The State Of Fred Hiatt's Brain

The thoroughly discredited Fred Hiatt, leader of the Washington Post's Editorial Board, faces the abyss. To deny it, he attempts to argue that Senator Hillary Clinton agrees with his views but is afraid to say it loudly:

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton traveled to this crucial caucus state today to assure voters that she would keep U.S. troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future because "we cannot lose sight of our very real strategic national interests in this region." . . . [This] would have been an accurate, if incomplete, rendition of her long address on Iraq policy. That she wanted to go on the record with such a view, but didn't want voters to really hear it, says much about the current Washington bind on Iraq policy.

Actually this column, and the misleading nature of it, says much about the current bind DC Gasbags like Fred Hiatt are in. They are a discredited, much ignored group now. They strive to regain relevancy. Hiatt tries here by simply misleading his readers. More.

What is the basis of Hiatt's assertions? He cites this final portion of the Clinton speech:

But toward the end, Clinton noted that it would be "a great worry for our country" if Iraq "becomes a breeding ground for exporting terrorists, as it appears it already is." So she would "order specialized units to engage in narrow and targeted operations against al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in the region." U.S. troops would also train and equip Iraqi forces "to keep order and promote stability in the country, but only to the extent we believe such training is actually working." And she might deploy other forces to protect the Kurdish region in the north, she said, "to protect the fragile but real democracy and relative peace and security that has developed there."

What does this mean to Hiatt? This:

In other words, Clinton ascribed to what might be called the consensus, Baker-Hamilton view: Pull out of the most intense combat but remain militarily engaged by going after terrorists, training and advising Iraqi troops, and safeguarding at least some regions or borders. It's the position set forth in the proposal of Democratic Sens. Carl Levin and Jack Reed and in the compromise proposal of Republican Sens. John Warner and Richard Lugar. Last week President Bush said it's "a position I'd like to see us in."

Could this possibly be true? Of course not. But Fred Hiatt would like you to think so. Let's consider the Levin-Reed proposal, as described by Spencer Ackerman:

Legislative Mechanism: The Levin-Reed Timeline

How It Would Work: Again similar to a measure pushed by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the chairman of the armed services committee, in the spring. Joined by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) this time, the Levin amendment would start troop withdrawals from 120 days after passage, to be completed by April 1, 2008. In the interim, troops in Iraq would have their mission shift to training Iraq troops, fighting al-Qaeda, and protecting themselves from attack.

. . . Political Purpose: The big enchilada: getting out of Iraq by a date certain. Many Senate Dems clearly think that the public has coalesced around withdrawal, and even in defeat, they'll get the opportunity to distinguish themselves from Bush and the GOP going into 2008 while hanging the war around their opponent's necks as an albatross.

The main feature of Reed-Levin is a binding timelines to withdraw most troops from Iraq. This is not what Warner-Lugar even discusses. And to say that is President Bush's plan is simply lying. What a reflection of the state of Hiatt's brain.

But suppose "everyone agrees," as Hiatt falsely asserts. Then why oh why is there not agreement? Hiatt says:

If everyone agrees, what's the problem? Bush and the Democrats have very different ideas of the conditions needed to move to Baker-Hamilton. (So, by the way, did Republican Jim Baker and Democrat Lee Hamilton when they co-wrote the report.) Bush thinks U.S. troops can pull back only after they have established, with their new counterinsurgency strategy, sufficient peace to allow Iraqi factions to begin making political compromises. . . . Bush, in other words, views Baker-Hamilton as a prize to be won by means of successful combat. According to advisers, he sees himself playing for time, maneuvering so that his successor -- Hillary Clinton, maybe -- will have Baker-Hamilton as an option when he or she moves into the Oval Office in January 2009. Democrats, on the other hand, see it as the least bad response to irrevocable defeat.

(Emphasis supplied.) Which of course means no one agrees. Bush (and Hiatt) still think (assuming Bush thinks is a risky proposition, I really do not believe he thinks anything except avoiding admitting his disaster, sort of like Fred Hiatt) the US military involvement in the Iraqi civil war can bring sufficient "stability" to make the Iraq Debacle less of a Debacle. Democrats, including Senator Hillary Clinton, strongly disagree.

It is simply dishonest to assert that "everyone agrees" when they do not. But it is the last refuge of a discredited disingenuous fool who does not want to admit that the only people who agree with him are Bush, Cheney, Lieberman and McCain.

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    Fred Hiatt (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by virginia cynic on Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 11:15:44 AM EST
    is indeed a disingenuous fool.
    That being said, however, does not force the conclusion that Hillary has a good policy for Iraq. The trouble with  Hillary's current position is that, as usual, she always tries to make sure that she looks tough on military issues and that her position on Iraq has only lately changed.

    The vote on the war should not have been hard. Truly, far too many of the ordinary people saw this one coming, whether we all predicted exactly what would occur or not, we at least realized that it was another neo-colonialist, imperial power excursion into war that would end badly. Hillary's problem has been that she cannot admit her error, so she continues to try to parse her position and in the process gives people such as Hiatt the opportunity to use her position against the democrats and in support of his neocon views and serial apologias for the need to kill people in far away places.

    We expect that from people such as Hiatt but we can certainly expect better from Hillary.

    Fred has a brain? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Edger on Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 11:31:02 AM EST

    The best description of how Bush 'thinks' (none / 0) (#3)
    by chemoelectric on Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 01:30:28 PM EST
    Glenn Greenwald's new book, A Tragic Legacy, is the best description so far of how Bush 'thinks'. Read it.

    It is amazing to me how anyone tries to evaluate Bush's behavior in 'normal' terms.

    It moves ahead of Dr. Justin Frank's Bush on the Couch. Frank doesn't capture Bush's simplicity as Greenwald does.