The day before General Patraeus was to begin testifying before Congress, leading Democrats were pre-emptively discrediting his report.
Leading Democrats on Sunday preemptively assailed the expected findings on Iraq due this week from the top U.S. general in Iraq as "dead, flat wrong" and said that President George W. Bush's calls for continued patience there would simply extend an "unconscionable" and "completely unacceptable" policy.
The pointed comments from the Democrats, including Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a presidential hopeful, and Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, seemed designed to undercut the impact of the much-awaited reports from General David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad.
"This president has no plan how to win and/or how to leave," said Biden, before whose committee Petraeus and Crocker will testify on Tuesday. He said that Bush was putting American troops "into the middle of a civil war to maintain the status quo," adding, "that is unconscionable, and he's wrong."
One has to wonder why it is that Congress mandates such reports if they already know what the report will contain?
While testifying, the General and Ambassador Crocker gave the bad news: the surge is working. The fighting has been hard. There is still hard fighting to do. The Iraqi political system is slow. Getting Iraqi security units up to speed is slow. But things are going in the right direction.
During his two day testimony, the General was called a liar directly and indirectly by those who are most directly invested in having us believe this
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York observed that the general’s report on Iraq required “the willing suspension of disbelief.”
Others left the name calling to others
'No one wants to call [Petraeus] a liar on national TV,' noted one Democratic senator, who spoke on the condition on anonymity. 'The expectation is that the outside groups will do this for us'
Which, of course, they did.
The problem with this is that numerous reports by independent reporters, and even mainstream reporters, corroborate the General's assessment while we can find no one to corroborate Senator Clinton's assessment of Iraq so one has to wonder how she knows what she thinks she knows.
I could point to independent reporters like Michael Totten or Michael Yon (see this too) or Bill Roggio all reporting from in-country and outside the wire. All corroborating the cautious optimism of the General.
But also others from the New York Times, and, on Monday, a report from NPR’s Anne Garrels embedded with the 82nd Airborne Division in east Baghdad. Interviewed by Melissa Block
BLOCK: And, Anne, let’s talk about some of what General Petraeus said today. One thing he mentioned, the military objectives of the surge are in large measure being met. He talked about a drop in security incidents – his phrase – over the past several weeks. Does that jive with what you’ve been seeing and hearing when you’ve been there?
GARRELS: Yes, it does. Most people - most commanders here say that things have improved. But they also say that the gains are still very fragile. The U.S. is still keeping a lid on sectarian fault lines, and they’ve seen spikes in just as recently as July, so they say there could be spikes again. I mean - but the trend, they say, is very much in the right direction....
A lieutenant colonel here said that we learned the danger of handing over to the Iraqi forces too quickly in the past. And I have to say the response, generally, was that Petraeus gave the most honest assessment, laying out the good and the bad that any American military commander here has done, which was sort of a tacit criticism of Petraeus’ predecessors. One captain said to me, listen, we’re finally engaged in counterinsurgency strategy head on and it’s working. Let us make it work.
For many leading Democrats, making it work is not on the agenda.