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A couple of very interesting articles this morning that are already getting a lot of attention from the blogosphere. First, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) has warned that if the progress report due from General Petraeus in September is fairly positive, the Democrats could split on trying to withdraw American troops from Iraq.

Clyburn, in an interview with the video program PostTalk, said Democrats might be wise to wait for the Petraeus report, scheduled to be delivered in September, before charting next steps in their year-long struggle with President Bush over the direction of U.S. strategy.

Clyburn noted that Petraeus carries significant weight among the 47 members of the Blue Dog caucus in the House, a group of moderate to conservative Democrats. Without their support, he said, Democratic leaders would find it virtually impossible to pass legislation setting a timetable for withdrawal.

"I think there would be enough support in that group to want to stay the course and if the Republicans were to stay united as they have been, then it would be a problem for us," Clyburn said. "We, by and large, would be wise to wait on the report."

That is not good news for the left wing, of course. But there is what is very likely much worse news coming from another story. The only Muslim elected to the House, Keith Ellison, who is a Democrat, has just returned from Iraq with a very, very positive report on progress. Oh, they still don't favor the war, but they are also backing away – sharply – from the cut and run strategy of the Congressional leadership.

Ellison, a vocal critic of the Iraq war, said he still believes it was a mistake for the U.S. to invade Iraq.

"But there are 150,000 American soldiers there now, and I care very deeply about them," said Ellison, one of six members on the all-freshman trip led by Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif. "I also care about the Iraqi people. I don't want to see them suffer."

The group met with Iraqi and U.S. military officials, including Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

Ellison said that local leaders in Ramadi told him of how they partnered with U.S. and Iraqi military officials to virtually rid al-Qaeda from the city. Although the lawmakers had to travel in flak vests and helmets, "we did see people walking around the streets of Ramadi, going back and forth to the market."

There have been fewer anti-U.S. sermons as the violence has been reduced, Ellison said, and religious leaders meet regularly with U.S. military officials.

"The success in Ramadi is not just because of bombs and bullets, but because the U.S. and Iraqi military and the Iraqi police are partnering with the tribal leadership and the religious leadership," he said. "So they're not trying to just bomb people into submission. What they're doing is respecting the people, giving the people some control over their own lives."

Ellison said he was particularly impressed watching Maj. Gen. Walter Gaskin, U.S. commander in the Anbar province, greeting people with "as-salama aleikum," meaning peace be upon you.

"And they would respond back with smiles and waves," Ellison said. "I don't want to overplay it. There were no flowers. There was no clapping. There was no parade. But there was a general level of respect and calm that I thought was good."

McNerney, the California congressman, also said he saw signs of progress in Ramadi and was impressed by Petraeus, who argued in favor of giving President Bush's troop surge strategy time to work.

McNerney said he still favors a timeline to get troops out of Iraq — something House leaders may bring to the floor again this week as part of a defense spending bill — but is open to crafting it in a way more favorable to generals' wishes.

The left went into full overdrive yesterday to try to discredit the two fellows from the Brookings Institution who argued that progress was being made. Cracks are beginning to show at this point. I rather suspect that some Democrats are beginning to see that they are painting themselves into a corner by following the lead of Reid and Pelosi.

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14 Responses to Cracks

  1. Robert says:

    The insurgency in Iraq was in its last throes 2 years ago.
    How can’t Patraeus’ report show anything but progress?

    Yum. This propoganda is so tasty!!

  2. Gaius says:

    So Ellison is a propagandist?

  3. Mwalimu Daudi says:

    So Democrat Representatives Ellison, McNerney, and Clyburn, as wel as Michael O’Hanlon, Kenneth Pollack and the Brookings Institution itself are all propagandists the Vast Right-Wing Neocon Chickenhawk Halliburton-controlled War-For-Iraqi-Oil Conspiracy. And now the New York Times!

    Wow. Who knew? Darn clever, those dastardly neocons. Karl Rove strikes again!

  4. madmatt says:

    Ellison got the same green zone tour as all the other pols…what do you think he is going to hear?

  5. Gaius says:

    Nice try.

    Ellison, D-Minn., said he met in Ramadi in Anbar province with the two sheiks, who oversee several hundred thousand congregants.

  6. Dandaman says:

    What’s going to happen, you see, is that the GOP in Congress are heading home to their constituents who are not asking that we leave, they’re demanding.

    That is what you’ll see change in September.

    I don’t get the painting themselves in the corner thing when such a vast majority favor the Dems’ position. Someday one of the Washington elite pundits (or you) will have to explain how it’s out of the mainstream to do what the mainstream wants.

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  8. Gaius says:

    Would that be the will of the the majority of people who do not want gay marriage? Or the will of the majority of people who want illegal immigration stopped?

    Your belief in the will of the people is absolute – for exactly as long as they agree with you and not a moment longer. So spare us your hypocrisy.

  9. psmarc93 says:

    Oh Gaius:
    When nearly 3/4 of the country wants us out of Iraq it’s a majority that doesn’t comapre to the near 50-50 split over gay marriage in the nation. AND this is a false analogy. Yes, we agree with the will of the majority — and that will is coming down hard on Republican congressmen who carry water for Bush’s war, and that’s the point. In the same way that a majority opinion forced congressmen to abandon the bill on immigration, a different majority opinion is bearing down hard on Republicans who defend Bush’s incompetant war to call for a measured withdrawl.
    They may listen to the people, but they will certainly listen to the Pentagon that has clearly stated we simply don’t have the resources to continue this surge beyond Spring 2008 when it all falls apart anyway — not enough equipment, not enough troops, simply not enough money — so as American’s die while the Iraqi puppet government cools its heels on vacation, it might be a good time for Bushies to reconsider their talking points now. A measured withdrawl is inevitable, whatever the reasons.

  10. feeblemind says:

    I don’t mean to take the thread off the topic, but hasn’t gay marriage failed everywhere it has been on the ballot? That is hardly a 50/50 split. I believe even Mass. voters voted down gay marriage.

  11. syn says:

    The fallacy of the Democrats is that they believe it is Bush’s War and not radical Islamic Jihadist war against America. Should a Democrat win the White House in 2008 they will begin spouting the rhetoric that this war is about defending freedom and liberty for all democratic nations fighting against the terrorism of Islamic Jihad.

    So dandaman and psmarc93 if a Democrat wins the White House in 2008 your bosses at Media Matters will be telling you to spout ‘polls’ contrary to the one you’re spouting now. Don’t think it won’t happen? Perhaps you are not aware but you are a mere tool used for purposes greater than your minor existence.

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  13. gil says:


    The Democrats believe that Iraq’s is Bush’s war???

    NOOOOO, how can they possibly think that way!!!!!
    I wander what on heart ever gave them that idea!!!

    Are you in a place with no electricity by any chance, or do you like to pretend a bit too much maibe???

  14. Gaius says:

    Wrong, gil. It is America’s war – Reid voted for it. And the world blames America, not Bush. And the world will damn America, not Bush, for the genocide in Iraq if we withdraw.

    The polls are turning against the left, gil. That is why you’re seeing some Dems begin to bail.

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