Over the weekend, Brunner campaign blogger Jeff Coryell announced on DailyKos that Brunner was going “to respond to Tim Russo on his home blog, Plunderbund.net [sic]” tomorrow at 10 a.m. That was exclusive news to us in that the campaign had yet to tell us that they wanted to do a chat at that time yet.
Jeff then makes a cardinal campaign mistake:
That being said, I’d like to point out, not speaking on behalf of Jennifer Brunner but just for myself, that her remarks on February 24th were in the context of a troop build-up of 17,000 announced by President Obama a few days earlier, which was followed by an increase of 4,000 in March.
If you don’t speak for the campaign, then don’t speak. Because you cannot disclaim yourself away when you speak about a matter that is central to the campaign itself. It comes off as a trial balloon. Nobody buys the disclaimer, and worse, it makes your communication shop look undisciplined because you come off sounding like you feel the need to go rogue to save the campaign from themselves, especially when in the same post you announce an event for the candidate.
And I sure as heck hope Coryell doesn’t speak for Brunner in this regard because his defense is ripe for mockery.
The current esclation occurs over ten months later and is much larger in both scope and duration, and unlike the the former troop build-up this escalation marks a major shift in strategy and commitment to the conflict by our country.
In any event, the fundamental issue is not shuttling troops around but commitment to ending the war in Afghanistan, and Jennifer Brunner has long called for ending the war. Supporting the smaller troop deployments in February isn’t inconsistent with that fundmental position. To suggest that because she supported those smaller increases in troop strength at that time she therefore must be “pandering” now in opposing a much larger escalation is just wrong. The circumstances are now drastically different, both in terms of revelations about President Karzai (especially in connection with the flawed Afghan election that occurred this fall) and the situation with the domestic economy (which in terms of unemployment has deteriorated badly since February).
Also, the current escalation is offered after ten more months of failure to define victory and failure to make any significant impact in the reducing the threat from Al Qaeda.
Where to even begin? The February troop increase wasn’t the surge strategy Obama campaigned on. That was understood at the time. It was understood at the time that the February and March increases were to stabilize the country enough to give the Administration time to form the policy the President announced just a week ago. In other words, the support for the February increase was for the major shift in scope and duration to Afghanistan, so it’s weird to support the Spring increase but oppose the policy it was intended to create. And yet, that’s precisely what Jeff said.
Brunner cannot seriously contend that her support was for the February announcement but not the November. That’s like saying we support giving people with brain cancer the Tylenol for their headaches, but not anything that would actually treat the cancer. Nothing Brunner said at the time indicated that she’d only support the troop increases called for in February, but not the additional ones the Administration was already considering at the time it made the announcement.
Brunner’s post titled “It’s Time to Bring the Troops Home from Afghanistan” is pandering because the billing doesn’t match the content. In announcing her policy, Brunner presents a trainwreck that tries to bridge impossible gulfs: she argues that the surge strategy in Iraq won’t work in Afghanistan, and yet, proposes an alternative strategy using current troop levels to do that which they are tasked under Obama’s “surge” policy. In fact, her withdraw timetable isn’t substantively different than Obama’s. I’m left reading her policy diary and not sure if you can even say Brunner opposes the bulk of Obama’s policy– she just seems to contend that more troops aren’t needed to do it. If Coryell DID speak for the campaign, he’d seem to call into question whether Brunner’s alternative: no surge, but a shift in strategy towards nation-building with a timetable to withdraw is a waste of blood and treasurer as well. So, it’s a good thing he DOESN’T speak for the campaign.
The February announcement was an unbreakable precursor to the policy. Coryell’s economic argument is just post hoc rationalization, and not a very convincing one. Except for unemployment, the economy by all measures was WORSE in February than now. The stock market was still sliding and the economy continued to shrink. What does unemployment have to do with withdrawing all troops out of Afghanistan immediately? Jeff Coryell doesn’t say, because he doesn’t speak for the campaign. To say you support the increase in February but not the one now is like favoring shaving the patient, but deny him the surgery.
You cannot oppose the new policy which defines victory and failure by concluding that the past months have yet to define those things. The February surge was intended by design and announced as such to give the President the time he needed to create a policy that would define victory. That policy is what Brunner now opposes. So, is Coryell saying that if Brunner knew that it would take ten months to create a policy to define victory she wouldn’t have supported it?
He doesn’t say. Because he claims that the official blogger of the campaign doesn’t speak for the campaign.
Lastly, not only does Coryell’s defense make no sense intellectually, it’s factually absurd. Here’s what Brunner wrote:
The resurgence of al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan is the greatest threat to our national security. I would support a troop increase in Afghanistan and work with the White House and Congressional leaders to expand our NATO allies? troop presence in Afghanistan. We must also work with the Afghan government to help revitalize Afghanistan?s economy and provide more opportunities for Afghani citizens.
Did the spring announcement have any additional NATO forces or anything tied to helping the Afghan government revitalize its economy or provide more opportunities for Afghan citizens? No, the spring policy was nothing more than an increase in the number of U.S. forces. The Obama policy, which Brunner says she now opposes, already has received expanded NATO ally troop presence and is designed to do those things she said that she’d said she would support in the future once she was in the Senate. It’s absurd to even suggest that Brunner thought the only troop increase was the one in February when EVERYONE understood that it was a temporary measure as the Administration weighed creating a new policy and a much larger commitment. To now say that the comment by Brunner was only a reference to the spring increases is factually absurd.
One thing has been made painfully clear in this blog post fiasco. The Brunner campaign’s communication shop lacks discipline.