Connecticut Politics Watch

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Lamont Spinning Again

Well, I must admit that I was surprised when I heard that Chris Shays had pulled an about take on his position on getting the troops out of Iraq. I should have known better – after all, the reports came from MSM and we all know that at times (what the heck – all the time) the MSM shapes what is reported around what fits their POV; what fits their view of how the world should be. As I read more, I found that the “headlines” were a bit misleading. Let’s dig a little further.

Chris Shays has not been my favorite Connecticut legislator, but he has always seemed to stick to his guns with respect to his stances. Take, for example, his continuing stance on campaign finance reform. While his position on this is not extremely popular with his own party, he still keeps trying. So his reported “about face” with regard to Iraq really seemed quite odd – even in respect to his tight election campaign this year.

According to the AP Wire report in the Waterbury Republican-American, Shays said:

"Our troops cannot be there indefinitely," Shays, R-Conn., said Thursday from
London during a telephone conference call with reporters after visiting Iraq for
the 14th time since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. "We need to have a sense of when
our troops can withdraw."


"We should be able to tell the
American people what kind of timeline we can have to begin to draw down our
troops," he said. "It may be a timeline the American people don't want to hear.
It may not be something that brings them out quickly."

From this report it would seem pretty clear what Shays position is. Well….maybe not, but we will get to that in a few minutes.

To her credit, Diane Farrell – Shays Democratic opponent in this election –bucks the Democratic party trend by believing that no exact timetable should be set for the withdrawal of troops. She does believe that Congress should develop an exit strategy. According to the same article:

Farrell, who opposes troop pullback timetables proposed by some in her party, has called for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation in favor of a successor who can develop an Iraq exit plan that Congress supports.

"Congress ought to demand an exit plan," she said.

There has been some fall-out from the original articles and it is somewhat humorous if you are following the antics of Ned Lamont’s campaign. They (under the leadership of George Jepsen – who has been around CT politics forever) quickly jumped on the Shay’s headlines to claim that it shows how wrong Joe Lieberman is. According to an article published in the Hartford Courant by Mark Pazniokas:

Ned Lamont's Senate campaign Friday seized on the statement by Shays, a supporter of the war in Iraq, as a dramatic shift that places Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman in a dwindling minority opposed to considering deadlines.

CNN, MSNBC and other news networks gave prominent play Friday to the ramifications of Shays' new position, which he first announced Thursday on a conference call during a London stopover on the way home from his 14th trip to Iraq.

(Quick side note: Mr. Pazniokas, the writer of the Courant article, has shown a clearly biased attitude in a series of articles on this campaign. Even though his paper officially endorsed Lieberman during the primary, Mr. Pazniokas consistently writes articles that favor Lamont over Lieberman. It is obvious what his bias is, whether he ever admits to it or not.)

"It is a pretty dramatic shift in course," said George Jepsen, the chairman of Lamont's campaign to unseat Lieberman. "[Shays] is buying into the rationale that the Iraqi army, political leadership and security folks won't step up to the plate."

Shays' new position further isolates Lieberman politically in Washington and Connecticut and undercuts Lieberman's claim that Lamont is reckless for suggesting that Iraqis need to prepare for a reduced U.S. presence, Jepsen said.

First off, as with any good spin, Jepsen makes a valid point about what Shays believes. It is probably true that some Iraqi government officials would move more quickly if they knew our troops were leaving. But as far as I know, Lamont has never claimed that “Iraqis need to prepare for a reduced U.S. presence.” Lamont has stated on numerous occasions that the US must pull out and do it now. And there’s the spin. Jepsen tries to make Lamont’s position sound more like what Shays said, while in reality they are completely different POVs. In fact, before this latest kerfuffle, Shays’ and Farrell’s positions were more closely aligned.

I find it interesting though that while Jepsen and Lamont are clearly castigating Lieberman; intimating that he is out of the mainstream for his view that we need to stay in Iraq until the mission is complete, but they make no mention of a similar stance by Farrell. The logic does not make sense. If Lieberman’s position is wrong, then so is Farrell’s. And is the Lamont camp now supporting Shays? Or was this simply that they tried to jump the headlines for more advantage. Sounds more like inept campaigning to me.

But let’s explore further, because there is more to this MSM spin. If you read further into the Pazniokas article, you find:

Lieberman, who is continuing as a petitioning candidate after losing the Aug. 8 Democratic primary to Lamont, told reporters during a campaign stop in New Haven that he remains opposed to Congress' setting a deadline for withdrawal.

"As I've said to you over and over again, the sooner we get out of Iraq, the better it's going to be for the Iraqis and for us, but if we leave too soon for reasons of American politics, it's going to be a disaster for the Iraqis and for us," Lieberman said.

The article continues:

As he flew home Friday, Shays said in a telephone interview from the plane that he remains in agreement with Lieberman that a premature withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq would be a disaster. A timetable cannot be arbitrary, he said.

"I believe if we left Iraq immediately or prematurely, it would result in just what Joe Lieberman sees: an all-out civil war, fuel prices off the scale," Shays said. "Of greatest concern, ultimately, would be that Islamist terrorists would have won. It would make Iran the new power in the gulf. That can't be allowed to happen."


His plan is to establish goals and realistic deadlines that will prod the Iraqis to establish internal security forces and open talks to end sectarian violence - and also reassure the Iraqis that the U.S. will not leave prematurely, he said.

Now wait a minute….this doesn’t sound the way that MSM first portrayed Shays’ stance. They made it sound like Shays decided to “cut and run”, just like Ned Lamont’s position. Instead we see that what he really wants is a better plan for forcing the Iraqi’s to take over security in their country, and allow us to leave when the country is stabilized. Shays’ statements don’t seem much different from what his stance has been all along – to not leave immediately or prematurely.

As for internal security in Iraq – we know several facts that you will never see from the Lamont camp or on MSM. First off, we are over 50% complete with our goal of training and deploying the Iraqi Army. They have taken over large portions of the country and are now firmly in control. This has freed up our troops to help out in the Baghdad area – practically the last bad area in the country. Not only that, but the news from Baghdad is good:

From this article:

Via the Multi-National Force weekly press briefing on Tuesday, August 22, 2006, Major General William Caldwell shared some of the good security news from the past week including the big news that Coalition and Iraqi forced captured "well over" 100 known Al Qaeda terrorists and associates in the last week!

And more here:

Also, just this week- "Coalition and Iraqi forced captured "well over" 100 known Al Qaeda terrorists and associates in the last week!"The official spokesman for the Iraqi department of defense, Mr. Muhamed Alaskari said, "Armed attacks have substantial decline, about a 70% decline compared to the last few weeks." And... The BBC is even reporting the joint operation to improve security in Baghdad is bringing results.

And here:

"God willing, the Americans will stay until the situation gets better."Baghdad businessmanLawk Salih is reporting this good news tonight:
Business has been so good, that business owners like Taha are having a tough time keeping up with the growing demand. He sells everything from dime-a-dozen Nokia’s to high-end camera phones.

The list goes on…….

Bottom line, MSM and their supporters have tried to spin what Shays said into something he did not. Lamont jumped all over it, but no forethought or logic, which goes right along with the Democratic brain trust of Nancy “Can You Read Upside Down” Pelosi and Howard “AIIIIIIIYEEEEEE” Dean.