Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Declare Victory

Message to MoveOn: STFU!
Message to Dems: You're WINNING, You Idiots!
You know it's going to be a weird day when Moose shouts out from the breakfast nook, "George Will is right, by god!" Trust me, that rarely happens, no matter what Goose puts in the coffee. It happened this morning, though, as Moose ran tired eyes over these words:
Congressional Democrats should accept Petraeus's report as a reason to declare a victory, one that might make this fact somewhat palatable: Substantial numbers of U.S. forces will be in Iraq when the next president is inaugurated. The Democrats' "victory" -- a chimera but a useful one -- is that Petraeus indicates there soon can be a small reduction of U.S. forces.
Will goes on to argue that Dems can only claim victory by making a mountain out of a molehill, given the modest size of the troop reductions Gen. David Petraeus is advocating, and by making a spurious claim for having created the mountain. Will is wrong (as of course he must be, unless the world is flat and the law of gravity has been repealed) about the spuriousness of the claim. Democrats, who gained control of the Congress on the strength of strong anti-war sentiment throughout the country, can justifiably take credit for having created the conditions under which the Bush administration and its generals had to put troop reductions on the table. It doesn't matter how small they are. It doesn't matter that sizable numbers of U.S. troops are likely to be in Iraq when the next president takes office and perhaps well into her second term, though it would obviously be vastly better to bring as many troops as possible home as soon as possible.

What matters is that the ground and the discourse have shifted. Troop reductions will happen. If the administration can fudge the data enough to make its claims of progress appear credible (to the credulous), then the reductions may be larger and sooner than Petraeus was willing to suggest in his testimony before Congress. Otherwise, the administration will buy time until the disaster can be passed along to someone else -- and the blood of every single soldier and citizen who dies in this conflict in the meantime will be on Republican hands. Democrats will be on record as having been in opposition to the so-called "surge" and as having advocated timetables for withdrawal. In concrete terms, the victory may be modest, even hollow, but it is a victory nonetheless. Troop reductions of any size would not be a foregone conclusion if Democrats did not hold the gavels in the House, the Senate, and on all the Congressional committees.

You wouldn't know that from listening to the chatter among Democrats and progressives. Roxie's World is sorry to be giving a great big PAWS DOWN to our good friends from MoveOn.org, but their full-page ad in the New York Times in advance of Petraeus's testimony has to be one of the dumber political gestures we've seen in awhile. It fully justified Wa Po's Chris Cillizza's provocative debate topic: MoveOn.org: Momentum or Menace? The ad was a gift to Republicans, who wasted no opportunity to bring it up during the hearings to try to smear Democrats as troop-haters. That trumped-up reminder of the Vietnam era flummoxed Dems yesterday, though the Senate Foreign Relations Committee seems to have been less deferential in its treatment of the general and Ambassador Ryan Crocker today. (Wa Po coverage of today's testimony is here.)

You know we're idealists here in Roxie's World, kids. You know the Division for World Peace and Free (Legal, Organically Grown, Government-Regulated) Dope is one of the largest units of our vast corporate/political empire. Our official theme song is "Imagine." Our company uniform is flax pants, Birkenstocks, and whatever peace tee-shirt we can lay our hands on. It pains us to find ourselves advocating patience, pragmatism, and realism in trying to end a war we've been protesting since before it began. We hate it, but we don't see any alternative. If the left splits over the war, the right will win. If we allow the perfect to be the enemy of the best-we-can-get-under-the-circumstances, then President Romney will shred what's left of the Constitution with another Supreme Court appointment -- and people will go right on dying in Iraq. And Afghanistan. And, soon enough, Iran.

Six years past the nightmares that found us on a crisp September morning, we must all reflect on what we can do to end the horrors of war, of any death in violent conflict. We may never agree on a single answer, but we must bear that shared, noble purpose in mind and move forward with compassion and respect for differences. Otherwise, we lose, regardless of the outcome of any particular struggle.

Peace out, beloveds.

(Photo Credit: Tyler Hicks, New York Times; 6th anniversary of 9/11 attacks, NYC)
All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
--W. H. Auden, "September 1, 1939"


  1. Fabulous post, Rox!
    I wish you were running for office - you would definitely get my vote. Have you and your Moms seen "No End in Sight" yet? It's more evidence that the boobs in office have screwed up Iraq beyond belief and that they should be impeached for their grievous misdeeds. Short of that, I admire your patience, something I'm short on today.
    Auntie Faye

  2. Anonymous5:35 PM EDT

    Sheesh, Roxie! Keep it a little tamer, there, wouldja? I'm not used to seeing the human stalking around the house muttering "George Will is definitely right, but Moose and Roxie have it backwards!" Whew!

    Anyway, as near as I can make out from all the stalking and muttering, here's my human's take, and I gotta say, I agree:

    The only reason the MoveOn.org ad is a problem is that the Democrats haven't the spine to make it NOT be a problem. When has any Republican ever shown embarrassment at Ann Coulter's calling her book *Treason* or at Rush Limbaugh's use of inflammatory terms? We all know that if Petraeus were serving a Democratic president, the Republicans would have floated the "Betray Us" pun long ago.

    So all the Dems need to do is say, "My honorable colleagues need to get a grip. We all recognize that there are all kinds of opinions--this is America, after all. I sometimes suspect my honorable colleagues on the other side of the aisle have forgotten that. I don't recall that we've ever demanded that they repudiate the excesses of Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh or the Swift Boaters. I stand by anything my office puts out, but for the rest, I think all true Americans appreciate the fact that we live in a free country where everyone can express their opinions freely."

    So shouldn't it be "STFU, Republicans!"?

  3. I take your and your human's point, Dudley. I might have gotten a little carried away with the "STFU," though I must say I felt better after I'd said it. I'm just sick of seeing Dems get sucker-punched and NOT saying the kinds of things you say above. Maybe you and I should start a political consulting company, Dogged Democrats (with Spines and Loud Barks).

  4. I like the idea of Roxie and Dudley starting Dogged Democrats (with Spines and Loud Barks). Go for it, you two! And the STFU is once for the Democrats (you did need to get it out, Rox) and for all foreseeable time as far as the Republicans are concerned. They bullied the country into this war; they have smeared war heroes who have faithfully served US as disloyal and traitorous, as their bellicosity highlights their cowardice and reminds us that they managed to avoid serving US in the very wars their fathers insisted upon.

    "IMAGINE," indeed.

    much love and for peace,

  5. Anonymous10:35 PM EDT

    I'm glad you cleared that up, Roxie. Your clarification made perfect sense and calmed my human down immensely. Which is a good thing, because, as you know, humans don't seem to deal well with a lot of different kinds of excitement. So I'm glad we got the stalking and muttering over with, since I just piddled on the downstairs carpet. Which (for some reason) always seems to cause more excitement.


    (And I just thought I was being a good "yellow dog.")


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