Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The politics of the Iraq War

Bob Dreyfuss gives us his take in Bush's Iraq Offensive 06/14/06:

If President George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove are worried that they have a losing political hand at home when it comes to Iraq, it isn’t evident from this week’s news. Less than five months before the November elections, a vote that will be a referendum on Bush’s imperial venture in Iraq, the president laid down his final marker on Iraq for 2006. The administration’s electoral strategy is to point proudly to Bush’s criminal mayhem in that war-battered country and challenge voters to endorse it. His message to antiwar Democrats and to the solid majority of voters opposed to the war? Bring ‘em on! ...

In speeches and interviews with reporters, Karl Rove – freed from the shadow of an indictment in the Valerie Plame leak – is on a two-fisted offensive. Speaking in New Hampshire, Rove gave a chilling preview of the Republican strategy for November. He blasted Kerry, Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, and other Dems who’ve called for getting out of Iraq. “They may be with you for the first shots. But they’re not going to be with you for the tough battles,” said Rove. “When it gets tough, and when it gets difficult, they fall back on that party’s old pattern of cutting and running. … If Murtha had his way, American troops would have been gone by the end of April, and we wouldn’t have gotten Zarqawi.” You can already see many Democrats cringing. You can see them asking their campaign consultants and pollsters: Can we talk about immigration instead? The environment? Health care?

Dreyfuss, like so many of us, is very frustrated that the Democrats can't unite around a more clear position on opposing the Iraq War.  Well, for the Democrats "unite" is a relative term; we're unlikely ever to see the authoritarian lockstep on the Democratic side that the Republicans have been showing over the Iraq War.

Lieberman's a hopeless case, of course.  He's a Democrat in name only at this point.  But Hillary should get it together with a clear antiwar position.  Because, as unpopular as Bush's war in Iraq is, the Reps can still exploit Democratic divisions on it.  As Dreyfuss writes:

To drive the point home, the Republican leadershipof the House of Representatives has scheduled an all-day debate on Iraq for Thursday. After resisting the idea for some time, according to Democratic sources on the Hill, the GOP leaders apparently believe that the time is right for a rough-and-tumble debate on Iraq. And no doubt they will get what they want, namely, the spectacle of antiwar Democrats such as Murtha, Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, Pete Stark, Lynn Woolsey, and Barbara Lee of California, and even minority leader Nancy Pelosi engaged in a less than harmonious debate with the party’s stay-the-course faction.  The Republicans intend to cast Iraq as the central front in Bush’s “global war on terror.”

A preview of that drama played out at the Take Back America conference in Washington, sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future, where Kerry was cheered and Hillary booed (amid hisses and catcalls to “bring them home”). It’s one more sign that the apparatus of Bill and Hillary Clinton, which holds together the center of the party, simply isn’t willing to challenge Bush on Iraq, Iran or the war on terrorism.

Thanks much, Joe and Hillary.  You're doing a heckuva job on the Iraq War.

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