Democrats Pre-emptively Dismiss ‘Bush Report’
Democratic leaders are dismissing the “Petraeus Report” as the “Bush Report,” S.A. Miller reports on the front page of today’s Washington Times.
Congressional Democrats are trying to undermine U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus’ credibility before he delivers a report on the Iraq war next week, saying the general is a mouthpiece for President Bush and his findings can’t be trusted.
“The Bush report?” Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin said when asked about the upcoming report from Gen. Petraeus, U.S. commander in Iraq. “We know what is going to be in it. It’s clear. I think the president’s trip over to Iraq makes it very obvious,” the Illinois Democrat said. “I expect the Bush report to say, ‘The surge is working. Let’s have more of the same.’ ”
The top Democrats — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California — also referred to the general’s briefing as the “Bush report.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Gen. Petraeus’ report was potentially compromised by the White House’s involvement in drafting it. “If the same people who were so wrong about this war from the start are writing substantial portions of this report, that raises credibility questions,” he said.
Republicans bristled at the pre-emptive strike against the report. “Are these leaders asking the American people to believe that the testimony of a commanding four-star general in the U.S. Army should be discarded before it’s even delivered?” said Brian Kennedy, spokesman for House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.
There’s something to the idea that this is in fact “the Bush Report.” Julian Barnes and Peter Spiegel reported three weeks ago that “administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.” As I wrote at the time,
Doing it this way is so mindnumbingly stupid as to defy measurement. The whole point of the September report was to 1) freeze the political debate until a set point in the future and 2) present the views of trusted experts on the ground that, while there remains a lot of work to be done, there is real progress being made and therefore 3) we need more time. If this is just the White House’s view of the situation, the first two advantages are rendered moot.
That said, the Democrats are playing a dangerous game here. While the war is very unpopular right now, they’re in danger of being seen as rooting for defeat when they’re this glib. Further, questioning Petraeus’ integrity is simply stupid. They confirmed his appointment with fanfare mere months ago; to accuse him of being a shill for the administration at this point is sure to backfire.
Do I expect Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker to emphasize the progress that we’re making in Iraq and downplay the problems? Absolutely. There’s no way to do otherwise while leading the military and diplomatic efforts in Iraq.
At the same time, I expect them to answer questions honestly. There’s no reason to suspect otherwise.