Saturday, September 01, 2007

A No-Show Showdown?

As the big September Showdown looms nearer, both the military and political news out of Iraq has been getting better and better. Small wonder, then that congressional Democrats have tried their darndest to scrape together as pessimistic a preface for General Petraeus' interim report as they possibly can:
In a draft report circulated this week, the Government Accountability Office concluded that at least 13 of the 18 political and security goals for the Iraqi government have not been met. Administration officials swiftly objected to several of the findings and dismissed the report as unrealistically harsh because it assigned pass-or-fail grades to each benchmark, with little nuance.

The Pentagon and State Department provided detailed and lengthy objections to GAO this week in the hopes of swaying the findings.

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Thursday that after reviewing a draft of the GAO report, policy officials "made some factual corrections" and "offered some suggestions on a few of the actual grades" assigned by the GAO.

"We have provided the GAO with information which we believe will lead them to conclude that a few of the benchmark grades should be upgraded from 'not met' to 'met,'" Morrell said. He declined to elaborate or to spell out which of the benchmark grades the Pentagon was disputing.

State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said GAO should at least note progress made when ruling that Iraq has failed to meet a specific benchmark.
So lame. You can tell from the absence of "nuance" in the GAO "report" and the "factual corrections" and "detailed and lengthy objections" the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom immediately whipped out that the former was written in D.C. from pre-conceived "anti-war" notions and has deliberately not been updated to reflect improving conditions on the ground in Iraq.

Brother Meringoff adds that many of the so-called "benchmarks" in the GAO's "report" are largely or entirely irrelevant:
Consider what Congress did not include. There's no benchmark relating to driving al Qaeda out of Anbar province or for enlisting Sunni tribesmen in the fight against al Qaeda. There's no benchmark relating to killing foreign terrorists or stopping them from entering Iraq. There's no benchmark for curbing Moqtada al-Sadr's militia or limiting his influence. Yet al Qaeda, foreign terrorists generally, and Sadr represent (along with Iran) our main enemies in Iraq. Only the Democrats could "benchmark" a war effort without reference to how we're doing against our enemies.
The intended endgame of this "report" is just as predictable:
The real question, though, is whether the failure to meet these various benchmarks means that the U.S. should accept defeat in a war it is not losing, discontinue operations that have turned the tide against al Qaeda, and allow the slaughter of Iraqis in heightened sectarian violence. It's difficult to see how the fact that Iraq hasn't passed a new hydrocarbons law, for example, or hasn't provided three brigades in Baghdad that satisfy the GAO, or hasn't fully spent $10 billion in revenue for reconstruction, could justify such an irresponsible course. Indeed, it strikes me as scandalous that the Democrats would try to inflict a defeat on the U.S. and a bloodbath on Iraq through the use of benchmarks that are largely beside the primary point in the context of a war.
Yes it is scandalous, Ironhide (Sorry, that's a Transformers reference that's been stuck in my mid-brain lately). Perhaps that, in addition to a Petraeus report that will highlight a litany of successes in precisely the benchmarks the GAO "report" omits, may explain why Senate Majority Leader "Dirty Harry" Reid is almost crying "No mas" before the battle even begins:
Saying the coming weeks will be "one of the last opportunities" to alter the course of the war, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-NV) said he is now willing to compromise with Republicans to find ways to limit troop deployments in Iraq.

Reid acknowledged that his previous firm demand for a spring withdrawal deadline had become an obstacle for a small but growing number of Republicans who have said they want to end the war but have been unwilling to set a timeline.

"I don't think we have to think that our way is the only way," Reid said of specific dates during an interview in his office here. "I'm not saying, 'Republicans, do what we want to do.' Just give me something that you think you would like to do, that accomplishes some or all of what I want to do."

Reid's unwavering stance this summer earned him critics who said he was playing politics by refusing to bargain with antiwar Republicans. In the interview, he said that his goal remains an immediate return of U.S. troops but that now is the time to work with the GOP. He cited bringing up legislation after Labor Day that would require troops to have more home leave, forcing military leaders to reduce troop levels, a measure that has drawn some Republican support.
In politics, it is always imperative to have a clear picture of how much clout you actually possess vis-a-vie the other side. Back in 1995 then-Speaker Newt Gingrich overestimated his clout in the showdown with Bill Clinton over the federal budget, provoked one government shut-down too many, and it backfired on him. It didn't cost the GOP its majorities a year later, but it did propel Sick Willie to a second term.

In the case of Dirty Harry and Crazy Nancy, they, too, overestimated their own power and made the same mistake of thinking a chastened opposition president "irrelevant." George W. Bush has spent the balance of this year repeatedly drilling his "relevance" into Reid and Pelosi and their expense, and now, with the military and political momentum in Iraq clearly at the White House's back, the Donks have been reduced to begging the RINOs for a bailout.

And if General Petraeus' report is as optimistic as reputed, how likely are wet-finger-in-the-wind 'Pubbies to throw Dirty Harry a lifeline that could well end up pulling them to the bottom along with him? Indeed, how likely is he to be able to hold his own caucus together in his obstinate demand for strategic disaster and a Middle East in flames?

I wouldn't go so far as to even jokingly suggest that Donk leaders have a direct communications line to an unspecified cave somewhere in northwestern Pakistan, but I don't think it far-fetched at all to speculate that they're perhaps spreading out their prayer rugs in secret and begging bin Laden's demon god for an Iraqi "Tet" to pull their cherished defeat from the jaws of burgeoning victory.