A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Pretzels and the Beer Were Very Good Indeed

As fans of the post-season bowl games know, rowdy and rough edged entertainment is more fun if there's a bunch of you to soak up the suds, whoop and holler at every touchdown, and groan at every dropped pass. So when I heard about the gunfight in the House Of Representatives over the supposed "Democratic Pull-Out Resolution", better known, really, as the Republican Put Up Job, I strolled over to my good friend the Anchoress' to watch the fireworks. I was certain that the whole affair would call from her one of the sustained bursts of wonderful prose that makes her a top draw in the sphere. I was not disappointed. Go read it all.

But my contribution to the festivities can be examined with only the headline and the conclusion of her piece:

Pull-out? The deaths will be on your head.


America can choose life or death. It is that fundamental.

Of course, "America” is not going to do any such thing. America is going to elect representatives in a little less than a year. That is all America is going to do.

The President is almost certainly not going to pull out troops immediately and unilaterally, and no House “resolution”, even should it happen to pass, will force him to. I will be polite and say that the President will be “stern and resolute”, and not make a peep about why.

But of course the resolution will not pass. If there was even the slightest chance of it passing, the House Republican leadership would not have forced this showdown. It is all theater.

This is all a ploy to squeeze the adrenal glands of the conservative base, so they will raise a large hullabaloo. If this blog is any indication, it appears to be working.

Will the hullabaloo be effective? Will it help keep Republican control of Congress? Maybe. But the odds are narrowing.

It is about the fourth or fifth time such a hullabaloo has been raised, and in the interval we have seen several more Operation Bah Humbugs which have left the insurgency exactly in the same place it was before.

John Murtha and John McCain, who are, not coincidentally both heroic Vietnam veterans, are looking at two sides of the same coin, and it is a coin that no one else is looking at at all. The all volunteer military is slowly coming unraveled under the pressure of a war where the only real options are stalemate or withdrawal.

The Republican Congress and President can find about five times more troops somewhere (I’ll let you guess where), occupy Iraq, and take the chance that enough troops to actually suppress the insurgency won’t turn the rest of Iraq against us.

They can continue to run Operation Bah Humbugs indefinitely and ineffectively while our overall military operational readiness degrades, the Iranians keep shadowboxing us away from their nuclear bomb progress, and the Chinese military power grows.

Or they can declare “victory” and withdraw strategically sometime between the end of next August and the begining of next November.

Those are the real options.

All the rest is theater. And we can all sit back and wait for another honorable veteran to have his name and service professionally smeared and libeled. He will be the third to have it done to him: Max Clelland, John Kerry, and now John Murtha.

The Anchoress later had this to say in a display of marvelous inconsistency with the "aid and comfort to our enemies" rhetoric of her original post:

My understanding is that there IS a plan and has been a plan for some time, to begin withdrawing some troops in 2006, after the December elections…that we will slowly withdraw, incrementally, until the Iraqis are able to fully function on their own…which sounds reasonable. It cannot be done with “dates.”\Just as we keep reading that Valerie Plame was “covert” even though she was sitting at a desk at Langley status “classified” not “covert” we also keep reading “Bush has no plan…”/There is a plan. Folks just don’t want to hear it. The democrats KNOW there is a plan and that’s one of the reasons the talk loudly about Pulling out - so that when it finally starts happening, they can take the credit.

Well, now we have our skewed debate and our House vote. Was it good theater, or what? And the only thing “on anybody’s head”, is that marvelous motley cap with the three little bells. And, of course, it has just been revealed that the generals in Iraq are already sending the details of a withdrawl plan to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

In addition, the President is now saying things like:

Congressman Murtha is a fine man, a good man who served our country with honor and distinction as a Marine in Vietnam and as a U.S. congressman. I know that the decision to call for an immediate withdrawal of our troops by congressman Murtha was done in a careful and thoughtful way. I disagree with his position.

What a change from the White House spokesperson who asserted that Murtha was from the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party like Michael Moore, the "Fahrenheit 9/11" filmmaker. What a change from Representative Jean Schmidt:

He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do.

Do you suppose somebody finally figured out that they have gone to the well once too often?