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 4)

Hagel also deployed the hoary I've-been-in combat-so-I-know-these-are-real-men-and-women-"fighting and dying" pitch--as if his fellow senators didn't realize they were real men and women. The I've-Been-There meme is to Hagel (and John Kerry) what the "mommy" meme is to Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer--a guilt-tripping, self-glorifying unique selling proposition that attempts to confer on the speaker a special capacity for insight that renders actual persuasive argument unnecessary.

And gee, after getting huge MSM play for lecturing the Senate on how courageous he is, and how he has special understanding as a combat veteran, Hagel is considering a run for the White House! Funny how that happens.

**--There's a tension here between two favorite MSM angles: 1) That Hagel is courageous, and 2) that Hagel's defection is a dramatic new blow to Bush's war effort. It wouldn't have been very courageous for Hagel to have supported the war in public while expressing grave doubts safely in private, of course--and pro-Hagel profiles  tend to emphasize his early public skepticism (except, of course, when it came to actually voting for the thing). But if Hagel has been publicly criticizing the war since 2003, it's not much of a surprise that he's still against the war in 2007. ...

I'd say both MSM memes are wrong. Before the war, Hagel was already widely disdained within his party as a pol who reveled in the "strange new respect" the liberal press typically lavishes on GOP apostates. It's not like he threw away massive Republican backing. And if Hagel really thought the war was a disaster, sending those real men and women into a pointless "meat grinder," there were many things he could have done, aside from giving snippy quotes on Meet the Press, to oppose it. He could have given speeches like the one he gave last week, for example. He could have challenged Bush in 2004. But that might have ended his career! Instead, it looks to me as if he sniped and quipped up to the point where it could do him fatal damage if the war went well. At the same time, given the sniping and quipping, the MSM's surprise that 'even Republican Senator Hagel' opposes Bush is entirely inauthentic. ...

Update: Even a liberal HuffPo blogger thinks the MSM is overdoing the Hagel hype! ...

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Backfill: At The Corner, Kate O'Beirne  suggests a more ... courageous (and effective) way Hagel could register his opposition to Bush's war strategy--by campaigning against Gen. Petraeus' confirmation. ... 6:46 P.M. link

Deborah Orin-Eilbeck: I'm stunned by Deborah Orin-Eilbeck's death. I didn't know she was fighting cancer. She sent me an email only a couple of months ago cheerfully and sensibly disputing something I'd written arguing that Gov. Vilsack's candidacy would let Hillary skip the Iowa caucuses. (She wrote: "If Vilsack is running at the bottom of the Iowa Poll, as he was, he isn't a replay of Tom Harkin and doesn't give anyone a pass out of Iowa, methinks. ... And besides, Hillary being Hillary won't get a pass anywhere.") Orin was almost certainly right, as usual--where did Hillary spend last weekend, again? ...

I only met Orin-Eilbeck a few times--mainly through the hospitality of her friend Mary Louise Oates, in whose house she was surrounded by Democratic friends. I'd heard she had a rep as a driven, badger-her-sources reporter, but everytime I met her she was funny and warm and sharp. Also: beautiful dark eyes!  Her New York Post writing was almost hygienically unaffected by whatever wishful, respectable (and typically liberal) CW was blowing around Washington. Her pieces were also typically short, pointed and (therefore) fun. Like most good political reporters, she pursued the latest political intelligence with a relentlessness hidden to the outside world, including to most bloggers. I was just thinking Orin would be the perfect person to ask a prickly question I've been avoiding--did the immigration issue really hurt the GOP in 2006? If she'd have said yes, the answer is yes.

None of us will know her thinking on that or any other issue in the coming two-year presidential fight. That's a narrow concern, I know. But it will be hard to make sense of it all without her.

Lucianne has a tribute thread. 1:34 A.M. link

Unionism Is Too the Problem: Labor costs--and specifically work rules--are part of what's killing all the unionized auto manufacturers while their non-unionized competitors thrive building cars in the U.S., according to CNN Money. The famous $1,400/car health care burden is only a piece of it:

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