq incomprehensible and any Republican assistance lent to the Democrats’ effort contemptible.” Just as contemptible, on the evidence of this column by Robert Novak, is the way certain Republican Senators are spinning the matter.
In Novak’s telling, which appears to be an uncritical transmittal of the talking points of the Republicans who intend to bail on President Bush, the president doesn’t understand that support for his position on the Republican side is eroding. Moreover, these Republicans supposedly fear “the president running out the clock until April, when a depleted U.S. military will be blamed for the fiasco.”
This is self-serving rubbish. President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and nearly everyone else in a high level position in the adminstration have been around long enough to understand that some Republican politicians, being politicians, are going to want to jump ship now that the war has become unpopular. It may be in the interest of these politicians to portray Bush as not understanding them. More likely, he understands them perfectly, and simply is unwilling to accede to their defeatist position.
The accusation that the administration is “running out the clock” and letting the military “take the blame for the fiasco” is truly disgusting. If Republican Senators no longer believe in the war and/or no longer want to take the political heat associated with it, that’s one thing. But to claim they are bailing on the president in order to protect the military from scape-goating by the administration is to project their own cynicism and opportunism onto President Bush, presumably in an effort to avoid the wrath of the Republican base.
It’s not likely that the base will be fooled.
UPDATE: The reference to “running out the clock until April” is based on the fact that, barring more extended tours of duty for our regular forces and/or second tours for National Guardsmen, the surge (qua increase in troop levels) will come to an end. Considering the success the surge has had so far in reducing sectarian violence and routing al Qaeda in certain areas, it’s odd to say that continuing the program amounts merely to running out the clock.
Moreover, the end of the surge in troop levels need not entail a reduction to substantially below pre-surge levels. If nervous Republican Senators think that this reduction would lead to a fiasco, what do they think is in store if the vast reduction they seem to have in mind takes place?
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