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BRB

Politiwatch is on hiatus. We’ll catch up with you soon.

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Here’s another look into the struggle between President Obama on one side and General Petreaus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the other on whether or not to remove U.S. troops from Iraq within 16 months. General Jack Keane said recently on NewsHour (see video below) that “no one wants to squander those gains [we have made in Iraq].” He is implying, of course, that anyone [named Obama] who precipitously withdraws the troops would be making a foolish mistake.

Investigative journalist Gareth Porter counters that argument by giving all of the credit for the stability in Iraq to Iran and making a wild claim that senior leadership in the U.S. military is engaging in a “false narrative” by claiming that they had anything to do with it. Of course, in using that kind of fantastic logic, it would follow that 1) Iraq’s stability would not be undermined by an early troop withdrawal, and 2) that Iran, not the U.S., are the good guys in Iraq.

Interestingly, Porter made the same argument to President Nixon 40 years ago by proposing that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam would not cause a bloodbath. He was wrong then and he will be wrong again.

Sam Tanenhaus, the Senior Editor of the New York Times Book Review, offers what he calls “an intellectual autopsy of the [Conservative] movement” on the website of The New Republic. Coming in at a bulky 6,652 words, it’s certainly doesn’t enable my online ADD reading tendencies.

I gave it a cursory skimming, but I can’t bring myself to explore its depths. Actually I’m afraid that a tome titled “Conservatism Is Dead” that was written by a senior anybody at the notoriously ideological NY Times would send me into a rage from which I might not recover for the rest of the day. The concluding paragraph is enough to make me roll my eyes:

What our politics has consistently demanded of its leaders, if they are to ascend to the status of disinterested statesmen, is not the assertion but rather the renunciation of ideology. And the only ideology one can meaningfully renounce is one’s own. Liberals did this a generation ago when they shed the programmatic “New Politics” of the left and embraced instead a broad majoritarianism. Now it is time for conservatives to repudiate movement politics and recover their honorable intellectual and political tradition. At its best, conservatism has served the vital function of clarifying our shared connection to the past and of giving articulate voice to the normative beliefs Americans have striven to maintain even in the worst of times. There remains in our politics a place for an authentic conservatism–a conservatism that seeks not to destroy but to conserve.

Yeah, right. What’s that they say about bulls and pastures?

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said today that the U.S. economic downturn is much worse than political leaders admit and predicted the recovery will take three to five years.

The financial meltdown points to “a much more profound problem than people think” as American industries and education have lost ground to China and India, Gingrich said.

The former Georgia lawmaker told a reporters’ breakfast that the one upside to the crisis is that it might prod reform.

“This is frightening enough that you could have a genuine national conversation about fundamental change,” he said.

Source. If I’ve learned one thing following the GOP, it’s that we should answer any mention of “China,” “India,” “reform” or “national conversation” with one hand on our wallets and the other hand on the Constitution. It boggles the mind to imagine the sort of “fundamental change” Gingrich might be calling for. His comments were just vague enough to be frightening.

The article goes on to describe Gingrich’s evolving view of Sarah Palin, hence the category.

Imagine being so arrogant, so ignorant and such an ideologue that you ignore the expert advice of both Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the architect of Iraq’s current fragile stability, General David Petraeus.  The terrorists are rubbing their hands together in glee today after reading this report about the infighting that has ensued in the wake of President Obama’s foolish decision to pull most of the troops out of Iraq within the next 16 months.

If the situation there goes south like Gates and Petraeus expect it to do, both men will have instant credibility as GOP presidential candidates.  I woudn’t be surprised to hear about either man’s resignation/retirement in the coming weeks.

Dirk Who?

The field of possible GOP candidates for president in 2012 is getting so crowded (Wikipedia now lists 22 names) that name recognition starts becoming a problem. One of the names with which you might not be familiar is Former Secretary of Interior, former Governor and former Senator Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho.

My five minutes of research has turned up a strong conservative voting record, a Rubber Dodo Award and a mistress.

Newt Gingrich did not, as the title of this article suggests, attack Obama for caring too much about civil liberties.  Here’s what Gingrich said:

“I think people have a good reason to be worried about the overall tenor of the way they’re trying to move back to ‘civil liberties matter more than protecting America.'”

What he means is that coddling America’s enemies by giving them the same rights that Americans are guaranteed in the Bill of Rights impedes our government’s efforts to protect its people. I understood that. The issue has been debated so often that he took the liberty of using some verbal shorthand. Perhaps if he had spelled it out for the presumptuous, that “protecting the civil liberties of our enemies matters more to the Obama administration than protecting Americans,” he might not have been characterized as a fascist.

Of course, that would have made no difference to the multitudes of Americans who paradoxically believe that America’s enemies deserve to be protected by our constitution, no matter that our government’s ability to protect its citizens would be (and perhaps now is) greatly diminished by doing so. We certainly live in strange times when people care more about protecting their enemies than protecting themselves.