Sunday, March 19, 2006

Another four-point plan from the Democrats

Senate minority guy Dick Durbin was on Fox News this morning and I could have predicted the exchange that ensued based on previous performances:

Chris Wallace would ask about topic X
Durbin would say that the GOP has done a lousy job
Wallace would ask what the Democrats would do differently
Durbin would say something vague like “We’d fix [topic X]”
Wallace would say: “You haven’t said anything.”

And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened:

WALLACE: This week, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser to Jimmy Carter back in the '70s, accused the Democrats, his own party, of political desertion on Iraq. And let's put up his quote, if we can.

He said, "Democratic leaders have been silent or evasive. They have not offered an alternative to the war in Iraq. It's easy to criticize." Senator, you talk about the lack of an administration plan. What is the Democratic plan? And be specific. What's the Democratic plan for Iraq?

DURBIN: I'll be very specific. But I can tell you, to start with, failed policies such as the one we have in Iraq gives us few options. And we understand that. We've been painted into a corner in this situation.

WALLACE: Well, that's criticism, sir. What is your plan?

DURBIN: Well, hold on, if you will, please. What we propose and what Senator John Warner accepted as a bipartisan approach in the Senate includes the following. This year, 2006, a year of transition, where the Iraqis take control of their own security and defense.Secondly, the Iraqis are put on notice they have to form a government that embraces all of the factions within Iraq so that we can see finally a government of unity leading to some sort of progress for the people of Iraq.

And finally, we have to have from this president accountability, clear accountability, where he says every three months what progress is being made. His first report, incidentally, was not an encouraging one. It's an indication that despite all the rhetoric, we have not made progress this year.

WALLACE: But saying a year of significant transition, with all due respect, sir, is just a phrase. I mean, you know the situation there. There are 133,000 troops on the ground.Is it the Democratic plan that you could get all of them out by the end of the year, 30,000, get under 100,000? What's the Democratic plan?

DURBIN: My wish is to bring the troops home as quickly as possible.

WALLACE: Well, that's everyone's wish, sir.
The plan: 1.) 2006 is a year of transition, 2.) Iraqis must work together 3.) we need benchmarks and 4.) bring the troops home as quickly as possible. This sounds suspiciously like every other four-point plan the Democrats have proposed.


Anonymous said...

Nixon won the 1968 election promising a "secret plan" to end the Vietnam War. He had no plan. This empty tactic worked anyway, because over half the country was sick of Lyndon Johnson. Not a good omen.

Anonymous said...

Here's Chris Wallace on another day, doggedly challenging another politician's parroting of played-out catch phrases, filibustering, and non-answers:

VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Well, what I said there, Chris, was, in fact, based on the status of the intelligence at the time. That's what we had been told. It's what the National Intelligence Estimate on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq had shown and so forth.

We know now that the NIE was only partially correct. It wasn't totally incorrect. I mean, there's a tendency to say, "Well, you didn't find stockpiles. Therefore, there was no threat." That's not the case at all.

If you go read the Duelfer report, the man who headed up the Iraqi Survey Group, they clearly did have capability. They clearly had the technology. They clearly had people who've done it before. They had a lot of the basic preliminary feed stocks you need, for example. They still had a number of labs operated by the intelligence service.

All of the evidence points in the direction that if Saddam Hussein had been able to undermine or get sanctions lifted, he would have been back in business once again.

So I think the threat was still there, still significant. And I don't have any qualms about the judgments we made. I think we did exactly the right thing in going in and taking down Saddam Hussein's regime, and the world's better off for it today.

The other question is, how do we get better in terms of our intelligence capabilities? How can we improve our overall performance? And one of the most important things that's going forward today is a commission headed by Larry Silberman and Chuck Robb, which will report here in about two months, where they've done, sort of quietly outside the glare of publicity so it hasn't been a media circus, if you will, I think a very, very thorough job of reviewing our intelligence needs and requirements across the board. And I think that will be a very important piece of work that will be available in the next couple of months for us to use as guidelines for further ways in which we can improve our capability.

But it's always important for people to remember: It's intelligence. Almost by definition, it's trying to get information on what evil people are trying to do. And they're doing everything they can to hide their intentions and their capabilities from us.

We've had some great successes in the past. We've also had some great failures in the past. Our intelligence community, for example, missed the collapse of the Soviet Union back in 1989, '90, '91 time frame. On the other hand, you can say, well, we had some fantastic intelligence that let us win the Battle of Midway at the beginning of Pearl Harbor.

It's intelligence. It's a difficult, complicated business. It requires people of great skill and courage in order to do it. And we've got some tremendous ones working for us. But in this day and age, obviously, we need to do more to get better, to be more precise and to increase the overall level of performance of our intelligence capability.

In the final analysis, though, these are tough calls and tough judgments. And the reason we pay the president the big bucks we do and that he gets to live in that big White House is because somebody ultimately has to take what usually is limited knowledge about a very difficult set of circumstances and make those tough calls in terms of how we're going to operate as a nation, what our policies are going to be. And that's what we've done.

And I think George Bush gets great credit for having made the right decisions, even with limited and sometimes misleading information.

CHRIS WALLACE: Mr. Vice President, we have to take a break here.

Anonymous said...

"Here's Chris Wallace on another day, doggedly challenging another politician's parroting of played-out catch phrases, filibustering, and non-answers"

So what would Wallace have challenged, Annie? Is there something particular that Cheney said with which you would have disagreed had you been he? Do you have a point to make? Throw me a bone here.


Patrick said...

This sounds suspiciously like every other four-point plan the Democrats have proposed.

And suspiciously like exactly what we're doing anyway. The perception he's attempting to leave is we'd be there in 2019 if not for the brilliance of his plan.

What a windbiscuit. I'd say I'm ashamed such a mope represents me, but we previously sent Carol Mostly-Fraud and it'd be hard to out-low her.

Anonymous said...

Requested bones, incoming! Which of these assertions rises above the level of catch phrases, filibustering, and non-answers, Tob? Which of them represented a fresh insight in the year 2005?
*"status of the intelligence of the time" (untrue spin according to a variety of sources, not all in hindsight, and not all liberal);
*"if Saddam could've, he would've amassed more weapons" (and if your aunt had balls.... but even if this point were especially relevant, then didn't Cheney negligently endanger America by waiting so LONG to attack?);
*"the world is better off today" (as Iran takes Bush at his word and preemptively arms itself with nukes);
*"let's all wait for the upcoming report and then study it" (AKA let's punt yet another dispute down the road until 200 news cycles from now);
*"those evildoers sure are tricky li'l devils" (so all of our blunders are their fault... but we're still competent!);
* "we have accomplished much, but we still have much to accomplish" (where oh where would hack politicians be without this old saw? Oh well, at least it's a true statement, albeit for any situation in history);
*"at the end of the day, somebody has to make the tough decisions" (so heck, why waste time reviewing the wrong ones?).

On that last one, Cheney actually said the phrase "gets paid the big bucks" with what we can presume was a straight face.

Before that, Cheney said he had "no qualms about the judgments he made." And see, maybe that's the problem. The occasional qualm would be refreshingly sensible.

But if you're satisfied with this palaver, Tob, congratulations. You have a sunnier attitude and a stronger stomach than I.

Great Cheney line about intelligence and the Battle of Midway, though. Give the head of OSS a raise!

Anonymous said...

Incoming bones indeed, Annie. I'm still not seeing your point. Since you got to select which exchange to quote and to what extent, its a bit of a straw man for you to then suggest that Wallace should have been slicing and dicing the rather ordinary remarks of Cheney. Its not like he claimed to have a secret plan for success that his party will reveal when the time is right.

In any event, your bootless slur was against Wallace not Cheney and so, I ask again, had you been Wallace, what would you have asked?