A Tale Of Two Parties
"Peace Mom" Cindy Sheehan's Bush-bashing protest has apparently backfired, with a slight plurality of Americans saying her antics have actually made them more likely to support the Iraq war, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday.Is there an angle the anti-American Left hasn't tried? If any were going to gain traction, you would have thought the "grieving soldier's mother" would have been their best bet. But as always happens with the Bushophobes, her virulent hatred of the President carried Cindy away into the fetid mists of Moore-ony, and took her always-shaky claim to "moral authority" with it.
Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed said Sheehan has had no impact on how they view the Iraq war. 10% say the [acid]-tongued Californian, who blames Israel for terrorism and said she wants to curse out the President to his face, has actually made them more pro-war. A slightly smaller number, 9%, said Sheehan's protest helped turn them against U.S. efforts in Iraq, for a net pick-up of support for the Iraq war of one percent.
As usual, the intelligent criticism of the Bush Administration's GWOT policy comes not from the Left, but the Right. And on NRO today, Andrew McCarthy penned as succinct a summation as I have yet seen (or penned myself):
Why are the polls down? Is public support for the war crumbling? Well, no. But the explanation for plummeting numbers varies depending on which war you are talking about.This is an oft-covered pet peeve of mine, which I have been carrying on about for the past two years. It boils down to this: liberating Afghanistan and Iraq is not enough; there are two (or, depending upon how you look at the Saudis, three...) terror regimes still standing: Iran and Syria. The GWOT cannot be won, and Iraqi democracy cannot be assured of surviving and thriving, until the governments in Tehran and Damascus are overthrown and replaced with friendly regimes that will, at minimum, no longer be in the terrorism business.
If you mean what started out as the "war on terror," support remains high. You may recall that war. It was about the eradication of militant Islam and its state sponsors. To the extent there is public uneasiness, it is not over the fact of that war but rather the manner in which it is being prosecuted, with terrorists continuing to score successes and their facilitators in Iran and Syria making war on American forces with impunity.
But if you're talking about what the "war on terror" has lately evolved into — namely, the war to spread freedom — public support cannot fairly be described as "crumbling." Public support for that war was never there in the first place. [emphases added]
However, the Bush Administration didn't see it that way. Rather, they tried to liberate four countries with two invasions. By establishing freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq, their example would send "ripples" across the region, undermine the remaining enemy states, and the remaining Arab Crescent would be cleared without firing a shot. Call it "democratization on the cheap."
This gamble was a lot like heaving up a half-court shot in a basketball game: if it goes in, it's a spectacular success that brings the house down, but if it misses - as is far more likely - the crowd scatches its collective head and asks, "What the hell was that?" And if the shooter is on the home team, some will starting booing - not because they don't want their team to win, but because they see their team making mistakes that could cost them the game.
McCarthy powerfully retraces the steps that the Bush White House took after the Afghan campaign was quickly won and shows how the original war rationale - eliminating the terrorists and the their Middle East state sponsors - was subordinated to one - "disarming" Saddam Hussein - that was thought (mistakenly) to be more palatable to the UN, whose support and approval Dubya mistakenly sought instead of just bypassing it, as he did in Afghanistan and ultimately ended up doing in Iraq. This set a self-fulfilling trap by providing Saddam six months in which to spirit his WMD arsenal out of the country, leaving little tangible (i.e. easily photographed, and therefore easily grasped by the masses) evidence of Operation Iraqi Freedom's core justification.
Yes, we had to put something better in the place of the Ba'athists, which is why a majority of Americans still oppose cutting and running before the "insurgency" is crushed. And it is being crushed, as al Qaeda is smashing itself to pieces against Coalition forces. But there is no plan beyond that; no talk of the next military campaign, which has to take place if the GWOT is ultimately to be won. No talk of why that military campaign is imperative and inevitable if our enemies are to be defeated and our national security preserved. And not even the slightest peep about Saddam Hussein's own extensive connections to and support of the whole gamut of Islamist terror organizations, including al Qaeda.
In short, the Bushies have not "bungled" the war itself, in Iraq or anyplace else; what they have bungled is the selling of a war that could still be almost selling itself. We've gone from destroying our enemies to "disarming" them to "spreading freedom," each mission redefinition moving farther and farther away from the reality of total war while that reality itself hasn't changed one iota.
McCarthy puts it thusly:
Vanquishing jihadists and their facilitators is something Americans now connect instinctively to their security. It will always have their strong support and never be thought a lost cause. But as long as the war on terror is portrayed as an airy and potentially limitless campaign to spread freedom, the public will not ardently support it.
Seen in a domestic political context, Republicans will still retain the decisive edge on national security by default as long as people like Cindy Sheehan maintain their grip on the Democrat Party. But if that should somehow change, either genuinely or in a Clintonian "triangulation" scam, the GOP could be in some serious doo-doo in 2006 and 2008.
One could almost say it's a race between the two parties as to which wants to win the next election(s) the least. Tony Blankley calls it a "synchronized funk":
Republican operatives do not currently anticipate the 2006 election to be a good time for Republican challengers. As a result, as Bob Novak and others have pointed out, it is hard to get the best Republican hopeful candidates to risk taking on even weak Democratic incumbents in the next election.
Meanwhile, Republican incumbent congressmen and senators are sending signals not to expect many heroic legislative efforts from them before the election - which is still 15 months away. Social Security, of course, is off the Republican legislative agenda. But so, too, will be other smaller legislative efforts that might upset even small groups of voters.
Yes, the GOP's congenital timidity. Something I got sick of lamenting and lambasting years ago. Which is another way of saying, "Don't get me started...."
But here, as on the war, the President's indifference to public relations is hurting him and his party's '06 chances - in addition to the active damage he's doing with his tone-deafness on illegal immigration:
Compounding the problem is President Bush's insistence on pushing for his guest-worker legislation this fall. Unless he agrees to a full, really-secure-the-border-first-before- addressing-guest-worker plan - this is both political and legislative terrible news waiting to happen. If the Republicans go along with him, they further alienate the growing part of the public for whom secure borders is becoming the single issue on which they will vote. If they oppose the President, they further weaken their own party's president...But....it is the lesser of dangers to oppose their president on a vastly unpopular (and unwise) policy. Insecure borders and immigration looks to be shaping up as the tax increase tar baby of 2006.And yet, for all of that, the Democrats keep removing themselves farther and farther from national electoral viability because, "[their] Party has been all but possessed by their lunatic, MoveOn.org, Howard Dean, anti-war, anti religion, anti-pickup truck, anti-normal, activist wing - and they know it....Once the loons get a hold of a party, it is the devil's own time unprying their maniacal grip from a party's throat. Thus, currently, the normal Democratic senators and congressmen know that, to placate their loony Left, they will have to pronounce various foolish and irresponsible things about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts and the Iraq War."
TB even suggests that Hillary may fall victim to this insanity, though I for one will believe that only when I see it.
But next year she'll only be on the ballot in New York, and in the meantime the Donks will be tearing themselves apart on the war, and further burying themselves on the matter of central cultural concern to the red states they have to turn blue:
The Pew Research Center has published an interesting survey on the political parties and religion. The finding that is getting the most press is that only 29% of respondents view the Democrats as religion-friendly, down from 40% just a year ago....
[Furthermore, t]he public is equally divided on the question whether conservative Christians "have gone too far in trying to impose their religious values on the country." But in answer to the slightly more specifically worded question whether liberals have gone too far in trying to keep religion out of schools and government, 67% answer "yes," and only 28% "no." This amounts to a national consensus.
It is noteworthy, too, that the numbers are even more stark among black respondents: 75% think liberals have gone too far in trying to keep religion out of schools and government.
These numbers have to be very troubling to the Democrats, but, given the centrality of these issues to the party's activists and donor base, it's hard to see the Democrats making much of a change. [emphases added]
The White House GWOT policy is adrift, the President is stubbornly out to lunch on immigration, and he is as unwilling to sell his Administration's accomplishments as he is apparently incapable; and congressional 'Pubbies are hiding under their desks. The GOP is all but begging to be removed from power next November.
But Democrats are doing all too good a job of selling themselves as a party that no reasonable voter can possibly take a chance on.
It would seem that Republicans are fated to be the nation's caretakers until such time as the Democrats collectively recover their marbles. And as we've already learned, there is a vast difference between ruling and just taking up space.
But even the latter still beats raving moonbattery.