The Politics of the Iraq Pullout
President Obama’s decision to bring home American troops in Iraq by the end of the year has been red meat for GOP candidates looking to appear presidential or restart faltering campaigns.
Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney released a statement saying: "President Obama's astonishing failure to secure orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women."
According to The New York Times, Romney asked whether the president’s decision had been driven “by naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government.”
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann said on Face the Nation: “This decision seems to me…more politically based than military based. …We'll have more troops in Honduras than we'll be leaving behind in Iraq. And, of course, the problem is there will be an Iran waiting in the wings until the United States is gone. And then Iran will exert its dominance and influence in this region. That's not good for anyone. And here the United States has expended forty-four hundred lives [and] over $800 billion in toil and blood and treasure. And…we're being kicked out by the very people that we liberated.”
Bachmann, whose New Hampshire staff quit at the end of last week, has seen her numbers plummet since winning the Iowa straw poll and is now garnering just 4% support in Iowa where the Jan. 3 caucuses will be the first presidential contest of 2012.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows defending the administration’s position. On Fox Sunday, she said: “…You can't on the one hand say you are all for democracy and sovereignty and independence where people make their own choices and on the other hand say when a choice is made [by Iraq]…that that somehow is not appropriate, because that is what we were there for: to give the Iraqi people the chance to make their own decisions.”
The “Plausible” Mr. Romney
On Meet the Press, columnist David Brooks, a widely respected Republican moderate, said of Romney: “We have one plausible candidate and a bunch of other guys who are prepping him for the Obama onslaught. …We thought Perry was plausible — turned out so far not to be. So they’re attacking [Romney], getting him ready for what Obama is going to unleash on him.”
Cain Train: Trouble on the Tracks
Businessman Herman Cain continues to wow in the polls but has stumbled in recent days – at least if you’re a conservative zealot – on abortion and swapping prisoners at Gitmo for a captured American.
But perhaps most devastating was a front-page New York Times story making a strong case that Cain the self-proclaimed outsider was actually an insider of the most politically odious type (at least in an election cycle) – a lobbyist. The story by Sheryl Gay Stolberg said that in a three-year stint as head of the National Restaurant Association, Cain turned the trade group into a lobbying power that opposed smoking bans in restaurants, lowering blood-alcohol limits for drivers, and a patients’ bill of rights.
Ron Paul’s School Daze
If there is one thing you can say about Ron Paul, it’s that he is consistent – even if that means damaging his own candidacy.
On Meet the Press, David Gregory asked him: “Would you abolish all federal student aid?
”Eventually. …Because there's no authority to do this. And just think of all this willingness to want to help every student get a college education. So they're a trillion dollars in debt. We don't have any jobs for them. The quality of education has gone down. So it's a failed program. I went to school when we had none of those. I could work my way through college and medical school because it wasn't so expensive. So, when you run up debt, you print money, cost goes up in the areas that the government gets involved in--education and medical care and housing. So it's artificial and distorts the economy.”
Paul also said he would get the government out of the housing business by getting rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
On taxes, he said: “Taxation is theft when you take money from one group to give it to, to another, when you, when you transfer the wealth.”
Jack Welch later tweeted about Paul’s performance: “He is different but has a coherent message….”