President Obama has invited members of Congress to the White House for a meeting later this afternoon to discuss his plans for drawing down troops in Iraq -- a plan that has already drawn stiff criticism from his Democratic allies.
After Speaker Nancy Pelosi complained that the level of troops -- 50,000 -- who would remain in Iraq is too high, other senior Democrats voiced similar concerns on Thursday. Among Democratic leaders, only Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois is defending the new Obama plan, which will take three months longer than he promised and still leave a significant force structure on the ground.
"I'm happy to listen to the secretary of defense and the president, but when they talk about 50,000, that's a little higher number than I had anticipated," Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said.
"It has to be done responsibly, we all agree, but 50,000 is more than I would have thought, and we await the justification," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
"I do think we have to look carefully at the numbers that are there and do it as quickly as we can," said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) issued a statement saying he was "concerned" about the level of troops that would remain in Iraq.
But what I really love is Dick Durbin's defense of the President:
Durbin defended the plan, saying that it is not easy to to meet Obama's campaign promise of a near complete withdrawal in such a quick timeline without posing a risk to the soldiers that are left behind to help with embassy security and further training of Iraqi security forces. "I think what the administration is trying to do is strike that balance," Durbin said.
Only in 21st Century American political newspeak would a plan leaving the equivalent of three entire US infantry or armored divisions be considered to satisfy a campaign promise to end a war and withdraw from a supposedly sovereign country.
But, hey, it was only a campaign promise....