From an MSNBC article:
Republicans labeled the timetable a “surrender date.”
“Al-Qaida will view this as the day the House of Representatives threw in the towel,” said Rep. Jerry Lewis of California, ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.
Most Americans have not read any of bin Laden's words (and the Administration and the Republicans are counting on this fact). But if you do read his words, implicit in them, you find that they don't want us to withdraw from Iraq. They want us there - forever. Their long term strategy is to do to us what they did to the Soviets in Afghanistan - bleed our economy white, and hasten our collapse - just like the Romans collapsed.
Bin Laden is in a no lose position. If we leave he can say he drove us out. By staying, he can keep draining our economy - and remember, we ARE going to pay for this war (and to use Condi's words about the middle east, we are seeing "birth pangs" of these bills coming due). Maybe not today, but we will pay, in a lot of ways - ways most Americans cannot dream about (but here's a taste - remember the "sudden crisis" at Walter Reed? That was a manifestation of a system ready for and geared for a "cake walk" war, and not a "wildly off the mark" war).
Think about it Farmer Brown, where is the money for this war coming from? From taxes you pay? Get real. We are borrowing it from countries that we are going to be beholden to - China for example. Doesn't that feel good to know that we owe China BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars? Your children, their children, and their grand children are going to be paying for this war. That's IF there is even a US in the form we know it today.
Syria and Iran want us in Iraq too. If we are in Iraq, we do not have the flexibility to conduct a multi-faceted war against them. And, the longer we stay, the less we'll be able to carry out ground operations due to the serious degradation of our military and economy.
I think the point of the dates is to get some dialogue going other than the tired, meaningless mantras of "staying the course" and not "cutting and running".
People who still support the war mindlessly chant those over and over. When asked what a victory in Iraq would look like, they don't know. Nobody does. It's because no one has really ever thought about it (and do a thought exercise and ask if the Administration might have known that the security situation would be what it is now, enabling them to keep prolonging the war).
The FACT is, we cannot be in Iraq forever. It is simply not sustainable without permanently breaking the country. By this time, according to the Bush Administration fantasy (we'll be welcomed as liberators, it'll be a cakewalk, etc) there was only supposed to be a handful of troops in Iraq.
Interesting that by "staying the course", we might be giving our enemies (bin Laden, Iran, Syria, et al) EXACTLY what they want, while at the same time permanently damaging our economy and permanently disabling what was the finest military in the world.