Sunday, June 25, 2006
Jonathon Alter Has his Head up his Ass, and He likes the View
How To Beat 'Cut And Run'
If Rove can successfully con Democrats into ignoring Iraq and reciting their laundry list of other priorities, Republicans win.
By Jonathan Alter
July 3-10, 2006 issue -
For more than a quarter century, Karl rove has employed a simple, brilliant, counterintuitive campaign tactic: instead of attacking his opponents at their weakest point, the con-ventional approach, he attacks their strength.(no he attacks what the opponents "claim" as their strengths, and shows why it's a weakness) He neutralizes that strength to the point that it begins to look like weakness. When John McCain was winning in 2000 because of his character, Rove attacked his character. (John McCain has no character he's an opportunistic egomaniac that wants to abolish the first amendment) When John Kerry was nominated in 2004 because of his Vietnam combat experience, the Republicans Swift-Boated him. (no when the Dems decided to find someone in their party with veteran status to run for President because we're in a war, they chose a War Protester that betrayed his fellow vets and actually took a purple heart for getting hit in the ass with rice after he shot the bag) This year's midterm elections will turn on whether Rove can somehow transform the Democrats' greatest political asset—the Iraq fiasco—into a liability. (shouldn't be hard since Iraq is NOT A FIASCO)
After escaping indictment, (A crime has to be commited to escape an indictment, since NO crime was commited in exposing the political motives of Joe Wilson and his CIA desk clerk wife, there was no indictment to escape) Rove is focused again on what he does best: ginning up the slime machine. (no pointing out facts) Anyone who dares criticize President Bush's Iraq policy is a "cut-and-run" Democrat. (no when you scream defeat and demand withdraw thats called "cut and run") The White House's object here is not to engage in a real debate about an exit strategy from Iraq; that would require acknowledging some complications, like the fact that Gen. George Casey, commander of the multinational forces in Iraq, believes it's time to start bringing some troops home. (except as the General really said "since more and more Iraqi troops are reaching operational levels we MAY be able to lower troop numbers") The object is instead to either get the Democrats tangled up in Kerryesque complexities (buffoonery) on Iraq—or intimidate them into changing the subject to other, less-potent issues for fear of looking like unpatriotic pansies.
These are the stakes: if Rove can successfully con Democrats into ignoring Iraq and reciting their laundry list of other priorities, Republicans win. (no if we can keep them talking about Iraq we win) It's shameful that the minimum wage hasn't been raised in nine years and that thousands of ailing Americans will ultimately die because of Bush's position on stem-cell research. (yes the President wants people to die) But those issues won't get the Congress back for Democrats. Iraq can.
You would think it would be the GOP running away from the war. (why? we're winning) Instead, in gamblers' parlance, Republicans "doubled down" on Iraq. After the good news about Zarqawi's death, they bet that by uniting behind Bush, they would shift the blame to the squabbling Democrats, even though the Democrats have no power at all to change—or even affect—policy on the ground. (thank God) Rove's notion is that strong and wrong beats meek and weak. (no strong and right beats whiney & stupid)
It almost worked. It looked recently as if Democrats were so fearful of being cast as war weenies that they would change the subject. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid & Co. held a press conference on the Democratic issues for the fall that barely mentioned Iraq. (they also didn't mention anything else of any substance either) Hillary Clinton tried to focus on a lengthy list of worthy issues that, except for the mistreatment of veterans, had little to do with the war.
Why are Democrats having so much difficulty holding Bush accountable for his myriad failures? (because his list of failures include a Strong Economy, Lowest Unemployment in 50 years, and Success in Iraq) I think it's because they've lost touch with the basic merits of accountability, particularly on education, where they let interest-group politics trump tough judgments on performance. (as the Democrat controlled public schools churn out high school students that can't read, write, or do math at level higher than 8th grade)
But then, some Senate Democrats got smart for a change. They recognized that the party out of the White House doesn't need a detailed strategy for ending a war, just a general sense of direction. (wrong) When Dwight Eisenhower ran for president in 1952, his plan wasn't any more specific than "I will go to Korea." When Richard Nixon was asked how he would end the Vietnam War in 1968, he said he had a "secret plan"—and got away with it. (times have changed) So now 80 percent of Senate Democrats are united behind something called the "Levin-Reed Amendment." The details of it (begin withdrawal without a firm timetable for getting out completely; diplomacy with the Sunnis; purging the Iraqi military and police of bad guys) (cut and run but they won't commit to when, make nice with the insurgents, and blame the Iraqi police and army for the problems) are less important than that they finally came up with something.
Of course parrying "cut and run" with "Levin-Reed" won't suffice. (especialy because "levin-Reed" is cut and run) But Sen. Joe Biden's riposte to the GOP's symbolic roll-call votes—"The Republicans are now totally united in a failed policy"—is a start. This isn't rocket science. Unless things improve dramatically on the ground in Iraq, Democrats have a powerful argument: If you believe the Iraq war is a success, vote Republican. If you believe it is a failure, vote Democratic. (thats right)
Isn't that irresponsible? Not in the slightest. It's only under Bush that criticizing the conduct of a war has been depicted as somehow unpatriotic. Lincoln was lambasted by opponents during the Civil War as was FDR during World War II. To take a lesser example, some of the same Sean Hannitys of the world who slam antiwar critics were blasting Bill Clinton's Bosnia policy in 1999 when U.S. planes were in the air over Belgrade. (with no UN mandate, I thought you guys thought that was important? Plus we still have troops there - when are you going to demand their pullout?)
We'll see this summer if Democrats begin to get up in the morning, look in the mirror and say, "This isn't about us. It's about them." We'll see if, when Karl Rove wants to talk about Iraq, the Democrats respond with three familiar words: "Bring it on." (yes please do)