Friday, September 14, 2007

Durbin and the Democrats: Too critical of partial success in Iraq?

Senator Durbin (D-IL) held a presser on Thursday evening at the Tribune Plaza in the Chicago Loop after President Bush spoke on television to the nation about Iraq and Senator Reed (D-RI) provided the Democratic Response.

The presser lasted about eleven minutes, with Senator Durbin fielding eleven questions from the Chicago media. Below are a few:

Jeff Berkowitz: Senator, General Petraeus argued that there was political progress at the grassroots level (from the bottom up) in Anbar Province as well as elsewhere in Iraq. Do you buy into that and did that [testimony] have any impact on the Democratic Party?

Senator Dick Durbin: I can tell you that when I visited Iraq I ran into some local people who were cooperating with American soldiers at risk of their own lives. I asked about the Central Government of Al-Maliki. They had no use for the Central Government. How in the world is Iraq going to emerge as a stabile nation if the Central Government isn’t respected. And, isn’t making hard decisions.
Jeff Berkowitz: The President argues that oil revenue in Iraq is being shared by the Central Government with the provinces. Do you agree and would that be a sign of political progress?

Senator Dick Durbin: The President’s statement tonight is not consistent with reality. The Iraqi government has failed to pass a law for the division of oil revenues among the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds. And, until they do, they can’t reach a political solution. The President talked about some progress. The fact is that those who have looked at this objectively have concluded that that’s one of the failures of this government.
As the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, it is apparent Senator Durbin has to toe the party line, after he helps develop the party line. However, the Democratic Party line is getting a bit stale. It is to argue, always, that American strategy in Iraq never changes, is not working and that America wants to bring its troops home.

Maybe that was the case, but is it still? General Petraeus testified this week in what, by all accounts was a balanced, objective, partially positive and partially negative assessment of the situation in Iraq. The assessment indicated there was progress by the coalition forces, some in the military arena and some in the political arena.

Both Congress and the President have low approval and credibility ratings. The military, on the other hand, has high credibility ratings. Democrat Senators Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Durbin, Reid and Reed argue, for their party, that President Bush’s surge policy was more of the same, and it has failed. General Petraeus, on the other hand, argues that the Coalition Forces, this year, have a new strategy of counterinsurgency and they are having some significant military and political success in Iraq with that new strategy.

Who will the American people believe? Did the Democrats overplay their hand? We discuss, you decide.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at You may watch "Public Affairs," shows with Presidential Candidates Richardson, Obama, McCain, Giuliani and Cox and many other pols at