Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The People Have Spoken ... 

... but what did they say?

The Democratic leadership has made much of the fact that they won the last midterm election and achieved narrow majorities in both houses of Congress. Pelosi and Reid interpret this as meaning that the voters have repudiated everything the Republicans did while they held the majority, not least the Iraq war. I don't think that was the message the voters were sending. I think the so-called swing voters who decided the 2006 election (and almost every election in recent memory) were merely telling the Republicans that they had breached the promises made in Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" and had become much too comfortable with the trappings of power, handing out pork, not to mention the instances of corruption and self-dealing (Duke Cunningham and Jack Abramoff, e.g.).

In fact, the Dems "mandate" from the American people is mostly a figment of their collective imagination. America is mostly purple, with only a few places all blue or all red, and control of the two houses of Congress depends on the outcome in a small percentage of the voting districts because gerrymandering has made most seats "safe" for the incumbent party. These maps illustrate my point, and in fact were what inspired the wording in the preceding sentence. Also, scroll down to the "Recent Election History" graphic here. The races in the 31 House seats that changed parties in 2006 (effectively 30, because Vermont's single seat had been occupied by Socialist Bernie Sanders, and was won by a Democrat) were generally quite close. This Wikipedia article describes what happened in those districts. In most cases, a change of only 3 to 4 percent in the balloting would have led to a different outcome.

In light of these facts, I think the Dems are overplaying their hand, and might very well be shocked come November 2008.

As for Iraq, it may be true that American public opinion wants the Iraq war to end, but that's a "motherhood" argument (i.e., who in his right mind can be against motherhood--we are all here because of it). Even people like me, who think the effort in Iraq was the right thing to do, want the war to end. And I think horrendous mistakes were made after Saddam was overthrown--primarily during the time the Coalition Provisional Authority was running things, but continuing to the present. I think the vast majority of the mistakes have been made by the politicos and diplomats, rather than the military, primarily because the military is results-oriented while the politicians and diplomats are process-oriented. Being process-oriented when battling a foe like Islamofascist terrorists is, I fervently believe, a recipe for disastrous failure in the larger war for the preservation of Western civilization. (And yes, I do believe that's what is at stake.)

That said, I think the absolute worst thing we can do is to withdraw our troops before a clear outcome has been achieved. Contrary to what Sen. Reid says, we have not lost, but neither have we "won" the occupation. In a world where we still have troops in Europe more than 60 years after victory in WWII, it is folly to believe that we can safely leave Iraq to fend for itself before achieving some level of stability.

What about public opinion, you might ask. Well, since the lamestream media decided a long time ago to view the Iraq situation through its Vietnam lens, they have presented nothing but bad news since almost day one of the campaign. As noted above, due to misjudgments, ignorance and stupidity by (primarily) the political and diplomatic types, there has been ample bad news to report, but the media generally have done a piss-poor job of putting things in perspective and showing the strategic context of the effort in Iraq. The American people, who mostly know no more than what they hear on the evening news, have internalized the simplistic, negative message put out by the media and naturally they take a dim view of the situation. I won't go so far as to say the lamestream media are committing what amounts to treason, but if they were subject to the same legally enforceable professional standards as doctors, lawyers and engineers, they'd be sued for malpractice, and probably would lose big.

I welcome what appears to be a recognition of reality with respect to Iraq, dim and blurry as it may be, by the Democratic leadership following President Bush's veto of the pork-laden surrender bill, but they've got a long way to go, and I still think that they are more interested in seeking political gain than achieving any level of success in Iraq. As I've noted before, Dems talk about ending the war, but Repubs talk about winning it. At the very least, the Dems need to think about the strategic impact of what they propose. The American people would certainly like to see our troops home from Iraq, but I firmly believe that they don't want to see us crawling home with our tail between our legs like a beaten dog.

I also think the American people are tired of "business as usual" feasting on pork and are tired of corruption in both parties. A lot of folks are pretty disappointed in the difference between the Dems' promise of honesty in government and the reality of their control of Congress. If the Dems think otherwise, the next election will teach them the truth.

"Meet the new boss, same as the old boss," is a Who lyric many like to quote. What I'm hoping is that the American people in the next election will finally embrace the real point of that song: "Won't get fooled again."

I seem to remember exit poll questioning pointing to corruption in the Republican party (a la Duke Cunningham) as the reason Republicans voted for dems. I really need to look that one up.
You bring up some great points.
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