…the main battle going on is for the hearts and minds of Americans, specifically in the context of the 2004 elections. The Democrats are hard at work, trying to portray the war as a failure so as to deprive the President of credit for his anticipated victory. Today’s New York Times features an article by R.W. Apple titled “Bush’s Peril: Shifting Sand and Fickle Opinion.” Apple poses the question: “Is [Bush’s] luck about to turn in the winds and sands of Iraq?” Needless to say, Apple and his colleagues at the Times hope so.
The Times sounds themes that we can expect to hear from Democrats for many months to come; Apple criticizes the Administration’s diplomacy as well as its military strategy. But the Democrats’ real hope is that: “The war could last so long that the American public loses patience, having been conditioned by predictions from American officials (to quote one of them, Vice President Dick Cheney) that Mr. Hussein’s government would prove to be ‘a house of cards.'” So far, as Apple admits, there are no signs of such “fickleness.”
On the contrary, today’s Washington Times collects current poll data under the title “Americans support Bush’s war strategy;” the polls show huge and growing support for the President and his war policies, including a willingness to persist indefinitely and to suffer substantial casualties.
But the Democrats aren’t worried yet. They know that in the months and years to come, they will control public discussion of the war. They have just begun to sound their themes, and they know better than to expect their arguments to gain ready acceptance. They rarely do.
In the longer term, the Democrats are preparing to argue that the war–no matter what its outcome may prove to be–was a failure. Apple quotes Richard Holbrooke, the former U.N. Ambassador:
“Saddam won’t win. Unlike L.B.J. in Vietnam, Bush won’t quit. He’s a different kind of Texan. He’ll escalate and keep escalating. In the end his military strategy will probably succeed in destroying Saddam.
“But it may result in a Muslim jihad against us and our friends. Achieving our narrow objective of regime change may take so long and trigger so many consequences that it’s no victory at all. Our ultimate goal, which is promoting stability in the Middle East, may well prove elusive.”
Notice a couple of things here. First, Democrats think it always helps to mention Vietnam. Believing their own revisionist history, they forget that even after six long years of mismanagement, the majority of Americans never did turn against that war.
Second, note the claim that the Iraq war “may result in a Muslim jihad.” Actually, as everyone knows, this war resulted from a Muslim jihad. Nevertheless, from this point forward, the Democrats will blame all acts of terror against us or our allies on the Iraq war–and, therefore, on President Bush.
Finally, one can only express awe at Mr. Holbrooke’s insightful observation that “stability in the Middle East may prove elusive.” D’ya think? I mean, the Democrats’ efforts to achieve stability in the Middle East were going so well, it would be a tragedy if our cowboy President were to screw up the great progress that they had made.
These are pathetic arguments, but that won’t prevent the Democrats from making them. It remains to be seen whether by constant repetition the American people can be persuaded to believe them.
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