Monday, August 06, 2007

Iraq And The Republicans

Although not the issue I'm most interested in, the Iraq war is the biggest issue in the country, so it's useful to take a look at the comments regarding the U.S. involvement made by the Republican Presidential candidates during the August 5 debate televised by ABC.

Not surprisingly, only Representative Ron Paul, who noted "the war is not going well because the foreign policy is defective," condemned Persian Gulf II. However, the nature of the comments differed dramatically. Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, supporting a three-state solution and arguing that there is more to the war than military, asserted "we need a political surge." Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee referred to Saudi Arabia (a bold move for a Republican) and urged that our nation "end our dependency on foreign oil," an unusual, if wise, assertion for a Republican.

Former Governor Tommy Thompson and U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo included a hint of criticism of President Bush. Thompson stated "I've laid out a plan that we have to give all our resources... to our fighting men and women... but beyond that it is not fair (for the soldiers) to shoulder all the burden, to pay for a war that's costing us ten billion dollars a month, that we're not funding, we're just passing it on to our children and grandchildren..." And he cited "a failure of our President and Congress" not to pressure the Iraqi government sufficiently. (The failure of the Bush Administration to supply our soldiers adequately, while passing on a hugh tax cut for the wealthy, is- or should be- one of the great scandals of this Administration.) And Tancredo, while stating "we are in a war with radical Islam," declared "no President should ever send anyone in this military and keep one arm tied behind them." (A note here- this was a common criticism among Americans during the Vietnam War, that President Johnson was foolishly fighting a war of restraint.)

Comments of these four individuals- Tancredo, T. Thompson, Huckabee, Brownback, and Paul- are reasonable, to varying degrees valid, and completely non-partisan and bi-partisan.
That's the good news. The other four candidates- U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter and the three (aside from the non-candidate, Anything for a Buck Fred) leading men- were partisan and irresponsible. Mitt Romney fantasized that Obama "has gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove." (Although given Romney's proclivity for philosophical acrobatics, one nearly expects to learn that he once contributed to the "Obama for Senate" campaign fund.) He proclaimed "it's time... for the people of America to a show huge surge of support including our leaders in Washington for our families and these troops... to make sure this surge is a success." Translation: if this escalation fails, it is ony because of the opposition from not only Democratic members of Congress but also Main Street Americans.

To hearty applause, Duncan Hunter described "the Democratic debate" as "a race to see who could stampede to the exit the quickest" while "not a single Democrat (sic) candidate paused in the rush to the exit to say to our Marines "good job. You guys are fighting and achieving with blood, sweat, and tears what the country needs." Those troop-hating Democrats-the guys who sent our soldiers into a battle without a plan to win the peace, proper supplies, or adequate health care. (Scratch that. That was President Bush.)

But though not the most vitriolic, the saddest remarks came from John McCain, who declared "we will not set a date for surrender as the Democrats continue to do." Echoes of the lovely "stab in the back" argument that served the Nazis so well after World War I, ascribing the loss of that war to invisible enemies. Invisible, as in the reputation for bipartisanship and independence that McCain once coveted.

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