Carol Platt Liebau: The Queen of Hearts Democrats

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Queen of Hearts Democrats

Remember the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland? She's the one who cried "Sentence first, verdict afterwards!"

That perfectly sums up the Democrats' approach to the Petraeus hearings this week. They want to pull out of Iraq [sentence] before they even bother to hear from an expert what the verdict on the surge is. As this piece by Pete Hegseth in the Weekly Standard points out, -- which is working closely with the Democratic leadership -- has already called General Petraeus a traitor. How interesting that the talking points (including the ritual condemnation of the Iraqis' political progress) have been written even before the evidence has been heard.

As Democrats -- or their surrogates -- come out and accuse the General of being nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Bush Administration, let's make sure they mean what they're saying. Are they really accusing General Petraeus, by all accounts a man of honor, of lying about the status of his mission, and willingly allowing his men's lives to be sacrificed in a cause where he's sure the U.S. cannot prevail?

Given poll numbers that indicate more Americans are becoming convinced that the surge is working, Democrat rhetoric is going to have to get stronger and nastier than before - -especially given how many political careers (and ambitions) have been staked on assurances that the war cannot be won. So as the rhetoric heats up, let's ask Democrats to be clear: To say what they mean, rather than resorting to euphemisms and roundabout ways of making serious and unsubstantiated charges in an effort to drive down American morale about the status of the war in Iraq.

As Senators Lieberman and McCain note, one can only hope that, somehow, the Democrats find the courage and the character to change their opinions about and approach to the Iraq war as the evidence warrants.


Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

The primary logical flaw here is the assumption that the Petraeus report offers the only evidence regarding the situation in Iraq. There are other sources of information that have been rolling in over the last month, and they provide compelling evidence that the surge is not working.

Nor can we even say that the Petraeus report is the best evidence. It is being written by the White House, not by a disinterested or objective observer. Mr. Petraeus himself is demonstrably not a disinterested or objective observer. Evidence from biased sources like these does not deserve as much credence as evidence from demonstrably reliable sources.

A month ago, I was happy to keep an open mind about the surge. The evidence seemed somewhat negative about its results, but I saw good reasons to wait for the Petraeus report and withhold final judgement. I still haven't made a final judgement, and I'm still interested in seeing what the report says. However, in that month, we have seen interim reports from the GAO, the IE, a panel of retired generals, and continuing information on civilian casualties, all of which indicate that the surge is not working. I'll add the Petraeus report into the mix but I have to say that the evidence is already pretty strong against the surge.

And yes, I will accuse Mr. Petraeus of being a mouthpiece for the Administration. He's an officer of the United States military -- he's SUPPOSED to be a mouthpiece for the Bush Administration! To put it another way, any officer of the United State military who says anything in public that does not please the Bush Administration is subject to sanctions. Under Article 88, he can be court-martialed for making derogatory comments about any elected official. So let's dispense with this notion that officers of the United States military are independent experts. Mr. Bush is their boss and he can fire them if they even look at him cross-eyed -- and he has already fired generals who didn't tell him what he wanted to hear.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Coyote here.

After one conversation with a retired Air Force officer, Chepe seems to have sharply changed his view on the duties of officers vis-a-vis politics.

Chepe confuses a duty not to contradict with an obligation to lie if ordered to. Consider that Petraeus must submit his report to Congress and to testify under oath with respect to that report. Legitimate questions, to be answered under penalty of perjury, will be the extent to which drafts of the report were submitted to and revised by the Administration.

I see no reason why Petraeus should be vilified as a biased source while the views of others (GAO, IE, etc) are treated as disinterested without the same scrutiny as to background, motives, character and track record.

A better rule would be to scrutinize everyone and everything. After all, Carol and I are from Missouri. Show us!

8:57 AM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Coyote, there's no obligation for an officer to lie -- in fact, an officer is REQUIRED to disobey any order that he knows to be illegal. But there's a huge gap between flat-out lies and spinning like crazy. I don't expect Mr. Petraeus to lie. I wouldn't be surprised if he spins hard.

However, I just ran across this piece that makes a good point: Mr. Petraeus is ambitious and will not sacrifice his career for the good of the Bush Administration. Here's the concluding statement:

It is not clear whether Gen Petraeus will be blunt with Congress next week, but those who know him say it is unlikely he will fall on his sword for the Bush administration. "I am not sure whether he will have the courage to acknowledge with complete candour the awful complexity of the situation in Iraq, and the very real limits on American power," Mr Bacevich said. But Gen Petraeus is no Westmoreland. "Petraeus would be pretty stupid if he tied his star to President Bush, and Petraeus is not stupid."

10:07 AM  
Blogger One Salient Oversight said...

During the Vietnam War a young Colin Powell was given responsibility to investigate claims of a massacre of Vietnamese civilians. He concluded that there was none. Months later the My Lai massacre hit the headlines. Powell obviously covered it up.

There are two sorts of people operating within the government - those who serve the policies and beliefs of the president and those who serve the USA. Those who serve the USA report things accurately, while those who serve the president cherry pick things.

Iraq had WMDs didn't they? The same president who publicly said that Iraq was a threat and had WMDs ready to launch against America and its allies within 15 minutes is the same president who created this report for Petraeus to give. That's why the General's report can't be trusted.

2:55 PM  

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