Sunday, February 25, 2007

Carl Levin on Meet The Press.

Senator Carl Levin (D-Mi) is on Meet The Press as DeTocq types, and he's taking about a new Senate resolution which would "modify" US troops' mission in Iraq. Two things from the interview jump out: 1. The new resolution offered by the Democrats will have absolutely no effect on the functions of US forces; but 2. Senator Levin was willing to explain some of the behind-the-scenes political strategy.

1. Senator Levin explained that the resolution would state that US forces' mission would be "reduced" to:
-- only supporting counter-terrorism mission
-- training Iraqi troops
-- logistics operations.

DeTocq has news: That's exactly what US forces do now! Should that resolution pass, it might score some points with the public, but in reality it would have no effect on how the military operates. Every single function soldiers perform could easily be shoehorned into one of those broad topics -- every raid they conduct or security operation they run could fall under "counterterrorism"; every time they accompany the Iraqis on an operation, it would be "training"; and everything else would fall into the logistics category.

Furthrmore, the President could potentially exploit that language to say the Democrats passed a do-nothing resolution which is only playing politics.

2. When Tim Russert pressed Levin about remarks made by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) which practically dared Democrats to cut off funding for the troops, Levin responded with aplomb. He simply said that, first, Democrats don't want to further endanger American soldiers by not properly funding them -- he rightly said that Democrats wanted to avoid a Vietnam-type mistake; second, Levin frankly explained that Democrats didn't want to pursue a funding resolution because it would play right into the President's hand. Specifically, Levin said that such a bill would probably lose (because no Senator wants to be seen as "not supporting the troops"), and that the President would exploit such an attempt to protray the Democrats in a negative light.

Good for Levin for acknowledging that Senators and Presidents often play politics. All too often, public officials engage in haughty rhetoric to mask the underlying issues.

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