Monday, November 13, 2006


The wily Lawrence O'Brien once explained there are no final victories in politics.

Remember 1994? How'd that work out for 'em. Newt got confused (he apparently also got a little, but that's another story) and became Bill Clinton's poodle. Then zipper maintenance problems led us to the comatose Hastert.

Lesson? We gotta get this right. That means no side trips. Here's what I'd do if I were Speaker Pelosi:

First, and I do mean first, I'd put up for a vote a modification of the current Medicare drug plan. Only change would be to adopt the mass-bargaining feature of the VA plan. The Repubs would be scared not to vote for it and most of the Dems ran on it. Hell, Melissa Bean didn't really talk about anything else. We'd be heroes among old people and AARP wouldn't lift a finger against such a bill. It can be law by April and in effect by '08 (wouldn't that be handy?)

Second, put up for vote a "sense of the body" resolution, a proposal that charged the defense department and State Department within 60 days to promulgate a set of measurable, metric benchmarks that would define the time when "victory" had been reached in Iraq and we could safely redeploy. Everybody is tired of McFlightSuit talking about "victory" without ever once giving us a picture of what it's supposed to look like. Again the repubs can't be against metrics.

Third, ask the President for leave to have an ex-officio congress member at the "principals" meetings of the war council (History is on your side, Roosevelt and Truman both did this) and appoint Rep. Jane Harman, the toughest, smartest woman in Government since Golda Meir. The move protects the president from criticism for being secretive and builds trust among the congressmen of both parties who have become totally estranged from this administration. You won't find a repub who will oppose this publicly.

Yes, we'll get to immigration pretty soon and to funding the caucuses again but these three things will avoid a mushroom cloud early.

Majority Parties in Congress don't plan to fail, but they damn sure fail to plan! Let's not do that.



At 5:00 PM, November 13, 2006, Anonymous Rob Mellon said...

I think you have made some very good points, but setting victory benchmarks will not accomplish our goals. I have proposed transforming the current force in Iraq. The U.S. military is built on a very old model. They have attempted to lighten the Army, but those endeavors have not gone far enough. SOF would be the best choice to face the current insurgency. I have suggested doubling the size of U.S. special operations forces - across the board. Replace heavy, cumbersome forces with smaller, elite forces.

You did not mention campaign finance reform or energy policy. Is energy too big of an issue at the present time? When could this become a serious, core issue for the Democratic Party? All the congressional candidates mentioned it, but I have seen little more than rhetoric.

At 8:22 PM, November 13, 2006, Blogger UMRBlog said...

Lemme bite this off in chunks. That is why I start out praising Rummy. His whole purpose in taking the job was to create a lighter, faster, more quickly integrated force. It's at least a 20 year job from jump street.

Setting "victory" benchmarks at least tells you whether you're making progress. It's a three legged stool, security, infrastructure and governmental stability. It's going to take much longer because of the stupid blanket debaathification and the denoument of Garner.

On the security side, the Special Forces need a change of mission as well. It was counterinsurgency 101 when I served that spc. ops teams could never succeed on a long term deployment without engaging the assistance of "indigenous" populants. There are gonna be militias. They don't have to be our enemies. They hate Iranians worse than us. That's a useful emotion.

More on the legislative agenda later.


At 4:01 PM, November 14, 2006, Anonymous Rob Mellon said...

Isn't the purpose of our operation to gain support of the indeginous population? Do you think we will ever truly succeed in any Muslim nation with 150,000 soldiers on the ground? Moreover, SOF is engaged long-term in several areas of the world. The teams have areas that they focus on. I am not against setting benchmarks by the way. We also need to address the Madarassas - many of the schools in Islamic nations only teach religion - how about some funding for education in Iraq?


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