Bush – Iraq troops will stay past 2008

President Bush’s new media tour to defend his Iraq policy is working about as well as his pathetic attempts to promote his Social Security privatization program.

The latest whopper from Bush has him proclaiming that American troops will stay in Iraq throughout the rest of his administration.

Bush’s straw man arguments

Finally, someone in the media is pointing out George W. Bush’s ridiculous use of “straw man” arguments in his speeches. Jennifer Loven of the Associated Press wrote a brilliant piece pointing out Bush’s repeated use of this device. Here are some examples:

“Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day,” President Bush said recently.

Another time he said, “Some say that if you’re Muslim you can’t be free.”

“There are some really decent people,” the president said earlier this year, “who believe that the federal government ought to be the decider of health care … for all people.”

Democrats need to start going after him when he regurgitates this bullshit.

James Taranto – Blinded by the Right

While many conservatives are waking up and recognizing that the Iraq war is a complete fiasco, others like James Taranto are sticking to their guns. His latest post is both hilarious and bizarre. He starts things off with this whopper:

We’ve long been convinced that history will eventually come to regard George W. Bush as a near-great president, or possibly even a great one, chiefly for his bold foreign-policy vision.

This might be the dumbest comment I’ve read about Bush in months (other than most of the drivel coming from Fred Barnes). Bush’s “bold vision” has been exposed as pie-in-the-sky Wilsonian utopianism. Thinking you can turn Iraq into a Jeffersonian democracy simply by toppling Saddam will go down as one of the biggest foreign policy blunders in American history. The two biggest beneficiaries of this strategy are Iraq and al Qaeda. Good grief.

Taranto, however, is just getting started. He follows that line up with this:

Call us Polyannaish, but although we are annoyed by the incessant drumbeat of defeatism over Iraq, we find it hard to get worried about it. Will it lead to another Vietnam–i.e., an ignominious withdrawal? It seems unlikely. It certainly won’t happen on President Bush’s watch. And who, faced with the responsibility of actually making the decision, would pull out of Iraq, leaving behind a potential base for terrorists who could one day attack America again?

The thing to keep in mind is that the people who complain about how terrible the war is, or who take the weaselly position that they’re for the war but it’s all gone wrong because the Bush administration is irredeemably “incompetent,” are doing so for reasons that have little to do with the actual war. Some have always opposed it on ideological grounds. Others are seeking partisan advantage. Still others–and many of our fellow pundits fall into this category–are simply succumbing to peer pressure. They feel as though they have to gang up on President Bush because that’s what all the cool kids inside the Beltway are doing right now. Perhaps one day they will be mature enough to make up their own minds about things.

Polls suggest that public opinion has of late turned decisively against the war. But it strikes us that these feelings do not run very deep, and indeed may be partly the result of the same sort of peer pressure.

The man is showing he’s completely blinded by partisanship. Are conservatives like George Will and William F. Buckley succumbing to peer pressure? Of course, Taranto doesn’t bother to address the countless examples of incompetence. He can’t. Instead he resorts to lame attempts at ridicule, not realizing that he’s the one that looks like a fool.

Is Mark Warner the fallback candidate?

Many Democrats are worried about the prospect of a Hillary Clinton candidacy in 2008 and are therefore looking for a “fallback” candidate. In an excellent profile in the New York Times Magazine, Matt Bai explains how Mark Warner might become that candidate.

Warner is a moderate, and he’s incredibly popular in the red state of Virginia. He makes a strong argument that Democrats need to field a candidate who can compete in red states.

Bai does a good job of summarizing the themes Warner will use in his campaign:

Warner’s constant theme, which a lot of Washington politicians talk about but few seem to actually understand, was the need to modernize for a global economy. The days when you could walk down the street and get a job at the mill were over, Warner would say, and new jobs — the state gained more than 150,000 of them on his watch — would require new skills and infrastructure. So Warner, working with Nascar, pushed through an accelerated program that enabled 35,000 more Virginians to get high-school equivalency degrees, and he introduced a program to deliver broadband capacity to 20 Southern counties. “In the 1800′s, if the railroad didn’t come through your small town, the town shriveled up and went away,” he told me once, explaining his rural program. “And if the broadband Internet doesn’t come through your town in the next few years, the same thing will happen.”

If he ultimately decides to run for president, Warner will try to build a national campaign around this same technology-driven approach. When I asked Warner to name the issues that would be most important to him, the four domestic issues he ticked off, before he got to terrorism and national security, were fairly standard for a Democratic candidate in the era after Bill Clinton: slashing the federal deficit, improving schools, working with business to reform the health-care system and devising a new energy strategy. What makes Warner, the former entrepreneur, sound more credible than your average Democrat is that he comes at these issues primarily from an economic, rather than a social, standpoint. On health care, for instance, most Washington Democrats will, as a matter of both habit and perspective, talk about the moral imperative of covering workers and the uninsured — and only then might they add, as an afterthought, that the current morass is an impediment to business too. Warner, on the other hand, begins with the idea that if American businesses can’t keep up with spiraling health-care costs, the nation will lose the competition with India and China for jobs. The same principle applies with education and the deficit. His fixation on the global economy brings a coherent framework to issues that otherwise seem disparate and abstract.

It sounds like a great message. Warner is a pragmatist who could offer voters a refreshing alternative after eight years of George W. Bush.

Yet Bai also points out that Warner is very weak on foreign policy, and he refuses to address the issue of whether we should have invaded Iraq. His positions on the war sound earily like the bland positions Kerry embraced in 2004.

This could be the issue that sinks his candidacy. More and more Democrats and Americans have concluded that the invasion was a tragic blunder.

Warner seems to be waiting things out, hoping that by 2007 the Iraq issue will be old news. It’s doubtful he (or the country) will be that lucky.

Reality check

The drumbeat is growing louder against the war in Iraq. Why? Because most people, even conservative intellectuals, have some common sense.

To his credit, George Will was one of the first conservatives to express doubt about Bush’s Iraq folly, and he continues to point out the absurdity of the administration’s case. Money quote:

Last week, in the latest iteration of a familiar speech (the enemy is “brutal,” “we’re on the offensive,” “freedom is on the march”) that should be retired, the president said, “This is a moment of choosing for the Iraqi people.” Meaning what? Who is to choose, and by what mechanism? Most Iraqis already “chose” — meaning prefer — peace. But in 1917 there were only a few thousand Bolsheviks among 150 million Russians — and the Bolsheviks succeeded in hijacking the country for seven decades.

This quote summarizes the problem with Bush’s utopian fantasy that freedom and democracy can flourish in Iraq and the Middle East. Of course most people want to be free and have some form of self-governance. Yet humans are also susceptable to tribalism and religious fanaticism. Too often throughout human history those forces have trumped the desires of good people to be free.

Bush doesn’t see this. He has faith in his position, despite the evidence that his policies are leading to disaster.

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