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11/18/2005
THE NADIR OF THE WAR?
CATEGORY: War on Terror

This article originally appears in The American Thinker

Forgive me my pessimism today. I made the mistake of reading reaction in the mainstream media to Representative John Murtha’s (D-PA) tearful tirade against the Iraq War on the floor of the House yesterday. The fact that he said the war was “unwinnable” last year apparently isn’t newsworthy. Was it the dramatic image of the old war hero tearing up when talking about his admirable visits to see wounded veterans? If so, why weren’t the images of Iraqis weeping for joy after voting in the first free elections in their lives also considered fodder for the front pages and cable talk shows that now breathlessly report on the latest “turning point” in the American people’s support for the war?

We’ve had so many “turning points” in this war that we’ve damn near gone around in a circle. Why should the lamentations of one Congressman, albeit a respected voice on military matters, cause such a stink? Of course, Murtha’s diatribe has not occurred in a vacuum. It follows closely on the heels of an effort by Republicans in the Senate to try and outdo their Democratic colleagues in proving that election to high office does not necessarily mean one is blessed with common sense and wisdom. In fact, the “Cut And Run But Not As Quickly As Michael Moore Would Have It” version of a “Sense of the Senate” resolution on Iraq supported by Republicans only proves that, quite simply, the words “sense” and “senate” used in the same sentence when referring to that august body is a misnomer.

And don’t forget those poll numbers that show 57% of the American people believe that President Bush misled the country about intelligence in the lead up to the war with a similar majority believing the war was a mistake. Funny, but it never seems to make it into the same paragraph in stories reporting those grim statistics that 2/3 of the country is in favor of staying in Iraq “until the job is done.” That would seem to cut the chocks from underneath the cut and run crowd except their allies in the mainstream press have better things to do than reporting anything that would upset the delicate imbalance they try to maintain when reporting war news.

Murtha may be forgiven his apostasy. The man has served his country in war and peace with a dedication and selflessness rarely seen these days. But so did Marshall Petain. (HT: Ed Morrisey). The French hero of Verdun and head of the collaborationist Vichy government believed that Nazism was the wave of the future and in order for France to survive, cooperation with Hitler seemed to be the most logical course. The fact that he was tragically wrong both about Nazism and the cost to France that such cooperation engendered has made history’s judgment of his actions an object lesson for the Murthas of this world. For like the Nazis, the implacable Islamists currently blowing up our boys in Iraq will attack us wherever and whenever they choose. It doesn’t matter if we are in Iraq, not in Iraq, setting a timetable to pull out, or simply wringing our hands over the whole mess. Their goal is death. Their agenda, mayhem.

It may be that this moment is indeed a turning point of sorts. The inconstancy of the Republican Senate about the war is reflective of something deeper abroad in the land. Call it a crisis of spirit or a loss of confidence on the part of the nation’s political leadership but the sad truth is that the closer we get to outright victory in Iraq with our troops coming home in triumph the more we hear that the effort has been a failure and that only by leaving the field of battle to our enemies can we make the situation right.

The Iraqi government is facing enormous problems. Internal security, civil rights, factionalism, foreign interventionism, sectarianism, infrastructure; the list goes on and on. But forgotten in all of the naysaying and dire warnings of catastrophe is the fact that progress is being made - fitfully and not as quickly as we would like but progress nonetheless - on all of those problems. In just a few weeks, the people of Iraq will hold an election under their newly minted constitution that, on paper, is a marvel of compromise and idealism. What kind of government emerges from these elections may not be very satisfying to the United States. But that is not the point. It will be the kind of government that the Iraqi people want. And that is what more than 2,000 American boys and girls have died trying to establish; a democratically elected government set in the heart of jihad territory. The Iraqis are about ready to spit in the eye of Osama bin Laden and all our weak kneed, faint of heart “nervous nellies” can spout about is how much of a failure the war has been and how we should leave these courageous people to the tender mercies of al Zarqawi and his Merry Band of Beheaders.

Only recently has the President begun to refocus the country’s attention on what is at stake in Iraq, something he should have been doing religiously these past two years but a task in which he has failed miserably. The belief by the White House that the American people wouldn’t believe the lies and distortions about the justifications for the war by his political enemies has proven to be as bad a blunder as the Administration has ever made. Their concurrent strategy of relying on surrogates to define and restate our war aims has also been inadequate. For when it comes right down to it, the American people could give a damn what Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman or even a respected Senator like John McCain says about the war. They need to hear it from the President himself.

The White House can perhaps be forgiven for not holding regular press conferences given the temperament and political leanings of the White House press corp. But that doesn’t preclude the President from barnstorming the country, treating the war like a political campaign, hammering his opponents who are calling him a liar while urging, even begging the people for their support. Such a campaign probably wouldn’t have much affect on his opposition - except perhaps to drive them into even more comical fits of apoplexy - but it would almost surely put some backbone into his wavering supporters in the Congress.

Whatever the President does, he must do it now and it must be a sustained effort. One reason for his low poll numbers despite a humming economy, falling gas prices, and real progress in Iraq is the sense among a majority of people that the country “is on the wrong track.” By not getting up on his hind legs and fighting thus leaving the field to his political enemies, the President has allowed the opposition to not only define the issues but also supply a skewed narrative to go with those issues. The President, who has in the past demonstrated a reluctance for the attack, must now fight back as only a President can; by dominating the news day after day from the bully pulpit, shaming his enemies and encouraging his supporters. Otherwise, the tepid support demonstrated by Republicans of all stripes recently will continue with the very real danger that an anti-incumbent backlash in 2006 will cost the Republicans the Senate.

If this is the nadir of the war it is because the President has failed to keep Iraq in the forefront of the nation’s consciousness. The fact that we are in a war for our survival and that Iraq is currently the major front in that conflict makes the President’s reluctance to engage his political enemies all the more troubling. However, it is still not to late to retrieve the situation. The President must demonstrate in a sustained and coherent manner the passion and leadership that he exhibited at the start of the Iraq campaign. His recent speeches would seem to indicate that he understands this which is heartening. But unless his focus remains firmly fixed on a defense of his decisions that took us to war as well as a patient approach to explaining why we must see the task through to victory, he stands to lose even more support in the Congress. In short, he must regain control of the debate over the war.

Following a disastrous defeat for the Union army at Fredericksburg, President Lincoln, for the only time in his Presidency, gave in to a feeling of hopelessness. He covered his face with his hands and said “What will the country think?” The fact is, the country by that time had been conditioned to the fact that the Civil War was going to be a long conflict and that setbacks were inevitable. The reason they were conditioned was because of Lincoln’s steadfast belief in victory and his inspiring defense of his policies.

President Bush has the most powerful bully pulpit on the planet with a megaphone much larger than anything Mr. Lincoln could ever have imagined. The question foremost on the minds of his supporters should be, when is he going to start using them?

By: Rick Moran at 9:02 am
8 Responses to “THE NADIR OF THE WAR?”
  1. 1
    Duane Said:
    9:40 am 

    I strongly respect Murtha’s past active duty service. But don’t get confused into buying his “hawk” credentials in Congress.

    For a very long time, Murtha was the head of the House Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee. That is the plum pork assignment in the entire Congress- you are the one dictator (under pre-1994 Dem rules) in charge of the place all spending Bills originate for the largest pot of discretionary spending, bar none.

    Murtha used that throne with a vengeance and a check-writing pen for hometown Johnstown, Pennsylvania and other favored buddies’ districts that rivalled only Sen. Klan’s West Virginia bacon warehouse. that explains why money better spent on things such as, you know, soldiers and bullets, Army and Marine stuff, ended up funding the National Center of Excellence in Metalworking Technology, a classic jobs earmark for an out-of-the-way town (Johnstown) lacking any reason for its selection.

    When the Clinton illusory “peace dividend” struck, Mr. Murtha was in hog heaven diverting cash to every non-military purpose he could find under the rubric of soft “defense” (strengthen the rust belt union economy and you make America strong, blah blah). The Republican Congress takeover has revealed its own flaws (which can only be resolved by some sunset and TABOR reforms including term limits), but at least it dethroned this kind of kingpin. And redistricting finished the job, so now Murtha has to sound more like Ramsey Clark than Wesley Clark. Assuming there is a difference between those two, that is.

  2. 2
    Rodney A Stanton Said:
    3:07 pm 

    The problem was in part created by the President himself. He spent much of Mar to Oct “barnstorming the country” . But he was attacking conservatives. He furthered his attacks on the conservatives by nominating 2 NONconservatives to SCOUS. His actions have angered the people who 13 months ago were his strongest supporters. It is no accident that his approval rating dropped 10% the week after the Roberts nomination.
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/polls/2005-10-31-nov-poll.htm
    The decline has continued for 4 more months, albeit at a much slower rate.

    Bush has mad the same disastrous mistake his father made. He has thrown his lot with the liberals. And the liberals have not supported him; just like they did not support his father. Liberals will never get behind a Republican. But conservatives will leave Republicans just like we left the Democrats 40 years ago. Besides mys self (who you never herd of) a well know conservative who left the Democratic Party was a Californian named Ronnie Reagan.

    Had Bush spent his energy attacking the MSM/DNC from Mar to Oct; instead of attacking conservatives his ratingw would be much higher and the MSM/DNC bush lied campaign would never have got traction. To America’s detriment Bush tried to crush conservatives. He failed and he is failing as a President because he has become a liberal.

  3. 3
    ed Said:
    3:44 pm 

    I certainly admire the strength of faith by the conservatives. Instead of seeing the Iraq War for the monumental mistake is was,is, and will continue to be, when the faithful are handed their ass on a platter, they see a steak dinner.
    The inability to ever admit mistakes will kill the far right conservative movement’s electoral successes. “Liberal” has become the boogyman that “Communist” was in the 50’s and 60’s. “We are never wrong” is the mantra, and if a Republican makes a undeniable mistake, then, as commenter Mr. Stanton demonstrates, they are not really a conservative, but a LIBERAL, or was unduely influenced by LIBERALS. Overall, voters are not stupid. To never admit error is a form of a lie. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes and everyone knows this to be true from our own experiences.
    The born-again type of conservatives are bound to be frustrated in American politics, because ultimately, compromise is necessary between competing ideas and factions. This fact will also prevent the warring factions in Iraq from working together as a functional democracy. The Sunnis and the Shites in the Iraq area have been unable to compromise and cooperate for centuries. Thinking that a Constitution and the institutions of democracy put in place will end the hostilities is the ultimate in wishful thinking. And frankly, I would be very happy to be wrong in this assessment. However, history casts a very dark shadow.

  4. 4
    Jo macDougal Said:
    4:04 pm 

    We would not be in this situation if Bush had been honest last year and run as the liberal he in fact is. Of course he would have lost the election. We have a cripple for President because he told us to vote for him because he was conservative when he like his dad is a liberal. Then after the election he runs the government as a liberal and nominiates SCOTUS judges who are not liberal but are also not like Thomas. Another “Read My Lips!” liberal Republican and another failure for America.
    The problem I have is how was one to know what a liberal Buish is/was?

  5. 5
    BBoot Said:
    8:33 am 

    Pardon me, but Bush is a liar.

  6. 6
    Cold Fury Trackbacked With:
    3:04 pm 

    Summary of the week’s big story

    DEMOCRATS: The war is a quagmire!
    REPUBLICANS: No it isn’t.
    DEMOCRATS: The war is unwinnable!
    REPUBLICANS: No it isn’t.
    DEMOCRATS: Bush lied to get us into this unnecessary war!
    REPUBLICANS: No he didn’t.
    DEMOCRATS: By answering our c…

  7. 7
    :: Political Musings :: » Spinal Transplant Pinged With:
    12:23 am 

    [...] past week, the White House had basically abrogated that job since the November elections. Rick Moran explains the consequences of this decision and what can be done [...]

  8. 8
    citizen Said:
    9:46 pm 

    Rick Moran you are wrong and here is why: if everything in print and on tv was directed to calling you a liar, and deliberately lying about you, for six years, you would be low in the “polls” too.

    Those are not polls, and whatever you heard any of the lying media say about the American spirit is, of course, A LIE.

    All they do is lie. They do not know how to tell the truth. They do not believe truth exists, outside of what they say it is.

    The American spirit is strong and good, and doing quite well thank you very much. Too bad you took the word of liars to form your opinion of it.

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