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Posts published in “Day: July 19, 2007”

Craig, Iraq and oil

Larry Craig

Larry Craig

Senator Larry Craig's Senate floor statement on the consequences of destabilizing Iraq - throwing the supply of oil into that mix - is less sweeping or conclusive than some sites are suggesting. The indication is that Craig was saying we're in Iraq because of oil; a reading of his floor statement shows that he didn't say that. (His floor statement in full appears after the jump.)

Some of what he did say was striking enough, though.

Craig is a capable, even gifted, floor speaker, and some of his comments - especially in the earlier sections - wandered and recycled quite a bit. He was quick to say the late-night Senate Iraq debate was political, which of course it was at least in part. He also entered a shot that the Senate was trying to get into battlefield decisions (which it wasn't; it was debating the policy matter of whether the country should be in the battlefield at all). And there was some discussion about veterans legislation, which didn't seem on point to the issues at hand. He reiterated some "cutting and running" rhetoric.

After all that, he found some focus on a serious and difficult question: What happens after departing Iraq? "What happens if we don't find a strategic way out?" he asked. "It is important that we put ourselves in perspective of the world that involves Iraq and its surrounding neighbors. You have heard a lot of rhetoric about the instability, about the role of Iran and certainly what's going on in the north here with the Kurdish population and what Turkey is doing, amassing troops along this border. You've heard about what's going on in Lebanon and certainly the traumatic reality that is happening there. Premature withdrawal from Iraq would risk, I believe, plunging this--that Nation into chaos which could spill over its borders into the gulf region that you see here."

Serious points. From there he moved to this:

Tehran would extend its destabilizing activities to another very important part of the region - Kuwait - and the oil-rich regions of eastern Saudi Arabia along this border here, one of the larger producing oilfields in the region and the kingdom could well fall. And those are the realities we face at this moment that I think few want to talk about. Let's talk about another consequence.

I will put the balance of my statement in the record. But the other
consequence, Mr. President, that we've not talked about is what happens when 54 percent of the world's oil supply goes to risk with a collapse of the region. And this is a reality check that we only talk about in hushed terms, because we don't like to talk
about our dependency on a part of the world that is so unstable.

Not the same thing as saying, "this is why we're there." But it does translate to saying one of the key reasons we're still there is, "because of oil."

And that does provide his Democratic challenger, Larry LaRocco, with the grounds for responding (as he did to New West) with this: "Craig’s silence all along on the Iraq war and his failure to challenge the Bush administration’s failed policies - even after the casualties mounted - led me to suspect there is something else beyond terrorism in his silence. And now we know."

Craig's floor statement:


Slam dunk

The Boise mayoral debate between incumbent Dave Bieter and challenger (and council member) Jim Tibbs emerged about as lopsided as we suspected it might, and for the same reasons: Tibbs has utterly failed to develop a rationale for his candidacy. A (well-regarded) career in the Boise police force, and a long stretch as a respected community figure, isn't it, and he's giving no evidence he knows that.

The 55-minute debate, sponsored by IQ Idaho (a business magazine), is posted on the KBOI radio site; watch for yourself. What we see boils down cleanly.

There are more eloquent speakers than Beiter, but he concise and clear, and displayed a sweeping grasp of the city's situation and its options. He cited specifics (more park space, Community House resolution, expanded library services among them) in making a fair-sounding case for a successful first term and a rationale for a second.

Tibbs was maddeningly vague. He spoke of how better relations with extra-city officials (other local agencies, legislators and others) would be good; to accomplish what exactly, he doesn't really say. And how he's been disappointed that the city hasn't done better in recent years. Thought it's done good. Though relations between the mayor and the council (on which he sits) are okay. He guesses. Boise can do better, he said; but how? He never said. What would make it better? Didn't say. Boise is special, he said; but you'd have to scrape through the debate to get any sense of what he think specifically makes it so. Specifics were so lacking through so much of his talk that in many places you had to remind yourself that this really was a guy with deep roots in Boise - the bulk of what he said sounded so generic it could have been ghost written by someone who'd never visited Boise.

Bieter comparatively was far more specific, clear on foothills developmnt (he's generally against it), while Tibbs wove between concern for the foothills and private property rights - where he would wind up was anyone's guess. A Boise mayor probably should be more specific than Bieter is on Boise's long-range growth, but he has at least a general vision for how it ought to grow, and what specific considerations should be borne in mind. Good luck trying to summarize Tibbs' view on any of this.

None of these takes are especially unique to this site. New West has said some of the same. And the Idaho Statesman's editorial today led with this: "There's a long way to go until the Nov. 6 Boise mayor's election.That's a good thing for City Councilman Jim Tibbs, because he has a long way to go to make a case to replace incumbent Dave Bieter."