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18 June 2005

Iraq Withdrawal?

So I'm back in the United States after a short trip north of the border, and, after a week and a half without internet access, I was surprised by the amount of Feingold-related news.

So, here's a quick sampling of what we had... In no particular order:
Feingold and Fighting Bob, Feingold and Evan Bayh, together in Wisconsin, money matters, and lastly, this just for fun.

However, the two biggest stories were the white powdery substance mailed to his Middleton office, which Jerry Troiano at NJ for Feingold basically has covered, and Senator Feingold's Iraq pullout legislation.

A number of people have made noise about this (including over at the new and improved website), but I want to add my own comments, if I might.

From a Common Dreams press release:

“While I was in Iraq in February, I was able to witness firsthand the truly amazing resolve all of our troops in Iraq – I cannot describe how very proud I am of all of those who serve. It is with that trip and those soldiers in mind that I will introduce a resolution tomorrow that calls on the President to clarify the objectives and timeframe of the current U.S. mission in Iraq, including a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops. And I will work with my colleagues to hold the Administration accountable for meeting our goals and achieving clear standards of success.

We owe our brave servicemen and women a concrete timetable for achieving clear goals, not vague, open-ended commitments. Having a timetable for the transfer of sovereignty and having a timetable for Iraqi elections have resulted in real political and strategic advantages. Having a timetable for the withdrawal of troops should be no different.”

Senator Feingold's resolution is exactly what we've come to expect from him; it challenges the Bush Administration to give us a clear plan and strategy, without demanding an immeadiate, and perhaps unwise, withdrawal. It recognizes that there is still a lot of work to be done in Iraq, and that once we're in, we've got to stay in for some time. After the damage already caused, pulling out now would leave the region even more unstable than it is now. Senator Feingold sees the realities of the situation.

At the same time, though, this recognizes that the public is growing tired of this war. It was marketed as a quick, clean, efficient thing. "Greeted as liberators" and whatnot. Since the initial fall of Saddam Hussein, there has been no clear plan, and absolutely no exit strategy. What we have with Feingold's resolution is a chance to work out the next phase.

There have been some recently who have suggested that Senator Feingold could emerge as the anti-war candidate of 2008. And at first glance, that sounds great. It'll be a great way to be noticed. It'll get a lot of attention, it'll get him in the newspapers and on CNN's "Inside Politics", and it could even win the New Hampshire primary for him. But, in my opinion, it won't win the nomination or the general election.

An anti-war candidate would have demanded an immeadiate withdrawal, and Senator Feingold did not do that.

An anti-war candidate is framed entirely around that issue. If Senator Feingold gets noticed as an anti-war candidate, should he run, it would mean that health care, and education, and civil liberties, and half a dozen other issues that would be important to us would be shoved to the back page. The anti-war candidate makes noise, but doesn't win. He opens up the door for someone else to win. Eugene McCarthy was an anti-war candidate in 1968, and that's exactly what the country needed then to get LBJ out of the race and Robert F. Kennedy into it.

Other events of that race aside, I'd rather be supporting Bobby Kennedy than Eugene McCarthy.

There have been a lot of comparisons between Senator Feingold and Howard Dean, and I agree with a lot of them. But I think people are wrong when they say Dean was the anti-war candidate of 2004, because he wasn't. He was critical of the Bush Administration on numerous fronts, and laid out a good, progressive agenda, and he just happened to be anti-war.

Come 2008, I suspect that most Democratic candidates will be campaigning against the war, only because it's the popular thing to do. That won't be the issue. The issue will be finding the person to lead us out of the war. And that's Senator Russ Feingold.

Sorry for the sort of disjointed post here. It's late, and I'm tired. For those interested, the text of his resolution can be found here.


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