December 7, 2005

"Dean's take on Iraq makes even less sense than the scream in Iowa."

Says Rep. Jim Marshall, a Democrat. A lot of Democrats are worried about the effect of the Dean style of anti-war talk -- the effect on the fortunes of the party, that is.


Charles said...

I can't figure out the overall strategy and coordination in getting their "message" out. One makes a statement that seems pretty wild, then everyone else denies it. Then a different one makes the wild statement so the rest can deny it. They seem confused and unable to pick a position. The whole denying what the party leaders say is odd. If it is pandering to the far out wing while using denials to try and pander to a middle, that has real backfire potential.

downtownlad said...

Dean is going to prove to be a disaster. Is it really that hard to focus on picking candidates and fund raising and just keeping your mouth shut????

Mark said...

Well, you can say all you want about Dean; but most Democrats feel that he reinvigorated the party; put a lot of resources in state democratic parties which were neglected before, and overall is doing a good job. I don't think that his comments will hurt him at all, either with Democrats nor with American public. People who never liked him before will never start liking him no matter what he says.

Now, since the poll was published here about the effect of Democrats' comments on the morale, here's the brief summary of the latest Quinnipac poll which just came out:

American voters say 77 - 17 percent that the U.S. should continue a global war on terrorism, but almost 60 percent of voters say the U.S. should withdraw its troops from Iraq, with 40 percent who say get out immediately, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Another 4 percent say get out in six months; 10 percent say get out in one year and 5 percent say get out in two to three years. Only 34 percent of voters oppose setting a deadline or immediate withdrawal. Going to war in Iraq was the wrong thing to do, American voters say 54 - 41 percent, the lowest support in any poll by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. And voters say 49 - 46 percent that the Bush Administration deliberately misled the American people in making its case for the war. "Americans want to fight terror, but they don't think Iraq is the place to do it. Forty percent say 'get out now,' and another 19 percent favor a phased withdrawal," said Maurice Carroll, Director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Not only is the President pushing an unpopular war, Americans think he lied to get us into it.

"So far, Bush's how-to-win-in-Iraq speeches don't seem to be helping him. His job approval goes down-down-down and the approval numbers on his top team - except for Secretary of State Rice - are negative, too. "If it's any consolation to the White House, Congress scores even lower."

So, American public agrees with Democrats much more than with Republicans, and for a good reason.

buck turgidson said...

This makes about as much sense as Bill O'Reilly Jesus complex. Dean said nothing different from what Bush said exactly a year ago and this point should be driven home. Just because the Shrub has hired a new image maker who says appearance of victory is more important than victory does not unring the bell. Accepting the "Dean problem" as fact is just buying into insidious propaganda.

ShadyCharacter said...

Buck, you do realize that about half your audience stopped reading your passage at the word "Shrub". I know I did. Just thought I'd point that out if your goal is to actually convince people of your position and not just vent your spleen.

brylin said...

From The Washington Post(Nov. 12, 2005 page 1): Democrats Losing Race For Funds Under Dean

From The Hill: Fundraisers Jilt Dean.

From Business Week: Howard Dean's Raised Voice Isn't Raising Cash

Conclusion: People aren't putting their money where the mouth is.

Jacques Cuze said...

This makes about as much sense as Bill O'Reilly Jesus complex. Dean said nothing different from what Bush said exactly a year ago and this point should be driven home. Just because Bush has hired a new image maker who says appearance of victory is more important than victory does not unring the bell. Accepting the "Dean problem" as fact is just buying into insidious propaganda.

Jacques Cuze said...

Okay, Shady, I cleaned up Buck's horrible posting so that you could actually make it through the entire entry.

And your take is...?

SteveR said...

"Dean said nothing different from what Bush said exactly a year ago"

Nothing different? All righty then, case closed. Does that make Bush smart then or Dean stupid now?

brylin said...

From the Albany Times Union: U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton ducked war protesters outside her appearance Tuesday at a Saratoga County Democratic fundraiser.

I heard Howard Dean was among the protesters.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that what Dean is saying is going to come back and hurt the Democrats in 2008, and maybe even in 2006.

The problem is what happens if the Iraqi security forces have been trained up by then sufficiently that most of the U.S. troops can, and will have been, withdrawn by then? Dean is left looking like he wanted to refight in (and recut and rerun from) Vietnam.

At that point, the 2005 polls are going to be irrelevant, and the Democrats who wanted to cut and run will just look like traitors.

Of course, things may not turn out that well. But if they don't, then the Democrats will have a natural advantage come at least 2008.

This is where I think Hillary has it right. Criticizing how we got into the war, maybe the intelligence, etc., but staying the course since we are in the war already. That, to me, is a much better long term strategic plan that pushing to cut and run, despite all the negative ramifications that would have. Heads she wins. Tails Dean loses.

Aspasia M. said...

Dean is not saying anything different from his speeches for the last three years.

What's new is the White House strategy on how to handle war rhetoric.

Mark said...

There's no question that there are many opinions among Democrats on the war, ranging from Lieberman's to Murtha's. At the same time, Republicans are split as badly, which is partially masked by the association of Republicans' position with Bush's position. But many Republicans, especially in the North-East and Midwest, including Senator Hagel are very worried about the war.
Dean did not say anything outrageous, in fact his spokesman explained that Dean meant to say that the war in Iraq is unwinnable if the way it's conducted is not changed. Dean is known for occasional gaffes, so what's new here?
Last year Bush said that the war on terror (which is much broader than the war in Iraq) cannot be won. Later, he had to correct himself.

What a storm in a teapot! Voters don't care about what Dean says about the war 11 months before elections. What will matter is the situation in Iraq and arguments in spring/summer 2006.

wildaboutharrie said...

Bruce, I agree about H. Clinton. I'm not a huge fan, but I think her letter struck the right note. And I don't think she's being opportunistic - I actually think she believes what she writes there. Refreshing.

Aspasia M. said...

The white house has employed a smart strategy here. Their hope is that it will stabalize Bush's poll numbers. They are scapegoating Dean (vs. Murtha) because he is an easier target.

Regan might talk about hanging Dean for treason, but he couldn't say the same about Murtha.

I'm quite impressed with their strategy. (I am a little surprised that the public doesn't know that Dean has been saying the same thing for 3 years.)

The new strategist is from UNC, I think? and a political scientist who's studied popular opinions on wars. Apparently he was the author behind the "Plan for Victory" speech.

Bruce Hayden said...

What Dean, et al., don't address is what would happen if we did what he suggests - pulling our National Guard and Reserves out now, and the regular troops out in the next year or two. That would, of course, cut our troop strength in the country approximately by half.

Finally, enough of the country has been pacified enough, and the Iraqi security forces trained up enough, that we (Iraqi and US troops together) are able to seriously start pacifying the Sunni Triangle, and, in particular, the area between Baghdad and the Syrian border. This has been going on since mid-summer, and appears to be a success - though there is still a lot to do there.

What must be remembered though is that this is possible only because we have the U.S. and Iraqi troops available to do it now. This would come to a screeching halt with Dean's proposed withdrawl.

My worry is that if we did pull out right now, or even cut our forces by half, the country would disinigrate into sectarian violence, and essentially devolve into three countries, with the Sunnis ultimately providing a terrorist training ground like there was in Afghanistan before we invaded. Or, probably more accurately, another Lebanon.

Then you have to look at the bigger, long term, picture. My view, and that of a lot of us on the right, is that 9/11 was really a culmination of the trend that started when either Nixon pulled out of Vietnam, or probably more likelty, when the Democrats in Congress refused Ford's emergency request for military aid when North Vietnam reinvaded the South. This was followed by the Iran hostage crisis, Beruit, the WTC bombing, other terrorism throughout the 1990s, through the Cole, and finally with 9/11. In all of those situations, when the going got tough, we ran. And OBL has said essentially that - that he viewed us as a paper tiger. And pulling out now, before the job is done (or truly appears to be undoable), would just reinforce that perception - push the U.S. enough, and we would retreat, just like the (old) Europeans do.

Bruce Hayden said...

Actually, despite my views on Hillary and her ethics, or, more accurately, total lack thereof, I am tending to believe that she really is being honest here.

One of the tidbits in Ed Klein's 'The Truth About Hillary' is that her father taught her to hit back, hard, when she was hit. Her father taught her to do it physically, but she later translated that into literal hitting. I think a good argument can be made that this trait of hers is why her husband survived his presidency. When he would want to retreat in the face of, for example, the Lewinski scandal, her natural tendency was to hit back even harder.

And I can see that this is possibly a big factor in her attitude towards this war.

Sloanasaurus said...

Didn't Hamilton argue in the Federalist papers that a chief executive was needed to guide the people through periods of ignorance and passion (or somethign like that)?

Anyways, I recall that 80% of the USA was opposed to our involvment with europe during World War II. Despite this massive opposition, FDR continued to circumvent popular opinion by aggressively opposing hitler in anyway he some cases FDR openly violated the law by allowing british ships to dock in our ports, reliving british outposts such as Iceland, and openly trading with the Allies.

The people said we should stay out.... 80% of them.

Being President means not always falling victim to the emotional sways of public opinion. Fortunately, President Bush is a leader who will stay the course the public elected him to do and not fall prey to the weakness of a fickle public.

maxkennerly said...

Dean coming down hard on the side of over two-thirds of America is going to hurt the Democrats?

Please. You're just scared that the Democratic party leaders have defied biology by spontaneously generating spines.

APF said...

Dean coming down hard on the side of over two-thirds of America is going to hurt the Democrats?

Dean's position as DNC chair has less to do with his own opinions and more to do with the Democrat's message-at-large. Solidifying the idea that the Democrats have no real plan to win in Iraq, and, in fact, feel the conflict is unwinable in the first place, doesn't make the Democrats appear stronger, and doesn't help gain confidence in their ability to lead. Dean should be trying to unify the Democrats' split on the war, not staking out his own demagogic position.

Art said...

Iraq requires an all or nothing bet on what the situation on the ground will be at the time of the election.
If John Kerry had known what things would be like at the time of the Nov 2004 election, I suspect he would have voted against the war the first time.
If Democrats had known the state of things as they were, they would have nominated Howard Dean, scream or no scream, and perhaps would have won the election.
Any statements now have to be couched in what will be the interpretation of reality in October of 2008.

Troy said...

Mark sounds like a DNC plant, but that's beside the point I guess.

Dean thinks this war is unwinnable period. He can qualify his statement, but his entire schtick has been this is a bad war, no plan, blah blah blah. Dean will do for Dems what McAuliffe did for Dems which is raise a boatload of cash from the tea-sip country club set and other rich libs while Republicans continue to win elections.

Can anyone yet describe a Democratic strategy that does not mean exposing our asses like a weak dog? Pull out now! is a Clinton intern exit strategy not a war strategy.

DEC said...

"All politics is local." -- Tip O'Neill

EddieP said...

And Mark, if the house voted again today on withdrawal now, would there be a big change from 403-3?

An important election is coming up next week in Iraq, in about 3-6 months, say next summer, the new government will be actually governing. At that time we can begin to assess the real chances of troop reduction late next year. Everything else 'til then is masturbation.

In any case troops are likely going to be stationed there for years, Iran and Syria will force that issue. As for the final three of the Bush administration, we'll be keeping our promise to the Iraqi people. At election time 2008, the Iraqis would be justified in worrying that their new friend is about to throw them over.

EddieP said...

Is it true that Howard Dean wants to get rid of the democrat Donkey and replace it with a Weasel?

Troy said...

If Howard Dean had his way we would be back under English rule, Japan would still be Imperial and Europe would be under the boot of the various facists (real ones not the dumb Lib caricature) and communists. He obviously wouldn't want those specific results, but oddly... I find little comfort in his sincerity since his prescribed policy (whatever THAT is) would prove destructive.

Mark said...


I think a vote on real Murtha's resolution (i.e. gradual withdrawal within 6 months, station rapid reaction force in Kuwait or UAE) would have badly split Democrats, with perhaps 60% of them supporting and 40% voting against. 95% of Republicans would have voted against. That's why it was a silly mistake for the Republicans to force a vote on sham resolution, achieving effect of uniting Democrats.

Also, whatever Bush and Co. say now, there will be reduction of troops in 2006. Why? Not because the situation in Iraq will be more stable; but because of the midterm elections in 2006. Watch as Republicans start jumping the ship in spring/summer next year calling for reduction in troops. It's all politics-driven.

Old Dad said...

Let's take Doctor Dean at his word. The idea that we can win the war in Iraq is wrong. Ergo, we cannot win. Ergo, we have lost.

Of course, he cannot support, let alone prove that assertion, but never mind.

So we have lost. Why then a strategic redeployment over two years?

The man is not serious, and can't be taken seriously. He's a political whore and not a very good one.

Bruce Hayden said...

But there is a real chance that things may be more stable. We have now trained about as many Iraqis as we have troops there. Yes, they aren't up to U.S. standards yet, but, then again, many of our own units aren't either. In any case, the number is expected to double to almost a quarter of a million in the next year or so, and they are already making a difference.

Operation Steel Curtin had somewhere around 2,500 US troops (mostly Marines) and 1,000 Iraqi troops. And the combination apparently went very well. The Iraqis were able to be of great assistance, esp. in detecting things out of the ordinary, including identifying foreign born people (who are often terrorists in that area of NW Iraq), as well as reading grafitti on walls to tell whether or not Al Qaeda is active in towns they are entering.

My point is not that Iraq will be peaceful in a year or so, but that there is a real chance that it might be a lot more so than it is now. something might come along and disrupt things, but at present, things look better there every month, and that is what the military and the President are looking at when they think we will be able to start bringing troops home in 2006.

XWL said...

Chairman Dean is a Republican "Mole" and secretly the vanguard in the "60 in '06" campaign.

(There, I revealed the deep dark Roveian secret, go back to your usual business, there's nothing else to see here)

Aspasia M. said...

Well, if Iraq is peaceful a year from now, then Republicans will be finding themselves some love at the polls.

James Fallows in the Atlantic had an article about why organizing this army in Iraq is so difficult. The suggestion that a army needs

1) a strong state and
2) loyalty to that state is interesting, and I expect that it will be a factor in whether the US can build this army.

If we don't get 1 and 2, we may have ended up training a bunch of militias with loyalty to local leaders.

Sloanasaurus said...

"....Also, whatever Bush and Co. say now, there will be reduction of troops in 2006. Why? Not because the situation in Iraq will be more stable; but because of the midterm elections in 2006...It's all politics-driven..."

So... if troops are withdrawn and things don't get worse, and in fact get better, will you admit that you were wrong and that it wasn't all politics? Hmmm....

Mark said...


I said many times before that I think violence may subside after the troops are withdrawn. In many cases, the very presence of US troops is flaming the insurgency.
It's very hard to predict the effect of reduction of troops; I am just saying that in the face of public's opposition to long-term presence of US troops in Iraq, they will be reduced before November 2006. I'll be wrong if they are not reduced.

Aspasia M. said...

If the army is made up of Shiites who are more loyal to local leaders, can this army keep control of the country without the help of U.S. troops?

I don't see how we can develop a stable democratic republic in Iraq if the Sunni population is not brought into the political system.

Bruce Hayden said...


We may not be able to predict what is going to happen once we withdraw troops if done at an appropriate time.

But it is simple to predict what would happen if we followed Dr. Dean's suggestion and yanked half of our troops out immediately.

1) Short run, Iraq falls apart, probably into three somewhat autonymous feuding regions. A lot of sectarian violence, esp. Sunni v. Shiite. Kurds would probably be fat dumb and happy sitting there up in the north with all their oil revenue.

2) Long run, another 9/11 attack. Maybe not as bad. Maybe worse. Most likely in the U.S., but also probably strikes against us throughout the rest of the world. By cutting and running, as Dean suggests, we will embolden the terrorists. We will have shown that if anyone bloodies us enough, we won't stay around and finish the fight, because we, as a nation, no longer have the stomach to protect outselves and our interests.

But yes, troop levels will be reduced by the end of 2006, but not because of the polls back in the U.S., but because we don't need the troops there anymore. President Bush has shown no indication that he is following the polls or that he will change the conduct of the war because of them.

Mark said...

Well, Bruce, if you think that all which is preventing Iraq from falling apart is some 80K US troops (even assuming as correct your characterization of Dean's proposal), then Iraq is in a truly sorry state.

"Cutting and running" is a Republican talking point; it does not represent Democratic position. I think this term only confuses people about the respective parties' positions.

My prediction is that the situation in Iraq will not substantively improve by the summer 2006; nevertheless, Bush will announce that it did improve sufficiently to draw back our presence there. You obviously believe that internal US politics have no role to play in Bush's decisions.

Well, let's see. If the situation doesn't improve (as judged by some objective sources or measurements; not by what Bush says) and nevertheless Bush announces troops reduction before Nov. 2006, you're wrong. If the situation doesn't improve and Bush doesn't announce troops reduction, I am wrong.
If the situation improves, then our argument is moot, since we both believe that if the situation improves, the troops presence should be reduced.

Aspasia M. said...


I agree with your analysis in #1, except the Kurds might have trouble with Turkey and their multi-ethnic cities could have trouble.

I don't understand why by the end of 2006 the problems in #1 would no longer apply to Iraq. It looks like disaffected Sunnis are one of the elements of the insurgency. Why would they stand down, unless they have been included in the political process?

It seems to me, that when troops are withdrawn, the most probable situation will be #1.

dick said...


I wonder if you even think about what you are saying. YOu say that if we pull the troops and put them in Kuwait or the UAE as a rapid response unit. What makes you think Kuwait or the UAE would permit the US to put troops there in the first place? That would be tantamount to declaring that particular country as a target of opportunity to the terrorists and make them terror central. Then you have to think about the supply lines to the troops and the rest of the process. You will have an Iraq not yet capable of defending itself totally surrounded by countries inimical to it and with a government that is trying to pull the country together. You will also have the LLL out there complaining that we let the Iraqis down and it just goes to show that the Middle Easterners don't want a democracy.

If we put that force anywhere else then the supply lines would mean that by the time the rapid response force got there they would be too late or the intial force would be destroyed before the main backups would get there. Just a ludicrous situation to even suggest.

As to Dean saying what Bush said last year, where is he doing that. Dean has said since he started running for pres that he did not support the war. He still doesn't and is doing all he can to ruin the chances of winning it. That bit of him with Code Pink loonies is really fitting since their position is what his has always been.

The portrayal of Murtha as a war supporter who changed and is now coming up with new ideas is another ludicrous one. The man has been against the war for at least the past 2 years. He was a hero in his one year at war. He then spent 29 years in the Reserves playing his 2 weeks summer camp and getting promoted. Where does he gain all his knowledge as being the great tactician on war from that. He was not in favor of Gulf War I and he has not been in favor of this war either. Yet we hear how this great genius has spoken and we should bow down to his abilities instead of listening to the (unreported) speeches of the generals who are running the war.

Jacques Cuze said...

Former First Amendment Litigator Glenn Greenwald says what new is old. That Dean was right

"I've seen this before in my life. This is the same situation we had in Vietnam. Everybody then kept saying, 'just another year, just stay the course, we'll have a victory.' Well, we didn't have a victory, and this policy cost the lives of an additional 25,000 troops because we were too stubborn to recognize what was happening."

Whatever else one thought of Dean’s remarks, and whatever one’s views are on the propriety of analogizing the conflict in Iraq with Vietnam, Dean’s equating of the Bush Administration’s statements about the Iraq war to the statements which Americans heard from their Government throughout the duration of the Vietnam War was absolutely, indisputably accurate as a matter of historical fact.

He goes on to show that the promising statements we hear today are virtually identical to what we heard about Vietnam from our politicans, generals, and even the man on the street from 1962 to 1975.

Ann, this was when you were a young woman, from 12 years old to 25 years old. Doesn't this ring a bell?