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Election '08

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Morale Boost or Publicity Stunt?

Last week President Bush flew into Anbar in Iraq to meet with the troops and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki on his way to a conference in Australia. The trip was officially related as the president wanting to meet with Maliki and the commanders on the ground in Iraq ahead of the report to be delivered to Congress this week by General David Petraeus. While that is the official White House line some within the beltway see the motives behind the trip somewhat differently.

Critics of the President called the trip a publicity stunt intended as a staged demonstration of Iraq being safer now after the surge than it was before. Despite heavy security, a nighttime landing and absolute secrecy about the visit White House spokespeople and the President insisted that it was safer in Iraq and that the surge is working. On the heels of the GAO (Government Accountability Office) report that 11 of 18 benchmarks for the Iraqi government set as a condition for future funding of the efforts in Iraq have not been met, it is thought by many Washington insiders that this visit was damage control and preemptive PR for the upcoming Petraeus report to Congress. As Congress will be debating the continued funding of the war that will likely define the Bush presidency, it is an obvious high priority that the reports of progress in Iraq be believed by enough of the members of Congress to pass continued funding for the war.

On the Republican side of the aisle the reports from the GAO and General Petraeus are getting mixed reviews while on the Democratic side there is increasing unity on the calls for a timetable for troop reductions in the region. Taking this into account the administration would likely calculate, as they do with all public appearances, the impact that the visit would have on the desired goal of continued support for the President’s agenda. Only the officials within the administration can truly know the motives for the trip but those who question them raise interesting issues that merit closer examination.

The wild card for the administration in all of this may be the recently released poll conducted inside Iraq by ABC News, The BBC and NHK News from Japan. The poll shows a large majority of Iraqis feeling less safe since the surge began and feeling that the Americans should leave to improve the situation in Iraq. With a strong push for democracy by this administration, it would seem to fly in the face of convention that the American forces would remain despite a clear majority of Iraqis wanting our forces out. As you can see from the charts below, the feelings of the Iraqi people do not match the public optimism of the Bush administration.



For a full copy of the poll questions with results click here.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article. | Visit Troy's blog at http://reform-america.blogspot.com | Visit Troy's MySpace page at www.myspace.com/reform_america

Is The Rhetoric Of MoveOn.org Making Them Irrelevant In 2008?

With the condemnation of their latest ad calling General Petraeus “General Betray Us” by both sides of the political aisle it would seem that even Democrats who have typically supported MoveOn.org are trying to distance themselves from the organization. Over the last few months from some observers views the rhetoric of MoveOn.org has become increasingly radical putting them more and more out of touch with the views of main street America. Has this latest ad finally done what their staunchest opponents could not?

The critics of the organization have said for years that the organization is simply a bunch of left-wing “kooks” that can’t see the big picture and present a distorted view of reality. Other less critical views have noted on occasion that the staffers at MoveOn.org tend to “cherry pick” articles for the quotes and statistics that support their views while leaving out context the lessens the impact of the quoted material. While this is nothing new in the world of politics MoveOn.org has acquired many enemies by allegedly using the same tactics they condemn when used by others.

Beyond the question of the propriety of their tactics is the question of its impact on the membership for the organization. Will their apparent attack on a member of the armed forces help or harm their cause? Many have condemned the Petraeus ad as being unfair and overly personal in its tactics. John Kerry in a statement to CNN said "I don't like any kind of characterizations in our politics that call into question any active duty, distinguished general." The 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee and current Massachusetts Senator did not speak for all in his party but was echoed by others in respecting Petraeus’ integrity. Former Senator John Edwards campaign spokesman Eric Schultz said “Sen. Edwards honors Gen. Petraeus' service and patriotism, but the general is wrong to believe that the American people or Congress should give President Bush's failed Iraq strategy more time.” This demonstrates that while the former Tennessee Senator and current presidential candidate disagrees with the general’s interpretation of the situation in Iraq he does not question the integrity or motives of the general. This seems to be where MoveOn.org and the bulk of mainstream Democrats part company.

With moves like this from MoveOn.org how seriously will mainstream Democrats take them in the coming election? Will moderates look at them as the “lunatic fringe” of the party? While many of the things that MoveOn.org staffers have been able to bring to light have been relevant and important for the American people to know, can this one ad undo much of the positive work the organization has done?

It will remain to be seen if the organization will regain credibility with moderate voters after this public display of what many are calling poor judgment on the part of the organization. Some feel that the general is owed an apology but that is not likely given the bluntly unapologetic statements from Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action Committee saying "We stand by our ad -- every major independent study and many major news organizations cast serious doubt on Petraeus' claims."

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article. | Visit Troy's blog at http://reform-america.blogspot.com | Visit Troy's MySpace page at www.myspace.com/reform_america

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