Betting the Farm on Bush Posted by: Dale Franks
on Monday, December 19, 2005
John McIntyre of RealClearPolitics reviews the Democratic Party leadership's strategy in opposing President Bush on the war, and he's unimpressed.
Not recognizing the political ground had shifted beneath their feet, Democrats continued to press forward with their offensive against the President. They’ve now foolishly climbed out on a limb that Rove and Bush have the real potential to chop off. One would think that after the political miscalculations the Democrats made during the 2002 and 2004 campaigns they would not make the same mistake a third time, but it is beginning to look a lot like Charlie Brown and the football again.
First, the Democrats still do not grasp that foreign affairs and national security issues are their vulnerabilities, not their strengths. All of the drumbeat about Iraq, spying, and torture that the left thinks is so damaging to the White House are actually positives for the President and Republicans. Apparently, Democrats still have not fully grasped that the public has profound and long-standing concerns about their ability to defend the nation. As long as national security related issues are front page news, the Democrats are operating at a structural political disadvantage. Perhaps the intensity of their left wing base and the overwhelmingly liberal press corps produces a disorientation among Democratic politicians and prevents a more realistic analysis of where the country’s true pulse lies on these issues.
With their publicly defeatist language, John Murtha, Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean reinforce these “soft on security” steroretypes, a weakness that more sober-minded Democrats have been trying to mitigate since the late 60’s and 70’s. Unfortunately, this mentality dominates the Democrats’ political base and more accurately represents where the heart and soul of the modern Democratic party lies than the very tiny sliver of Joe Lieberman Democrats. The Party of FDR, Truman and John Kennedy—at least on foreign policy—is clearly no more.
In 2002, Republicans very skillfully were able to paint the Democrats as obstructionists on the Homeland Security bill and used the issue to bash Democrats as soft on the War on Terror. In 2004, perceptions that when it came to defending the nation, the leadership and resolve of President Bush was superior to the Democrat Kerry was always the tailwind at Bush’s back that led him to victory.
And while 9/11 has certainly faded in the consciousness for most in Washington these days (and for many in the country as a whole), for average Joe American security is still a critically important issue. And the bottom line is that average Americans’ sympathies are not with terrorists trying to kill innocents, but rather with our troops and security agents who are trying to combat these jihadists.
Heigh-ho. The Iraq election's over, the media did their best to ignore it, and, judging from the rippling torsos I saw every time I switched on the TV, the press seem to reckon that that gay cowboy movie was the big geopolitical event of the last week, if not of all time. Yes, yes, I know: They're not, technically, cowboys, they're gay shepherds, but even Hollywood isn't crazy enough to think it can sell gay shepherds to the world. And the point is, even if I was in the mood for a story about two rugged insecure men who find themselves strangely attracted to each other in a dark transgressive relationship that breaks all the rules, who needs Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger when you've got Howard Dean and Abu Musad al-Zarqawi? Yee-haw! And, if that sounds unfair, pick almost any recent statement by a big-time Dem cowboy and tell me how exactly it would differ from the pep talks Zarqawi gives his dwindling band of head-hackers—Dean arguing that America can't win in Iraq, Barbara Boxer demanding the troops begin withdrawing on Dec. 15, John Kerry accusing American soldiers of terrorizing Iraqi women and children, Jack Murtha declaring that the U.S. Army is utterly broken. Pepper 'em with a handful of "Praise be to Allahs" and any one of those statements could have been uttered by Zarqawi.
The Democratic Party have contrived to get themselves into a situation where bad news from Iraq is good for them and good news from Iraq is bad for them. And as there's a lot more good news than bad these days, that puts them, politically, in a tough spot—even with a fawning media that, faced with Kerry and Murtha talking what in any objective sense is drivel, decline to call for the men with white coats but instead nod solemnly and wonder whether Bush is living "in a bubble."
One day Iraq will be a G7 member hosting the Olympics in the world's No. 1 luxury vacation resort of Fallujah, and the Defeaticrat Party will still be running around screaming it's a quagmire. It's not just that Iraq is going better than expected, but that it's a huge success that's being very deftly managed: The timeframe imposed on the democratic process turns out to have worked very well—the transfer of sovereignty, the vote on a constitutional assembly, the ratification of the constitution, the vote for a legislature—and, with the benefit of hindsight, it now looks like an ingeniously constructed way to bring the various parties on board in the right order: first the Kurds, then the Shia, now the Sunni. That doesn't leave many folks over on the other side except Zarqawi and Dean. What do the two have in common? They're both foreigners, neither of whom have the slightest interest in the Iraqi people.
The bottom line, as McIntyre bluntly put is, is that " the Democrats still do not grasp that foreign affairs and national security issues are their vulnerabilities, not their strengths," and that the "average Americans’ sympathies are not with terrorists trying to kill innocents, but rather with our troops and security agents who are trying to combat these jihadists." I know that it may not seem that way in the Democratic Caucus, or in Manhattan or San Francisco, but it's true even for Democrat rank and file voters in such benighted places as Topeka, Cleveland, and Tulsa.
But, as with most other parts of life, so it is in the Democratic Party that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, and, in the case of the Democrats, the squeaky wheel is currently the MoveOn/Kos crowd. And, they happen to be the crowd that has become the locus of Democratic fund-raising efforts, which only magnifies their influence. Unfortunately, they are also the relatively extremist portion of the Democratic Party.
And the trouble with extremists—no matter how much money they can raise—is that they can't abide dissent from their views, even from their own party. Just as the French Revolution soon began eating its own, and beheading former revolutionary leaders for the unforgivable crime of "inauthenticity", so to are the Democrats looking to eliminate the members of their party who don't toe the MoveOn crowd's ideological line, as Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman is learning. Sen. Lieberman doesn't buy the defeatist arguments currently in vogue in his party, so, he has to go.
"It's at the point where he's no longer interested in his own party's opinion, he's really out of touch with reality," said Mitchell Fuchs, chairman of the Fairfield Democratic Town Committee in Connecticut. "For me, he's crossed the line a number of times."
The bottom line, as McIntyre bluntly puts it, is that " the Democrats still do not grasp that foreign affairs and national security issues are their vulnerabilities, not their strengths"So, Connecticut Democrats are now looking into replacing Lieberman with former Senator Lowell Weicker, who, though formerly a liberal Republican, is now an "independent, and holds the approved view of the war in Iraq.
Just as Cromwell once wrote to the leaders of the Church of Scotland, "Gentlemen, I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think that you may be wrong," Lieberman has been trying to explain to his own party that defeatism on Iraq may not be a wise strategy. But, like the elders of the Scottish Kirk, they are merely enraged by his remonstrances.
Now, whether Democratic Party leaders intend the result or not, the objective outcome of investing the entire party into an anti-war, defeatist stance, is that it requires an American failure in Iraq to vindicate their positions. Quite apart from the unseemly nature of endorsing a political strategy that relies for its success on American military and political humiliation, it's just bad policy from a prudential point of view. Because, despite what they crazies who inhabit Democratic Underground might think, an American failure in Iraq isn't carved in stone. And if America doesn't fail, then their entire political position crumbles.
If I was a Democrat, I would be worried at the President's media blitz over the weekend. The President is going out of his way to claim responsibility for the decision to go to wear in Iraq, and everything that has arisen therefrom. It's hard not to think that the president is paving the way to take full credit for a successful end to the American presence in Iraq. If, by the end of 2006, American troops are reduced, and Iraqi forces are getting the insurgency under control, and Sunnis, Kurds and Shia are all participating in the government, the army and security forces, then the 2006 elections may look very bad for defeatist Democrats. And I find it interesting that W is moving now to cut off the Democrats' ability to take any credit for success in Iraq. I can't help but wonder what he knows that the Democratic Party leadership does not.
And you can be sure that if things are looking up in Iraq by October, 2006, George Bush will be repeating the defeatist criticisms he's received over the past year, as he campaigns for congressional Republicans. No doubt there'll be all sorts of commercials lambasting the "cut-and-run Murtha" Democrats. Stuff like this:
VIDEO: American troops in combat in Baghdad. Soldiers firing M16s, kicking doors opening and entering buildings. VOICE-OVER: In the last two years, when American troops were fighting and dying to bring freedom to the oppressed people of Iraq, the Democratic Party's leaders said we couldn't win in Iraq. Their advice was simple. Withdraw. Retreat. Surrender. VIDEO: Iraqi's voting. Voters holding up purple fingers, smiling VOICE-OVER: Last year, when Iraq's citizens were holding the first free and fair elections in their country's history, the leaders of the Democratic Party said that we had to leave Iraq, because our effort was destroying our armed forces. Their advice, once again, was to withdraw. Retreat. Surrender. VIDEO: Iraqi and American soldiers together in training, smiling, trading food, candy. VOICE-OVER: Now, despite the Democratic Party's claims that we were failing in Iraq, a freely elected Iraqi government, and American-trained Iraqi forces are creating a stable, secure, and free Iraq. VIDEO: American flag, other iconography VOICE-OVER: America's defense is too important to be trusted to a party whose only policy is to retreat, withdraw, and surrender. The Democrats. They were wrong then. They're wrong now. Vote Republican.
What the Democrats have done is mortgaged their political future to the President's ability to have a successful policy in Iraq. Maybe they think that's a safe bet because Chimpy McBushitlerburton is too stupid to craft a policy that successfully prevails in Iraq, but if they're wrong, they will have laid bare any pretense that the Democratic Party leadership has any ability at all to provide serious leadership in the area of national security. And every doubt that the electorate has about the Democrats' seriousness on national security will be endlessly and ruthlessly exploited by the Republicans. It's an all or nothing strategy the Democrats have crafted for themselves.
They'd better hope that Chimpy is as dumb as they think he is.
It all comes down to the Surrender Monkeys irrational and overblown hatred of GWB and the GOP. Nothing matters to them but hurting Bush and the GOP. Not the troops, not the average American, not the troops, not our security, not America. The want Bush and the GOP gone, no matter what, or who, it hurts.
If they were handed power back tommorrow, they would be standing around going "duhhhhhhh, now what?" I would dearly love for W to say "Ok, you’re so smart, you rig up the lights!"
Look, what it all boils down to is this. If we start seriously drawing down troops next year and things more or less stabilise in Iraq then Bush and Blair come off as visionary geniuses, and the left can suck it. On the other hand, if everything goes to hell in a handbasket, then they are both dopes, and the Right loses the next two elections at least. I am betting on the former.
If I was a Democrat, I would be worried at the President’s media blitz over the weekend. The President is going out of his way to claim responsibility for the decision to go to wear in Iraq, and everything that has arisen therefrom. It’s hard not to think that the president is paving the way to take full credit for a successful end to the American presence in Iraq
There’s a rather simple reason for this; He knows Defense is a strong point for him and a particularly weak point for the Demorats, both in history and currently. Note, for example, Bush’s poll numbers have actually gone UP since the Times leak on Friday. Note also, history, which points out the 18 and 72 elections in which the anti-war candidate was handed his head by the voters. Anti-war has NEVER sold with Americans, and this time around is no exception.
So, with the Demorats backing off their support for the war, claiming we can’t win... which is a termainally unpopular position, as history proves... Mr. Bush is doing the wise thing by willingly soaking up the limelight so willingly abandoned by the Democrats.
Showing responsibility is likely to make people respect you more, even if you are not completely pleased with the results of said leadership.
It also casts a bright light on the opportunistic poll watchers.
What then when polls show Americans supporting staying until we have achieved some state of victory. Which the President has gone out of his way to define, both the conditions he sees neccessary for victory, and the strategic plan being used to set those conditions.
The Democrats are reminding me of those Bugs Bunny cartoons where the yapping dog runs right up to where Bugs is, only to be yanked back by the chain.
If I were a cartoonist, I’d have Bush as Bugs, Democrats as the dog, and reality as the chain.
The President has been very clear in his speeches, while X is a good sign of progress, more work remains and the road will be difficult.
The Democrats on the other hand are reduced to saying things like, "We can’t win the war", and saying we can’t win the war isn’t defeatist.