Best Clinton Moment…

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… in tonight's speech: The commander in chief's claim that his commanders [had assured]* him they can keep order with fewer than 115,000 troops, but that he's going to out-Santa Santa by keeping the level at 138,000. I'll bet there's even some level of micromillinanoparsification at which that claim is literally true! Transcript here.

* The original post, written before the transcript was available, set this verb in the present progressive have assured (indicating that an action happened at an unspecified time before now) rather than in the pluperfect had assured (indicating that an action occurred before another action in the past) as the transcript indicates. It is corrected now as per the transcript—making the buckstopping CIC's blameshifting Little Rock wriggle even more obvious.

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  1. Can we go into every ghetto and make everyone sing God Bless America? Probably not. We can not even do that here at home. We likely will, however, be able to protect out troops, city centers and MSRs, and retain the ability to run down any particularly annoying pests.

  2. Instead of spending money on more troops than we “need,” how about spending it on body armor and armored vehicles for the troops already there? You know, so they’re less likely to be killed.

  3. Jenifur, for the first time you are right. Body armor was not allowed in prewar budgets, and it takes time to drag stuff through the procurement channels, making sure there are a proportionate number of gay midget Hispanics on the payroll of the suppliers.
    Humvees are not supposed to be armored vehicles and adding armor does not make anything but a poor substitute that rolls over real easy.
    Use armored vehicles when armored vehicles are needed. Do not take thinskins into armored territory.
    When My outfit loaded onto the ship at Seattle in 1950, 20% of our vehicles could not move under their own power and had to be towed to the ship [USNS H. B. Freedman]
    God and the Soldier we adore, in times of danger and not before.
    When wars are over and wrongs are righted, God is forgotten and the soldier slighted.

  4. Overall, it was a very good speech.

    It showed a broad _and_ deep understanding of the challenges we face.

    It laid out a visionary goal and also discussed the practical steps necessary to achieving that goal.

    It’s too bad that you can not fit this quality of thought into a 15 second sound-bite for television.

  5. Jennifer writes: “Instead of spending money on more troops than we “need,” how about spending it on body armor and armored vehicles for the troops already there? You know, so they’re less likely to be killed.”

    We probably need all that *and* more troops (and armor for the extra troops).

    Most (2/3?) of the troops who are in Iraq are support troops, not infantry or MPs. So either protection is spotty, or they’ve ended up putting people on patrol who weren’t trained or equipped for it -that’s where you get tank crews on patrol, having to use scavenged AK-47s because as a tank crew they’ve only been issued pistols.

  6. Well, it’s obvious one thing his keepers didn’t rehearse with him was Arabic pronunciation.

    Abu Grayb…

    Abu G……G……Grob?

    Abu Guh-rahb….

  7. “Can we go into every ghetto and make everyone sing God Bless America? Probably not. We can not even do that here at home.”

    Why would we want to? Making anyone sing, “God Bless America”, runs contra to the whole idea of American liberty and is quite un-American.

  8. Hey, Rick, you ain’t one of those castratis who can sing the last line of the Star Spangled Banner without cracking, are you?
    I will admit, since Kate Smith, God Bless America has never been tha same.

  9. Gary Gunnels,

    “And? Please, let’s not get into a discussion about the merits of staying on the ‘original topic.’ ”

    So you’re simply trolling for reaction, then. Thank you for your candor.

  10. No micromillinanoparsification is necessary. Just look at the tense: “Our commanders _had_ estimated that a troop level below 115,000 would be sufficient at this point in the conflict.” IOW, Bush was saying that they made a mistake.

  11. That’s a completely different point than the one Tim is trying to make in his post and follow-up comments.

    Sorry, Brent, but that’s exactly the point I made in the post and the followup.

  12. Here’s what Bush *actually* said:

    Our commanders had estimated that a troop level below 115,000 would be sufficient at this point in the conflict. Given the recent increase in violence, we will maintain our troop level at the current 138,000 as long as necessary. This has required extended duty for the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Light Cavalry Regiment — 20,000 men and women who were scheduled to leave Iraq in April.

    So they thought they’d only need 115,000, but since the violence is worse than they thought it would be they’re keeping the troop levels at 138,000. What’s so hard to comprehend about that statement? And why did you change the tense of “had” to make it sound as if Bush is *currently* being told we only need 115,000 troops, but being a “Santa” by keeping more troops than we “need”?

    You’re barely competent as a journalist. Don’t try to be a spin doctor, too, hm?

  13. Oh this is just too goddamn tiresome. Are you really going to pretend that there was no controversy over the troop levels, and that there is not abundant reason to believe that many uniformed commanders indicated they wanted more? Do you read the newspapers? Have you been awake for the past two years? Do you have an ounce of self-respect? What kind of man are you that you pretend you don’t see a Clintonian shuffle when it’s in front of your eyes? That you crawl on your belly to clean up every dropping your fearless leader lets fall?

  14. Tim,

    There surely are controversies over the troop levels. What is pathetic is you trying to spin this as some sort of Clintonian parsing. Your anti-war rantings (some justified and some not) only make you look like a buffoon, especially if there is no basis for your hyperventilating.

    If it is tiresome, crawl into your hole and rest for a while before your next attempt at being the court clown.

  15. >>Here’s what Bush *actually* said:

    nope, but keep lying

    >>So they thought they’d only need 115,000, but since the violence is worse than they thought it would be they’re keeping the troop levels at 138,000.

    Whatever, just do what your Great Leader tells you frat boy.

    >>What’s so hard to comprehend about that statement?

    because they are neocon lies

    >>And why did you change the tense of “had” to make it sound as if Bush is *currently* being told we only need 115,000 troops, but being a “Santa” by keeping more troops than we “need”?

    nice try, but keep spinning.

    >>You’re barely competent as a journalist.

    you have been fisked freeper. move on to troll somewhere else.

    >>Don’t try to be a spin doctor, too, hm?

    whatever.

  16. “And why did you change the tense of “had” to make it sound as if Bush is *currently* being told we only need 115,000 troops, but being a “Santa” by keeping more troops than we “need”?”

    May be Tim is trying to audition for Maureen Dowd’s role?!

  17. I have to give Bush credit for one of the most lucid explications of strategy and purpose he’s ever given – although he hasn’t set his own bar very high in that regard. My question is why has it taken this most Nixonian of administrations this long to open its mouth and explain itself? My immediate reaction was along the lines of: “There, George, see? That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

    Supposedly there will be one of these talks per week for the next six weeks until the handover. I hope there will be some more concrete poured onto the foundation Bush laid last night.

  18. It’s because I wrote the post before the transcript, with the tense, was available. I shall make the change in the original blog post, and note here that the tense change actually supports my original point: It makes the Clintonian hairsplitting that much more obvious to all but the most prideless Bushbottoms.

  19. Tim Cavanuagh wrote:

    “Sorry, Brent, but that’s exactly the point I made in the post and the followup. ”

    Tim, I’m sorry, but I simply do not get what your point(s) is/are with this. If Bush’s quote *was* in the tense you’ve put in the original post, then your point – “Clintonesque” – stands, and I agree with you. But the transcript, with a different tense than you transcribed, makes straightforward sense, which I think is what people here are disagreeing with you on. But now, you’ve gone and said that what Walter Wallis posted – about “commanders disagreeing” – *was* your original point all along, but no comment to that effect appears in your original post.

    Can you explain further what some of us are evidently failing to understand in your comments here?

  20. That there was, at the very least, plenty of scuttlebutt in the runup to the war indicating a disagreement between the uniforms and civilians, with the uniforms indicating they wanted more manpower and the civilians indicating they didn’t need it. Whether they did or did not need more manpower I, like presumably everybody else on this thread, am not qualified to say. But there was a rather widely known discussion going on about this topic, and for Bush to bring it up-particularly using the verb tense the transcript (and now the blog post) says he used-only to make himself sound like the real manpower hawk is the kind of gnat-straining attempt to dodge responsibility for which Clinton was justly deplored.

  21. The key is, gentlemen, that the 115,000 figure is not “the commanders'” figure, but one that was foisted on them by the administration itself, which repeatedly denounced the professional military’s judgement, and insisted that the operation could be carried out with much less money, manpower, and equipment than the generals were saying.

    Now that the generals have been proven right about the scope of the operation, Bush is trying to pass off the underestimation that came out of his office as something that came from “the commanders.” It is comparable to this administration’s efforts to blame the CIA for overestimating Iraq’s WMD threat, and is the mirror image of its trick of taking credit for the creation of the DHS, despite opposing Congress’s efforts over the course of a year to do just that. Clinton made a habit of this as well, eg welfare reform.

  22. Tim:

    Gotcha. Thanks for the more detailed explanation. Now that I read you more clearly, I agree with your use of “Clintonesque”.

  23. Thanks, Brent. And on that note of agreement, I’m outta here!

  24. Will,

    “It showed a broad _and_ deep understanding of the challenges we face.”

    It showed nothing of the kind; it was the same sugar-coated, wave the flag, follow me like blind mole rats non-sense that we’ve gotten from day one of this misadventure.

  25. “blind naked mole rats”

  26. Brent,

    “So you’re simply trolling for reaction, then. Thank you for your candor.”

    Don’t me accuse me of being a troll, you sack of shit. That was not the purpose of my statement at all. When that elephant trunks rams up your ass, do you bleed?

  27. “…if indeed war should break out, then it would not be in our power to contain or stop it, for such is the logic of war. I have participated in two wars and know that war ends when it has rolled through cities and villages, everywhere sowing death and destruction.

    …we and you ought not now to pull on the ends of the rope … [where the knot of war has been tied], because the more the two of us pull, the tighter that knot will be tied. And a moment may come when that knot will be tied so tight that even he who tied it will not have the strength to untie it, and then it will be necessary to cut that knot. And what that would mean is not for me to explain to you…”

    Nikita Kruschev, Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State, October 26, 1962

  28. A pretty good speech. But I noticed the repeated fumbling of AA-boo Grayb, too. How can he not know how to pronounce it yet? He hasn’t heard the name spoken enough to remember how it’s pronounced?

  29. bahhahahha! The stupid chimp can’t event talk! And did he explain anything? nope, I am still confused. but as Mr. Moore says, this is all for the hook-nosed ones that run the corproations.

  30. WW-

    You were loading up to go to Korea in the 50’s?

    I didn’t realize Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was in effect then, but rock on!

  31. It’s comforting to know I can always turn to Reason to find out whether or not a presidential speech contained politicized phrases and rhetorical tricks to make its subject sound better than reality.

  32. No micromillinanoparsification is necessary. Just look at the tense: “Our commanders _had_ estimated that a troop level below 115,000 would be sufficient at this point in the conflict.” IOW, Bush was saying that they made a mistake.

    Yes, I can see Mike McCurry now, explaining that the President was actually using the pluperfect tense, so his comments were literally true.

  33. Tim, I’ve got to side with DB on this. Here’s the quote from the transcript. Looks pretty straightforward to me, no fancy tense-shifting or parsing necessary.

    “Our commanders had estimated that a troop level below 115,000 would be sufficient at this point in the conflict. Given the recent increase in violence, we will maintain our troop level at the current 138,000 as long as necessary.”

  34. Walter Willis,

    Thinskins are part of the Rumsfeld notion of warfare. BTW, there are more than enough armored vehicles sitting in mothballs in Kuwait to do the job.

  35. Brent Smith,

    Clearly some commanders disagreed with this statement; we know at least one did – Gen. Shinseki. This is a bit of dissembling on Bush’s part.

  36. “with this assessment…”

  37. General Sanchez outta there: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5013551/

    There is a lot of military establishment hand waving in the article about how this is not related to the prison torture issue, but it comes off flat after they admit that he needs to be moved in order to get his fourth star.

  38. Gary Gunnels,

    “Clearly some commanders disagreed with this statement; we know at least one did ”

    That’s a completely different point than the one Tim is trying to make in his post and follow-up comments.

  39. Brent Smith,

    And? Please, let’s not get into a discussion about the merits of staying on the “original topic.”

  40. Oh, there you are, Jean Bart. I was wondering what had happened to you.

  41. Douglas Fletcher,

    My name is Gary Gunnels.

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