Dems Debate the Surge

I missed the Republican debate, but am still sifting through my many emails from the candidates’ representatives. I came in on the Democrats’ debate almost an hour ago. I wasn’t going to post anything on it, until I heard the comments about the “surge.” Charles Gibson told the candidates that there is real evidence that the surge in Iraq is working. (Yep, you read that right. I wrote Charles Gibson. Of ABC News. It shocked me, too.) They showed a short piece about some of the improved security in Baghdad and the dramatic drop in U.S. casualties. He asked the candidates if they were wrong to oppose the surge. Predictably they all said the surge is a failure because there has not been political progress made. Obama said that much of the progress that has been made was due to agreements made between the tribes in the Anbar Province and that those were made (not because of the surge, but) because those in Iraq saw the Democrats win back the Congress in 2006 and decided they would be pulling the troops out so they had to step up [Update: This portion of the transcript from the debate has been added after the jump. The full transcript can be found HERE Bruce Kesler noted the “stolen valor” aspect of Obama’s statement at Democracy Project .] I wanted Gibson to point out that even John Murtha had admitted the surge was working, but I guess that was a bit much to wish for.

A couple of other things…

— Seeing Edwards and Obama team up on Hillary referring to her as the status quo was entertaining. During that segment I wondered if Hillary forgot that the camera was on her the entire time, too. The shots of a non-smiling Hillary staring them down was not particularly attractive.

— Hillary redeemed herself a bit when she later lightened up and answered a question about more people liking Obama by saying it hurt her feelings. She made the point that George Bush was the candidate more people said they wanted to pal around with during previous elections (and we all know how horrible and evil that George Bush is).

Update: I missed the GOP debate, but John Hawkins has a good roundup of the performances of each candidates.

Regarding the surge, Michelle Malkin posted a pretty devastating statement from Romney’s camp which consisted of some quotes from Mike Huckabee.

Tonight, Huckabee Accused Gov. Romney Of Not Supporting The Troop:

Huckabee Said He Supported The Surge Before Romney. “I supported the president in the war before you did. I supported the surge when you didn’t.” (ABC/WMUR, [Unverified Transcript], Republican Presidential Candidate Debate, Manchester, NH, 1/5/08)

One Year Ago, Gov. Huckabee Did Not Offer His Support For The Surge:

Gov. Huckabee, January 2007: “Well, I’m Not Sure That I Support The Troop Surge.” MSNBC’s NORAH O’DONNELL: “We have a Rudy Giuliani, who supports the president’s plan on Iraq. We have Governor Mitt Romney, who also supports a troop surge. How are you different from any of those candidates.” HUCKABEE: “Well, I’m not sure that I support the troop surge, if that surge has to come from our Guard and Reserve troops, which have really been overly stretched.” (MSNBC’s “Live,” 1/24/07)

Update II: The portion of the transcript mentioned above follows:

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SEN. OBAMA: Let me respond. I think the bar of success has become so low that we’ve lost perspective on what should be our long- term national interests. It was a mistake to go in from the start, and that’s why I opposed this war from the start.

It has cost us upwards of $1 trillion. It may get close to 2 (trillion dollars). We have lost young men and women on the battlefield, and we have not made ourselves safer as a consequence.

Now, I had no doubt — and I said at the time, when I opposed the surge, that given how wonderfully our troops perform, if we place 30,000 more troops in there, then we would see an improvement in the security situation and we would see a reduction in the violence. But understand, we started in 2006 with intolerable levels of violence and a dysfunctional government. We saw a spike in the violence, the surge reduced that violence, and we now are, two years later, back where we started two years ago. We have gone full circle at enormous cost to the American people.

What we have to do is to begin a phased redeployment to send a clear signal to the Iraqi government that we are not going to be there in perpetuity. Now, it will — we should be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. I welcome the genuine reductions of violence that have taken place, although I would point out that much of that violence has been reduced because there was an agreement with tribes in Anbar province — Sunni tribes — who started to see, after the Democrats were elected in 2006, you know what, the Americans may be leaving soon, and we are going to be left very vulnerable to the Shi’as. We should start negotiating now. That’s how you change behavior.

And that’s why I will send a clear signal to the Iraqi government. They will have ample time to get their act together, to actually pass an oil law, which has been — they’ve been talking about now for years.

Romney's new strategy
Refugees Return to Iraq