Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Why it's important the Democrats wise up.

A self-proclaimed Democrat that I've never heard of makes some very good points at Opinionjournal.com today.

Watching the primary campaigns among this year's pathetic crop of Democratic candidates, I can't help but think that their campaigns would be vastly improved if they would only rise to the level of "Death to the Republicans."

Instead, their platforms range from Howard Dean's "Bush is the devil" to everybody else's "I'll make you rich, and Bush is quite similar to the devil." Since President Bush is quite plainly not the devil, one wonders why anyone in the Democratic Party thinks this ploy will play with the general public.

. . .

And the most vile part of this campaign against Mr. Bush is that the terrorist war is being used as a tool to try to defeat him--which means that if Mr. Bush does not win, we will certainly lose the war. Indeed, the anti-Bush campaign threatens to undermine our war effort, give encouragement to our enemies, and cost American lives during the long year of campaigning that lies ahead of us.

Osama bin Laden's military strategy is: If you make a war cost enough, Americans will give up and go home. Now, bin Laden isn't actually all that bright; his campaign to make us go home is in fact what brought us into Afghanistan and Iraq. But he's still telling his followers: Keep killing Americans and eventually, antigovernment factions within the United States will choose to give up the struggle.

It's what happened in Somalia, isn't it? And it's what happened in Vietnam, too.

Reuters recently ran a feature that trumpeted the "fact" that U.S. casualties in Iraq have now surpassed U.S. casualties in the first three years of the Vietnam War. Never mind that this is a specious distortion of the facts, which depends on the ignorance of American readers. The fact is that during the first three years of the war in Vietnam, dating from the official "beginning" of the war in 1961, American casualties were low because (a) we had fewer than 20,000 soldiers there, (b) most of them were advisers, deliberately trying to avoid a direct combat role, (c) our few combat troops were special forces, who generally get to pick and choose the time and place of their combat, and (d) because our presence was so much smaller, there were fewer American targets than in Iraq today.

Compare our casualties in Iraq with our casualties in Vietnam when we had a comparable number of troops, and by every rational measure--casualties per thousand troops, casualties per year, or absolute number of casualties--you'll find that the Iraq campaign is far, far less costly than Vietnam. But the media want Americans to think that Iraq is like Vietnam--or rather, that Iraq is like the story that the Left likes to tell about Vietnam.

Vietnam was a quagmire only because we fought it that way. If we had closed North Vietnam's ports and carried the war to the enemy, victory could have been relatively quick. However, the risk of Chinese involvement was too great. Memories of Korea were fresh in everyone's minds, and so Vietnam was fought in such a way as to avoid "another Korea." That's why Vietnam became, well, Vietnam.

. . . .

In other words, the Iraq campaign isn't over--and President Bush has explicitly said so all along. So the continuation of combat and casualties isn't a "failure" or a "quagmire," it's a "war." And during a war, patriotic Americans don't blame the deaths on our government. We blame them on the enemy that persists in trying to kill our soldiers.

Am I saying that critics of the war aren't patriotic?
Not at all--I'm a critic of some aspects of the war. What I'm saying is that those who try to paint the bleakest, most anti-American, and most anti-Bush picture of the war, whose purpose is not criticism but deception in order to gain temporary political advantage, those people are indeed not patriotic. They have placed their own or their party's political gain ahead of the national struggle to destroy the power base of the terrorists who attacked Americans abroad and on American soil.

Patriots place their loyalty to their country in time of war ahead of their personal and party ambitions. And they can wrap themselves in the flag and say they "support our troops" all they like--but it doesn't change the fact that their program is to promote our defeat at the hands of our enemies for their temporary political advantage.

Think what it will mean if we elect a Democratic candidate who has committed himself to an antiwar posture in order to get his party's nomination.

Our enemies will be certain that they are winning the war on the battleground that matters--American public opinion. So they will continue to kill Americans wherever and whenever they can, because it works.

Our soldiers will lose heart, because they will know that their commander in chief is a man who is not committed to winning the war they have risked death in order to fight. When the commander in chief is willing to call victory defeat in order to win an election, his soldiers can only assume that their lives will be thrown away for nothing. That's when an army, filled with despair, becomes beatable even by inferior forces.

He even rips on the media:

Our national media are covering this war as if we were "losing the peace"--even though we are not at peace and we are not losing. Why are they doing this? Because they are desperate to spin the world situation in such a way as to bring down President Bush.

It's not just the war, of course. Notice that even though our recent recession began under President Clinton, the media invariably refer to it as if Mr. Bush had caused it; and even though by every measure, the recession is over, they still cover it as if the American economy were in desperate shape.

This is the same trick they played on the first President Bush, for his recession was also over before the election--but the media worked very hard to conceal it from the American public. They did it as they're doing it now, with yes-but coverage: Yes, the economy is growing again, but there aren't any new jobs. Yes, there are new jobs now, but they're not good jobs.

And that's how they're covering the war. Yes, the Taliban were toppled, but there are still guerrillas fighting against us in various regions of Afghanistan. (As if anyone ever expected anything else.) Yes, Saddam was driven out of power incredibly quickly and with scant loss of life on either side, but our forces were not adequately prepared to do all the nonmilitary jobs that devolved on them as an occupying army.

According to the common knowledge, Dean is doing well because he's "about something," not just "trying to be 'Bush-lite'." I don't think that's true. He's not about something other than "not Bush." He's being trumpeted as a moderate because he has one not-so-much-left notion - that Vermont's gun laws probably shouldn't be the same as New York's. He may, unlike the rest of the anti-gun crowd, even acknowlege that the Second Amendment actually might mean something and that the Federal Government shouldn't be just going ahead and violating the Constitution. On the other hand, he probably also supports campaign finance reform, which (notwithstanding one of the worst SCOTUS decisions ever) is unbelievably violative the letter and the spirit, IMHO, of the First Amendment.

But his foreign policy is either (1) cynical, reflexive "Bush-bad" opportunism; or (2) cynical, reflexive "US-bad" leftist crap. Either way, as much as it plays with the college crowd that seems to be his base, I think it's gonna fail miserably with grown-ups.

I like having two parties. I want two parties. I cherish gridlock as a way to keep the government from just doing stupid stuff. But the Democrats are killing themselves, and the Republicans seem to be filling the void. We're heading for one-party rule, and I don't like that one bit. Even if that one party is the Republicans, especially if they're going to pass crap like a Medicare "reform" giveaway, and a campaign finance law that criminalizes political speech within 60 days of an election.


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