Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Blumenauer @ Kos: Face Reality in Iraq

He's not even my Congressman, but I can't tell you enough how great it is to see Rep. Earl Blumenauer continuing to post regularly at Daily Kos. Would that every Congressperson were so willing to take stands, offer insight into his or guiding philosophy, and declare the need for advocacy and action by appealing to the masses rather than cultural and media elites.

So what's on our favorite effete and impudent snob's mind today? In the wake of the public release of the Iraq Study Group report, fittingly it's US policy in Iraq:
I opposed this war from the very beginning. I take no pleasure in having my predictions of the scope of the disaster proven correct by events. Indeed, they were even worse than I imagined. The President has driven us into a cul-de-sac, and at this point the only questions are how long and how heavily we will continue to invest in this situation.

Ultimately, we will leave and, ultimately, it will be extraordinarily unpleasant, if not awful. The Bush administration's mismanagement has broken Iraq and the American public is not willing to allow the further sacrifice of our brave soldiers – who have done all that can be expected of them - and the waste of even more of our scarce resources, so in demand at home and in other places around the world.

This is now about making the best of a bad situation; we are going to leave Iraq before it’s fixed. It will be painful for everybody: the innocent Iraqi victims who will get caught up in the maelstrom, as well as Americans who will be less safe for years, if not generations, to come.

Many people will spend the coming months grasping for straws that just won't work. Instead, we can only try to make this terrible situation no worse and hope that, at some point, it might become marginally better for both Americans and Iraqis. The costs of leaving are not yet fixed - they will be steep and they will be horrible, but, as Dr. Jessica Tuchman Matthews of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said to our House Democratic Caucus yesterday morning, we have a chance to influence just how steep and how horrible through our actions. By any measure, though, the short term is grim and the sooner we admit it the better.
Related to the opportunity that Blumenauer sees in the ISG's report, here's how (and just as importantly, when) he hopes things will play out:
The Iraq Study Group’s report, by endorsing the logic of withdrawal and diplomacy, offers a window of opportunity to make the best of a bad situation in the immediate future. For a president who has put politics above the welfare of the American people since day one, the Iraq Study Group provides the cover to finally do the right thing in a politically expedient fashion. Democrats in Congress should insist on it and hold President Bush accountable if he ignores this unique chance.

The sources available to me indicate that President Bush has demonstrated different mindsets in anticipation of the report's release, being more accommodating in private and obstinate in public. It will be critical to see which side the President demonstrates through his actions.

Action on Iraq needs to be measured in hours and days, not weeks and months. While the control of Congress is changing, the situation in the Middle East continues its downward spiral, becoming more complicated and dangerous by the day, not just in Baghdad but in Tehran, Jerusalem, Beirut and Damascus.

Congress and the President must face reality in Iraq and rise to the occasion.
I like how his charge for action is focused squarely upon himself and his colleagues in Congress, particularly Democrats. If there's one thing Dems can't get enough of over the next year or so, it's going to be reminders to hang tough, stay united, and remember what many of them were elected to accomplish--to hold the Executive accountable. When those reminders come from inside the chamber, so much the better.