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.
Go Army! Beat Congress!
I’m sure both sides will spin points to their advantage and their have been some positive and negative things to put the party spin on…but when Katie Couric has some real positive things to say about the surge and how it is working then I also believe that the Dems may be playing a very dangerous game.
Other than the fact that nothing that has come out of the White House regarding Iraq has been honest, let alone accurate?
Funny, most of them were looking forward to this report up until a few weeks ago when we found out that Petraeus wasn’t going to be writing it. Until that point they all believed that Petreaus would be presenting an honest analysis of our situation, and nobody doubted his integrity. They’re not suddenly calling him a shill for no reason either, it’s now public knowledge that what Petraeus will be reading to congress is being written by the White House. If that’s not being a mouthpiece, I don’t know what is.
So my question to you, James, is if the report does indeed say “The surge is working. Let’s have more of the same”, are you going to believe it? Or if it says we need to wait another 6 months to know if the surge is working, will you believe that?
I expect them to answer questions honestly. There’s no reason to suspect otherwise.
I could email you a dozen or so links to statistical analyses and graphs that say otherwise. For now, I’ll content myself with this from the WaPo today:
Several indpendent counts show that violence is not down in Iraq, yet the military says it is. However, the military will not release the figures and methodology it uses so that they can be subjected to independent scrutiny.
James, check Kevin Drum’s archives for the last 2 weeks, he’s been all over this story.
“Funny, most of them were looking forward to this report up until a few weeks ago when we found out that Petraeus wasn’t going to be writing it.”
I think there is legal reasoning for this. I’m trying to find where I read this.
I’m sure it had something to do with state-secrets, executive privilege, and not wanting to send the “wrong messages” to our enemies.
James- when I read you post things like this, I feel bad for you. Not because I think you are an idiot, but because I know exactly what you are going through. I went through it two years ago. Just a piece of advice- you can still think the Democrats have terrible, terrible policy positions while recognizing that right now, the Republicans are actually worse.
There is EVERY reason to think Petraeus will be little more than a shill for the White House, and there is absolutely no evidence from the past six years that this administration will answer things honestly.
Maybe Petraeus will surprise us all with an honest assessment. That certainly would be refreshing. I expect him to spin, spin, spin, and to ask for six more months and/or promise some slight (and absolutely vital, as the military is breaking) drawdown at some unspecified point in the near future.
I have no faith in Bush’s general answering honestly. I think I have ample reason for skepticism, and while I understand your faith (you, yourself, would be honest- why should you not expect others to be honest?), I think it is misplaced. These folks do not deserve the benefit of the doubt. In fact, they have earned just the opposite.
The law is the Supplemental Appropriations Law (Public Law 110-28, “U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007”)
(A) The President shall submit an initial report, in classified and unclassified format, to the Congress, not later than July 15, 2007, assessing the status of each of the specific benchmarks established above, and declaring, in his judgment, whether satisfactory progress toward meeting these benchmarks is, or is not, being achieved.
(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. […]
the law mandates no written report from him or Amb. Crocker. What it does mandate, however, is that Petraeus and Crocker deliver an assessment via testimony to the Congress prior to the Sept. 15th benchmark report to be delivered by the WH.
(due to time constraints i lifted this)
I’m no lawer and this could be total bunk but i’ve seen it before.
Markm- You are absolutely right. The problem, however, is that Bush has been touting the report as the “Petraeus report” for months. Bush has repeatedly said that he will wait for the “Petraeus report” before making decisions, etc.
And let’s not confuse the testimony before the Senate with the Petraeus report, but I am hard pressed to find General Petraeus contradicting the WH written “Petraeus Report.” This has been a coordinated PR push for the past two months, and I suspect it will continue to be one.
It’s amazing how much some people know about a report that hasn’t been written. But then. it isn’t really the report that is under discussion here at all but rather partisan political stances and the usual questioning of motives.
Ok, so my sarcasm was way off base. That’s a pleasant surprise actually, since usually no matter how sarcastic I am, reality always proves to be more ridiculous.
On the flip side, it only cements the idea that this is the “Bush report”, with Petraeus and 9/11 just being used to wrap the administration’s message in the stars and stripes.
Charles, you must be the kind of person who watches every episode of a TV series thinking that the hero/heroine just might die at any time, in any given episode, regardless of whether it’s already filmed it’s next season or not.
Suspension of Disbelief may make TV more enjoyable, but it’s not such a good idea in war planning.
John, first he’s not “Bush’s General” – he’s ours. Petraeus may have been nominated by Bush but he was confirmed by Senate. And he got over 60 votes. So he’s their General too!
I sense the ONLY honest assessment for you is “Its terrible, its a disaster, and we Gotta Go!”
I’ve worked under Petraeus and he’ll tell it like he sees it. I suspect from what I hear from my buddies there that he’ll be able to report progress but not miracles. Once he testifies (which is what really counts – it’s what he says and not what he writes) we’ll watch each camp spin it to support their respective bad policy position.
Bush got what he wanted and, as the saying goes, should have been more careful with his choice. The Democrats might rue on that a bit because if they get their choice and we cut & run then the fallout will be on them.
Lemme get this right. A Republican Congress and a Republican President are responsible for launching the war, managing the war (mismanaging), and botching every aspect of the war, with the only opposition from the Democrats being a token opposition (not one funding bill has been denied, and despite vehement opposition from the grassroots of the Democratic party, the surge was allowed to proceed as the President wanted, fully funded) and when it inevitably has to end, which it does, given the overstretched nature of the military, the Democrats will get the fallout for cutting and running?
Are you a Hugh Hewitt sock puppet?
And what exactly would this “fallout” be, and how will it be prevented if we stay?
I wouldn’t go quite that far, although I’ve irritated with Republican policies for quite some time now. Are individual Democrats (Joe Biden comes to mind) better on foreign policy right now? Sure. Do I think Reid, Pelosi, Rangel, and company are better? No. They’re just as opportunistic as the Bush folks.
Two separate points, methinks. I generally agree on the second point but not the first.
The problem with this is that you only accept as “honest” an assessment that matches your own preconception. I think we’re losing the war and unlikely to win but I’m willing to hear the case that staying is preferable to leaving in the short term.
Why is Petraeus “these folks”? What has he done to be branded as dishonorable? The Senate overwhelmingly approved him not so long ago.
Beyond that, my assessment of this tack being dangerous for the Democrats is about how it will play out politically. They’re winning the larger argument on the war. But they have to be careful as not to be seen as anti-victory or anti-military.
It didn’t help that he lost track of 190,000 small arms, many of which have surely been appropriated by insurgents and militias, and then shrugged it off as a bookkeeping mistake.
When “victory”, by anyone’s definition, is not realistic, how can an honest person avoid being seen as anti-victory? Also, when did “stop wasting our soldiers’ lives” become anti-military?
This is an honest question because, as you say, this is a real political threat to the Democrats (or anyone who admits to reality for that matter).
I actually missed the bigger question, how many lives will it cost for Democrats to not be seen as anti-victory?
Is it morally better for them to try and end the war now and probably fail, given how many lives will be lost in a never-ending war, or to wait 6 months and probably succeed, given how many lives are likely to be lost in that 6 month period?
I guess it’s the same as that old question, how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
Fair enough, although my preconception is based on the numerous reports stating that things are in fact going badly. For me to be assured that all these reports are inaccurate, Petraeus would have to supply independently verifiable data points suggesting otherwise, something the military has been loathe to do so far. In essence, the pushback to the published reports so far are anonymous military sources “disputing” the data, but supplying none of their own.
I will wait and see what he says, but I do find it difficult to conceive that what he states will differ radically from the official WH written “Petraeus Report.” In addition, I would hardly point to Senate approval as some sort of vote of confidence in Petraeus- shouldn’t need to remind you that Gonzalez also received Senate approval. I am actually hard-pressed to think of a situation in which a President has not received approval for his general. If I remember correctly, the general consensus was that the President deserves, in a time of war, to have the man he thinks is best to run the war. That is not so much an endorsement of Petraeus as it is a statement of principle.
As to why I tend to, at this time, distrust Petraeus, there are several reasons. The staged trips to the Green Zone, the unwillingness to provide verifiable data, and, I will admit, he is in my eyes (perhaps unfairly) smeared by his relationship to Bush. Some may seize upon this as a sign of “Bush Derangement Syndrome,” at this point, at this late stage in the administration, I characterize it as “common sense.” Has there been anyone who has had the full faith and confidence of this President who, upon further inspection after their departure, not turned out to be a complete shill?
Again, maybe Petraeus will surprise us all and we will see some much needed honesty in his testimony- honesty that will provide a certain clarity to the debate so that we can move forward and make the best choice out of what are surely a number of bad choices. That would be refreshing. I am, however, not hopeful. In his Draper interview, Bush made it pretty clear what he is doing, and it is pretty clear (to me at least) what this September 11th extravaganza is designed to accomplish- kicking the can down the road.
As to the Democrats overplaying their hand, the only way they could be portrayed as “anti-military” for doing what 75% of the country wants is if we let Bill Kristol and the lying shitheels at the Weekly Standard set the debate. Given the track record of the past few years, your fears are probably warranted. The Democrats will probably get blamed for something, smeared for hating America, etc. That is really the only card left in the hand of the 28% crowd, and they have proven time and again they are not below smearing people for purely political gain.
I should add that what I expect will happen is that the report will include all the small signs of progress (there have been some, despite my overwhelmingly pessimistic outlook), and simply ignore all the evidence that points to things not going well.
That was the model, after all, for the way we got into Iraq (think Office of Special Plans), that is the model for how they have done everything the past few years, and I see no reason to think it will change.
Most Likely Scenario- Petraeus report points to small signs of progress. Democrats agree that is a bit of progress, then point to the overwhelming signs of bad things the report fails to mention. Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, and like-minded folks state that “Even though Democrats agree there is progress, they want to cut and run anyway.” Meanwhile, hacks and liars like Kristol, Ledeen, and others publicly lie about the negative evidence, and are unchallenged.
Anyone want to bet?
The summer long PR offensive to sell the surge on Hugh Hewitt’s show and other rightwing media outlets. Reporting directly to Republicans but not Democrats in congress. Ginning up statistics to show progress and refusing to show his methodology when questioned on the changes. Allowing derisive bios of Democratic congressmen and women to be posted around his command in Baghdad.
Allowing yourself and your command to be politicized is not only dishonorable it’s incredibly stupid and probably illegal.
Why should we suspect Petreaus might spin his report?
Because he has a well documented history of doing so.
Liars always think they are being lied to. Your posters here have their minds made up, try not to confuse them with facts. I noticed not one single Democratic candidate has or will talk about who and what we are fighting. Radical Islam. Iraq is just the battlefield. One of your posters suggests nothing from this whitehouse has been truthful with the topic is Iraq. That is an outright lie. I don’t think the President has ever said this would be easy or quick. It was the policy of the Clinton administration to remove Saddam from power. Bush did it. Democrats are playing a dangerous game. How badly do you think America wants to lose another conflict? When Katie Couric says things are going better in Iraq, even the most ardent Bush hater needs to pay attention. Unfortunately BDS prevents paying attention. After all, it is not the World that hates America, it is the left that hates America.
Re: Petraeus, cf. Djerejian:
Petraeus increasingly risks looking like a propagandist, especially given that there is a lot of O’Hanlon-esque selective number juggling going-on these days. I hope he does make every effort to “avoid being a shill” for his CINC, however, and I’ll of course withhold judgment and analyze his and Crocker’s testimony before making any definitive conclusions, but the mere fact even of having some of this testimony occur on 9/11 I find reprehensible.
Related, Petraeus’ hyper-assiduous courting of the media (most recently, the ‘reverse Cronkite’ schmooze-fest with an impressionable Katie Couric) has one concerned we have a man who is beginning to believe some of the ‘Gettysburg hype’ (read: fantastical scenarios re: Iraq’s future, rather than the more tepid ‘strategic patience’ line, itself something of a hail mary, but one that has dutifully made its way from the field to Tony Cordesman’s trip report and now, rather too uncritically, to Roger Cohen and David Brooks’ op-ed copy). After all, he’s prosecuting the effort himself, perhaps it’s going better than expected?
What bothers me the most about all the hype about “Bush” writing the report, why is it, you and others are NOT mentioning that it was Congress themselves that mandated that Bush issue the report?
Is there any lack of clarity as to whom Congress tasked to prepare and submit the report? Anyone surprised that the report is being prepared by the White House, with the input of appropriate officials in Iraq and throughout the Executive Branch?
Which brings up a couple OBVIOUS questions here:
#1. Did Congress deliberately require the White House/ President to “submit” this report after 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”, knowing that they could then count on their supporters, to either lie, claiming surprise this report would be written by the president, OR counting on their supporters to be ignorant enough to not have read the original wording to begin with?
#2. Are the blogs really “acting” surprised and thereby lying to their readers by implying this is new news and it was not what Congress themselves mandated OR did they did not read the original wording of what Congress required ?
Ms. Duclos et al
Perhaps the reason that people feel the need to point out that the Iraq progress report due out later this month will be written by the administration rather than Petraeus and Crocker is because it has been relentlessly portrayed as a report by Petraeus and Crocker by both the press and the administration for the past several months.
Examples from a recent WH press conference below:
Just looked. That law that has EVERYBODY up in arms that requires the WH to write the “Petreaus Report”…well, here ya go:
Sponsor: Rep Obey, David R. [WI-7] (introduced 5/8/2007) Cosponsors (None)
So a Dem (and a doofey one at that)introduced it and it became law.
“On the flip side, it only cements the idea that this is the “Bush report”
Splain please. Seems cut and dried to me.
And how! No Democrat ever talks about the big scary brown people. Ever! As a result, they don’t seem to be wetting their pants about it, but I tell you what — it’s important that we have a pants wetter who is mortally scared of Islamofascoterrocommies at a base level, like Rudy Giuliani.
clearly, his only crime was to disagree publicly with the leftist narrative of Iraq.
LOL… “when Katie Couric has positive things to say about the surge” ??!??!?!??!?!??!?!?!? LMAO. which is short for “laughing my ass off” because, um, you’re using Katie Couric as your news source. it’s called pulling at straws.
“it’s important that we have a pants wetter who is mortally scared of Islamofascoterrocommies at a base level, like Rudy Giuliani.” … or, like MCCARTHY?
“LOL… “when Katie Couric has positive things to say about the surge” ??!??!?!??!?!??!?!?!? LMAO. which is short for “laughing my ass off” because, um, you’re using Katie Couric as your news source. it’s called pulling at straws.”