Translation: The whole thing was a big joke

Posted: April 22, 2008 in Headlines, Politics

ISG moves from consensus to conflict


In December 2006, in an effort to build a national consensus on a “new way forward in Iraq,” the Iraq Study Group painted itself as a portrait of bipartisan chumminess, with all political hackery checked at the door.

Sixteen months later, seven of the 10 ISG members are backing presidential candidates with radically different views about how to proceed in Iraq.

Republicans James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger and Ed Meese are supporting Sen. John McCain, who argues that the United States should be sending more troops to Iraq. Democrats Vernon Jordan, Leon Panetta and William Perry have endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has vowed to start bringing U.S. troops home immediately. Earlier this month, Democrat Lee Hamilton endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, who vows to start bringing the troops home and to engage in “aggressive personal diplomacy” with Iran.


Panetta, who served as President Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff, says Hillary Clinton and Obama are closely aligned with the Study Group’s recommendations. “The only one who is not, obviously, is John McCain,” he says.

Meese cries hogwash. McCain’s Iraq views are “by far” the closest to the ISG’s, says the former attorney general under President Ronald Reagan. “I think the principal, the primary, part of the report was we should go on to support the effort in Iraq and we should not cut and run or surrender,” he says. “John is the only one of those three that has taken that position.”


Moreover, in returning to the partisan fray, ISG members may be guilty of doing exactly what they said shouldn’t be done: cherry-picking some of their report’s recommendations and bending others to fit the political angles of the candidate they now support.


While Baker has endorsed McCain, he has tellingly avoided commenting publicly on the Arizona senator’s war stance, focusing more on the candidate’s character than on his policies. Through a spokesman at his Houston law office, Baker declined to speak for this story.

Baker’s co-chairman, Hamilton, says that when it comes to interpreting and applying the report in the context of the 2008 presidential race, “every member of the Iraq Study Group has to speak for themselves.

“I hold firm to the principal recommendations,” Hamilton says, adding that he doesn’t feel “constrained” by the consensus reached two years ago. “It doesn’t give me any heartburn,” he says.

Says Eagleburger: “What that means is he’s walked away from the report, too. We all have.” (source)


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