Reid to Bush: Bring It On

Bush Administration, Congress, Iraq War

The carnage in Iraq continues. Shashank Bengali, Laith Hammoudi and Nancy A. Youssef write for McClatchy Newspapers:

At least 173 people died in Baghdad on Wednesday in a series of major explosions, making the day the capital’s deadliest since the onset nine weeks ago of a much-touted U.S.-Iraqi security plan.
The violence capped a dreadful seven days that began with a stunning suicide attack in the Iraqi parliament building in the heavily fortified Green Zone. At least 363 people have died in Baghdad in the past week.

And Polly Toynbee writes for The Guardian:

It’s been a good week for death. In Iraq, 200 people were blown to bits in what witnesses called “a swimming pool of blood” with “pieces of flesh all over the place”. Remember that the dead are only part of the story: add to each of the war’s hundreds of thousands of civilian corpses all those burned and crippled survivors, far beyond Iraqi medical facilities’ ability to cope, breadwinners and babies lost. Few families are untouched by the sheer scale of slaughter.

Naturally, today officials at the Pentagon said that violence in Iraq is diminishing. Of course, this depends on what you mean by “violence” and “diminish.” And “Iraq.”

Just to show how secure the Pentagon is in its assessment — National Journal reports (subscriber only material, so I don’t have a link):

Pentagon lawyers abruptly blocked mid-level active-duty military officers from speaking Thursday during a closed-door House Armed Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee briefing about their personal experiences working with Iraqi security forces.

The Pentagon’s last-minute refusal to allow the officers’ presentations surprised panel members and congressional aides, who are in the middle of an investigation into the effort to train and organize Iraqi forces.

Clearly, the Pentagon is proud of what it is accomplishing in Iraq.

Also on Wednesday, President Bush met with congressional Democrats to discuss the “emergency” supplemental appropriations bill, which Democrats in Congress are calling the Iraq Accountability Act. Greg Sargent provides a peek at what happened:

A source familiar with the meeting — at which no compromise of any kind was reached, though Speaker Nancy Pelosi said publicly today that it had been “productive” — shares a few interesting tidbits. First, the source says, Bush bristled and was taken aback when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid compared the current situation to Vietnam; he also appeared irked by those who said the war couldn’t be won.

Second, according to the source, Reid told Bush that he understood that the White House would come after Congressional Dems after the veto of the bill with everything they had; Reid vowed to respond every bit as aggressively.

“Reid talked about a recent conversation he had with a retired general where they talked about the similarities between the current situation and Vietnam,” the source relates. “He talked about how the President and Secretary of Defense [during Vietnam] knew that the war was lost but continued to press on at the cost of thousands of additional lives lost.”

“The analogy to Vietnam appeared to touch a nerve with the President. He appeared a little sensitive to it,” the source continued. “And he clearly didn’t like to hear people in the room say that the war couldn’t be won militarily.”

More: “Reid made it clear to the President that he understood that the President and Vice President after the veto would come after him and Speaker Pelosi with everything they have. Reid said that he and Pelosi would respond just as aggressively. He said he was convinced that they were on the right side of the issue.”

Yesterday’s Dan Froomkin post:

There were no pyrotechnics, but according to multiple reports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid compared Iraq to Vietnam at one point in a closed door meeting with Bush. Specifically, Reid suggested that Bush was pursuing a lost cause at the cost of American troops in order to protect his legacy.

Bush’s reaction: He was “visibly angered” says the New York Times; he “bristled” according to the Associated Press. And he “denied this forcefully, after which Mr. Reid touched his arm in a gesture of friendliness,” write the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, the Iraq Accountability Act makes its way toward completion. Last night some Republican House members attempted to to strip provisions in the Act holding the Iraqi government accountable and providing for a “responsible redeployment from Iraq” (nice phrase, that) before the bill goes to conference committee for reconciliation with the Senate version. This attempt failed.

Although the Act is still a work in progress, after slogging through a number of news stories I get the impression that the House might defer to the Senate regarding the timetable language. The Senate bill has a non-binding goal of March 31, 2008 for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. The House version has a firm deadline of September 2008.

The war at home is over public opinion, and all signs are that the Dems are winning for once.

Dan Froomkin wrote on Tuesday:

President Bush’s public campaign to push back against Congressional demands for withdrawal from Iraq is becoming highly reminiscent of his failed effort two years ago to win support for a radical overhaul of Social Security.

The meticulously choreographed settings, the carefully controlled audiences, the mind-numbing repetition of hoary talking points (with a particular emphasis on stoking fears) — it’s like deja vu.

And so is the result: A public that is apparently more turned off to Bush’s ideas the more he talks about them.

As it was last time, Bush’s Bubble may be the central problem. Bush seems to think that through sheer force of will — and repetition — he will convince people that his cause is just — in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. And why does he think that? Quite possibly, because virtually everyone he talks to — and virtually everyone he sees — is already in his camp.

Via Atrios — here’s one of those famous Bush “town hall” meetings in front of a group of hand-picked drooling idiots with scripted questions. Bush says insightful things like “death is terrible.” Don’t watch on a full stomach.

In other news: “Vermont Senate Adopts Resolution to Impeach Bush.”

Update:Pentagon Confirms President Misstating Funding Facts In Iraq

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  1. Swami  •  Apr 20, 2007 @12:50 pm

    Bush is right about winning in Iraq by sheer force of will.. The concept works every time.. since I willed to have perfect spellling I haven’t made any missteaks.

    Reid is right about Iraq being a lost cause, nothing personal about America or our’s just like Elton John sings in one of his songs..”it’s trying to find whiskey in a bottle of wine” Or maybe Roger Miller..” you can’t go swimming in a baseball pool”.

    We’ll see how it goes..I hope the Dems don’t cave in to Bush’s cry-baby trantrums. Facing reality really isn’t such a painful ordeal.

  2. Swami  •  Apr 20, 2007 @1:20 pm

    Bush is such a lying clown. I resent that he tells his audience of drooling idiots that millions of people were killed after our withdrawl from Vietnam.. I suspect that he’s using the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia to make the inference that the Vietnamese slaughtered millions of their own as a result of our departure. Those who remember what went on in Cambodia must also remember that it was Vietnam’s military that put an end to the slaughter in Cambodia. What went on in Cambodia was totally unrelated to Vietnam, except for a proximity in geography and time.
    Bush is an asswipe, and anybody who sucks up Bush’s distorted version of history is a dupe. I remember one public execution in Saigon of a thief who was executed to set an example that order would be maintained under the new government controling Vietnam.

  3. cosette  •  Apr 20, 2007 @1:43 pm

    Hi… man I’ve had a terrible time trying to leave a comment here!
    The comment tab keeps disappearing when I try to click on it.


    My husband is a Brit and every time I quote news stories or blog posts about , oh, Gonzales or Iraq or Wolfowitz or Plamegate or domestic spying, he just looks really confused and says, “but…but…but I just don’t understand why he hasn’t been removed from office?”

    I’m starting to really despair. I don’t understand why there isn’t more total outrage over this war either. I feel like no matter what horror stories we uncover or illegal, sleeze bag scandals we report, NOTHING EVER HAPPENS!!

    I really had to get that off my chest.

  4. folkbum  •  Apr 20, 2007 @2:35 pm

    You’d think, if the questions were scripted (“How would you respond to the incorrect notion that . . .”), they would be able to coach him better on the answers.

    Oh, and isn’t this the event he was doing, instead of watching Gonzales, after which he said he was impressed by Gonzales’s testimony?

  5. moonbat  •  Apr 20, 2007 @3:38 pm

    I can stand to watch anything that idiot says.

    I hope Reid and Pelosi realize what they’re dealing with – a petulant child who defies anyone because he can. Glenn Greenwald put it incisively:

    …That is how Bush works. If someone demands that Bush take action, he will petulantly refuse simply to demonstrate that he does not comply with anyone else’s will. He is The Decider, nobody else, and nothing is more important than for him to demonstrate that.

    Tech note: Maha, your site is slow to load, especially in IE7 (I realize you have a “works best in FireFox” graphic). I don’t know if it’s bandwidth or all the numerous widgets and gizmos (your site seems to have quite a few of them compared to others). Something to think about – you don’t want to discourage readers.

  6. moonbat  •  Apr 20, 2007 @3:39 pm

    oops, “I can stand” should be “I can’t stand”. Duh.

  7. maha  •  Apr 20, 2007 @8:39 pm

    moonbat — the page seems to be hanging up with the blogads. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many at once. This is a nice problem to have, in other words If it continues I’ll look into upping my bandwidth.

  8. QrazyQat  •  Apr 20, 2007 @9:53 pm

    they would be able to coach him better on the answers.

    This is a man who can’t say “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” correctly. How can you possibly coach that sort of incompetent?

  9. Doug Hughes  •  Apr 20, 2007 @11:30 pm

    A few decades back I read an article about Richard Nixon and the ‘groupthink’ mentality that characterized his administration. The theory was that the President surrounded himself with advisiors who shared and shaped a common vision and refused to consider any other point of view, regardless of the facts.

    Deja Vu’ all over again.

    Every time I hear a commentary about ‘loyalty’, I shudder at the groupthink mentality which results from that close-minded fixation with the opinion of the gret leader. Enter the Democratic majority in Congress and regular doses of unpleasant reality for Bush.

    This is going to be interesting.

  10. idlemind  •  Apr 20, 2007 @11:33 pm

    [Some of blogads’ servers aren’t responding. I’ve seen this before on other sites. I suspect they are having infrastructure issues…]

    Our boy-king is discovering that even being the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth doesn’t make his will a reality. Or at least he should be discovering that, if he were mentally normal.

  11. Swami  •  Apr 21, 2007 @12:25 am

    Well, I have to agree with Bush in the differences between Iraq and Vietnam…“Vietnam was two divided countries” Everybody knows that!

  12. erinyes  •  Apr 21, 2007 @4:13 pm

    We have damned-near 2 more years of this imbicile ? And he STILL has a base? Un-f’in real!