Thursday, December 07, 2006

ISG: Mission Accomplished?

I guess the Iraq Study Group report is meant to be some kind of a political prism, filtering all kinds of opinions diffusively though existing as its own entity. Or maybe it’s supposed to be like an Ouija board or a bunch of tea leaves that can be interpreted or sorted for some desired effect. Others probably read qualities into it like that of a Rosetta stone, a vital part of decoding a solution to the Iraq war.

I don’t know about that, but as an exercise in political ass covering, you could argue that it has at least partially succeeded.

The proof of that to me is the fact that both outgoing U.S. House Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick and Congressman-elect Patrick Murphy praised the report yesterday. Fitzpatrick said the following:

“The report from the Iraq Study Group contains elements of the new strategy that I've been advocating,” Fitzpatrick said. “It would be fair to say that I agree with most of the report.”

The report also addressed what became a thorny issue in the Fitzpatrick-Murphy race: a “precipitous” U.S. pullout from Iraq, which the report said could escalate fighting in country.

“I've been saying that all along,” Fitzpatrick said.
You never said anything “all along,” Mikey. You never had a plan, or even an attempt at one. You never even had a thought about this that you could claim as your own. All you did was throw stones at what Patrick Murphy proposed, which is basically echoed in the report.

As the Courier Times story also notes:

Carrie James, a spokeswoman for Murphy, said Wednesday night that Murphy's plan calls for a withdrawal of U.S. troops within 12 months “which the Iraq Study Group has put forth to start bringing our soldiers home.”
As I noted above, though, this report is symbolic more than anything else. There is nothing whatsoever in it that is binding or enforceable.

Another point I’d like to make is that Sen. Russ Feingold appeared on “Countdown” with Keith Olbermann last night (as noted by Atrios here) and stated as follows:

This report does not do the job and it's because it was not composed of a real representative group of Americans who believe what the American people showed in the election, which is that it's time for us to have a timetable to bring the troops out of Iraq.
I agree with Feingold, and he also notes that the people interviewed for the ISG report includes “virtually no one who opposed the war”; “virtually” is an important word in his statement because John Murtha does appear on the list of people interviewed for the report, as well as George Packer of The New Yorker, who I know would provide a reality-based perspective (as opposed to the amazing inclusion of George Will as an interviewee…no doubt the group thought they needed the chicken hawk-running-away-to-divinity-school perspective).

Also, I wonder why the subject of one of Packer’s great New Yorker stories, Col. H.R. McMaster, was not interviewed by the ISG, since McMaster could tell the group about what he and his regiment achieved in Tal Afar, as noted here:

And speaking of the military, I think the perspective on the ISG report that matters the most is the one mentioned here (leave it to “the grunts” to cut through the B.S.).

Finally, I wonder why “Poppy” Bush was not included on the list of people interviewed. I’m not his biggest fan by any means, but at least he was in charge the last time we prosecuted a successful war in that region (as opposed to his execrable son).

Update: Diarist BriVT at The Daily Kos nailed it here, in particular this passage (regarding another case of Borderius Ignoramus)...'s the point: the Iraq Study Group didn't solve a goddamn thing. They are so enamored of their process and consensus that they just don't see that the world changed. None of their recommendations are bold or interesting. If you gave me a couple days and told me, "Come up with a boring, pale distillation of what the Conventional Wisdom would come up with as a plan for Iraq," I would come up with something almost exactly like the Executive Summary I read.

But they try so hard, and in between the rage I feel toward the hideousness of their self-regard, I must confess to feeling just a little bit of melancholy. The myth of a bipartisan, wise consensus that can lead us out of the mess we find ourselves is a comforting one. It's like sitting in the backseat of the car lost on a family trip with your parents holding the map. You know you don't have to worry because they'll figure out where we're going. And for some, like David Broder I guess, that fantasy has lingered. And seeing it ... well, it's like watching the end of a Shakespeare tragedy. They deserve what the irrelevance that's theirs, but ... there's still a certain melancholy to the whole thing.

But, we're all grown-ups now, and I gave up the myth of the Infallible Bipartisan Consensus years ago. And The Wise Men of Washington have been utterly destroyed by the incredibly destructive force of nature known as the George W. Bush Administration. Bush and his folks gave the final blow to the world that came before, the world of Consensus Building and Calm Deliberation. They crumbled the foundations of all the assumptions that made that world tick, the unspoken rules of decorum, the shared morality of American politics, and the political niceties of seniority and reverance for the inner sanctum of the annointed. And the David Broders of the world who try to bring it back have about as much relevance as someone pining for the return of abstinence-until-marriage. Those days are gone.
So while this sorry ISG bunch including Vernon Jordan and Ed Meese - Ed Meese of Iran-Contra infamy ("let's-get-over-to-the-NSA-and-shred-everything-we-can-before-Ronnie-wakes-up-from-his-nap") - pats itself on the back over their faux bipartisanship, more people will die and America will continue to grow less safe against the very real and legitimate terrorist threat.

"Kumbaya, my lord, kumbayaa..."

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