• The President’s visit to Iraq was a success in that he went to al-Anbar Province which, in the dark days of 2003 and 2004 when I was running things over there, was a place out of which one wanted to stay.
• The visit was a failure in that it was another “surprise” visit. We will know we have accomplished our task in Iraq when visits by major political and governmental figures can be announced in advance like a visit to Jordan or Australia.
• The Congress, which has returned from its August recess investigating important matters in Paris and Madrid, will be up to its collective hips in Iraq to-ing and fro-ing about the surge in the run up to the report which will be issued by Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker in a week or so.
• Following their appearances the Congress will be up to its collective necks in Iraq fro-ing and to-ing about the surge while the Members try to balance what they want to do against how the folks back home will treat them if they do it.
• A good deal of August discussion among US politicians has been centered on the inability of the Iraqi government to make any political progress during their August recess.
• Here in New York City, I came across a local program which featured Mull fave Rep. Chris Shays who made the point that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is trying to balance the interests of Sunnis, Shi’ites, Kurds, local tribal and religious as well as provincial political leaders. Not to mention the interests of the Iranians, Jordanians, Syrians, Saudis and Kuwaitis each of whose interests are largely in conflict with any of the Iraqis interests and with the interests of each other.
• Shays pointed out that the Congress of the US, which has only Republicans and Democrats, can’t get anything done, either and perhaps has set the accomplishment bar for al-Maliki a bit higher than necessary.
• As if to prove Shays’ point, Mike Allen, in a Politico.com piece writes, “So far, leadership aides in both parties say there are not clear signs that a months-long stalemate, largely on party lines, has broken — a standoff that has given Bush latitude to continue his policies even as polls show the war becoming steadily more unpopular.”
• On the positive side, the Senate has confirmed the nomination of former House Budget Chairman Jim Nussle to be the Director of Management and Budget by a vote of 69-24 after a brief flurry of threats to deny the President his choice.
• Senator John Kerry’s (D-Mass) office, in announcing his early, unshakable, and clearly thought-out opposition to Nussle, according to The Hill newspaper, “initially referred to Nussle as the Congressional Budget Office nominee, rather than the Office of Management and Budget.”
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