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November 27, 2007

Sanchez? What were they thinking?
Posted by Shawn Brimley

I found it strange that Speaker Nancy Pelosi would choose to associate herself and thus the entire Democratic party with Sanchez:

"It may be among the strangest of political alliances: a former commanding general in Iraq, blocked from a fourth star and forced into retirement partly for his role in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, and the speaker of the House, desperate to end a war that the general helped start.

But in partisan Washington, the enemy of one's enemy can quickly become a friend, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the new marriage of convenience between Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez."

I think this was/is a very bad idea. Sanchez is right up there with Tommy Franks and Paul Bremer in terms of how they are portrayed in both press accounts of the war and in the emerging histories. In Fiasco, Tom Ricks concludes:

"Sanchez often appeared overwhelmed by the situation, with little grasp of the strategic problems he faced. The opinion of many of his peers was that he was a fine battalion commander who never should have commanded a division, let alone a corps or a nationwide occupation mission."

I can understand the cold political calculus that leads one to believe that getting a news cycle out of this is a benefit, but I think the long-term implications of this will prove much more harmful. I just don't believe this wins over anyone in the military, and in fact most veterans and active folks in my little network think this was quite foolish.


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Am I the only cynic that thinks if his name had been Sanders instead of Sanchez he wouldn't have held that slot?

As a Sanders, I think another Sanders probably would have gotten it too.

I don't think the teaming up with Sanchez is an attempt to score any military votes, just a standard drumbeat against the war thing. I'm not sure the general public actually knows that much about the differences between various Generals. Obviously members of the military are much more informed. That said, I'd wouldn't have used him and I rather hope that this is a one-time association. It still is a mistake, but it might be a fairly low cost one.

It's been argued before, but I think the Dems are a bit too respectful to Generals as a way of overcompensating on security issues. (President Bush should also have fired more and dropped them sooner, but that's a different issue). So it fits into that pattern regardless of his name.

Anyhow Brimley, you may or not be happy to know that this is one issue you agree with Matt Yglesias on.

"Cold political calculus" is a rather grand way to describe the campaign operative's reflexive grab for attention in one news cycle.

This isn't to suggest that some campaign operative is running Speaker Pelosi. There may be more than one. And she may herself think so much like a campaign operative as to make the point moot. In any event, depending on this silly woman to guide the presentation of the Democratic position on the Iraq war or the latest supplemental is just asking for trouble.

It's payback time. Pelosi has got herself a general to counter Bush's Petraeus. At least Sanchez is out of uniform.

The linked article appears in the Washington Post, which has been a constant booster of the Iraq War since before it started. It quotes Senator Lindsey Graham without noting that he's a Republican opposed to Pelosi: "He's chosen to play politics here." Well boo hoo. Graham never said that about Petraeus, who when he was still in uniform wrote an op-ed for the WaPo in 2004 at election time which was full of fabrications. Can we expect Senator Graham to be fair to Democrats? Graham was one of the managers appointed by the House of Representatives in 1998 to conduct the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton.

Jonathan Weisman never mentions General Petraeus in his article. It is one-sided reporting like this, typical for the WaPo, that leads people incapable of independent thought to erroneous positions: --"in fact most veterans and active folks in my little network think this was quite foolish". Sure, foolish because Graham says so. Uh huh. There goes the Republic, the victim of non-thinkers who claim they're thinking.

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