Today's Blogs

Withdrawal Symptoms

Bloggers react to an announcement that the United States may begin withdrawing troops from Iraq next spring. They also ponder the future of New York Gov. George Pataki, who won’t seek re-election, and comment on some newspapers’ decision not to run a Doonesbury strip that involved President Bush’s nickname for Karl Rove.

Withdrawal symptoms: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Baghdad today and announced steps to speed troop withdrawal that would bring some soldiers home by next spring.

Many bloggers were skeptical. “Either insurgents could pick up the pace of attacks now to try to ensure that their best basis for recruitment remains in the country, or they could call off activity for now … and be able to cause all the more mayhem once the U.S. pulls out,” warns The Jurist at lefty Canadian blog Accidental Deliberations. “Essentially, the U.S. has said that it’ll allow the insurgents to set the timing of a pullout.”

In a response to a post that supports the decision on moderate blog Balloon Juice, commenter SomeCallMeTim snarks: “We were always going to declare victory and go home, regardless of the facts on the ground. The only question was whether we’d leave Iraq in the midst of a civil war or under the thumb of a Saddam-lite. I admit that I hadn’t considered that we make it a client state of Iran.”

“Clearly the presence of US troops is a double-edged sword: providing an overwhelming military support, but also alienating some Iraqis,” reasons commissar, a Republican at Politburo Diktat. “The Iraqi government has to make a balanced calculation: When can it survive, when can it cope with the insurgency with less (or no) American military support? When that point comes, even if the insurgency is still ongoing, then it will be time for the Americans to leave, or at least draw down significantly.”

Read more about the possible troop withdrawal here.

Looking Out for No. 2: New York Gov. George Pataki confirmed today that he will not seek a fourth term.

The news was met with both skepticism and speculation. “Maybe he realizes that NYS is not really much better off after 3 Pataki terms,” guessesBuffalo Pundit, an upstate blogger. “When New York needed strong leadership and a voice that would cut through the bullshit and institute real change and reform, we had Governor Milquetoast, who talked a lot but appeased greedy unions, mouthy lobbyists, and whomever else Pataki thought would help him politically.”

Does Pataki fear losing? “Eliot Spitzer, who announced his candidacy a while ago, has been kicking George’s ass in poll after poll,” notesGothamloki from New York City. “George didn’t want to suffer the fate he inflicted in Mario Cuomo all those years ago.”

Or does he have his eyes on a bigger prize? “Withdrawing from the contest in 2006 gives him a clearer run for 2008,” reasons London blogger Daniel Owen at Oval Office 2008. “He would be free to travel, raise money and campaign for a full year before Iowa - longer, in fact, because he would have more of a free hand now as a lame duck governor.”

“[T]his all could be a way for Pataki to ease himself into the vice-presidential sweepstakes for 2008,” suggestsThe Yonkers Citizen. “Due to the reality of a heavy conservative influence on the GOP Presidential race, a squishy Rockefeller Republican has little chance to get the nomination. But if a real conservative runs and gets the nod, that person could look to Georgie to balance out the ticket.”

Read more about Pataki’s prospects here.

Conturdversy: Several newspaper editors complained about a Doonesbury comic strip that involved President Bush calling adviser Karl Rove by his real-life pet nickname, “Turd Blossom.” Some papers, including the Kansas City Star, pulled or edited the comic, which is created by Garry Trudeau. Read the strips in question here and here.

“The hypocrisy in this move should be immediately clear to most Americans,” writes Matt at Philadelphia hodgepodge The Tattered Coat. “Beyond the fact that intelligent readers would be able to differentiate between the provenance of a comic strip and an editorial, Garry Trudeau did not make up the name ‘Turd Blossom.’ The term comes directly from the President of the United States. … So, when an editor of an American paper decides that the term ‘Turd Blossom’ is ‘in bad taste,’ he is providing a direct critique of President Bush’s lapsed moral values.”

Branding blog Snark Hunting thinks the story was overblown, noting that out of 1,400 papers that carry the strip, less than 1 percent objected to it: “So why is this really a story? Because America loves a good poop joke.” Daniel Solove at group blog PrawfsBlawg * agreed that the offending word was rather tame. “Since when is ‘turd’ is a four-letter word?” asks the law professor. “I guess since always, but now in more ways than one. I can think of many terms for Karl Rove, and ‘Turd Blossom’ is much nicer than any of them.”

Read more about the Doonesbury controversy here.

Correction, July 29: The article orginally misspelled PrawfsBlawg as PrawfsBlog. (Return to the corrected sentence.)