Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Puzzling Price of Unity

The Bubble that surrounds Bush is an example of a plan that went too well. What was the plan? To protect Bush from his enemies and rivals. In what might be cosmic irony or poetic justice, depending on your point of view, the very means of Bush’s defense have become the things imprisoning him in a nutshell of misinformation, public scorn, groupthink, and desperation.

It is said that God punishes people by giving them precisely what they want. In Bush's case, what he wanted was re-election. He had bought that re-election through a number of tactics.

First, he didn't actually govern that much, delegating many things and doing others through proxies. That meant there was little to be blamed for that directly connected to his name. He could always claim it had been his subordinates idea.

Second, he made loyalty the order of the day, loyalty to him and the platforms those loyal to him advocated. This he defined in stark terms of opposition: if you don't agree with me, you're not being loyal to me.

Third, he made excoriation of his opponents the order of the day. Nothing would be off-limits, save that which blewback in his direction. Even then, people would make excuses for that. Many of the harshest words would fall from the mouths of subordinates, to put a layer of plausible deniability between the President and the worst of the words. Supporters would take advantage of that, though critics would rightly point out that this administration rarely left so much to chance in their public relations.

The plan worked. well enought to get the president re-elected. Problem was, the political aspects of it overwhelmed the president's real-world behavior.

The trouble with plausible deniability on any level is it has to remain plausible. The other trouble is that distrust of the remove eats its way in from the fringes. The other factors in bubbling the president assured that the president would be held more and more responsible for what was going on, and yet would feel compelled to fight these charges harder and harder in order to remain outside accountability.

The trouble with delegation, is that he would feel compelled to stand behind any number of decisions he wasn't aware of. With loyalty a high priority, Bush would have a tough time repudiating all but the most atrocious policies. The cloistered nature of thinking within the administration would ensure that even when many Americans found the policies or actions objectionable, Bush would be sticking by his man (or woman).

Loyalty is admirable in a person, but there are different ways to be loyal, and the president did not avail himself of people who were willing to work with him, but also willing to think for themselves. By taking that path, he ensured and reinforced groupthink, the root of many evils in this administration. Even when people started getting ideas of their own, Bush's definition of loyalty ensured it would percolate slowly to the top at best.

As all these forces manifested in policy and reality, people would come to disagree with the administration. It his here that the worst sins of rhetoric and divisive rhetoric would serve to accelerate the president's descent from political glory. What Bush and others forget was that divide away dissenters this way, they had to make targets of potentially persuadeable people. As the Bush's policies skewed farther away from public consensus, he has made targets of more and more Americans. These Americans, formerly on the other side of the debate find themselves subject to the same derogatory rhetoric they might have used before. Only this time, it's been turned against them, and not somebody else. The shock is like that of cold water on hot stone, with a comparable severity in the split.

Even then, the Bubble seeks to reinforce itself, this strange attractor drawing the Administration and the party's behavior to itself even in the face of knowledge that perhaps getting out of that pattern of behavior would be smart. The Bubble becomes the definition of right and wrong. It becomes their world, perhaps the only right one, as far as they can see, and as it goes, the situation becomes lonelier and lonelier.

Nobody is immune. Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, and we can all be small from time to time. We defend ourselves by venturing outside of our bubbles, by exposing ourselves to ideas and sensibilities not our own, and allowing their meaning to soak in. We do it by making hard facts matter more than that soft, silly wordplay we call spin. Most of all, we do it by remembering that there is a real world out there which is more than just the outer layer of our own little universe.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at December 21, 2005 12:55 PM
Comments
Comment #105563

My 2 yr old was so excited - while taking a bath the other night. She called excitedly for me to come see…”I making bubbles!” (passing gas)

I think I know the exact bubbles Bush has surrounded himself with.

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 2:38 PM
Comment #105654

The word Election has taken on a new meaning since 2000, when Bush lost the popular vote, and won the electoral vote in the supreme court, and even 2004, when the electoral vote was suspect: “Republican pollster Dick Morris said the Election Night pattern of mistaken exit polls favoring Kerry in six battleground states – Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa – was virtually inconceivable.” From http://www.consortiumnews.com/2004/110904.html

I believe that Bush actually knows nothing, so deniability would be a non-issue here.

Posted by: ray at December 21, 2005 4:36 PM
Comment #105671

You know someone else started talking about bubbles. http://realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-12_21_05_TL.html

Posted by: Winship at December 21, 2005 5:02 PM
Comment #105674

Winship:

Wow. Thanks for sharing that article. What complete waste of time… Come on…”liberal elite”… REPS can really cloud the air with BS.

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 5:05 PM
Comment #105680

I would say the elections demonstrated something more significant, and more substantive than claims of a stolen election. I think the 2000 election demonstrated that Bush and the GOP were willing to risk the appearance of impropriety and dirty tricks in order to get the White House. None of them gave due consideration to the fact that such an approach might hamstring the president’s legitimacy in the eyes of the people who voted for Gore.

If 9/11 hadn’t interceded, the shine might have worn off faster on the Bush administration much faster. 9/11 and the Iraq War allowed Bush to take credit for efforts largely delegated to others, which he could stand on the sidelines and cheer on (after all, nobody expects Bush himself to lead a battle.)

Only as his screw-ups built a consensus agaisnt him did this begin to reverse. Unfortunately for him, the disregard for the good opinion of his fellow Americans, made so evident on election day, would come back to haunt him as it colored his decisions.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 21, 2005 5:12 PM
Comment #105710

Winship
Bush’s bubble is a much more cloistered environment than the bubble your author imagines. After all, if most of the media is in it, with all the variety of information out there, then it’s a pretty expansive bubble, and we can live within such limits comfortably.

As I said, none are immune to having some kind of limitations. Bush, though, has surrendered to those limitations and aggravated them with his behavior to such an extent that even senior officials, who are supposed to be close to him, feel they can’t talk sense into him. If you had read that magazine article, instead of dismissing it, perhaps you would know that.

Which is part of that point. A liberal might not like what he reads, but he will often read it anyways. The Grand Old Party has made it Standard Operating Procedure to disregard all negative coverage as liberal propaganda, encouraging ignorance of the contents, or at least hand feeding through a pundit or other source.

I don’t know about other people, but I’d rather know a quote in context, in original form, than simply accept some pundit’s position. I like the pride of knowing that I’m the one whose point of view is coming out, not some pundit. I prefer to be hooked in, knowledgeable.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 21, 2005 5:57 PM
Comment #105726

Stephen Daugherty, here’s an old article on their tactics, based on Prof.Newt’s instructions contained in 1994’s Language: a key mechanism of control:
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4443.htm

Posted by: ray at December 21, 2005 6:20 PM
Comment #105752
A liberal might not like what he reads, but he will often read it anyways. The Grand Old Party has made it Standard Operating Procedure to disregard all negative coverage as liberal propaganda, encouraging ignorance of the contents

I’ll grant you that conservatives have been much more effective at developing and spreading a common message, but I’ve got a liberal friend in New York who once said he couldn’t see how Rush Limbaugh could be so popular, since nobody he knew listened to him. I doubt his friends weren’t listening because they were too busy reading stuff from the Cato Institute. In other words, liberals are just as likely to shy away from opinions they don’t like as anyone else. Present liberal company may be excluded from that sentiment, but since I’m here reading this, the anecdotal evidence suggests the comment about conservatives may be wrong as well. We always have to be wary of painting with broadstrokes.

That said, Bush has placed himself inside a bubble of his own making that does not serve him well.

Posted by: Paul Szydlowski at December 21, 2005 8:29 PM
Comment #105771

Hey - Maybe John Travolta could play him the ‘made for TV version’ of this Administration!!!???

Posted by: tony at December 21, 2005 9:41 PM
Comment #105787

“That said, Bush has placed himself inside a bubble of his own making that does not serve him well.”

Frankly, I don’t give a damn whether it’s serving HIM well. It’s not serving the American people, the country, the environment,The Constitution, the Iraqi people, the people who used to live in New Orleans, college students, the elderly, the poor, tolerant open-minded Christians, tolerant open-minded Muslims, the economy, the rule of law, human freedoms, the 46 million people without health insurance, the people under thirty trying to raise a family, an average Joe just trying to make a living, and about 1,897 other things that I could list…. The only ones it is serving are the ones raised on the other mother’s milk of American politics—fear.

Posted by: Tim Crow at December 21, 2005 10:40 PM
Comment #105792

Nice article Stephen. However, I have to disagree with this one thing you said in a follow-up post:

“I would say the elections demonstrated something more significant, and more substantive than claims of a stolen election.”

A long while back in this blog I provided some pretty substantive proof based on several pages (from a govt. website, mind you) that showed how the election was stolen from Gore in the State of Florida in 2000. No bogus claims here, but solid factual info based on what took place during that election. I believe I’ve still got the link somewhere in one of my many bookmark folders, so if you’d like me to post it again, just let me know and I’ll go try to find it for you.

But, speaking of significant demonstrations regarding this administration, I find it very telling that after Bush fired those in the govt. who wrote up that report on the Florida election, and selected his own appointees as replacements for their positions, a similar report was not produced after the 2004 election. So, regarding the Ohio vote, there was never a study made, not even in a generalized outline form, over the many many problems that occurred with the vote in that state. (I guess we can assume the GOP just isn’t curious when such massive confusion occurs in America?)
In fact, as I’m sure you already know, the closest thing that we’ve ever gotten to that was produced by a Democrat in the form of Rep. John Conyers report: “What Went Wrong In Ohio.”

Talk about being in a bubble! Not just Bush, but all of the Neocons just don’t seem interested in any facts or knowledge that might undermine what they want to believe, or thwart their goals in any way. (To me, this makes them Dangerous as well as Foolish.) And as we’re all aware, they must always be in total control of their agreed upon message — even if they have to buy people in order to sell that message to us, or all appear on the same day parroting the exact same phrases like mindless automatons.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 21, 2005 10:58 PM
Comment #105795

tony:
“Hey - Maybe John Travolta could play him the ‘made for TV version’ of this Administration!!!???”

:^D I’d rather see Will Ferrell play that role myself!
Or, maybe if either of them are too expensive, a simple sock-puppet would do.

Tim Crow — you said it!

Posted by: Adrienne at December 21, 2005 11:16 PM
Comment #105817

Stephen,

I think the ‘bubble’ you are speaking of is the one which surrounds the entire Democratic party and the left. One might have wondered what those dwelling in this bubble were going to do after the main stream media ‘liberal safety zone’ was breached, first by AM radio, now by the internet, but we need not wonder… those once protected by the bubble refuse to believe it has burst!

Stories like this are kind of like the old stand by, “So Mr. Bush, when did you stop beating your wife?” If a scandal doesn’t exist, just make one up and say ‘Bush is out of touch.’ This is a media story without context and without the vaunted objectivity that the left-leaning media continue to claim is their creedo.

I think the 2000 election demonstrated that Bush and the GOP were willing to risk the appearance of impropriety and dirty tricks in order to get the White House. None of them gave due consideration to the fact that such an approach might hamstring the president’s legitimacy in the eyes of the people who voted for Gore.

??? Stephen. Stephen. Stephen. (And Adrienne, Excuse me while my hateful conservative words fill your screen momentarily.) What dirty tricks are you talking about? Conceding and then taking it back? (Sorry, I think that was Gore…) Dirty tricks like throwing out all the military ballots assuming that they predominantly vote Republican? (Gore.) Or maybe you are referring to the time honored and well accepted practice of conceding when you have more votes than your opponent?

Let’s take a poll here on the blue side. Here’s the question:

Did Bush steal the election?

1. Yes, Republicans steal every election.
2. Yes, felons were not allowed to vote.
3. Yes, Republicans cheated. Democrats were only allowed to vote once.
4. Yes, Republicans wouldn’t allow the dead to vote.
5. Yes, Republicans wouldn’t allow dimpled, duplicate, or non-marked ballots to be counted as a Gore vote.
6. No. Bush won.

Posted by: esimonson at December 22, 2005 1:41 AM
Comment #105939

Eric-
There are so many lies coming out of your heroic “bubble-bursters” that I can’t help but believe that bubble you speak of is more a lie than a truth itself. Why is it that when it comes down to it, we get the facts right? You guys protested that our pessimism about finding WMDs was unwarranted, that our belief that not getting more soldiers into the field to secure Iraq in 2003 was going to make things worse. We told you that we needed to get back and take back Fallujah and Najaf, and after half a year, you finally saw the need and did it.

Again and again, we’ve told you that somebody needs to take care of these problems, and your side blithely ignored us until things actually came to pass. Doubts don’t lose wars when they are rational and lead us to correct mistakes and turn back negative trends. Negligence in the face of problems does. The Bubble let that come to pass. The Bubble let problems go by because this president did not like entertaining doubts. To him, will was what was important, and unfortunately, will doesn’t change the world, action does, and when the will of a leader leads us in a lousy plan, not only does will do no good, it can do great harm. Reference WWI and WWII. The Great Powers tore each other and their nations to pieces with their strong will. The hero of the Neocons himself, Winston Churchill, sent hundreds of thousands of British soldiers to their deaths in vain, trying to win the Dardanelles.

Will is important, but it is only important when the people employing it are clear-eyed, and willing to admit their mistakes to at least themselves and do better. Will by itself is only unfulfilled desire and compulsion.

As for the election, can you explain what was so clean and pure about future UN ambassador John Bolton marching into the middle of a counting room and announcing the recount was over? Or that wonderfully charming episode where a bunch of middle-aged Republicans mobbed another counting room? And what is so dirty about throwing out military votes that were not properly formatted? Are we to allow votes that don’t legally count because they’re from the military? As for the concession, again you blame a Democrat for changing their mind when they learn the information they were given wasn’t accurate.

Do I believe he stole the election? I believe he made it impossible not to at least entertain the thought, with his strong arm tactics. Do you know what John Bolton was doing during the election? Or that angry mob of white middle age men who made their presence known at that counting center? The Democrats did their share of trying to shape what ballots were accept and what weren’t (a legally invalid military ballot is still a legally invalid military ballot), but I doubt they were willing to take on the appearance that Bush did of having a bunch of thugs trying to disrupt the counts in progress.

This is the whole problem. You’ve become so enamored of winning that you no longer have a sense of shame, and that perhaps is one of the most important contributors to the bubble you’re in- you can no longer see what’s wrong with what you’re doing, or why people might not look at your actions with the same indulgence. It’s time to recall that in a Democracy, that power is not given without the expectation of its proper use.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 22, 2005 10:56 AM
Comment #105985

Stephen, I can’t help but marvel at your persistence and ability in debating Eric. I simply don’t have the patience and calm, even temperament for that endeavor, but I certainly admire the fact that you do.

For ray, and any one else who is interested in whether our elections are fair and accountable:
Diebold Hack Hints at Wider Flaws

Posted by: Adrienne at December 22, 2005 12:09 PM
Comment #106138

Stephen,

Why is it that when it comes down to it, we get the facts right?

Plainly, you [i.e. your ‘we’] don’t get the facts right. Broken clocks are always right twice a day. But that is quite different from being correct. Predicting that everything would go wrong is not exactly difficult nor is it the result of any non-partisan rational process.

You guys protested that our pessimism about finding WMDs was unwarranted,

“Our pessimism” are the key words here.

As I recall, those who ‘predicted’ that there were no WMD’s the earliest were the outright fringe left. International ANSWER, a communist organization, for instance, was prescient in your estimation. Should we put them in charge? They did organize every major anti-war protest in the United States to date.

Oddly, all of the ‘moderate’ left, which you claim to be aligned with were convinced that there were WMD and that Saddam was likely to use them. We can go back and read all of the quotes. Democrats voted to authorize the use of force after all. Which group are you putting yourself in when you say ‘we’? The radical fringe left or the moderates?

Because for Democrats to now say that Bush did everything wrong is to ignore everything that did go right, as well as every statement they made about why we needed to go in there.

The pessimism that we would find WMD would be a surprise to Clinton Administration officials as well, who were POSITIVE, absolutely positive that there were WMD’s… but then it is true that they were only positive while they were in power. Once there was no longer a Clinton Administration this ‘fact’ apparently changed.

…that our belief that not getting more soldiers into the field to secure Iraq in 2003 was going to make things worse.

A valid criticism. More troops could have been used to keep the peace after the initial invasion. An Invasion which was characterized by ‘we’ as a quagmire and a failure at the time that it was executed. By yourself as well as I recall. So you were completely incorrect about that as well.

Your ‘We’ were 100% wrong about the invasion. But then that’s the problem with never having positive predictions. You get the broken clock effect. Actually, it’s more like the psychics who predict a panoply of vague and varying events and then after waiting to see what actually happens, claim to have predicted the future while ignoring all of the predictions that didn’t come to pass.

We told you that we needed to get back and take back Fallujah and Najaf, and after half a year, you finally saw the need and did it.

This is another good example Stephen. These are not things your ‘we’ predicted anything about. This is a hindsight prediction. After the fact, the left has focused on anything negative that they could blow up into some kind of Vietnam.

This is part of your “we’s” bubble. It’s a self-reinforcing view point that excludes any consideration of anything positive as well as an entire past history of your positions on Iraq.

You yourself characterized these cities as having ‘fallen’. You wrote about how we ‘lost’ these cities. Yet, in what battle did we lose them? By your own statements we don’t have enough troops in Iraq to ‘occupy’ all these cities. How did we ‘lose’ cities in the classic sense when we weren’t ‘occupying’ them in the classic sense?

You have still rendered no opinion on how we ‘gained back’ these cities. This is because you have no need to review anything that could possibly be characterized as victory. Our troops have done what your ‘we’ predicted they could never do. They aren’t there to oppress and occupy Iraqis. Which is why they have been able to suppress insurgents without making enemies of the general populous.

The truth is that your ‘we’ have predicted many things that have been 100% incorrect and demanded that we do things that would have made things much worse.

Your ‘We’ were insistant that elections were a mistake and could not be held until there was absolute ‘security’. ‘We’ went to considerable lengths to say that removing insurgents from Fallujah would decimate our troops and house to house fighting would be to the insurgents advantage. The facts are different. All the fighting in Iraq has been to our advantage.

Our troops are not being defeated in battle as you seem to believe.

You have no interest in even investigating any of these details that might contradict your premeditated view that everything about Iraq is a failure and a lost cause that requires either total ruthless ‘rooting out’ of insurgents or cut and run.

As I recall you were talking about a sending more troops and being more ruthless. Which shows a complete misunderstanding of how to fight insurgents.

It’s time to recall that in a Democracy, that power is not given without the expectation of its proper use.

Which is why Democrats are not in power and why they will likely lose seats in the next congressional election.

Posted by: esimonson at December 22, 2005 3:07 PM
Comment #106156

What dirty tricks are you talking about?

Esimonson, this is all very old stuff from 2000. You are obviously unaware that the people who you are calling felons were people on a list, whose names were similar to someone who was a felon. Sometimes, they weren’t even the same sex as the felon in question, but they were not allowed to vote in the thousands, just in Duval Co. (Jacksonville).

The dirtiest trick of all was the 10000 absentee ballots filled out at the Seminole County courthouse, where the Rpblcn senatorial candidate lived (Altamonte Springs). Democratic absentee ballots were thrown away. I understand the same thing happened in Stuart County, but they only did 5000 there.

Posted by: ray at December 22, 2005 3:24 PM
Comment #106250

Eric-
Look, I’m not talking about the beginning of the war. I’m talking about the summer and the year after that. As the summer went on, I can remember becoming more skeptical about finding them. Yet your side asserted that we would find them. So far, we have never seen the predicted stores of WMDs. Though David Kay raised the possibility that WMDs could have been moved elsewhere as a potential (though unlikely) explanation, Charles Duelfer, in his report found not one bit of evidence for that. Bush has since admitted that the intelligence was bad. Questions still remain about his administration’s role in aggravating that.

Yet, we still hear stuff from you folks about it. It doesn’t matter what ANSWER predicted, it matters the facts your people take months to admit the truth about, when you admit things at all. More troubling are the reports of the twisting of evidence and the intimidation of agents and analysts. Whatever we believed before the war, it was the job of this administration to set us straight, not willfully lead us down the garden path by way of our ignorance.

I remember believing, when the war started, that we would likely have casualties in the the hundreds, but that we would likely win. I think most people thought that the war would play out in Gulf War Style, with us beating the shit out of the Republican Guard. It did. I don’t think Democrats were that negative about it. I think you’re being fairly revisionist about it to portray us as the perpetual naysayers that are convenient to your Anne Coulter-style rhetoric.

As for hindsight, I don’t see what wasn’t so obvious about taking back Fallujah and Najaf. Why not? Why leave all that time to let the insurgents entrench? What the hell good did that do? If anything comparisons to Vietnam were increased by the failure to take back Najaf and Fallujah early, and the real world similarities magnified by the foothold it allowed the insurgents in the rest of the country. We didn’t make this Vietnam, Bush did, by not making our presence felt strongly enough.

You argue all the semantics you want, but If we couldn’t safely travel the territory, it wasn’t ours. Now we did say that the urban warfare would be difficult, and it was. We had some of the highest casualties of the war in our final offensive. But remember, we were asking you to take care of it in the first place. We were merely being realistic about what we were doing there! You confuse realism with defeatism. It’s like confusing Saving Private Ryan with Das Boot.

I don’t believe our soldiers are being defeated. I believe they are being underutilized in a way that undermines our entire strategy there. I believe they are being misused, not that they can’t do the job. This probably the paragraph you’re going to ignore, so I’m going to make this clear to everybody else who actually reads this. I think this is a problem of bad leadership.

I don’t think I’ve ever advocated running. It’s the very thing I hope we never end up doing, but it’s the very things your screwups could add up to. The sad thing is, you don’t see how the body of mistakes made, and the failure to correct them promptly enough has combined to create the sticky situation we’re in.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 22, 2005 5:54 PM
Comment #106420

Stephen,

Look, I’m not talking about the beginning of the war. I’m talking about the summer and the year after that.
??? It’s a somewhat misleading statement to say that you predicted there were no WMD, when what you meant was that you were willing to say there were no WMD before ‘we’ robotic-like Bush supporters were.

Frankly, I still think that some of the WMD went to Syria. We do know for a fact that truckloads of cash and explosives were moved.

But regardless of that, there’s a broader point about the WMD intelligence: I do not subscribe to the idea that not finding WMD means that it was a bad decision to go into Iraq. After all there were no WMD in Bosnia either, yet everyone on the left thinks that was a wonderful war, one of the best we’ve ever had, and quite frankly I agree that intervening in Bosnia was the right decision.

WMD was not the only rationale for war. In fact, my primary support for the war was not that Saddam had WMD but that he was the type of guy we didn’t want to guess about whether or not he did have them. My patience with UN weapons inspectors fell short rather quickly. Now we know additional facts which make the UN’s feet dragging and daily doubletalk all the suspicious. I am speaking of the corruption of the Oil-For-Food program which doesn’t apparently exist according to the Blue column. Yet most of the left believes the UN should be given more power and authority. I don’t exactly see the ‘culture of accountability’ on the left to rival the supposed ‘culture of corruption’ on the right.

Now once we made the decision to go, the arguments about WMD become irrelavant, unless you want to improve our detection techniques and explore other options we could use in the future. I’m all for that. But to say that no WMD means the war was a failure is absurd. Saddam’s own people believed they had WMD’s!

As for hindsight, I don’t see what wasn’t so obvious about taking back Fallujah and Najaf. Why not? Why leave all that time to let the insurgents entrench? What the hell good did that do?
There are good reasons to do that actually. One of the aspects of fighting terrorist in war is that you can’t kill those who do not want to stand and fight. One way to get them to do so is to allow them to coalesce.

Another good reason is that the insurgents were hiding in Fallujah amongst the population, with the help of some of the population. If you took the time to read some of the stories about how the terrorists abused the population in Fallujah toward the end you might realize that many people in the Sunni triangle began seeing these people for what they were: terrorist thugs who don’t value the life of Iraqi’s.

Have you looked into how methodically and successfully our troops went through Fallujah? In light of any other conflict this would have been hailed as a miracle according to what the pessimists said would happen. Fighting house to house in urban warfare was supposed to be our achilles heel. No doubt, the terrorists believed it too. Instead we cleaned their clocks.

If anything comparisons to Vietnam were increased by the failure to take back Najaf and Fallujah early, and the real world similarities magnified by the foothold it allowed the insurgents in the rest of the country. We didn’t make this Vietnam, Bush did, by not making our presence felt strongly enough.
This is what I am talking about. This is not Vietnam! The comparisons to Vietnam were increased by the failure of Democrats and the left to lead. Instead they chose the low road of preferring our defeat to supporting our victory.

I don’t say this to call anyone a coward or unpatriotic (though I reserve the right to do so when the case warrants it), I’m saying that the policy of creating defeat propaganda should be left to our enemies.

But remember, we were asking you to take care of it in the first place. We were merely being realistic about what we were doing there! You confuse realism with defeatism. It’s like confusing Saving Private Ryan with Das Boot.
But again, that is my point. Going in is over. The invasion is done. It does no good to create defeat where there is none, merely because you want to defeat a President you disagree with. I wish to God that it were a Democrat in the White House for this reason alone. Simply because they would have more support from the opposition party than Bush does now.
I don’t believe our soldiers are being defeated. I believe they are being underutilized in a way that undermines our entire strategy there. I believe they are being misused, not that they can’t do the job. This probably the paragraph you’re going to ignore, so I’m going to make this clear to everybody else who actually reads this. I think this is a problem of bad leadership.
As you agree, the troops are not getting defeated. Maybe you should send Murtha et al a memo to that effect. Because I don’t think they understand that.

On the one hand you say that there aren’t enough troops to do the job and on the other you say they are being underutilized. Which is it?

Let’s think about this argument that it is bad leadership which is making Iraq into Vietnam.

The troops can do the job but somehow are being hindered by Bush. How so? Do you think Bush is directing the troops personally? If the job in Iraq is achievable, (something contradicted by your side, which has said explicitly that we’ve already failed and can’t win), AND the troops can do the job then why abort the mission?

[1] the job is acheivable + [1] the troops can achieve it = [2] we will win

The alternative vocalized by your leaders is that:

[1] the job is not acheivable - [1] the troops can’t achieve it = [0]

I don’t think I’ve ever advocated running. It’s the very thing I hope we never end up doing, but it’s the very things your screwups could add up to. The sad thing is, you don’t see how the body of mistakes made, and the failure to correct them promptly enough has combined to create the sticky situation we’re in.
You say that all of our mistakes accumulate somehow and equal defeat. This is not the case. The kind of mistakes that might do that are exactly the mistakes that a John Kerry would have made. His express policy decisions would have created mistakes that could potentially equal defeat in Iraq. One is that he advocated not having elections when we promised them. Big mistake.

This could have been one of those course altering mistakes. It’s like ‘waiting to have children until you’re ready’. You’ll never be ready! In the meantime you get older and less likely to have children. Giving Iraqis the opportunity to vote is essential to creating the expectation that they will be in control of their own destiny. Depriving them of that gains you nothing but loses the morale of Iraqis.

Secondly, ‘getting tougher’ would not necessarily yeild any better results unless you have specific target to get tough on. Counter insurgency takes time. But like I said, it is doable, the troops can do it, and we will win.

Posted by: esimonson at December 23, 2005 1:08 AM
Comment #106745

Eric-
Duelfer not only found little evidence of a move to Syria, he found none. Moving that much WMDs is not a discreet business. Someone would know something.

WMDs were important, no matter what propaganda you repeat. Disarming Saddam was what we went into this war to do. That was the whole point. that was what we didn’t want falling into terrorists hands or remaining in Saddam’s for that matter.

It was important that we be right for a thousand reasons, not the least of which would be encouraging international help, and maintaining America’s credibility abroad. Not to mention the fact that if you’re claiming your war to be pre-emptive, your justification depends on having something to pre-empt. Saddam wasn’t gathering troops at his borders, so that left weapons, and by some stretch of the imagination, terrorists. We didn’t discover halfway through Bosnia or Kosovo, that there really weren’t mass graves and atrocities.

Whatever corruption occured in the UN is independent of the shenanigans that went on at home. As for everybody believing the same things, I think we have proved quite conclusively that the Bush administration did not and would not tell everybody what was going on.

As for Fallujah and Najaf, I can’t help hear this announcer’s voice in my mind: From the people who brought you the flypaper strategy. No military strategist I’ve every read praises leaving an important position in the hands of the enemy, nor prolonging a war. You certainly do not do anybody any favors by letting guerilla forces have safe-havens for an extended period of time. It sounds like ad hoc rationalization to me.

We Democrats have harbored few such illusions about this war. When I made the comparison of our position to Saving Private Ryan the message to you should have been simple. We are not naive about the horrors of war, nor about the price of victory. We haven’t grown complacent, as the Republican party has, about how to fight wars.

I mean, look at you: you’re rationalizing why we spent six months waiting to retake a city. Earlier, you wouldn’t even concede that it had fallen, and now you’re arguing that letting it remain fallen worked to our advantage. I can at least metaphorically look my readers in the eye and give a consistent story as to how events unfolded.

You haven’t even given a thought as to the price of such linguistic tap-dancing as far as getting people to agree on a course of action. You haven’t even really considered that all this name calling and recrimination from your side might have driven a wedge in the support for this war, and only made things worse as the nasty rhetoric was turned on people who grew doubtful.

It’s sad, really. You want the world to take heed of your wishes, but you don’t even consider that they have wishes of their own that you may have stomped on. You can’t call a person a traitor one day, then ask for their help the next as if nothing had happened.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 23, 2005 2:06 PM
Comment #106818

Esimonson’s ability to stuff the smallest of ideas into the most voluminous amount of verbage is absolutely breathtaking.

Posted by: Tim Crow at December 23, 2005 3:21 PM
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