During a January 8 segment on the Bush administration's possible plan to increase the number of U.S. forces in Iraq, CNN correspondent Elaine Quijano reported that "Democrats are seeking to cast a surge as an escalation of the unpopular Iraq war." But it is not only Democrats who are suggesting that the White House is contemplating more than just a "surge" -- which CNN's own Bill Schneider characterized as short-term in a January 5 report on CNN's The Situation Room. Some of the strongest advocates of sending more troops to Iraq -- including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and American Enterprise Institute (AEI) resident scholar Frederick W. Kagan -- are urging a sustained increase, perhaps one as long as 18 months, as Media Matters for America noted.
Moreover, while Quijano suggested that it was Democrats who were trying to politicize the debate by "cast[ing]" Bush's upcoming proposal as one for "escalation," as Schneider noted, the term "surge" has its own political overtones, which the White House might prefer: "Why 'surge'? Why not 'escalate'? Because 'surge' sounds temporary. Waves surge and decline. 'Escalation' sounds long-term." Nevertheless, Quijano, like numerous other CNN reporters, called the Bush plan "a potential surge" in her very next sentence: "But a senior Bush administration official says the White House views a potential surge as part of a broader political and economic strategy."
From the January 8 edition of CNN Newsroom:
QUIJANO: President Bush hasn't announced his retooled Iraq plan yet, but Democratic leaders are already warning they could use the power of the purse to hold the president accountable if he decides to increase the number of U.S. forces in Baghdad.
PELOSI [video clip]: If the president wants to expand the mission, that's a conversation he has to have with the Congress of the United States. But there's not a carte blanche -- a blank check to him to do whatever he wishes there.
QUIJANO: Democrats are seeking to cast a surge as an escalation of the unpopular Iraq war. But a senior Bush administration official says the White House views a potential surge as part of a broader political and economic strategy, a sentiment meant to answer concerns expressed by some skeptical fellow Republicans.