November 15, 2006

About that Vote for Change....

Marc Comtois

So, according to a new poll:

While voters in Election Day surveys said corruption and scandal in Congress were among the most important factors in their vote, the postelection poll indicated 37 percent of all adults said the war in Iraq should be at the top of the congressional agenda during the next two years. Nevertheless, 57 percent of all adults in the AP-Ipsos poll said Democrats do not have a plan for Iraq; 29 percent said they do.

That finding strikes at the heart of a Democratic dilemma. The party has been of one voice in criticizing President Bush's strategy for the war but has been more equivocal on how to move in a different direction.

Democrats such as Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania want a fixed deadline to pull all troops out of the country. Other Democrats, including some party leaders, have voiced support for a staggered withdrawal that demands greater responsibility from the Iraqis.

I like that..."equivocal." Sheesh. Anyway, let me see if I've got this straight. For a couple years now the President has been criticized by many Democrats for either not having a plan or having the wrong plan. Now, the average American voter is telling us that Iraq is the most important task facing a Congress led by the Democrat party, but also admits that they don't think that the new leaders in Congress have a plan.

And how is that tactic of voting out the GOP because of "corruption and scandal" working out? Well, apparently, the new House Majority leader isn't exactly squeeky clean. Writes the Wall Street Journal's John Fund:

House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi's endorsement of Rep. John Murtha for majority leader, the No. 2 position in the Democratic leaderhsip, has roiled her caucus. "She will ensure that they [Mr. Murtha and his allies] win. This is hardball politics," Rep. Jim Moran, a top Murtha ally, told the Hill, a congressional newspaper. "We are entering an era where when the speaker instructs you what to do, you do it."

But several members are privately aghast that Mr. Murtha, a pork-barreling opponent of most House ethics reforms, could become the second most visible symbol of the new Democratic rule. "We are supposed to change business as usual, not put the fox in charge of the henhouse," one Democratic member told me. "It's not just the Abscam scandal of the 1980s that he barely dodged, he's a disaster waiting to happen because of his current behavior," another told me.

By no means is this the only such story. Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post also wrote about Murtha (read 'em both). But it's not just Murtha...apparently Speaker-Elect Pelosi also thinks having an impeached judge running the House Intelligence committee is a good idea. Marcus wrote about this one, too:
...Nancy Pelosi's first test as speaker will arrive long before the 110th Congress convenes. Her choice to head the House intelligence committee -- unlike other House committees, this one is left entirely up to the party leadership -- will speak volumes about whether a Speaker Pelosi will be able to resist a return to paint-by-numbers Democratic Party interest-group politics as usual.

Pelosi is in a box of her own devising. The panel's ranking Democrat is her fellow Californian Jane Harman -- smart and hardworking but also abrasive, ambitious and, in Pelosi's estimation, insufficiently partisan on the committee. So Pelosi, once the intelligence panel's ranking Democrat herself, has made clear that she doesn't intend to name Harman to the chairmanship.

The wrong decision, in my view, but one that's magnified by the unfortunate fact that next in line is Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings. In 1989, after being acquitted in a criminal trial, Hastings was stripped of his position as a federal judge -- impeached by the House in which he now serves and convicted by the Senate -- for conspiring to extort a $150,000 bribe in a case before him, repeatedly lying about it under oath and manufacturing evidence at his trial.

How's that vote for "change" looking now?

UPDATE: (Via Instapundit) Meanwhile, the GOP has apparently learned a lesson and decided that Trent Lott should help lead them into the future. Brilliant. And Allahpundit points to this John Miller piece that explains why the GOP dumped Lott in the first place. Dean Barnett is right: "Is it just me, or is it becoming increasingly apparent that the Republicans and Democrats are determined to engage in a two year dumb-off?"

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First things first: Who is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Services? Congress or the President? Next question: Was 2006 a presidential election year?

People could not vote out the man directly responsible, so they did the next best thing: vote out the people who have rubber-stamped his every foible, mistake, lie, and screw up. Congress, almost by definition, cannot "make a plan" for Iraq...that is in BUSH's job description....they can however hold Bush accountable and force him to come up with a plan, which is more than he's been willing to do for the past 3 years and nearly 3000 (or is it more now?) US soldier deaths.

Your argument is logically flawed; if the Democrats did have a full-fledged, step by step plan, you would be criticizing them for trying to do the president's job or for being "cut-and-runners." As it is, the Dems at least are working with the right people, asking the right questions, and have the right beginnings of a plan. It's not as if they could just pull a plan to end this catastrophe overnight when the Repubs have let it stew for so long with absolutely no plan themselves (stay the course is not a plan). You're just mad they haven't given you something more concrete to rant against. I know it's hard to comprehend government that thinks through policy, considers multiple viewpoints, and tries to be judicious in order to come up with a plan that will work, but just try!

As for Pelosi exerting some, it's what a Speaker of the House should actually do and used to do before the Repubs decided to merely be a tool of the White House. Because, uhh, the Speaker does have power and a right to use it, and just because the former speaker chose not to does not mean she has to choose the same. Heaven forbid she care about who she will be working with for the next two years.

Posted by: ervington at November 15, 2006 10:36 AM

So if Bush drops an egg, the democrats have to come up with a plan to put it back together? It's simply not their responsibility. Bush is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. All Congress can hope to do is contain the damage Bush has recklessly caused with his ill-conceived invasion and occupation -- hopefully by cutting off funding for this misconceived adventure as soon as possible. It's the only way to hold Bush accountable.

Most voters apparently agreed, issuing the Democrats what we like to call a "MANDATE."

Posted by: ACS at November 15, 2006 11:20 AM

People voted for change. It's as simple as that. Even though they don't think the Dems have a plan yet, they voted for Dems expecting them to at least initiate looking at a possible new plan with a new perspective and new ideas. They voted against what they percieved to be a stubborn administration/congress. I think it's just that simple. It doesnt matter that different Dems have different ideas. People voted for change.

Posted by: Anonymous at November 15, 2006 11:28 AM


Your attitude is pretty typical of the defeastist and declinist attitude of the Democrats that leads people not to trust them on national security attitudes.

Posted by: Andrew at November 15, 2006 11:42 AM

The voters don't even know if Democrats have a plan yet, but they hate Bush's results so much, they voted the President's party out of Congress and the Senate.

That should tell you the voters' mindset: anything is better than what we currently have, just because what we currently have isn't working.

And no, the Democrats aren't squeaky clean. They just haven't had several members in the current offices go down for *indictments*, or allowed an apparent pedophile to continue to have unrestricted access to underage children for **several years**.

In both the Iraq occupation and the issue of corruption, the worst the Dems potentially offer the voter is better than the best the GOP has shown.

Posted by: jim at November 15, 2006 12:14 PM

Was 2006 a presidential election year?

Seemed like it. Here in Rhode Island, the Democrat Lt. Governor ran ads trying to tie the incumbent GOP Governor to the President because they were both...Republicans. I thought the Democrat "wave" was successful because they nationalized the election by running against Bush?

And don't attempt to backtrack with that CinC stuff. The Dems clearly ran on a platform of changing direction in Iraq. You can't now go back and say, "Well, we just said's really up to the President."

And who are the "right people" that the Dems are working with? The Iraq study group that was established by the President?

I didn't say that the President hasn't made mistakes nor that the Dems claimed to be inviolate and aren't. In fact, I agree with the Anonymous commenter: People voted for change. It's as simple as that. Which is the point. The people voted because they wanted "change" and are starting to see that, well, not really...

Finally, ervington said:

I know it's hard to comprehend government that thinks through policy, considers multiple viewpoints, and tries to be judicious in order to come up with a plan that will work, but just try!

Perhaps ervington should try poking around the entire Anchor Rising blog a bit and then let me know if he still thinks we don't think through policy. (You know, rubber, glue and all that).

Posted by: Marc Comtois at November 15, 2006 1:33 PM

I think the absence of a Dem "plan" for Iraq would have hurt the Dem's chances considerably more if Bush hadn't aggressively told us he was goign to "stay the course" - which apparently means indefinitely leaving 130,000 US soldiers in Iraq, where they will continue to be a force too small pacify the country, but large enough to continue allowing Al-Quaeda in Mesopotamia to pick off another 100 or so a month, forever.

Fortunately, the Baker Commission report will be out soon, and the Dem Congress can put some pressure on Bush to actually listen to the report's recommendations. And the GOP can even claim credit for some of it, since the report was started under the auspices of a GOP Congress. Frankly, this is someplace where I, and I think many other voters, are less worried about partisan point-scoring than about ending the steady stream of American deaths.

Posted by: MF at November 15, 2006 1:55 PM

You quote an article that misrepresents the poll. The question really was, "Do you believe the Dems have a plan TO WIN in Iraq?"

The war is unwinnable, and no one has a plan to win in Iraq. The public knows this, and so of course says NO to the question.

One of the most disgusting aspects of this war is that the Repubs knew they could do some good things (like dumping Rumsfeld), but let more troops die while the Repubs waited till after the elections.

In other words, they postponed doing the right thing for partisan reasons.

Posted by: tubino at November 15, 2006 8:32 PM

The Democrat plan for Iraq was to leverage it as a campaign issue.


Posted by: Tom W at November 15, 2006 9:34 PM

Ah, they just don't get it. The Democrats don't have a detailed plan for "victory" in Iraq? NO ONE GIVES A CRAP!

What the American puublic did was vote to dry up the rancid sewer of Republicanism.

Posted by: legaleagle at November 16, 2006 1:26 PM
And don't attempt to backtrack with that CinC stuff. The Dems clearly ran on a platform of changing direction in Iraq. You can't now go back and say, "Well, we just said's really up to the President."
The trouble is that the Administration has argued that "we're winning" and it's just the media filter that keeps us from seeing that. Maybe it's a positive step to put people in power who don't suffer that illusion.

One of the innovations with this Adminstration has been the decision only to answer queries from the Congressional majority -- and the Congressional majority has distinguished itself by asking no questions. Until they get subpoena power, Democrats couldn't know enough to come up with a plan.

Obviously, the current plan of taking, retaking, retaking, and retaking again Falluja and Ramadi is not working. If the Administration's plan were accomplishing anything, our forces would have secured the capital by now. Something is structurally wrong with how this occupation is going. Is it 400,000 troops short? Is it something else? The Administration admits nothing.

Posted by: Ken at November 16, 2006 6:30 PM

"The Democrat plan for Iraq was to leverage it as a campaign issue."

What? We WON?? Aw, damn ...

Howard Dean

Posted by: SusanD at November 16, 2006 9:02 PM
"The Democrat plan for Iraq was to leverage it as a campaign issue."

What? We WON?? Aw, damn ...

Howard Dean

Let me see. You're telling me that the "strategy" of moving troops back and forth across Iraq, tranquilizing one city, then leaving it, watching it go out of control, and returning to it is a "plan for Iraq". What exactly is it a plan for? Perpetual motion?

I am sure you think everything any Democrat does is purely from cynical political motives. Democrats as blindly partisan as you, SusanD, return the favor and think everything you assert is for cynical political motives, including the Iraq adventure itself. But the President is the only one who can carry out a plan. The Congress can fund it or not fund it; investigate it or praise it. But really are you saying shuffling troops back and forth over Iraq constitutes a plan and that some point a mythical Terrorist in Chief somewhere will surrender, sign a treaty, and peace will break out?

How can you convince me the President has a plan?

Posted by: Ken at November 16, 2006 10:29 PM
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