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Monday, July 30, 2007

OH-02: Last Year Mean Jean Schmidt Predicted Troops Would Be Coming Home

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The Republican congresswoman's crystal ball must have been malfunctioning in January 2006 -- because she said then things were so well on track in Iraq that American troops would soon begin returning to the U.S. "on a permanent fashion."

Schmidt -- incorrectly -- viewed events on the ground in such a positive manner that soldiers and Marines could be withdrawn starting last summer. Instead, we wound up with a surge this year adding, rather than subtracting, combat forces. The Ohio legislator had just spent 15 hours on a trip to Baghdad, and her analysis was flat-out wrong. Today, Schmidt looks like a simpleton.

Schmidt's comments appeared in a Jan. 15, 2006 Cincinnati Enquirer story, a story that is no longer available online. The Bellwether retrieved the article by looking up clippings. It was written by Malia Rulon, and a digital version is in a database at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County called NewsBank. Unfortunately, the database is not linkable.

Here are a few of the pertinent paragraphs:

"WASHINGTON -- Rep. Jean Schmidt said Saturday, after a 15-hour trip to Baghdad, that progress is being made in training Iraqi troops and the size of the U.S. force in the country probably could be reduced later this year.

"Schmidt, who spoke by phone from a U.S. base in Kuwait, said the bipartisan congressional delegation she was traveling with met Friday with Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and soldiers serving on the ground.

"I can assure you that progress is being made," said Schmidt, R-Miami Township. "If they keep on the track that they are on now, then by summer we should see some more of our troops coming home on a permanent fashion."

Schmidt, of course, was following the White House line at the time. President Bush planned to withdraw soldiers to levels below the 138,000 in country before the Iraqi elections.

Schmidt said she viewed Iraq as stabilizing. Rulon reported the OH-02 congresswoman "saw signs that Iraq is starting to become westernized: cell phones, satellite dishes, a Starbucks coffee shop and even a Century 21 real-estate sign."

Surprisingly, nobody who is running for her job in the 2008 primaries is pressing Schmidt much about how her analysis was so off -- the troops are not, and did not, come home "on a permanent fashion." Democrat Vic Wulsin is running for renomination in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District and -- in this blog post she has featured on her website since last week (scan down the page) -- didn't point out Schmidt's over-optimistic statement about bringing the troops home. Republican Phil Heimlich seems to have been silent on the war. Does he back the president or favor some other course? Heimlich hasn't tipped his hand.


  1. Geez, Bill, if I didn't know better, I'd think you were scripting campaign strategy for ________ (fill in Schmidt opponent).

    At the time Schmidt visited, what she said was the CW. Shortly thereafter, in hindsight, Rumsfeld et al stopped playing offense, and started playing prevent defense, which accomplishes in war what it does in football -- it prevents you from winning. Why she should be criticized, let alone singled out, because of errors in the field is beyond me.

  2. Bizzyblog (Tom) --

    On Schmidt, I think you have made my point. She does not think, she spouts CW, or whatever script they hand her that day.

    She could have been something, perhaps, but she was not savvy or skilled enough to invent a persona, or develop issues of her own. She was sent to Iraq etc. only to give her cover after the Murtha blow-up, that is why she was picked for the "fact-finding" tour. I am really not anti-Schmidt, Tom. I just believe she has been a disaster as a political figure. I don't think she can ever regain her footing or obtain any stature with the public.

    Lastly, I think she has taken a safe GOP seat and probably made it a Democratic seat. That is one heck of a political achievement by Jean Schmidt -- her only one to date that I can think of. Here is how bad I think she is as a politician -- Jim Traficant was a clown and crook, but his seat is still Democratic.

    How inept is she. Right now, the OH-02 seat is in play and will be the subject of a furious contest. Her campaign web site isn't even up and running. No pr since July 2. She's asleep at the wheel, in my opinion.

  3. Actually, I would say the trip was a reward for calling Murtha out. :-->

    That said, I'm not going to defend her political acumen, which is improving, but perhaps not fast enough. She at least "acts Congressional" now, which I don't think really kicked in until early this year.

    I will say that in every general election she's run against two opponents: a Democrat and COAST/COAST surrogates. In August 2005, it was the COAST-abortion group alliance. In Nov. 2006, it was COAST, Nate Noy, and the Enquirer co-operating with Wulsin and totally making stuff up about Piketon -- which, last time I checked, is in no danger of glowing.

    She'd be fine if she ran a general free and clear of misguided "conservative" opposition. Unlike others, I think a primary challenge by a credible and competent challenger would stretch her and force her to improve more and faster -- or be gone. Unless I'm misreading, and it's early, I don't think she has that challenger yet, nor did she last time.

  4. Tom --

    You and I have ended up in about the same place again. Let's go to Bloogapalooza next year. We'll get into it and make a scene. We'll be famous....