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What was more important, surge or decision to go to war?


In another example of how Republicans continually drive -- and dominate -- the political narrative in Washington, the current discussion in advance of tonight's Oval Office address on Iraq is whether President Obama should acknowledge that George W. Bush's troop surge worked.

Here's John Boehner in remarks he'll deliver later today: “Some leaders who opposed, criticized, and fought tooth-and-nail to stop the surge strategy now proudly claim credit for the results… [T]oday, we mark not the defeat those voices anticipated, but progress.”

And here's John McCain in a Wall Street Journal op-ed: "Though most Democrats still cannot bear to admit it, the war in Iraq is ending successfully because the surge worked... It would be nice if President Obama could finally find it in himself to give his predecessor the credit he deserves."

What's striking, though, is how this argument focuses only on what happened from 2007 to 2009, not what happened from 2002 to 2006. As Politics Daily's Jill Lawrence argues, "The issue isn't who supported or opposed the surge. It's who supported or opposed the war in the first place." (Both Boehner and McCain voted to authorize the war against Iraq.)

Lawrence adds, "There are also, of course, the huge issues raised by the way we ran this war once we were in it: the dearth of planning and regional awareness, the massive level of incompetence... Home-schooled 20-somethings with no accounting background chosen to manage Iraq's $13-billion budget. A 24-year-old with no finance experience tasked with re-opening Iraq's stock exchange. Incompetents worrying about smoking prevention while Baghdad burned. Experts pushed out in favor of people whose main qualifications were that they opposed abortion and had voted for Bush. Please, never again."