Saturday, July 14, 2007
Centrism and the War
Ok, most of the GOP Congresscritters still support the Prez with respect to the Iraq war, at least to the extent that they will vote for the appropriations that fund the troops. A significant minority of them, are looking to cut our losses, both the loss of American lives and treasure and the political support of the country at large for the Republican party.
These fence-straddlers aren't going to make anybody happy. It's not sufficient to pacify either Daniel Larison or Rod Dreher, as should be pretty clear if you read the links above. More importantly, it's not going to satisfy the GOP base either. The typcial Republican from Paducah is not particularly enamored of George W. Bush, but he also believes the point of the Iraq War is to win it. Not just to militarily defeat Saddam Hussein, but to leave the place in such a way that the overall US interest in the region is furthered rather than hurt. And this goes not just for the Republican base, but also for a fair number of independents and Democrats as well.
More importantly, these Senators and Congressmen are making a calculation that doesn't work. We as Republicans have, fairly, taken the blame for the failures of the Iraq War so far and we'll continue to suffer loss of support if things do not turn for the better. The idea that we can change course now is just not credible. The American public knows very well that GOP were, politically speaking, the enthusiastic energy behind the war and the D's were dragged along. This helped the Republicans in the past but it hurts them now. In any case, it's fixed star in the politcal constellation. If any GOP Senator wants to flip on the war, he has to be able to sell his case on principle, because the political expediency isn't really there, it's just an optical illusion.
Btw, this whole business of the ISG recommendations are part of the problem instead of the solution. Whenever official Washington wants to resolve a contentious issue, they try to farm the whole thing out to a "bipartisan" group of (supposedly) worthies. The Iraq Study Group is just about the Platonic archetype of such things. If someone, such as Senator Richard Lugar, wants to speak in his own voice against the surge or any other element of the War on Terror, great. The saber-rattling against such people by Hugh Hewitt and the likes strikes me as mostly empty threats. But he's an exception. The American people won't accept the attempt to defer responsibility away from Congress because there's nobody else that's big enough to take it.