ABC News' The Note claimed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in favoring legislation calling for troop withdrawal timelines, "virtually ensured the return of polarized Iraq politics -- and is giving the left the showdown (take two) it craves." But polling repeatedly shows that a significant majority of the country supports withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq in -- at most -- a timeframe that comports with what Reid has suggested.
The September 19 edition of ABC News' The Note stated, "Welcome back ... to the left of the Democratic Party, [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D-NV] (and MoveOn.org says thanks)," adding that "Reid ... virtually ensured the return of polarized Iraq politics -- and is giving the left the showdown (take two) it craves." The Note then linked to an article by ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper, in which he reported: "Senate Democrats announced Tuesday afternoon that they were forgoing any softer language in their bills and would introduce Iraq-related legislation as aggressive as that in previous bills -- including two that called for withdrawing U.S. combat troops." The Note called the move "a near-direct response from pressure by the left," but did not explain how Reid's position in favor of legislation calling for troop withdrawal timelines -- which polling repeatedly shows is supported by a significant majority of the country -- can be described as "polariz[ing]" or one motivated by "pressure from the left."
Tapper referred to two pieces of legislation that called for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, one sponsored by Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Carl Levin (D-MI), and another sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Reid. The Levin-Reed bill, as offered in July, proposed that "[t]he Secretary of Defense ... commence the reduction of the number of United States forces in Iraq not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act" and that "[t]he Secretary of Defense ... complete the transition of United States forces to a limited presence and missions as described in subsection (c) by April 30, 2008." The Reid-Feingold bill proposed that "[t]he President ... commence the safe, phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq that are not essential to the purposes set forth in subsection (d). Such redeployment shall begin not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act."
Recent polling indicates that a large majority of Americans -- not just "the left of the Democratic Party" -- would like to see U.S. forces out of Iraq "within the next year" or "over the next year" at the latest, timelines that fall squarely within the Levin-Reed and Reid-Feingold bills:
- A September 14-16 USA Today/Gallup poll, with a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points, asked: "If you had to choose, which do you think is better for the U.S.?" The option "Keep troops in Iraq until situation gets better" garnered 38 percent support, while "Set time-table for removing troops from Iraq," was supported by 59 percent of respondents. Four percent of respondents had no opinion.
- A September 7-10 Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points asked:
I'm going to read you several possible outcomes to the war in Iraq. Please tell me which one of these would be the most acceptable outcome to you.
A) Maintain the number of troops there now, and U.S. troops leave only after Iraq becomes a stable democracy, however long this takes.
B) U.S. troops leave within the next year even if violence in Iraq continues, but some troops remain in the region to prevent the conflict from spreading.
C) U.S. troops begin the process of leaving now regardless of conditions in Iraq.
Or are none of these acceptable to do?
Thirty-seven percent of respondents answered that they prefer "U.S. troops leave within the next year even if violence in Iraq continues," while 26 percent favored starting to withdraw troops now "regardless of conditions in Iraq." In total, 63 percent of respondents support withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq using a timeframe that comports with the bills to which Reid referred.
- A September 11-12 Fox News poll sampling 900 adults asked: "Based on General [David] Petraeus's new report, do you think the United States should ... [p]ull out all troops immediately ... [p]ull out all troops gradually over the next year ... [p]ull out after Iraqi troops are capable of taking over," or "[s]end more troops?" Twenty-two percent of respondents favored "pull[ing] out immediately," while 42 percent thought the United States should "[p]ull out gradually." A total of 64 percent of those surveyed support pulling out U.S. troops out of Iraq in -- at most -- a timeframe that comports with what Reid suggested.
From the September 19 edition of ABC News' The Note:
Welcome back. .. to the left of the Democratic Party, Harry Reid (and MoveOn.org says thanks).
On another busy, scattershot day on the campaign trail, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, made a pronouncement that will be felt across the political spectrum. All that talk of compromise, of reaching out to moderate Republicans to forge a consensus on the Iraq war? Gone with yesterday's papers (and just maybe because of that MoveOn.org ad inside -- if not that Cheney op-ed).
Reid, D-Nev., virtually ensured the return of polarized Iraq politics -- and is giving the left the showdown (take two) it craves. The major Democratic presidential candidates are lined up to vote against war funding that doesn't include timetables. And the Democratic Senate leadership is going to make things (relatively) easy on them.
Per ABC's Jake Tapper, "Senate Democrats announced Tuesday afternoon that they were forgoing any softer language in their bills and would introduce Iraq-related legislation as aggressive as that in previous bills -- including two that called for withdrawing U.S. combat troops."
This is a near-direct response from pressure by the left, but it's the center (and all of those Republicans who are straying near it) who will tested in the Iraq votes coming this week -- and the domestic bills that President Bush is promising to veto.