Game On

Wednesday's NYT reports: Democratic leaders said Tuesday that they intended to hold symbolic votes in the House and Senate on President Bush's plan to send more troops to Baghdad, forcing Republicans to take a stand on the proposal and seeking to isolate the president politically over his handling of the war. The White House, of course, takes a dim view: The White House press secretary, Tony Snow, criticized the Democrats' plans.


I don't know whether to laugh or cry at the White House's "New Way Forward" fact sheet. It seems to me a combination of boilerplate ("Agree that helping Iraqis to provide population security is necessary to enable accelerated transition and political progress") and hopeless tasks we've failed at for years ("Plan and fund eventual demobilization program for militias"). And don't forget such gleaming-new ideas as "Vigorously engage Arab states." This way does not lie victory, I say. But judge for yourself. --Michael Crowley

As Mike noted the other day, Joe Biden has been telling everyone that it would be "constitutionally questionable" for Congress to write a bill preventing the White House from sending more troops to Iraq. The most Democrats could do, he said, is draft "a resolution of disapproval." Except, as Marty Lederman pointed out on Sunday, Biden's quite wrong about this. Democrats could very easily write a bill that prohibited Bush from sending in more than a specified number of troops to Iraq.


Saddam, In His Own Words

John Burns has a remarkable, chillingly good piece in today's Times. Tapes made years ago reveal Saddam Hussein discussing the use of chemical weapons against Kurdish Iraqis. Some excerpts: Mr. Hussein sounds matter of fact as he describes what chemical weapons will do. "They will prevent people eating and drinking the local water, and they won't be able to sleep in their beds," he says. "They will force people to leave their homes and make them uninhabitable until they have been decontaminated."[Snip]But it was Mr.


North Country

The day after George W. Bush's reelection in 2004, I found my email inbox flooded with marriage proposals--not all of them in jest. As a Canadian living in New York, I had suddenly become a hot commodity to my despondent Democratic friends, who, along with most Americans, tend to think of their neighbor to the north as a bastion of liberalism. In the movie Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore portrayed Canada as the utopian wonderland long dreamt of by the crowd, where gay marriage is legal and health care is universal.


The Dynamic Duo

Ladies and gentlemen, the photo you've all been waiting for.... No, it doesn't really tell us anything new about Jack Abramoff. It's just fascinating that this photo has always existed--yet took so long to emerge. And as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which obtained the photo,puts it: What else might the White House still be hiding? --Michael Crowley

I'm a little confused by Rich Lowry's critique of this Time column by my colleague Peter Beinart. Over at the Corner, Lowry writes: I thought a few months ago I read and reviewed a book by Peter Beinart complaining that the Bush administration is too unilateralist and too committed to trying to solve international problems alone. Now, in this Time essay, Beinart complains that the Bush administration is deferring too much to allies! I'm sure Beinart has some way to try to square this circle, but the principle here looks an awful lot like whatever the Bush administration does is wrong.


You're Out, Harriet

Anyway, to get back to politics, yesterday Harriet Miers submitted her resignation as White House counsel. The official line is that the president was reluctant to let her go and that she left, as Tony Snow put it, because: "She's been here for six years. It's hard duty." That's probably true.


Two Manifestos

Sorry to bring you this article by Roger Cohen five days after it appeared in The International Herald Tribune, of which he is editor. Before moving to Paris, Cohen was foreign editor of The New York Times. And, although we don't now see his wisdom and skills in the Times regularly, people around the world read it in the Trib. This article is about "A manifesto from the left too sensible to ignore." It is called the Euston Manifesto, written by Brits and put out last March. It has been simmering in Britain ever since.


Wednesday: Richard Lyman Bushman Thursday: Damon Linker Friday: Richard Lyman Bushman Friday, January 5 Dear Damon, I appreciate your moderate and respectful reply to my objections. It is often hard for non-Mormons to understand how Mormons believe all we do. You at least see how Mormon beliefs and our way of life could be satisfying to educated, reasonable people, among whom you presumably would include Mitt Romney. What troubles you is the implication of belief in prophetic revelation: Would Mormons perform any dire deed for their prophet no matter how contrary to conscience?