Saturday, July 21, 2007

N.Y. Times, Hillary Clinton Want Surrender Plan

The Democrats in Congress failed again this week to gain approval for a plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, but their continuing series of failures haven't stopped the New York Times editorial page or Sen. Hillary Clinton from impatiently demanding that the Pentagon produce its own plan for doing just that.

The New York Times editorial pages have grown increasingly ill-tempered of late. They regularly express their dissatisfaction that President George W. Bush simply won't fold his tents, and that he stubbornly insists on continuing to fight the war. It sounds a great deal like the New York liberal newspapers during the Civil War who wanted President Lincoln to give up on the notion of defeating the South. They kept this up long after Sherman had taken Atlanta and the South was on the run.

The latest NYT blast comes this morning in an editorial whining about a curt Pentagon response to a letter from Mrs. Clinton to Defense Secretary Robert Gates asking whether the Pentagon has done any planning for a withdrawal from Iraq.

Responding on behalf of Gates, Eric Edelman, the under secretary of defense for policy, told Mrs. Clinton that "premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia."

This is a no-brainer. It is clear Al Qaeda and its terrorist allies are waiting with bated breath for the Democrats in Congress to surrender Iraq to them. Then, they would take their Jihad elsewhere in reasonable expectation they would have their way.

Clinton denounced the Edelman letter, associating the appeasement advocate, Sen. John Kerry, in her protest. Kerry was the senator who denigrated American military forces in Iraq before the 2006 election. Although he claimed this was a "botched joke," he had to leave the campaign trail and subsequently decided wisely not to bid for President again in 2008. Clinton, if she wants to succeed with her own candidacy, probably ought to put some distance between herself and him.

Meanwhile, the New York Times editorial expressed outrage at Edelman's remark. "Using such an insulting tone with a senator would surely lead to dismissal by any president who respected the Constitutional system of government," the Times fulminated.

The NYT has forgotten the old and always appropriate words of Henry Adams, "You can't use tact with a Congressman; you have to take a stick and hit him in the snout."

But beyond that there is no sign, at least in this particular, that Mr. Bush doesn't respect the Constitutional system of government. The U.S. Constitution requires Congress to assemble a two-thirds majority to override a Presidential veto, and, on the matter of an Iraq withdrawal, no such majority has been assembled. In fact, in most of these tests, the Democrats have failed to even assemble the 60 votes for cloture.

To be fair, it's a given that the Pentagon has done some planning for an American withdrawal, or any other eventuality, in Iraq. The Defense Department has plans for many options, including, I suppose an American atomic attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. But that doesn't mean it would make sense to disclose all these plans. That, as Edelman said, would simply play into the hands of our adversaries.

What Mrs. Clinton is doing politically is clear: She is trying to demonstrate her anti-war credentials in time to parry the push by peaceniks in the Democratic party to deprive her of the party's presidential nomination.

Actually, what Mrs. Clinton would do in Iraq and the Middle East, if she were elected as President is not so clear. At one time or another, she has been on every side of the Iraq dispute, and as late as early this year she told the New York Times that she would opt for keeping some U.S. troops in Iraq.

What the New York Times is doing is clearer: It wants a surrender on any terms. It has long ago given up.

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William Lobdell's overly long piece in the L.A. Times today about his religious experiences as a religion reporter was, it seemed to me, overwrought. The L.A. Times has had success with brilliant personal experience stories by Borzou Daragahi on his four years in Iraq, and Megan Stack, on her reporting in male-dominated Saudi Arabia. But it shouldn't push this too far. Lobdell's story could have been either left on the chopping block or relegated to an inside section.

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CNN and the London Times this morning played as their lead story the unfolding drama of German and South Korean hostages in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has threatened to murder 25 innocent people unless German and South Korean forces are immediately withdrawn from that country. The Jerusalem Post played the story on Page 1 of its Web site, as did the New York Times. and the Washington Post. The latest was that the Taliban has claimed that the two Germans it holds were shot, but the Afghan government insists merely that one of them in Taliban hands has died of a heart attack, while the other is alive.

Meanwhile, the L.A. Times Web site did not have the story on the front page of its sparse Web site, and listed it, in fact, only 13th in a list of foreign news stories on a subsidiary page.

This demonstrates again the hollowness of assurances by the Chicago-toadying publisher of the LAT, David Hiller, that the Web site was going to be dramatically improved. No such improvement is evident yet, and day by day the Web site editors demonstrate their lack of good news sense.

In the meantime, the Taliban put out word that it will execute the 23 South Korean hostages it holds, unless Taliban prisoners held by the Afghan government are exchanged for them. The thugs clearly want to repeat the deal they made last March, when an Italian journalist was exchanged for five Taliban prisoners. But this was a mistake then, and it would be a mistake now. Giving up prisoners in exchange for hostages simply means there will be more hostage-taking.

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