The Liberal mainstream media is eagerly anticipating the September 15th deadline for the now infamous "Petraeus Report". For some on the Left, the anticipation is in planning on how to spin the report. For others, the anticipation is more like dread. Democrats in Congress have clearly chosen the path of defeatism and surrender, declaring Iraq to be a lost cause. They have done so with the obvious intention of speaking "truth (or rather... lies
) to power". They have been so determined to smear President Bush, that they have been willing to throw the sacrificed lives of valiant American heroes onto history's dungheap of "lost causes" and "failures", without a second thought.
But their efforts may in fact be rewarded with scorn. If the report from Iraq looks even remotely positive, those Democrats who have been weeping and lamenting in "sackcloth and ashes", will appear to be foolish at best, or treasonous at worst. And there is good reason for them to be worried. There seems to be a growing consensus that the "surge" is working. Even Carl Levin (about as Left-Wing a Liberal as they come) recently returned from Iraq saying he saw "credible and positive results" from the surge of troops in Iraq ordered by the President in January (though he remains skeptical about whether military successes will lead to political successes).
Then there is Representative Brian Baird (D-WA), who upon his return from a recent visit to Baghdad said, "I believe giving it more time is worth the risk. We need to sustain the investment, at least for a while, in the belief things are getting better." Before Congress' August recess, Baird had supported legislation that called for withdrawal of U.S. forces to begin within 120 days. He now says he wishes the measure had never come up and that he hasn't so much reversed his position as... "adjusted" his thinking. "We need to keep our force strength where it is until next spring and give the political rhetoric a rest," he said. "If the Democrats were less interested in finding fault and blaming people... it would give a chance for our troops on the ground to operate."
And let's not forget Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack whose opinion piece in the New York Times sparked so much controversy amongst the Left. O'Hanlon and Pollack, both Liberals, spent eight days in Iraq, after which they described the political debate over Iraq in Washington, D.C. as "surreal". They said that "the administration's critics... seem unaware of the significant changes taking place" in Iraq. According to these two scholars from the Brookings Institute, "We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq". They said they were "surprised by the gains (they) saw", and that "things look much better than before".
On August 16, 2007 the Associated Press reported: "One senator said U.S. troops are routing out al-Qaida in parts of Iraq. Another insisted President Bush's plan to increase troops has caused tactical momentum. These are not Bush-backing GOP die-hards, but Democratic Senators Dick Durbin, Bob Casey and Jack Reed."
Joe Lieberman (I-CT), clearly no conservative, said on August 20th in an article
at the Wall Street Journal, that "The United States is at last making significant progress against al Qaeda in Iraq... Thanks to Gen. David Petraeus's new counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, and the strength and skill of the American soldiers fighting there..." But this is not a new position for Lieberman. As far back as June 15th he said in another article
at the Wall Street Journal, that after a recent trip to Iraq, he had seen signs of the surge working even then... for which he was demonized by Democrats and Liberals.
All of which goes to show that those who took the time, and made the effort to go to Iraq, and to see for themselves the situation on-the-ground, have been rewarded with an eye-opening experience that belies the negativism of the arm-chair pundits and the weekend protestors. Why, even Hillary Clinton seems to agree that the surge is working. Listen to it for yourself on YouTube
Contrary to the rhetoric of some on the Left, it should be noted that the September 15th date was never intended to be a deadline for either Iraqi legislative success or U.S. military success. It was a date established by Congress as part of the 2007 supplemental funding bill
for the Iraq war, by which date a report is supposed to be submitted to the Congress on the PROGRESS
of the Iraqi government towards meeting (18) different benchmarks. "Progress" does not necessarily mean "complete attainment" (although attainment would in fact be a respectable measure of progress).
But even before the President's new surge strategy was fully implemented, nay-sayers on the Left started declaring it a failure
. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to the President telling him that they planned to send him new legislation to "limit the U.S. mission in Iraq, begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces, and bring the war to a responsible end." Reid went further by attaching troop withdrawal deadlines to the Defense Department Authorization bill... a move that was fortunately defeated.
Amidst these premature calls for the U.S. to pull out of Iraq, President Bush said he would wait to hear from General Petraeus in September before making any decisions. I believe that this is when the media started referring to it as the "Petraeus Report". Even in the article at the last link above, there is this quote...
The next critical point in the showdown between Bush and Congress over Iraq is expected in September, when U.S. commander in Iraq David Petraeus is due to report on progress in the strategy to "surge" up to 30,000 more U.S. troops into the war-ravaged nation.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that when President Bush announced that he would issue a report to Congress in September on the progress in Iraq, many of those on the Left went utterly ballistic. They began accusing the White House of "writing the report FOR
General Petraeus", as if to suggest that there was going to be some kind of "whitewash" or "cover up" of the true situation on the ground. The following are just a few samples of what I'm talking about...Bush To Issue September Report, Not PetraeusWhite House Contradicts Itself on Petraeus 'Report'White House To Write Petraeus ReportPetraeus’ September Report Will Be Written By The White House
Clearly, the Left-Wing Loons who write such articles prefer to generate "heat" rather than "light". Either that, or they are incredibly "research-challenged". It is obvious from even a cursory glance
at the legislation, that it is the President who is responsible for producing the report to Congress, NOT Petraeus...
The President shall submit a second report to the Congress, not later than September 15, 2007, following the same procedures and criteria outlined above... (a reference to the interim report required of the President not later than July 15, 2007) --HR2206 (page 27)
Granted, the 2007 supplemental funding bill for the Iraq war does include a requirement for testimony by General Petraeus before the Congress -- a requirement which the White House never suggested would be refused...
(3) TESTIMONY BEFORE CONGRESS. —Prior to the submission of the President’s second report on September 15, 2007, and at a time to be agreed upon by the leadership of the Congress and the Administration, the United States Ambassador to Iraq and the Commander, Multi-National Forces Iraq will be made available to testify in open and closed sessions before the relevant committees of the Congress. --HR2206 (page 27)
Nevertheless, it is very clear that the report to Congress is to come from the President...
(B) The President, having consulted with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Commander, Multi-National Forces-Iraq, the United States Ambassador to Iraq, and the Commander of U.S. Central Command, will prepare the report and submit the report to Congress. --HR2206 (page 26)
In point of fact, the purpose of the September 15th report is for the President to "advise the Congress on how that assessment requires, or does not require, changes to the strategy announced on January 10, 2007" (see HR2206, page 25
). It should be noted that the President
is to determine any new strategy which may be required, and he is to advise the Congress on those changes. This is clearly in keeping within the framework of the U.S. Constitution which vests the President with the title of Commander-in-Chief. The Congress cannot impose a new strategy upon the military, even though they would dearly love to do so. Only the Commander-in-Chief can make strategy.
It should also be noted that, even if the Iraqi government fails to achieve all (18) benchmarks, according to the legislation...
The President may waive the requirements of this section if he submits to Congress a written certification setting forth a detailed justification for the waiver, which shall include a detailed report describing the actions being taken by the United States to bring the Iraqi government into compliance with the benchmarks set forth. --HR2206, page 28
I'm not convinced that this waiver option is a viable one. I could be proven wrong, but I believe that President Bush will want to highlight all of the positive advances being made in Iraq, rather than resorting to some sort of written certification that amounts to nothing more than an IOU for Iraqi progress in the future. I think that would be interpreted and trumpeted by the Left as 'no progress whatsoever'.
Look for the Left to focus on failure, and the Right to focus on success. That's become the modus operandi
in almost every discussion on Iraq. The Left is "hell-bent" on pinning failure in Iraq to George W. Bush. They simply won't accept the concept of victory there unless it bites them in the butt, or threatens to evict them office... "God forbid"!
Not that we have even given the "surge" an ample amount of time to succeed. It was only in late June that the level of U.S. forces reached their peak. It has been less than two months since those additional troops have been in theater at full strength. Iraqi summer days are now a wilting 120F. The Iraqi Parliament is on recess. Clearly, the Iraqis need more time to get their act together. And it wouldn't hurt to give them a sense that we'll stand behind them for more than a week or two.
But as I said before, the Left was declaring the surge to be a military failure before it was even fully implemented. And now they are being proven wrong. The surge appears to be a military success despite all of their predictions to the contrary. They will likewise prematurely declare the surge to be a failure because all of the Iraqi legislative benchmarks have not been met. The Left can think of nothing better than for American failure in Iraq.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) said recently that a positive report on progress in Iraq by General David Petraeus likely would split Democrats in the House and impede his party's efforts to press for a timetable to end the war. Clyburn said that would be "a real big problem for us
." I personally find it hard to believe that American military success would be a problem for ANY American!
Although we will no doubt hear from Petraeus and Bush about military success in Iraq resulting from the "surge", the Left will focus on the failures of the Iraqi government. Although we will no doubt hear about life getting back to normal for many people in Iraq, it will be completely ignored by the Left. They will talk about Nuri al-Maliki being at odds with Petraeus. They will talk about fractures occurring in the Iraqi government coalition. They will talk about Iraqi government failure to produce important legislation. They will talk about Shi'ite al-Maliki's inability (or reluctance) to achieve reconciliation with Sunnis. They will talk about ANYTHING but success... because they are so invested in defeat.
They can't stand George W. Bush. They suffer from that malady common to the Left known as Bush Derangement Syndrome. If Bill or Hillary were President, the "Petraeus Report" would result in parades in every city, glowing headlines in every newspaper, special reports on CBS, NBC, MSNBC, NPR, etc. There would be accolades for the President and his/her remarkable General. The mainstream media would be in a sheer swoon. But it's not Bill or Hillary. It's GWB... expect headlines about gloom and doom, defeat and failure.
Failure eventually comes to those who diligently seek it. --Hawkeye®, 2007