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Post-Election Washington Bubbles with Policy Talk

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Post-Election Washington Bubbles with Policy Talk

Post-Election Washington Bubbles with Policy Talk

Post-Election Washington Bubbles with Policy Talk

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

As President Bush continues his travels abroad, the policy dance in Washington has proceeded on an upbeat tempo. One idea drawing lots of attention, and very little support, is the suggestion that the U.S. revive the military draft.


And while the president is abroad, the debate over his policy in Iraq continues here at home. Joining us now, as she does every Monday, is NPR News analyst Cokie Roberts. Hello.

COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Now, Republican Senator John McCain continues to say more troops should be sent to Iraq. That's a view that runs counter to most other voices we're hearing.

ROBERTS: Including the generals running the war in Iraq who testified last week and argued with McCain about this. Look, he filed his papers last week to start an exploratory committee to run for president, and he is - this is the position he's taking. I'm not saying that he doesn't believe it; I'm sure he does. But it's also a somewhat convenient position because he can always say no one tried to win the war the way that I suggested to win it, because I don't think that there is going to be a commitment of a lot more troops. The majority leader-elect of the House of Representatives, Steny Hoyer, said yesterday there aren't any more troops to increase because the Army is so depleted.

So I think that this is a position that is useful for Senator McCain as well as one that he believes. And he is one of many Republicans who is already testing the waters for the presidential run in 2008. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani is in there, former Massachusetts Governor - right now Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. So this is a position that he can take that distinguishes him from the others.

Meanwhile, the White House is waiting to hear from that Baker Commission and has set up a commission of its own to look at alternatives in Iraq.

MONTAGNE: And yesterday former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger weighed in and said a clear military victory is impossible.

ROBERTS: In a way, he did.

MONTAGNE: What impact, yeah, what impact is that likely to have?

ROBERTS: Well, I think that that's not a view that is one that is a surprise. I think that he said if you mean by military victory, an Iraqi government that can be established and who's writ runs across the country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control, that this is - he doesn't believe that's possible.

He said that to the BBC. I think again that this is, you know, just part of the conversation and not one that the administration is surprised to hear.

MONTAGNE: Long-time House member Charles Rangel of New York also stirred up debate yesterday by talking about reinstating the military draft. Now he has called for a draft before, at least considering a draft before, but now Rangel is part of the incoming Democratic majority leadership.

ROBERTS: That's true, but the chances of him succeeding on calling for a draft are about as strong as they were before he was in the leadership, which is slim to none. And that's because nobody really does want a draft, including the Pentagon doesn't want a draft.

Rangel is trying to make a point, that if the - as he puts it - the sons and daughters of members of Congress or the people in their districts were in danger of being killed in Iraq that they would be far more cautious about going to war. The truth is this is an all-volunteer military and the people who are there signed up for it.

The other reason Democrats are not going to go along - other than the fact that the Pentagon doesn't want it and they don't want it - is that in this election the Democrats got the youth's vote in huge numbers. The people 18-29 voted for Democratic candidates by a margin of 60-38. That's their best since 1986.

And that is very important, Renèe, because we know that if somebody votes twice in a row for a political party, they are likely to stick with that political party for life. So I think that the chances of the Democrats passing this or of any of the Democratic candidates who are already lining up on their side of running for president calling for a draft, any of that happening is very slim indeed.

MONTAGNE: Cokie, thanks very much. NPR News analyst Cokie Roberts.

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