Legal Nonsense

The Washington Post editorial page, which championed the war in Iraq, gives top billing (upper-right hand of the page) to two former Justice Department officials from the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations who argue that it is unconstitutional for the Democrats to introduce a resolution condemning the Bush administration's strategy in Iraq. David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey don't just oppose the resolution; they oppose introducing it and taking a vote on it. Their argument consists of the kind of legal sleight-of-hand that has led many distrust Washington lawyers.

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The Big Test

Damon Linker's 2007 article looks into the religious implications of a Romney presidency.

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Non Sequitur

Fred Barnes's reporting is always informative, though usually in ways unintended by the author. His latest is no exception. Here, for instance, is a throwaway line about how President Bush vetted General Casey: "[Bush] invited Casey and his family to a meal at the White House last year, partly to size him up by seeing how he interacted with his wife and kids." P.S. I was also somewhat confused by this passage: "His foes regard him as stubborn to a fault and in denial about the poor prospects in Iraq.

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May The Decider Decide?

by Jacob T. Levy I'd be very eager to hear the thoughts of cobloggers Sandy Levinson and Cass Sunstein on the debate over whether Congress may block the supposed "surge" or troops to Iraq ("supposed" because the number of troops being sent is lower than what any surge proponent estimated was the bare minimum to qualify, until a few weeks ago). Joe Biden has said a number of times that he doesn't think Congress has much scope to act, and has been widely criticized among war skeptics and opponents for saying so.

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Learning From Mistakes

by Jeffrey Herf Over the semester break I made time to read Thomas Rick's Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. It's an important book for thinking about whether or not "the new way forward" announced by President Bush the other night has any chance of success. It catalogues the now familiar misjudgments and blunders that the United States has made since 2003, above all invading with too few troops and with no expectation of or plan for a "postwar" insurgency. Yet Ricks' book is interesting for a historian of the twentieth century in another sense.

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Apropos of Ryan's "Macho Dems" piece in last Sunday's NYT, here's a story Democratic Congressman Steve Kagen of Wisconsin recently told about himself to some of his constituents. From the Oshkosh Northwestern (via PoliticalWire): Kagen, D-Appleton, was among a group of freshman lawmakers invited to the White House on Nov.

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Escalation?

There's been plenty of speculation lately that the White House is gearing up for some sort of military confrontation with Iran. First there was his speech two nights ago, in which Bush talked about "addressing Iran and Syria" with a rather menacing undertone. Then the U.S. military raided an Iranian liaison office in the Kurdish city of Irbil and took a couple of Iranians captive--a move roundly denounced by the Kurdish regional government.

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Actually, I didn't know there was a Middle East peace conference taking place in Madrid. But at least three has-beens sent greetings: Mikhail Gorbachev, James Baker and Bill Clinton, who looks back at the Oslo festival on the White House lawn in 1993 as something of a triumph. What it was, of course, was a sham that kept the peace process breathing until it blew up in Clinton's face at Camp David in the fall of 2000. No, Arafat would not accept basically everything he had asked for. Who knows what animates Gorbachev? Maybe he hopes just to be remembered. He won't be.

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Blind Hope As Strategy

From today's NYT: [Bush] put it far more bluntly when leaders of Congress visited the White House earlier on Wednesday. "I said to Maliki this has to work or you're out," the president told the Congressional leaders, according to two officials who were in the room. Pressed on why he thought this strategy would succeed where previous efforts had failed, Mr. Bush shot back: "Because it has to." [Emphasis added.] That seems to be the underlying rationale to Bush's plan.

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What Is Brownback Up To?

Probably the most interesting surge-related development on the right comes courtesy of Sam Brownback. Brownback, you'll recall, is the evangelical-cum-Catholic angling to become the conservative alternative to John McCain. Up until the last few months, he was a pretty reliable supporter of the war in Iraq. But he's since concluded that the war has taken a disastrous turn, and he's become more and more willing to call the administration on it. This all culminated with this week's statement that, "I do not believe that sending more troops to Iraq is the answer. ...

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