POTUS SOTUS

I didn’t see anything of real importance in the State of the Union speech tonight. The speech and reactions to it were all reasonably predictable, I thought. I did enjoy watching Pelosi’s reactions behind Bush, and wondered if Amy Klobuchar lost some sort of straw poll that determined she was the one who had to sit next to Lieberman. And, the seating of Hillary behind Obama was choice. I kept hoping the camera might catch her giving him a backrub. Speaking of inappropriate contact, I thought Michelle Bachman (whose Wikipedia entry is approximately 50% of all Wikipedia content, counting every language) was going to start running her hands through Bush’s hair as he walked by her in the receiving line. She looked like one of those girls screaming at the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. That’ll be the highlight of her two years in DC, right there.

But the real highlight of the night was Jim Webb’s response on behalf of the Democrats. According to Brian Williams of NBC (and most likely every other network talking head), Webb declined to use the speech provided to him by the Dem Party and instead penned his own. I’m curious what Pipeline readers thought about Webb’s speech. I thought it was powerful and struck just the right tone. Of course, I have biases that might lead me to that conclusion, such as for Democrats, truth, etc.

Another note about Webb that just struck me in reading his (impressive) Wikipedia site: Contrast Jim Webb with the assclown he displaced, George Allen. In particular, go back and read this article about a development in the last 10 days of that election, when Allen was terrified he was going to lose and pulled out all the stops by declaring Webb was a man of low character because he wrote novels about wartime that featured graphic sex scenes. You wouldn’t think somebody whose own sister had written books about how she had been physically abused by her brother, George Allen, would start arguments about low character and books, but there it is.

Now, tonight, Jim Webb gave a measured, personal, and powerful statement about what our leadership today is and what it could be. He looked, well, Senatorial, and given his own history and that of his family, and their belief in and service to this country, I have to believe his words tonight will strike a chord with Americans of many stripes. It seemed to me Jim Webb had met his moment, and seized it. It’s one thing to be an understated guy running uphill against an incumbent, but once you win, everything changes. Understated becomes thoughtful. “Upstart” becomes “respected”. Among many potential Democratic choices, somebody knew what they were doing when they chose him.

I wonder where George Allen was tonight?

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16 Responses to POTUS SOTUS

  1. schmelly says:

    webb is a studd, great speech. Bush almost looked like he was in the clear after the decent delivery of his vague diet right speech.. but then webb verbally shook the sheit out of em. It was refreshing for the democratic response to have some sack for a change.

  2. pipelineblog says:

    Best line I read today about Bachman’s lechery:

    “Can she give Bush a blow job now so we can impeach him?”

  3. martha says:

    Doug, have you checked out fantasycongress.com?

  4. pipelineblog says:

    Please, Martha. Only people without lives do fantasy politics.

    But yes, I did hear about that on NPR. I think it’s a fantastic idea, though I have to be completely honest and say I have no real interest in following the machinations of Congress that closely. I only do important stuff like the NBA or baseball.

  5. Come on Doug, now that you are a fully loaded, Mac havin’, broadband sportin’ blogger you need to post link to YouTube when you are talking about a video. Or, if you feel fancy, use the “embed” code and get the video right in your post. Let’s see if it works in comments:

  6. I guess that’s a “no”

  7. pipelineblog says:

    Yeah, but I posted that immediately after the speech, and it wasn’t on YouTube yet. Maybe if I had editing or updating capability…

  8. kelly says:

    I’ll have to dig up the response now. I actually thought Bush’s SOU was the best of his presidency if taken by measure of things I am repulsed by and the compromises he’s taking in stride.

    Politically I thought his “iraq” take was folly, but I honestly think he’s taking the right action in IRaq, which takes more sack than any of his bumbles he forced upon us the last 7 years.

  9. brent says:

    kelly,
    i’m not sure that i read your comments correctly. you think that the “Surge”, or whatever you want to call it, is the right action to take now in Iraq?

  10. kelly says:

    I think characterizinghs strategy as a “surge” was a bad political manuever. But increasing troop levels to stabalize and focus on Bahgdad and then over the next 5 years gradually draw down troops allowing for at least a predictable escalation of violence curve at worst, or a hand-off of security issues at best; is appropriate. It prevents an overnight conflict.

    Withdrawl will hasten the pending civil war and draw in Iran and Syria, potentially spilling throughout the region. Tripling troop levels is politically untenable and likely prevents a hand-over of responsibilities. I think it was the harder decision to make politically, and I will give him credit for making the tough decision.

    Iran and Syria both have reason to continue to support the inter-group conflicts as it keeps the US mired in Iraq, and out of their business. So its definitely not going to get better. The only immediate withdrawl scenerio that makes sense to me is one that creates a massive refuge problem for Iran and Syria (Shia and Khurds), and that forces them to deal with that issue rather than develop nukes or poke Israel in the eye. The problem with that advantage, is the reason they’d be distracted, is that they would potentially become engulfed in civil wars of their own. So Withdrawl to me seems like a real showstopper, unless insane energy prices are good …. (and arguably they are from a planetary perspective)…. that may not happen, but it is a gamble.

    Personally I think Bush should be using this problem as a middle east rallying cry, and an appeal to their authority and hand it off to the regional actors in a very public way.

    How much of this he understands is debatable howeve

  11. brent says:

    i just can’t get on board with that kelly. two reasons:

    1) i can’t give bush credit for making a tough decision, because he created the screwed up situation to begin with
    2) 25,000 troops isn’t going to stabilize bahgdad. (i don’t think 350,000 troops would either.) the presence of our troops undermines the legitimacy of any government in iraq. in any participatory government there are going to be groups of people who feel like they are not fairly represented in the government. as long as the government is using the us military to enforce the peace, those people will have a reason to doubt the legitimacy of the government.

    the tough decision is to admit that we have eliminated the viability of a national iraqi government. we should start to transition out of iraq, and just make it the goal of our policy to smooth the transition as iraq breaks into different nation-states and manage the transition as regional powers (iran, turkey, syria) start to fill that vacuum. i think this is basically inevitable, and we will have even less authority to manage this transition if we try to hold it together with more troops.

  12. pipelineblog says:

    I’m somewhat sympathetic to the idea that more troops can make a difference on the ground, but not in the role they are being asked to play, and not absent diplomacy with the two main actors in the region, Syria and Iran. This shadow boxing might get the string-pullers in the Bush Administration whatever it is they are after, but it isn’t clear how it’s serving the short or long-term goals of the U.S. in general.

    I concur with Brent, the train is off the tracks already, and our presence there without a diplomatic initiative just forestalls the inevitable. As in, the disintegration of Iraq politically and socially is inevitable, given events that have transpired. What is not inevitable is the role we will play in helping prevent that, even though the Administration wants us to believe our role is already cast.

  13. kelly says:

    I’m not disagreeing that the civil conflict isnt inevitable, or that Bush is the fuckup that got us here, but I am worried about creating conditions for a favorable outcome. Where our occupation was incentivizing the creation of new terrorists, that time has passed. Most of the combatants are no longer fighting US occupation, they are fighting each other for political control.

    I do believe the speed and timing of that transition is critical. If we announce a withdrawl I would contend it will happen too quickly, and prevent the effectiveness of substitute external actors. We dont need diplomacy to get Iran in, cause no one probably could talk them into it. They will act out of a threat to their own national security after we leave.

    I think the liklihood of a bloodier and deadlier war if we withdrew now is likely. Right now, while there are two main religious factions we hear a lot about, there are actually more like 9 or 10 major factions, some of whom are committing Sunni on Sunni violence (these particular groups tend to me more nationalistic, and associated with the old Baath party and ex military whose stake is to destabalize any external actor). That all the regional powers have a stake in the outcome in Iraq is obvious, getting them to participate above the table (as opposed to surepticiously supporting their favored side) seems critical, and will likely only occur after a US withdrawal. But the fragmented nature of the current conflict leaves little room for any international actor to be effective in Baghdad (US or otherwise). Prior to the “surge” strategy armed forces were doing little to prevent the inter-insurgency skirmishes. The ‘new plan’ is to eliminate them in Baghdad, by actually going house to house and locking it down police state style. As I understand it we are withdrawing from the more remote regions to gather the neccessary force to stabalize Baghdad. Now if we cant get Baghdad somewhat stabalized so that other actors can at least get control around the situation then sure lets get the hell out.

    And also its worth remembering that stabalizing Baghdad and then beating a retreat means that if the Iraqi secruity forces which seem to struggle with everything can’t get it under control, Iranian influence probably means a Sunni beat down and them fleeing to places like Syria…… but thats potentially better than all disparate actors fighting it out on the street, and everyone fleeing the country and destabalizing Iran, Syria, and Turkey collectively.

    All the arguments for withdrawl presume that the civil war is inevitable and that we can save US armed service people’s lives. And I am sympathetic to that. But if another 2500 US soldiers sacrafices means that we can save 100,000 Iraqis and prevent an economic meltdown it seems worth it to me. We owe it to the people of that region we have totally fucked over.

    The only chance of preventing the meltdown is the current strategy. Why not give it one last shot?

    I dont want to help clean up Bush’s mistakes any more than the next flaming liberal does; but at the end of the day I do believe we have a responsibility to help clean up after the motherfracker.

  14. kelly says:

    PS I also think Bush’s stance on Immigration is risky and admirable. Can I pick another fight there?

  15. pipelineblog says:

    His position is fine, compared to that of the far right of his party. And in and of itself, a guest worker program is probably a step in the right direction. But to me it’s treating the symptom and not the cause; I’d like to see more done with Mexico to help improve the economic conditions there to remove some of the incentive for coming over in the first place.

    But, short of simplistic ideas like spending $700 million on economic development instead of a dumb-ass fence, I don’t really have a plan for how to do that. But not building a partial fence is a start.

  16. brent says:

    2500 us soldiers dying will not prevent another 100,000 iraqis from dying. i think that is the warrant missing from your argument. the question should be “does 2500 us military deaths justify a (very) small chance that it might save some iraqi lives”, and i bet you can find at least 2500 people who don’t.

    i’ll pass on immigration. i live in missouri–no one migrates here.

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