The Blue Pages

. . . rantings from a young Democrat inside the beltway and outside the loop

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Bipartisan Solution to Iraq?

Interesting op-ed in the LA Times today by GOP consultant Mike Murphy on what Bush should do next in his conduct of the Iraq War. The gist of his argument: Bush needs to draft Democrats to help him run the war in Iraq.

Murphy says: "[Bush] should establish a bipartisan war council made up of his national security team and the Democratic leaders of the key national security committees in Congress. Under the president's leadership, this council would conduct the Iraq war, becoming the key coordinating vehicle for Iraqi policy. The president would not cede his authority as commander in chief, but he would work with this group — which would include such leaders as Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Reps. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) and Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) — to develop a consensus policy for Iraq."

He continues: "The war in Iraq has become partisan — and partisan wars are impossible to fight successfully. . . . Developing compromise inside such a war council would not be easy. The president would find ceding power a very bitter pill to swallow, and his Democratic critics would find that the Iraq war is much easier to criticize than to manage. But only legitimate bipartisanship can give the president back the authority he needs to move diplomatically and militarily."

So, first, let's get all the criticisms out of the way: this is a radical solution, and an imperfect one, and one that I could not imagine happening in any administration, least of all this one. I'm not crazy about conducting a war by committee either.

But all of that aside, I do like the general principle behind the idea, which is that issues of war and security should rise beyond partisanship. If we give both parties a stake in conducting this war, I think we may start to see solutions that are less partisan and more pragmatist. Additionally, those running the war will hopefully focus more on what the right moves are in the war, as opposed to what their opponents will say about those moves: the bipartisan council would own a decision to withdraw troops just as they would own a decision to increase troops.

This war's been so bungled and disastrous from the beginning, maybe it would take a radical solution like this to really help us make the right decisions over there.


  • At 2:14 PM, Blogger Minor Ripper said…

    Great post, thanks. Don't know if you've seen this David Letterman clip with Our Fearless Leader in it, but its pretty funny--

  • At 5:43 PM, Anonymous arman said…

    according to a BBC article Silvestre Reyes who was mentioned as a potential member of this council dosn't know that much about the terrorist organizations he is up against.

  • At 9:58 PM, Anonymous Dave said…

    I am going to go ahead and totally disagree, first from my own standpoint and second from the Dems'.
    The President is the Commander in Chief. Any arbitrary group of people has no authority of this kind. It would weaken the office of the president to diminish his role as C-i-C in this way. Second, this will send a message to everyone abroad that the President has no idea what he is doing and needs help. Fun thought for the Democrats, but this is not an impression that the United States can afford to convey. Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking the current message of incompetence is worse. Maybe. But frankly, it's one thing for Bush to consult with people and then make a decision on how to change the direction and quite another to give others a level of authority that should be reserved for the man in the Oval Office.
    Also, politically speaking, the Democrats won't want to do this. There is no good guy in here, no winner. Iraq is lost, even if we manage to save face a little. And the truth is that Bush lost it. Why on earth would Dems want ownership of this on any level? They finally won the national security fight after all these years. People think they're in worse hands with Republicans in power. The last thing Dems should do going into '08 is allow the GOP to say "well, the dems had the power to fix it and didn't." No, let Bush own it and ride the wave of failure into '08.
    You may be thinking, if Dems get on such a council, the President listens to them, and the tide turns for the better, a) the country will be in better shape and b) the dems will be credited for saving Iraq. Iraq is lost. Bottom line. Even if things get considerably better, it is a failure and will be for the near future (at least until Nov. 08). Dems should make recommendations from Congress and otherwise let the Republicans sink in the quagmire that is Iraq.


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