« Zimbabwe Melts Down | Main | Cully Stimson Update »

January 30, 2007

Comments

The 'bad' and 'worse' in this case don't have anything to do with the reality for Iraq, the U.S., or the region, but solely with the political situation for Dick Cheney, George Bush, and the Republican Party.

The most brazen, distasteful, and almost literal example of "political football" I have ever seen.

Spending Sunday afternoon and all day Monday in the company of people committed not to political positioning, but to actually ending the occupation and bringing the troops home, has lowered my tolerance -- but I doubt I'd have had a very different reaction earlier.

Good post.

How do you feel about Hagel?

Note that theory argues for going for it on fourth down (depending on field position) much more often than current practice. If stuck with that analogy I'd say we know our running back fumbles 80% of the time so punting is the best option...

"The surge is being poorly implemented."

What a shock. Anybody ever see "Clue: The Movie"? I'm a "flames on the side of my face" moment.

Sort-of-related anecdote. I know four guys in their forties (not Andrew) who have been recalled to active duty from the reserves. Unheard of. (And since some of them may or may not be gay, the Don't Ask Don't Tell thing is ridiculous too).

Other scenarios within the football metaphor:

A. It's half-time. Janet Jackson has let slip her nipple, much to Dinesh D'Souza's disappointment, who happens to be the offensive coach for our team. He has ordered the ball deliberately downed without gain no matter the game situation because he feels the other team's reasons for wanting to beat us seem to make sense.

B. All of us are playing the game of football, except for the Bush Administration. They are playing another game, with secret rules and indeterminate goals. The guys in the other uniforms (clearly marked or not) might not be the actual opponents. Every time Dick Cheney is given the ball, he runs for the other team's goalposts.

C. The football is boobytrapped and set to explode. Step away, hit the dirt, and hope your Mom has that armor in the mail.

;)

In other words, he's not lashing out at the opposing spinner and hoping to hit a six over the pavilion - he's playing a steady forward defensive and hoping to wear down the home team's bowling so he can last out until tea. But what he doesn't realise is that he's got 155 to make to win, and the sun's starting to slip behind the sight screen.

Sports analogies. Great.

I'm trying to work out a sports-related analogy for what's wrong with the "surge" - the main problem with it is not that it's likely to make things worse than the status quo, but just that it's another way to avoid facing up to the fact that the US just has to figure out a way out of Iraq.

Maybe it's like a baseball team that won 60 games, and where every significant player is 30 years old or over, deciding that what it really needs to do is sign the two biggest-name free agents on the market to $BIGNUM for 5 years, instead of getting what they can for the players they have and rebuilding. It won't help, and it will only make things harder later.

the only valid sporting metaphor is that the football team is huddled and plotting their hail mary pass, while the coaching staff argues about which play to use on the sidelines. But in fact they're not even playing football; they're standing in the middle a rugby match between two other teams, and the whole thing's a total mess and a waste of everyone's time.

The vapidness of these football analogies is intolerable. For starters, this is not a two-sided conflict.

Glad to see von's bullet points desconstructing the false assumptions. In particular and to rephrase point three, the real question is which faction are we backing? The Iraqis are going to view our effort through that prism, and look to influence our position with the goal of obtaining the most benefit for their faction from American activity (or laying low and avoiding as much harm). The notion that we are going to advance some abstract cause of the overall Iraqi government is fantasy.

If we are going to abuse sports metaphors, this is more like a demolition derby in which the American entrant is the biggest and baddest, but about to run out of gas. So lets step on the gas for one last furious bashing, and see if that helps. Everyone else is hoping to see us bash into a rival before we expire from the scene.
_____________

After the State-side political benefits of the surge fails (by May? November? -- whenever Charles admits to being a defeatist?), what is the next round of Bush baloney to prolong this war? I would vote as the most likely successor some sort of anti-Iran manifesto -- we have to stay in Iraq to keep Iran out. And what is scary about this is that this meme permits Bush to continue to ratchet up the Iran war rhetoric without openly calling for an AUMF for Iran. After all, its still within the scope of the Iraq one, right? Think Cheney or any other neo-cons have already whispered that into his ear?

p.s. -- that would be the vapidness of Lugar's analogies -- I love Thulen's.

I want to know where Lugar got the idea that "the game" is only in the first quarter. That says a lot about how much risk he thinks is acceptable.

Myself, I use the game of quidditch as an extended metaphor. Bush is flying around on his broomstick looking for the Golden Snitch while his team gets massacred by Bludgers. Unfortunately his cheerleading robes keep blocking his vision.

Dick Lugar is one of my favorite Republicans, but Indiana is still a basketball state.

I really do hate sports analogies to war, particularly football. Maybe if the QB were to get a leg blown off during the defensive rush, and a couple of guys on the bench got shot by snipers from the stands, the analogies would make more sense.

We should not fall for this kind of crap. Is it a pause or a surge? Can it really be both? Isn't the "surge" just more of the same shit that Bush has been doing? Sen. Lugar needs to talk to us in terms of blood and broken bodies. If for no other reason to show his understanding of the real world situation in Iraq.

If it is hard nosed, real politics you want to see, then convince the Democratic majority in Congress to pass a resolution expressing unconditional opposition to a continued US military involvement in Iraq and demanding immediate withdrawal of US military forces from there. And accompany that resolution with a "signing statement" that says, in just so many words, that this is the President's war, he can win it or lose it without Congress's help. Put the responsibility for the war, and for conclusion of the war squarely where it belongs, and make sure the voting public knows that it belongs with Bush, not with the Democrats. If he fails, and if he has the support of Republicans, even tepid, like Lugar's, it can be the Democrats -- not Republicans -- who can believably and effectively point out who failed.

Democrats should stop trying to help Bush win, stop trying to get him to withdraw troops, because he cannot, because he does not want to, and because when it becomes obvious that it is Republicans who continue to enable him in his criminal actions, that will be just a few more nails in the coffin of the National Republican Party.

The war is going to be with us until Bush moves out of the White House. There is nothing the Democratic Congress can do to change that reality. So stop trying. Let Bush be his fantasy of a President, and dig his hole in history deeper, while screwing the GOP.

The next President, Democrat or Republican, will have to bring the troops home, similarly to Ike bringing them home from Korea. That President should be a Democrat, and that should be the long-term goal of the Democratic Party. Helping George clean up his mess is not an option.

How many "Last Chances" does he get?

Actually, a far better analogy for the Bush plan is a draw play on third down with 20 yards to go in the first quarter.

so, we can expect another 12 years of this ?

Can we please stop calling it a "surge" and start referring to it as an "escalation"? A surge is, by nature, temporary relative to the rest of the war; and I've seen no evidence that those 20,000 are coming home any sooner than anyone else.

Do I really have to educate all of you who can't seem to understand who, or what, the enemy is? The enemy is a collection of abstractions - things like terror, instability, corruption, disunity and chaos.

Here's my analogy: It's a football game, but the cheerleaders are doing double-duty as the coaching staff. You take it from there.

"I love Thulen's."

Hey, thanks. I thought "vapid", too (Lugar, not Von), and decided to engage in some over the top vapidity. ;)

Incidentally, here's another little football question:

Why was George Bush seen right after the kick off in the first minutes of the game snapping wet towels and whooping it up in the locker room, when everyone else was just starting to get muddy on the field?

And who was that in the dead of night before the game moving the goalposts, redrawing the chalk lines and spiking the Gator-Aid canisters with soporifics.

Hey, I thought Geroge W. Bush was a baseball kind of guy. What's all this other stuff?

Also, let's not forget that when we started this game, after the first string had toppled Hussein, the very same people who are lecturing us on the awful consequences of failure decided to send in the eight year olds in the Pee Wee league to handle the aftermath.

put me down for a 'meh' on sports analogies, also.

I was a student at Northwestern University in the early 1980s when their football team broke the NCAA record for the longest losing streak. At the end of the record-breaking game, the NU students surged onto the field, tore down the goalposts, and carried them through the streets of Evanston to the house of the president of the university, and chanted things there for a while.

I'd like to turn that into some kind of analogy for the current Iraq situation, but I am feeling rather poorly at the moment.

"Hey, I thought Geroge W. Bush was a baseball kind of guy. What's all this other stuff?"

And he was so good at that that he got rid of Sosa.

Is it a pause or a surge?

I suggested "last splash" over at DeLong's, but it hasn't caught on. Great album, though.

Another thing about sports analogies and war: the fact that they are so popular betrays the fact that we have a real tendency to think of war on the model of a sporting event.

In particular, the instinctive tendency of a lot of people is to root for our team simply because they're our team. Questions of whether the cause is just or the conflict is justified obviously don't enter into sports contexts, and this attitude is simply carried over to war by many people.

My suspicion is that people get conditioned to think about war this way from an early age precisely by being encouraged to identify with and root for sports teams. A bad consequence of this is that many people are disinclined to examine whether going to war is justfied in the first place; it wouldn't make sense to ask that about a football game.

A. It's half-time. Janet Jackson has let slip her nipple, much to Dinesh D'Souza's disappointment, who happens to be the offensive coach for our team. He has ordered the ball deliberately downed without gain no matter the game situation because he feels the other team's reasons for wanting to beat us seem to make sense.

That. Is. Awesome.

The 'bad' and 'worse' in this case don't have anything to do with the reality for Iraq, the U.S., or the region, but solely with the political situation for Dick Cheney, George Bush, and the Republican Party.

Right. Of course Lugar (who, sorry Indianians, is a tool) won't come within a mile of stating this obvious point. But I don't see why the Dems can't repeat it at every opportunity: From here on out, the ONLY "strategy" is, run out the clock and leave Iraq to the next guy.

who, sorry Indianians, is a tool

Ok, this is the first time I've seen Lugar referred to as a "tool". Please elaborate.

Damon:

I think losers who keep moving the goal posts is a perfect analogy.

I was a student at Northwestern University in the early 1980s when their football team broke the NCAA record for the longest losing streak.

And I was a student at Purdue at that time. We were happy to assist you in your record-breaking endeavor.

Although...that year Purdue was 3-8. We only beat Northwestern by 13 :(

We were happy to assist you in your record-breaking endeavor.

I have to admit, I was kind of proud of it.

I liked your post Von-- it's good to have you back and posting regularly.

Great album, though.

well sure. as i always say: the only thing better than Kim Deal is two Kim Deals.

I think escalation is also not the right word. Reinforcements at best. With the "surging" troops the US strength in Iraq is afaik still below their top mark in the past.
Btw, is there a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan too to get the manpower for the "surge"? That would be more like sending everybody forward in a soccer match including the goalkeeper.

Lugar's a tool? Lugar's vapid? Sorry, friends, but you're blinded by your own partisanship. Lugar is one of a handful of folks in politics who has consistently behaved like a statesman. His record of achievement in foreign policy -- from the Philippines, to Nunn-Lugar, to this current opinion piece in the WaPO -- has been extraordinary. He is fallible and he has been wrong, but you say more about you, the shallowness of your understanding, and the weakness of your analysis when you are forced to resort to personal attacks.

I do want to thank whomever it was that put D'Souza in my mind as an offense coordinator deciding that the other team should win. Priceless.

Lugar would have earned some nerd points if he compared this whatever-it-is with getting a second shooter upgrade in Smash TV. "Big Money! Big Prizes! I Love It!"

A surge is, by nature, temporary relative to the rest of the war; and I've seen no evidence that those 20,000 are coming home any sooner than anyone else.

Me neither. And in fact I suspect that if the surge fails the next "plan" will be to send yet more troops. Have any of the surge's supporters said anything about what happens six months from now? Shouldn't that be a requirement?

Smash TV - once spent about $10 in quarters at one sitting to try to get to the end of that damn game.

Lugar's vapid?

Tsk, von. No one said Lugar was vapid, they said his analogies were vapid.

'Sides, everyone knows he's not vapid, he's just a lightweight.

I happen to agree with Lugar that we are early in the first quarter of this war, whatever you would like "this war" to mean, and whoever you think is the aggressor and instigator of the war. It is interesting that he said this.

Repeat after me:Iraq is not Vietnam.

Really bad luck to have such ...creature... as President when 9/11 came down, but the war was warming up before he ever hit office.
His failure, presuming it was a failure, has ensured that Americans will be dying in combat every day long after I am dead.

As far as the surge, or Iraq, or Iran, whatever. I suppose there were good reasons for the Eisenhower solution to Korea, but that did not prevent Vietnam. An actual strategy is currently impossible, if strategies are ever possible in multi-generational wars.

If you don't understand why we are are merely at the beginning, please try to understand that a mere twelve years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, here we are in another multi-generational war with an abstract world-wide ideology, unclear goals, but very nice profits for certain segments of society.

Just whole bunches of people, very different kinds of people, who hate us for our freedoms, huh?

that's just silly.

"that's just silly."

Of course it is. Giggly threadjacking by a mindless troll. I will go away.

Carry on.

With apologies to Senator Kerry:

How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for an unsuccessful draw play?

If we must use sports analogies the only appropriate football one is Steve Martin's line about preferring to punt on first down.

von:

Lugar's vapid? Sorry, friends, but you're blinded by your own partisanship.

His football op-ed is vapid -- please try not to kill strawmen when responding.

Have any of the surge's supporters said anything about what happens six months from now? Shouldn't that be a requirement?

The administration response to questions about what happens if plan "A" fails has been, "well, we don't have to go there yet" and minor variations of same. This implies they have a plan "B" that we might at some point implement.

Follow-up questions are clearly un-American.

My http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:LucyFootball.jpg>sports analogy

Lucy van Pelt is far and away my favorite Peanuts character. From her baseball mishaps comes the next Bush administration excuse - "The moons of Saturn got in my eyes."

Everyone else has piled on about the inappropriateness of the football analogy. I'll let that be.

What I want to know is why anyone on God's green earth cares bugger-all about what the AEI's "plan" is. What have they ever advocated that hasn't turned out to be a great steaming pile of manure?

"That is not our plan". That would be pretty much the only argument I can see in favor of the surge as planned.

20,000+ new pairs of boots on the ground is not going to turn the tide. It is, at best, a temporary holding action. If we want to actually secure Iraq, it will take at least the 400,000+ that Shinseki originally wanted. Even that is probably too little too late, too much damage has been done.

In any case, it's academic. For better or worse, 400K isn't going to happen. What we see now in the domestic debate is more or less a slow-motion game of hot potato. The questions now are how we can get out with minimal embarrassment, and who will be left owning the blame. Almost none of it is about what is good for Iraq or the Iraqis.

The "surge" is intended to allow Bush to say, "Well, at least I tried". Then, he will wipe his hands of it, and the mess will land in someone else's lap to deal with. It's the story of his life.

The really serious crap has only begun to hit the fan in Iraq. It might be fast, or it might be slow, but it won't be pretty.

Thanks -

His record of achievement in foreign policy -- from the Philippines, to Nunn-Lugar,

Ah, Christ. I forgot about Nunn-Lugar. Very forward looking, by the standards of our politics. So I'd like to retract my remark about Lugar being a tool.

However, I do share the sense that Yglesias often mentions, that there's been a lot of talk about Republican moderates these last few years, but when the crunch comes, they always seem to vote along with the party.

Well, Russell, you pretty well nailed it.

Which is why McManus and Dave C. have been driven round the bend, not that I mind, in opposite directions of course. The sheer facticity of the tragedy has done us in.

I, of course, feel that the term "moonbat" is a dialing back from how nuts I happen to be.

Have I mentioned, you are are an asset to Obsidian Wings?

Had lunch with Andrew Olmsted the other day.

He seems perfectly normal. Genuine guy.

Off he goes. Here I sit.

sglover: "Ah, Christ. I forgot about Nunn-Lugar. Very forward looking, by the standards of our politics. So I'd like to retract my remark about Lugar being a tool."

It's like the old days here a little bit again. Hey, von, you should hang out more.

"Hey, Von, you should hang out more."

Yup.

Why is it always sports analogies? They're trying to appeal to the 'common man', but they haven't even absorbed the basic lessons of modern advertising. Sports is good, but sex is better. He should be talking about how the proper analogy is that we're in the mouth of a really dirty prostitute. The Bush plan is to move on to unprotected intercourse. But we know if we do that, we're pretty likely to get some unpleasant diseases. Really, we aren't that excited at all and aren't likely to get off if we stay in her mouth. So why not just pull out now since we aren't doing ourselves and favors and the prostitute clearly hates us and would be happier if we were out of her mouth?

That's the way to sell a position on this war.

the prostitute clearly hates us and would be happier if we were out of her mouth

OMG. i can't stop laughing at this.

Frank Luntz is on the Diane Rehm Show this morning, currently explaining that Bush would be having more success with the "surge" if he had only called it "reassessment and realignment".

He's plugging a book, of course, and setting himself up to escape the wreckage of the modern Republican Party with his reputation intact.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad