Friday, July 13, 2007

The 50,000

Larry Sabato is a creator and purveyor of elite press conventional wisdom, and this wisdom is often and predictable wrong. He has a good round up of the probable Republican presidential field and the fact that unless the Democrats nominate an individual with multiple dead girls and live boys in their closet, the Democrats win the White House. I agree with this analysis and with the further point that the weakest general election candidate is Clinton but she should win in a slugfest.

The more interesting is his analysis of the House and Senate races:

We have heard and seen more than a few Republican leaders brighten up about their 2008 prospects by saying, "2006 was the worst of it, and 2008 will have to be better." They are dreaming. Not only can 2008 be as bad as 2006 for the GOP, it can be a good deal worse. Something we've learned from studying the 220 years of our Republic's elections: the political party that is found whistling past the graveyard usually ends up six feet under.

Dissension about the Iraq War has dominated this week's congressional headlines, but it is unlikely that major change will come this summer. Possibly the last real pre-election window for the Republicans to change the Iraq paradigm will come this autumn....

hat gives congressional Republicans and other senior GOPers the opportunity to give President Bush a political ultimatum if they dare. Either he announces a gradual but noticeable troop pull-out by year's end, or they will join Democrats in going beyond vague benchmarks to an actual, legislatively mandated, de-escalation schedule.

Even 50,000 troops on the way home might well lower the voting saliency of Iraq for much of the public, who would believe the crisis is on its way to being resolved. Then other issues, more favorable to the GOP, could rise on the voters' agenda and give the sitting White House party a real shot at holding its fortress on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Mr. Sabato forgets the recent history on two counts. The first is the never ending cycle that if conditions improve, we'll soon be able to draw down to 100,000 to 110,000 soldiers in Iraq. This is a constant refrain and dark joke. This time it is slightly more likely to happen as the Army is out of brigades unless the National Guard is fully mobilized in the next three months.

Secondly, 100,000 to 110,000 American soldiers and Marines in Iraq will be doing what?

Fighting and dying for no strategic cause, propping up a weak and incompetent government that even under the most favorable grading curve possible is failing miserably given the national intermediate term political objectives as set by Congress. The majority of this country thinks that this war is a mistake, and making perceptively marginal changes to the goals and mission will not change that judgment.

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