Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A note on the Shouters

Scott Shane in the New York Times tries, not very subtly, to make the point that the NSC’s document, National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, is nothing more than a PR document, written by some political scientists who have argued that the public will support the war if they believed it would ultimately succeed. Once again we are in the realm of rocket science here, only the very smart can play! So, I should decline. But some things are not to be resisted! Bush keeps making the same points about Iraq he has always made. His strategy seems the same, while the tactics vary; he doesn’t advertise the changes. This makes sense to me. His opponents--the Shouters--yell and make things up. This is part of politics, albeit not the highest part. I have been enjoying this, since Katrina, actually. Now the focus is on Iraq. Why? because something very bad has happened in Iraq? No, no. It’s merely that the bad press from Katrina, combined with the bad press on the Libby indictment, made it possible for the shouters to be heard, so they yelled even louder than normal. It’s kind of fun watching Murtha be wrong, watching the MSM misrepresent him; watching Pelosi show her real colors, watching Kerry sitting on the fence once again; and then watching Hillary the Great tip-toe in her husband’s large moderate footprints on her way to the Democratic nomination, via her re-election to the Senate. She will, in the end, do as much damage to her own party as her husband did. But no one wants to talk about that.

Bush is betting that Iraq will turn out as he said it should and would. Because he is not to be moved on this very large and consequential issue, he is prepared to be defined by it, both now and in history. I like that. And I think he is right. Do the bad poll numbers matter? Judging by the MSM coverage, the GOP will lose the U.S. Senate next year, and a couple dozen seats in the House, and perhaps all of Ohio (see Saturday’s N.Y. Times front page, "Democrats Sense Chances in Ohio for 2006 Vote"). I don’t think so. The poll numbers don’t count. Not yet. Let’s talk about poll numbers in April and May, when the numbers are going to start having some meaning. They don’t mean anything at moment. Example, the economy continues to do very well, yet most people (according to polls) think that Bush is not handling the economy well. If this means anything it only means that the MSM’s portrayal of the economy is so skewed that people aren’t getting the facts (or it takes longer). No big thing, I say. Yet, I admit that sometimes I would like the White House to come at their opponents a bit stronger and a bit more often than they usually do. The problem is that they had some bad luck in the last few months (Katrina and Libby) and made a very bad decision (Harriet Miers). That is the backdrop. The Shouters saw the opportunity, took pot shots on everything (including Iraq), but are now nearly out of bullets. Besides, the cowboys are firing back, and facts are harder to ignore over time.

Discussions - 9 Comments

Peter -- Your argument makes sense IF we pretend (????) that Iraq itself is not a travesty, and if we forget (????) that Bush has single-handedly taken the budget from historical surplus to historical deficit. Compared to those, a couple of blips and dips in the Dow strike many Americans as small potatoes, and a few more Americans killed in Iraq as more highly significant drops in an increasingly large bucket.

Perhaps Bush should attack his critics more, or perhaps he should start leading the country in some direction other than down.

Something decent--constitutional government by majority rule--is unfolding in Iraq. It’s tenuous and off to a rocky start, sure--this is a tough neighborhood--but it is unfolding just the same (they’re about to have another successful election, despite terror) and badmouthing this project as a "travesty" is, well, a travesty. Bitter defeatism, plainly driven by petty partisan hatred, won’t win elections here either.

Sheen - This is a good example of what I am talking about:

"badmouthing this project as a "travesty" is, well, a travesty."

Iraq is a project? A project? "A tough neighborhood?" Who are you writing for, someone with no memory, who cannot remember "mushroom clouds," and "imminent danger," and "shock and awe?"

So, okay, you are into euphemisms. We can call the 2000+ American dead "boo-boos." We can refer to IED’s as "little surprises."

Let’s call al Quaeda in Iraq the "New Kids on the Block." GM factory closings are "spontaneous vacations." Increasingly expensive insurance premiums are "externally imposed challenge goals." I like this game!

But, wait: For me to badmouth this little holiday is a "travesty." You go from silly euphemism to borrowed adjective. But, to refer to war as a travesty is not hyperbole. To refer to my criticism as a travesty is silly. You attack the critic (using his own words) and suggest that to criticize is to contribute to defeat. Who is "making things up" as Peter put it?

I’m not euphemizing anything. Iraq IS a project--a difficult project, a complex project, a project that costs blood and treasure, but a project just the same, and one with worthwhile and achievable goals.

9/11 showed that "the rules of the game" in the Middle East (a nasty place with a lot of nasty history, as I’m well aware--"tough neighborhood" is a colloquialism, sure, but not a euphemism) urgently had to be changed. Saddam Hussein’s regime, for a number of reasons, offered a good place to start.

But don’t take my word for it. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, the Egyptian dissident and presidential candidate, was against the use of US armed force to topple Saddam, but now admits that the liberation of Iraq from that dictator "has unfrozen the region" for the better:

I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood--unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn...It is a war between 27 million and 10,000; 27 million Iraqis who want to live lives of freedom, opportunity and prosperity and roughly 10,000 terrorists who are either Saddam revanchists, Iraqi Islamic extremists or al Qaeda foreign fighters who know their wretched causes will be set back if Iraq becomes free and modern.

It IS a travesty to think that the Arabs are fit for democracy. I’m with Fung--we need to get the hell out of there and let Saddam run things again. As for Lieberman, well, we all know about him.

when it comes to ’shouters’, this is what I think of...

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