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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Everything you need to know about Dubya's SOTU address

About 33 minutes into Tuesday night's State of the Union Address (as measured on the C-Span video; boldface mine):

... The result [of provocations in 2006 by radical Sunni elements sponsored by al Qaeda and Ba'athist remnants of Saddam's government, and by radical Shia elements sponsored by Iran, has been] a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we're in. Every one of us wishes this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. Let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory.

When the President of the United States urged our country to "turn events toward victory," Speaker Nancy Pelosi chose not to applaud. Her hands remained folded in her lap:

Speaker Pelosi not clapping

Speaker Pelosi is against victory. There is no alternate interpretation for this image, captured during widespread applause from others just after that line was spoken.

Never mind that a few lines later in the speech, when the magic phrase "support our troops" was spoken, Speaker Pelosi shot from her seat like a rocket. She, of course, wants to "support our troops" — by protecting them, by bringing these "young people" home. And it's true enough that victory in Iraq, or in the broader war on terror, may be impossible to define with precision.

But it nevertheless remains a logical certainty that if you are not rooting for events to turn toward victory, you are rooting for them to turn toward defeat. Only someone willfully blind can fail to see what Speaker Pelosi is rooting against.

Posted by Beldar at 01:35 AM in Global War on Terror, Politics (2007) | Permalink


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» Pelosi Against Victory? from Musing Minds

Tracked on Jan 24, 2007 10:09:31 AM


(1) DRJ made the following comment | Jan 24, 2007 8:45:50 AM | Permalink

Dana Milbank reports she did finally stand but she never clapped. That's deplorable and ironic. Women would suffer the most if Islamic fundamentalism succeeds. In addition, it was interesting to contrast the media descriptions of Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton:

From Dana Milbank in the Washington Post - "Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) barely lifted his head from the speech text in his lap and sometimes rested his finger thoughtfully on his temple. By contrast, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), seated immediately behind Obama, stared vacantly toward Bush for much of the speech, as if daydreaming."

Contrast that with this paragraph from Tom Shales, also in the Washington Post - "Some members of Congress, forgetting they might be in a reaction shot at any moment, also forgot that it's best not to read along with the president from printed copies of his speech that they'd been given in advance. In a telling two-shot, viewers saw Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in the foreground reading from the speech, and thus appearing almost to be asleep, and right behind him New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, quite possibly Obama's major foe in pursuing the Democratic presidential nomination for 2008, looking bright-eyed (and for all we know, bushy-tailed) and appearing to give the president her full and eager attention."

The Washington Post needs to do a better job coordinating which Democratic Presidential candidate their reporters support.

(2) Beldar made the following comment | Jan 24, 2007 9:33:33 AM | Permalink

Thanks, DRJ. I went back and watched again, very closely, the C-Span video. There are at least seven seconds of applause after the "turn events toward victory" line in which the C-Span camera remains in a tight shot of Dubya, showing Pelosi's torso behind him, and she's absolutely motionless throughout that. Then C-Span cut to a wide shot. I counted another 4-Mississippi of applause in that shot, which also reveals a sizeable chunk to the left of the aisle finally standing. As that trickled to a halt, you can indeed see the Pelosi-colored pastel blur rise briefly in the wide shot, although you can't tell if she's clapping. She then seats herself within three more beats -- meantime the rest of the room is still applauding -- and when the camera finally returns to a tight shot of Bush, she's back with her hands in her lap.

And that's actually worse, I think. Speaker Pelosi apparently had to be shamed into eventually standing to support the notion of "victory" by some of her colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle who finally snapped to the obvious truth that voters may punish politicians who are against "victory" even as a concept.

(3) DRJ made the following comment | Jan 24, 2007 3:55:34 PM | Permalink

I agree. It is worse to belatedly stand for a few beats only to sit hastily, both for the reason you give and also because it means she bows to public pressure. If she really feels that "victory" is wrong, then by all means stay seated. She should send a message to the world with her every gesture, but she knows that message would not be well-received. Like most successful modern politicians, she is more attuned to perception than principle.

BTW, I won't wish you good luck on your trial because I'm sure you are far too well-prepared to need luck. So here's to good witnesses and fair rulings.

(4) Dan S made the following comment | Jan 24, 2007 7:45:36 PM | Permalink

May justice result, Beldar, from your trial.

I keep hoping to see some comments on the two big cases in the news. I suspect Nifong is slipping out of the news (hopefully into oblivion), but should be a lot of Libby for a while.

(5) Drew made the following comment | Jan 25, 2007 8:51:11 AM | Permalink


Someone as smart as you realizes that not standing in response to these comments can - and almost certainly does - have many meanings other than "Nancy Pelosi is against victory." That conclusion is absolutely absurd and unsupported by even the smallest shred of identifiable evidence. The President didn't even ask for support for the contention that "victory is better than defeat," he actually stated the contention that "victory was still possible." Perhaps Pelosi doesn't agree that victory is still possible. Even if she feels that victory is no longer possible, that doesn't mean that she is "against victory." For SHAME. For SHAME. Further, you and your commenters condemn her for standing in support of the troops, but she would be condemned if she didn't stand. Pick your poision. Support of the troops does NOT necessarily mean agreement with the strategy of our commander in chief. One can disagree with that strategy and still support fully the brave men and women who are executing that strategy. I am SICK and TIRED of the right arguing that disagreement with the strategy is somehow a failure to support our troops. Nothing could be further from the truth. It would be a deplorable act of cowardice to disagree with the strategy and not to voice that disagreement for fear of being labeled a "troop non supporter." These arguments are all being raised by the right to shift focus from the real issue - Iraq is a disaster created in very large part by our President. Why not discuss that issue instead of posting a blog about whether or not Pelosi stands and claps for 11 seconds during a public relations session?

Andrew Weisblatt
[email protected]

(6) DRJ made the following comment | Jan 25, 2007 2:50:41 PM | Permalink

Andrews Weisblatt,

I think you need to re-read the portion of President Bush's speech that Speaker Pelosi refused to applaud and that you find shameful. If you and she can't applaud the notion that America can still "turn events toward victory," the shame is yours.

(7) Andrew Weisblatt made the following comment | Jan 27, 2007 12:04:12 PM | Permalink


First of all, I never said any part of Bush's speech was shameful. I said that Beldar's wrong analysis was shameful, and it is. Secondly I never said that I agreed or disagreed with Pelosi's position or even that I knew what her position is regarding our ability to "turn events toward victory." I suggest you re-read my comments more carefully so I don't have to spend more time on e-mails like this one.


(8) DRJ made the following comment | Jan 27, 2007 2:57:36 PM | Permalink

Hey, Andrew. I re-read everything and stand by my comment. I guess that means you are doomed to respond to emails like this for eternity.

Have a nice day.

(9) Beldar made the following comment | Jan 28, 2007 6:12:27 AM | Permalink

Andrew is my best friend in the world, a former employer, and a client. He's also a Democrat and will probably, if pressed, admit to being a liberal on at least some issues. I respect him more than I could possibly convey here, including his opinions on subjects like this one on which he violently disagrees with me.

I know from our past conversations that, as his comments suggest, he gets particularly ticked off by what he perceives to be conservatives attacking the patriotism of those who disagree with them. I try hard not to do that. I think, for example, that John Kerry or Nancy Pelosi or Teddy Kennedy believe, on a subjective level, that the prescriptions they endorse would be good for America. I just think they're incredibly naive for the most part, bordering or crossing over into the realm of foolishness. There are indeed folks that are part of the "angry Left," the dKos crowd, who genuinely root for American soldiers to die because they perceive that to be something that will help embarrass or disempower Dubya, and I do question their patriotism. They should be horsewhipped. But I wouldn't put the Speaker in that category at all, even if she's comfortable hanging out with them and taking their money.

I do, however, think it's entirely legitimate to point to Madame Speaker's conduct during the SOTU as emblematic — and just that, nothing more nuanced — of her overall position.

Andrew suggests that she may think the war in Iraq is unwinnable, and that no victory is possible. By God, if that's what she thinks, then she ought to have the political courage to use those exact words. And she ought to say, "Let's quit, let's give up, bring them home because the war is lost," rather than engaging in double-talk and sniping around the edges of every policy the Administration has ever proposed or may ever propose for victory.

That's so transparently foolish that even she knows it would cause a huge revulsion among about half of the voters who've voted Democratic in the 2006 election, though. If America spent 1/5th or 1/10th the energy and resources on the Iraq War that we spent on WW2, there is absolutely, positively no doubt that we could bring law and order to Baghdad, to Anbar province, to the Iraqi borders with Iran and Syria, and beyond. That might or not generate long-term stability in Iraq — I'd agree that without political reform to address the sectarian strife that's run rampant since 2006, it probably wouldn't. But if you measure "victory" as not nearly so many good guys (Coalition forces, Iraqi forces, Iraqi civilians) getting blown up, we could absolutely, positively still achieve victory.

The country doesn't have the stomach for that, though — much less for the expansion of our goals that would genuinely address the Iranian problem. Nancy Pelosi's brand of hypocrisy is the anesthetic that lets uncomfortable Americans pretend, as she does, that these problems are too big for us, and that the only solution is some sort of committee meeting, some "diplomacy" that is going to magically persuade Syria and Iran and radical Islamic quasi-state actors to suddenly make nice and happy.

She's against "victory." I stand by my original post.

(10) Ariana made the following comment | Jan 31, 2007 1:08:07 AM | Permalink

Did you notice Pelosi's reaction when the military hero was introduced? Her face said it all

(11) Charles Vairn made the following comment | Feb 3, 2007 12:13:01 PM | Permalink

When we withdrew from Viet Nam, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, it was at the hands of the democrats and the mainstream media.
When we attacked Afganastan, the first words from the democrats were it is a quagmire, America can't win! Look at what happened to the Russians a position also supported by the mainstream media. The same thing happened when we attacked IRAQ. Now, the democrats are in a race to see who can be the first to get us out of Iraq, again to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and as usual with the support of the mainstream media. All of this because the democrats hate GWB. Unfortunately, this hate spews bile on the American people. The party of defeat and the mainstream has again convinced the weak minded that America is a looser, that President Bush cannot find a winning strategy. I agree that Ms. Pleosi is nothing more than a democrat political animal. Her actions are not in the best interest of the American people.

(12) sherlock made the following comment | Feb 3, 2007 12:58:06 PM | Permalink

The bottom line:

Nightmare scenario for Republicans: defeat in Iraq.

Nightmare scenario for Democrats: victory in Iraq.

The Dems have a fundamental conflict-of-interest between their political fortunes and the fortunes of this country, and its forces in the field. This is the biggest issue in politics right now, the proverbial 800-pound gorilla nobody wants to see. The question that everyone should be asking them at every opportunity is how do they propose to resolve that conflict, and will it be in favor their party or their country.

How about the public's right to know the answer to that one, NYT?

(13) TCO made the following comment | Mar 11, 2007 4:17:58 AM | Permalink

I am "for victory" if it happens as a lucky result. I am not for continuing the policing of a Civil War. IOW, I disagree with keeping our troops there as I beleive "victory" (becoming an overused and ill-defined term) is unlikely to happen.

BTW: I think victory happened when we conquered Iraq. Finding Saddam could be considered another end state. Or hanging him. Defining "victory" as a peaceful, democratic, multi-sect Iraq is like defining victory as having no drug use in the US. It's silliness. And very unlikely to happen.

So I understand why Pelosi might not clap. It does not mean that she wants the mission to fail. It means that she wants the mission stopped as it is unlikely to succeed.

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