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Apparently majority opinion in the public and in Congress is "extremist"

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A funny thing happened during this past election cycle: the quality of the national debate about Iraq actually improved.

Candidates, especially Republicans, had to recognize and reflect, to a much greater extent than was true before campaigns heated up, the views of the public. On Iraq, the country has long been ahead of its politicians, and it took an election for politicians to follow the lead of their constituents. Dems were mostly there, and were rewarded for it; Republicans, conversely, had to contort to deal with the ground truth and were punished for being so far outside the mainstream for so long.

A majority of the American public realizes that Iraq is a disaster, and, recognizing that U.S. troops are not improving things, want redeployment to begin. A majority of the U.S. House and Senate shares that view, and virtually all Middle East and military experts (not pundits, but actual experts in the relevant fields) believe the situation requires significant changes in U.S. policy.

So why did I have to read an article yesterday about how the Iraq Study Group "was deliberately skewed toward a centrist course for Iraq, participants said. Organizers avoided experts with extreme views on either side of the Iraq war debate"? At this point, I don't even know what an "extreme" view is, and the article doesn't specify, but it seems to imply that near-term redeployment fits in that category.

To me, the McCain plan -- adding 20,000 troops, which has support from, for example, Senator Cornyn (R-TX) -- is the most extreme option being considered. You wouldn't know it from the professional pundit commentary, but a whopping ... eight percent of Americans support sending more U.S. troops to Iraq (and that was six months ago! I couldn't find a more recent poll number on increasing forces).

As for plans that actually have mainstream support, the numbers couldn't be any more clear: a majority of Americans want all U.S. forces out within a year. Now, whether that's good policy can be debated by reasonable people -- but it's not an "extreme" position! It's not a "liberal" position, and it's certainly not a position that should have been dismissed out of hand by the Iraq Study Group in its effort to be "centrist." Why the ISG is even concerned with being centrist, rather than, y'know, being honest and productive, is beyond me, but it wouldn't be quite so bad if the idea of what centrism is hadn't been so perverted and misapplied by the punditry class.

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