Bloggers measure the White House's assessment of Iraq, mock the failure of Sara Taylor's memory during her Senate testimony, and remember the life of Lady Bird Johnson.
Mixed Baghdad:The White House released a long-awaited assessment of Iraq's progress toward 18 political and military benchmarks. The report noted progress in only eight of the 18 areas, but President Bush insisted during a press conference that this is enough for Congress to approve additional funding. Bloggers find the report forthright if unimpressive and doubt it will help Bush's fight against "war fatigue."
AtTime magazine's Swampland, left-leaning columnist Joe Klein is reluctant to accept what Bush is selling: "So far as I can tell, it's a pretty straightforward assessment of where [Gen.] Petraeus and [Iraq Ambassador Ryan] Crocker see the situation right now—obviously a best case view, but without the lies and oversimplification that mark the President's descriptions of the situation in Iraq. The military situation is represented accurately—at least, it's an accurate representation of the prevailing view on Petraeus' staff. … All in all, this is Bush business as usual, which is unacceptable."
At Outside the Beltway, libertarian James Joyner concludes that, despite its so-so verdict, the report shows no indication that the situation might improve: "When this was announced, President Bush warned that we would not see immediate results. At the same time, the Iraqi government is, by the White House's own admission, making essentially no progress on any of the meaningful milestones. It has long been an article of faith among both supporters and critics of the war that it would not be won militarily but politically. There's not much sign that either are happening."
On the other hand, rightwing military blog Wake Up America praises U.S. generals for their moderate successes and notes the necessity of continued, steady involvement from Iraqi politicians: "I am not blaming the Iraqi politicians, lets be clear on this, it took America far longer during and after the American Civil War, to come to any political settlements, but with the atmosphere in Washington being what it is, we are going to have to see the Iraqi politicians do a better job that we here at home can or did."
Any positive developments listed in the report, didn't stop liberal bloggers from continuing the cry for an immediate end to the war. Amanda at ThinkProgress responded to Bush's complaint at today's press conference that Americans are short-sighted: " 'War fatigue' is not the problem in Iraq. On every metric, the administration's efforts in Iraq are failing. … Americans don't need psychological counseling; they need an end to the war." At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Directors at Red State issued a lengthy defense of the war, arguing that withdrawal is not an option:"The war in Iraq is vital to America's national security and to the Global War on Terror. It is a fight which we are not currently losing on the ground, and which we will not lose if we commit to victory, rather than taking the path that appears easier, at least in the short term—abandoning yet another battlefield to the enemy."
Read more reaction to the Iraq progress report.
I don't recall: Former White House director Sara Taylor testified before the Senate judiciary committee yesterday in the U.S. attorney firings probe. Taylor shifted between defending the Bush administration and refusing to answer questions, claiming executive privilege via a handy letter from White House counsel Fred Fielding. (Slate's Dahlia Lithwick analyzed the bizarre hearing here.) Bloggers mock Taylor's dubious legal approach and forgetfulness.
Conservative author and blogger Hugh Hewitt praises Taylor's handling of her Democratic questioners: "Her steady performance brought more gloom to the Dems who believed their fixation on the firing of the U.S. Attorneys was certain to generate fireworks and big headlines. … The attempt to turn the dismissal of political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president into Watergate 2.0 reminds us of Marx's comment on Hegel's view of history repeating itself: '[Hegel] has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.' Chairman Farce, er, Leahy, should avoid witnesses that leave him looking like Bluto on a bad day." Ari Berman at The Nation's The Notion glumly concurred that Taylor at least handled the situation well: "Taylor, who worked with Rove on a daily basis for four years, did an expert job of cherrypicking."
Elsewhere, there was little sympathy or respect for Taylor to be found. At the left-wing Daily Kos,Cal in Cali compared Taylor to Monica Goodling: "We already knew that these people's only allegiance is to Bush and they have no conception of the Constitution or any authority other than allegiance to their Great Leader." Shadi Hamid of Democracy Arsenal echoed the observation, writing that Taylor "does not know the difference between taking an oath to the president and taking an oath to the Constitution. … Is there still any doubt that President Bush and VP Cheney have no respect for the integrity of the democratic process, and seem to have only grudging respect for the U.S. Constitution?"
The lefty Carpetbagger Report tallied Taylor's evasions: "She ended up repeatedly telling the senators that she couldn't remember, couldn't explain, or couldn't talk about anything of interest. She invoked Fred Fielding's name 24 times, and mentioned his letter about privilege 35 times." Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice, wondered how the Bush administration finds staffers with such awful memories: "If she and Gonzales can't recall, then voters and Congress need to find out how an administration could possibly hire so many people with hideous memories. If they really can't recall, then it's a damning indictment of the quality of people in the administration. And if they really can't recall, how can they be entrusted to bring together the strands of past policies, present challenges, and choices for future action? Shouldn't they be let go because they can't remember anything?"
Read more about Sara Taylor's testimony.
Remembering Lady Bird: Lady Bird Johnson, the widow of former President Lyndon B. Johnson, died at age 94 at her home in Austin, Texas. Bloggers remember the former first lady as a gentle beacon of stability and consistency, a model of social grace, and a passionate crusader for the environment.
DavidMixner.com recalls Mrs. Johnson's unifying qualities: "The First Lady became the symbol of grace and dignity in a time when both were lacking. She never wavered from supporting the President but never missed an opportunity to bring the American people together."
Meanwhile, Echidne of the Snakes looks at Lady Bird's legacy as it affects the future of women in politics: "[N]ote that the 'reflected glory' that is the reward of the traditional political wife is not something that carries over very well when we do a gender reversal. If Lady Bird Johnson had been the husband of a female president her achievements would look a lot less impressive. This is something that needs to be addressed if we want to see more women in politics."
Read more about Lady Bird Johnson.