The late Douglas Adams, in his seminal comedic work, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" wrote these words to help calm the character Arthur Dent as his world was literally ripped asunder and he was thrown into an entirely alien environment with little more than pajamas, slippers, a bathrobe, and an all important towel.
Today following the passage of the New Iraq Supplemental Bill, the one without timelines and with only optional benchmarks I repeat these words to my fellow Democrats and fellow Americans with emphasis.
This is the way it had to be - for now. Because right now - We don't have the votes.
But buck up - this ride only goes until September. Then we reset and ride again, only next time - we'll have more vote than this time. I promise.
Let me begin with a sports metaphor. Although this may be the 4th Quarter of Bush's Presidency, all he got was possesion of the ball. We were at 4th and 20 - so we punted. We had to. Sure, it's his ball now, but that doesn't mean the game is over, it just means that now we go on defense for a little while, and most people in sports know that good defense makes for great offense.
Also - We didn't have the Votes
Let me just say that I for one love the Keith Olbermann, he's been a great cheerleader through the last couple quarters of this game - but somebody needs to remind him, this shit ain't over yet.
I know a lot of us are bitter. Many of us feel betrayed, and are enraged. I get that.
But - Don't Panic!
You see, the one thing we need to end this war we simply don't have yet -- psst, I'll let you know what it is.
(We Need Republican Votes!)
Now is not the time for us to be eating our young new Congress after roasting them on a spit. To paraphrase Patton, we need to make those poor sons-a-bitches eat their no-account dim-bulb decider-er President alive - for their country.
You see, I've long felt and said that neo-conism is a disease much like other compulsive-addictive disorders. Like an alcoholic or other addict, they've got to hit bottom - hard - before they begin to look up and realize it's time to put down the shovel and stop digging. A lot of us on this side of the aisle bottomed-out on Bush's bullshit a long time ago.
Maybe it was after he sat there paralyzed for 7 minutes staring at "My Pet Goat" while the Towers I and II burned.
Maybe it was when he decided to pull resources out of Afghanistan, allowing bin Laden to escape in Tora Bora and instead attacked a country that had nothing to do with us.
Maybe it was after the cheesy flight-suit with the cod-piece and the "Mission Accomplished" banner.
Maybe it was after Abu Ghraib.
Maybe it was after Katrina and the video of Bush being specifically told about the danger to the levees.
Maybe it was after the number of dead U.S. soldiers in Iraq surpassed the number of dead U.S. citizens on 9/11.
Maybe it was after Walter Reed, where we saw just how our wounded we're being supported by this Administration.
Dems are at 88% dispproval for Bush and 93% disapproval for this war, and I'm pretty sure Congress knows that. Our numbers can't go much higher unless Joe Liebermann finally returns from the Cheney Side of the force.
The problem though is that although this war remains at a 23% approval rating overall, it's still remains at 54% approval among Republicans. Let that sink in for a bit, the slim majority of Republicans still support this fracking disaster.
However the trend line is what's important, and it shows that this approval has been gradually going down bit by bit. This past January 60% of Republicans supported Bush's then proposed "Surge". Last May the percentage of Republicans who thought invading Iraq was "right" was 75%.
The President's support for this War, even though he still retains a majority of Republicans - is soft. It's weakening. Next time we address this question, and that won't be very long from now, it'll be even weaker still.
It's only a matter of time before a majority of Republicans are against the war, and that Veto overrides start to look possible. But not now.
Although we might not be at that point by September, we might have enough Republican support by then to make the Benchmarks "Real", and that's progress. Step by step. Inch by Inch - we'll get there.
Just Don't Panic!
I know that we voted in November to end this war, and send a message to the President. Yeah well, we all should know damn well that he's not a reader by now. The ones who need to receive the message are Republicans who continue to support this President. But here's the thing, even we had done has Sen. Edwards suggested and sent the exact same bill with timelines back to the Bush again and again - it doesn't mean that he would have to stop the war.
Y'see - back in 1993 when the Republican Congress tried to shove a bunch of budget-busting tax cuts down the throat of President Clinton he vetoed them. He even vetoed the Defense Appropriations Bill. From Clinton's "My Life" page #690
After breaking for Christmas, I vetoed one more budget bill, the National Defense Authorization Act. This one was tough because the legislation included a miltary pay increase and a larger military housing allowance, both of which I strongly supported. Neverthelesss, I felt I had to do it because the bill also mandated the complete deployment of a national missile defense system by 2003, well before a workable system could be developed or would be needed moreover, such action would violate our commitments under the ABM Treaty and jeopardize Russian's implementation of STARTI and it's ratification of START II. The bill also restricted the President's ability to commit troops in emergencies and interfered too much with important management prerogatives of the Defense Department, including its actions to redress the threat of weapons of mass destruction under the Nunn-Lugar program. No responsible President, Republican or Democrat, could have allowed that defense bill to become law.
At this point the Government had been almost completely shut-down. Nothing on but the emergency lights. But here's the thing, look what Clinton did almost immediately after Vetoing the Defense Bill.
During the last three days of the year our forces deployed to Bosnia....
Somehow, somewhere - thanks to some very creative financing by the Treasury department - he got the money to do what he needed to do. I have little doubt that Bush in a similar situation, would do exactly the same thing.
So Democrats who worked out this deal with Republicans and the President have not capitulated, they have not caved, they have not cut-and-run out on us. They've simply reset the game clock.
As it stands now, time is on our side. Although Gen. Petreaus says they won't know anything definitive about how badly the surge is failing by September - I think we'll have a pretty good idea.
Brit Hume thinks all this September talk is just giving the enemy (whoever that is) a chance to setup a "Tet Offensive" Brit (can I call you Brit?) I think you saying that probably has more to do with them getting that idea than John The "Town-Cryer" Bone-er saying
"By the time we get to September or October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn’t, what’s Plan B."
There is no "Plan B" John. It's just Plan A: Add Softener, Rinse and Repeat. or in other words to simply use our troops as Cannon-Fodder until the Insurgents and the Militias and the Death-Squads get tired of killing them over there, so they don't have to bother coming over here - or something.
The only good plan is for our troops to leave by transitioning the peace-keeping role over to the Iraqis themselves. It's their Civil War - let them fight it out. Iraqi troops should be moving to the front-lines while ours move to the rear. We can still provide air-support for when they have a legitimate al-Qaeda target, we can supply some troops to support that mission, but our primary mission IS DONE.
And if the Saudi's want to get involved and prevent a Sunni Genocide - Let 'em. That's just one fresh new member to the coalition of the willing which has been bleedings constituents for years now.
I actually agree with Hume, and other Conservative who claim that the enemy can "wait us out" or whatever if we give them a specific time-table, but - big but - all we have to do before that point is ensure that whether our troops are there or not Iraq can defend itself. That should be our sole mission in the region, and you know what - chances are once we are finally leave - so will most of the violence.
All we need are the Votes - and there's only one place to get them from.
So don't call your Democratic Representative or your Senator and bitch them out for cutting this deal -- call the Republicans and tell them Every Additional Soldier that Dies between Now and September is ON THEIR HEADS because they failed to support the Veto Override.
Make those S.O.B's do the sweating - our team did good folks, we didn't get a touchdown, but we picked up some yardage - let 'em hit the showers until next round.