Bloggers respond to the congressional testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and Iraq Ambassador Ryan Crocker, tweak the Romney campaign for possible ties to an anti-Fred Thompson Web site, and question the supposed feud between 50 Cent and Kanye West.
Testify: Gen. David Petraeus and Iraq Ambassador Ryan Crocker testified on U.S. progress in Iraq before the House foreign affairs and armed services committees Monday, and before their Senate counterparts Tuesday. Bloggers are largely unimpressed.
Political Animal Kevin Drum responds to Crocker's assertion that Iraq would be engulfed in chaos without U.S. forces. "[T]his sounds not like a sober and even-handed professional assessment, but more like a furious last ditch effort to frighten the public into opposing withdrawal—one that an awful lot of people seem to have accepted pretty uncritically. … In a dramatic era it may be undramatic to say so, but the evidence that an Iraqi civil war will inevitably broaden into a massive regional conflagration simply isn't very convincing." Rogue conservative Andrew Sullivan follows up: "I think it's possible that Crocker is right: enormous immediate violence would result from the US withdrawing from Iraq. But the current policy is to facilitate the partition of Iraq in a less violent and more protracted fashion. … I certainly don't believe it's vital to national security to pick one path toward Iraq's disintegration over another. Wouldn't it be better to get it over with quickly?"
Lefty blog Veracifier's Marc Boxser responds to Petraeus and Crocker's Fox News appearance Monday night: "[Petraeus] appears to again be harking back to the party line that the primary opponent in Iraq is Al Qaeda. It seems certainly true that al Qaeda type salafist organizations are drumming up ethnic violence, but this again seems a gross simplification—and especially dangerous considering how charged that word al Qaeda is in the US."
Josh Marshallat Talking Points Memo sympathizes with Petraeus, revealing "For all that's happened, I still have a respect for Gen. Petraeus. Even though he's made himself into a GOP operative in the domestic political fight over Iraq … I believe he's doing his best as a professional soldier to salvage something from a catastrophic mess." But James Wolcott at Vanity Fair doesn't spare the general: "It is a measure of Petraeus's obliging pliancy that he would even accede to testifying on the anniversary of September 11th, thus ensuring that his report would function as a tie-in product."
Mohammed at Last of Iraqis complains about the statistics presented by Petraeus but agrees that Iran is a dangerous influence. Yet, "[t]here was something that really annoyed me, most of the time he talked about Al-Qaida like it's the only enemy for Iraqis and Americans … what about Al-Mahdi Army? what About Badir Brigade who killed two of my friends? what about the Islamic Army in Iraq? what about all the other sectarian militias? why don't the US troops arrest Moqtada Al-Sadir?"
But the testimony pleases righty Rich Lowry at the National Review's Corner: A strength of both Petraeus and Crocker has been that there's been very little overt salesmanship in their presentations—a sober, just-the-facts approach is what the moment calls for." At conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt's blog, Dean Barnett posts various video snippets from the testimony and reports on the controversy generated by MoveOn.org's "General Betray Us" ad.
Uncle Jimbo at milblog Black Five pleads guilty to "contempt of Congress." "I have watched as much of the weasel fest on Capitol Hill as I could. … I have seen mental midget after politcal hack after deranged partisan pay no attention to the two gentlemen calmy not killing them while blowing all kinds of methane only rarely related to the truth.
Web antics: The Washington Post reports that an adviser to GOP candidate Mitt Romney, J. Warren Tompkins, "appears to be behind" an anti-Fred Thompson Web site called PhoneyFred.org, which has been taken down. The Romney camp has since denied affiliation with the site. Bloggers diss the Romney campaign.
"If you have a political campaign, one of the things you should make sure your people are not doing is setting up goofy websites calling other candidates names," snorts Aaronat the libertarian Free Will. Righty Ed Morrisseyat Captain's Quarters thinks the Romney campaign "should apologize for its error" and concludes: "Any candidates who want to engage in negative campaigning should have the testicular fortitude to put their name to it."
Cecelia Wiedel at conservative Kicking Over My Traces advises Romney to get rid of Tompkins: "Anybody who is dumb enough to leave a trail of breadcrumbs this easy to follow should not be advising your campaign." She adds, "[t]his sort of dirty trick is especially embarrassing for Mitt Romney, who projects a squeaky clean image of competence and honesty."
Read more opinions on the origins of PhonyFred.org.
Feud Fakers: Kanye West and 50 Cent each released new albums Tuesday, sparking an aptly timed feud between the two hip-hop stars in which 50 Cent said he would stop rapping solo if West beat him in sales. (He's since rethought that statement). A publicity stunt? Bloggers think so.
DonnaMarieat KopyNPaste complains, "It gets harder to separate the humble, everyman that opens up on Kanye's albums from the jerk who whores for the media." Mr. Mugheadat the Mughead Review doesn't buy the feud: "I can't help but think we're being conned, fooled by master magicians on the grand stage of life. Are we really at this point in existence where they are the center of our cultural & creative universe?"
But the Vh1 Blog doesn't have a problem with weighing in. It bets on Kanye: "Chances are good we'll be seeing 50 Cent in a group situation from now on … We smell rap's second biggest money-maker looking at a future of passing the mic if he lives up to his promise."