It hasn’t been 24 hours since Darcy Burner and nine other Democratic challengers introduced their Responsible Plan for ending the war in Iraq, and we’re already seeing a surge of new challengers signing on. Blue Jersey reports both Dennis Shulman (NJ-05) and Tom Wyka (NJ-11) have endorsed the plan, while Darius Shahinfar (NY-21) announced his support in a post to The Albany Project. Closer to home, Larry Grant (ID-01) marks the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion by signing on to the plan, while Left in the West reports that Lt. Col. Jim Hunt (MT-At Large) is on board too.
Meanwhile, down in Washington’s Mexico, where Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick are in a battle for the Democratic nomination to face off against Republican incumbent Gordon Smith in Oregon’s US Senate race, the two candidates issued dueling endorsements just minutes apart.
Novick lauds the Responsible Plan and its creators:
“I am proud to throw my support behind this new effort to build a progressive consensus on ending the war in Iraq in a way that will help that nation rebuild, while reversing the damage the war has done here at home,” said Novick. “Many of the ideas contained in the plan are not new and, indeed, I and others have been advocating for them over the past months. But with this clear set of objectives, I believe that Darcy Burner, Major General Eaton and others are laying the foundation for a coalition that I believe can bring our troops home with honor.”
Meanwhile, Merkley stresses a point that holds as true in WA-08 and other districts as it does in the Oregon Senate race:
“I opposed this war publicly from the very beginning. It’s now long past time to bring our sons and daughters home, repay the debt we owe our veterans, and restore America’s standing in the world,” said House Speaker Jeff Merkley said. “Gordon Smith and the Bush Administration led us into this war and have never offered a plan to get us out. Smith has manipulated and confused the media and the public and done nothing to bring an end to this war.”
That’s a theme that Burner could easily push in her district where Dave Reichert talks about wanting to get out of Iraq, while voting 100% with President Bush on the war. In response to the Plan, Reichert aide Mike Shield even told the Seattle P-I, “I think both sides would agree we have the same plan: We want our troops home as soon as possible.” The difference is, Burner is actually doing something about it, her efforts made even all the more impressive by the fact that she’s not the one in Congress. And in talking to the Seattle Times, Shields sticks his foot yet further in the congressman’s mouth…
A spokesman for Reichert said the congressman believes military leaders on the ground — not candidates for political office — should make decisions about when and how to end the war.
Huh. Last time I checked, civilian control of the military was a cornerstone of our democracy, and a sacred principle that has guided our officer corps for better than two centuries. But, you know, if an independent military works so well in Pakistan, I suppose it would work here too.
So far, Republican efforts to refute or dismiss the plan have been rather feeble, but I sure hope they keep trying, for as long as Republicans keep championing the status quo, the more voters will start looking elsewhere for leadership. The GOP has long attempted to brand itself as strong on defense, but as Julie points out over on Red State Rebels, voters have already started to redefine the notion of national security: “It’s the Iraq recession economy, stupid.”
That in the end is one of the Responsible Plan’s greatest strengths. It does look to the generals on the ground to determine the logistics of the pull-out, but it doesn’t get bogged down in the logistics itself; the generals will receive instructions to initiate a withdrawal, and as they have done throughout our nation’s history, the generals will follow their orders to the best of their ability. Meanwhile, the Plan broadens the conversation to include the political, diplomatic and economic efforts absolutely necessary to achieve stability in the region, to repair the economic, political and constitutional damage done at home, and to prevent a policy fiasco like this from happening again in the future.
If Reichert and his fellow Republicans have better ideas on how to give the American people what they clearly want, I suggest they come up with their own plan, rather than dismissing this one out of hand. In the meanwhile, Democratic challengers, recognizing an opportunity to change the conversation on national security from the current narrow (and pointless) debate over the outcome of “the surge,” will continue to sign on to the Plan in droves.
The Oregonian reports on the Merkley and Novick campaigns squabbling over who was first to sign on to the Responsible Plan, but the real money quote comes from the Smith campaign:
And as for the incumbent, Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore.? “I went to the executive summary and thought Gordon Smith wrote it,” said the senator’s campaign spokesman, R.C. Hammond.
If the immediate goal of the Plan is to change the conversation on national security, then they hit a home run in Oregon. Meanwhile, Merkley elaborates on his endorsement over on Huffington Post.