Frank Rich is hardly an objective observer, and we shouldn’t believe everything he says. Nonetheless, he does well to remind us how hard the Iraq war will make it for McCain to win. It’s the main reason the president’s is very, very unpopular; 63% of Americans, more than ever before, now believe invading was a mistake. It seems to be the reason the Democrats seem poised to capture what seemed to be a very safe House seat in Mississippi--not a hotbed of McGovernism.
Let me call your attention to the observations made by our darling Kate a couple of threads below (a post on the Iraq War etc. by Joe): We may have had some fine reasons to invade Iraq, but, as some of our NLT interlocuters sometimes remind us, we have reasons to invade lots of countries. The big issue is that the invasion didn’t work out, and for that reason has hurt more than helped us. I’m not getting into any deep analysis here, except to say presidents (and their parties) who don’t win wars that were expected to be no big deal (and who prematurely gloat mission accomplished) pay the electoral price. It’s going to be very hard, I think, for Mac to make the case that the invasion was not only warranted but prudent, and the ONLY problem was incompetent execution. Nor can he really say that the surged has won the war or even moved us very close to some political solution.
Kate can’t think well of a decision to invade that may have wrecked her party in the short-term. Excessively ideological Republican thinking, she suspects, may give us really, really excessively ideological Democratic unified government. People are even connecting the out-of-control gas prices with the lack of respect we now get from the oil producing countries, and, rightly or wongly, they conclude we’re dissed because we haven’t prevailed on the battlefield--a battle we need not have waged.
The outcome of virtually every war involves a lot of luck. Every decision to wage war is to some extent a roll of the dice, unless it’s clearly the only alternative to total destruction of all that one loves. Lee, with either better strategy or better luck, could have won decisively at Antietam, and the case for Lincoln’s prudence today would be a lot, lot harder to make. So I’m not writing mainly to blame Bush for Republican woes, but just to say that the woes are real and pretty intractable.