What if the 'surge' works?

A mostly political Weblog.
Feb. 2 2007 6:19 AM

What if the 'Surge' Works?

Are foes of Bush's plan taking a political risk?

(Continued from Page 2)

Hagel Bravery Update: A political reporter emails:

It seems to me, at least, that he didn't start making quite so much noise about the war until after Sam Brownback came out against the surge, putting Hagel's position as the only 2008 antiwar GOP candidate in jeopardy.  I've been wondering, since the end of the November election, when Hagel would choose his moment to become the Antiwar Republican Presidential Candidate, because I thought he was risking the possibility that someone else would come out first if he kept waiting.  And hey, somebody did (sort of).

Hesaid it, not me! ... 9:09 P.M.

Here's CW foghorn Tim Russert--I was going to say he's the new Johnny Apple but that would be an insult to Apple's reporting skills--talking to Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News last week:

WILLIAMS: Now on the domestic side, Tim, was there a topic in that speech tonight that garnered more talk in Washington today than, say, some of the others?

RUSSERT: There was, Brian. Health care and energy are very complicated and difficult to do in one legislative session. However, immigration was debated thoroughly last year. People know where they stand on that issue, and the Democrats are much closer to President Bush. They have told him if he can deliver half of the Republicans in his party in both houses of Congress, they can put forward a comprehensive immigration bill, but they want to put--the Democrats want to put some pressure on the Bush White House to bring some Republicans along so it's simply not a Democratic immigration bill. [E.A.]

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Hmm. ... First, do we really think immigration "garnered more talk in Washington" the day after the state of the union than Bush's new health care and energy proposals--or is it just the issue Russert wanted to bring up? Why the BS artifice? ... More important, why would the Democrats want to make sure the bill is "not a Democratic bill"? The obvious answer is that the bill is potentially unpopular--maybe even among Democratic voters--and Democratic legislators are scared of taking responsibility for it themselves. They want Republicans to share the blame. ... Doesn't this suggest that a "comprehensive immigration bill" might not be so easy to pass? ... Can you imgaine Dems being similarly skittish about passing, say, a minimum wage hike with only Democratic votes? No. Because voters actually want a minimum wage increase. ...

P.S.: If passing a "comprehensive" (i.e. semi-amnesty) immigration bill is the key to winning the burgeoning Latino vote of the future, as pro-"comprehensive" advocates in both parties claim, why wouldn't the Dems want sole credit? One answer: They are thinking short term, not long term. Another answer: They can think short term because they know millions of new Latino immigrant voters will tend to be Democrats no matter who gets credit for passing an immigration bill in 2007. ... 8:10 P.M. link

Half-defense: I don't quite understand why it's offensive to call Sen. Obama a "halfrican." It's a useful word! It efficiently describes a real phenomenon. It isn't, on its face, pejorative--and even if it were, it wouldn't be pejorative for long if it were simply used descriptively to mean people with one parent from Africa. ... Update: A reader emails to point out the word is distressingly close to "half-breed." That does seem like a hard connotation to shake. ...5:38 P.M. link

Calame: From Laughingstock to Menace! It's bad enough that NYT ombudsman Byron Calame is so embarrassingly, life-sappingly pedanticthat he may have convinced the paper to abolish his position. Now he's doing actual damage to the public dialogue, preventing knowledgeable Times reporters from expressing their views on issues within their areas of expertise.   It seems Michael Gordon, author of the highly critical Iraq War history Cobra II, was asked on Charlie Rose his opinion of the "surge." Gordon responded:

"So I think, you know, as a purely personal view, I think it's worth it [sic] one last effort for sure to try to get this right, because my personal view is we've never really tried to win. We've simply been managing our way to defeat. And I think that if it's done right, I think that there is the chance to accomplish something."

Too hot for Charlie Rose! Calame "raised reader concerns about Mr. Gordon's voicing of personal opinions with top editors" of the Times, with the result that Gordon was dressed down by his bureau chief and forced into a ritual self-criticism, admitting "his comments on the show went too far." ... Three obvious points:

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