Sunday, June 25


Jonathan Alter is right. The way to defeat the Republican anti-"cut and run" strategy is to hang it around their necks. As John Edwards said earlier this week, the Rethugs are better at sloganeering than governing and conducting the war. Instead of dodging the Iraq war question, Dems should be hitting back at Republicans, who have now gone on record as backing Bush to the hilt. "Copy and paste," "rinse, lather and repeat" should be cited ad nauseum until the media catches on to them like the "cut and run" meme. We don't NEED a "plan" for winning a war we should never have fought. We need to hold the president, his administration, and his Republican Congress accountable for the war. They have no other issue. There's no percentage in Democratic leaders talking about the minimum wage, loss of civil liberties, New Orleans/Katrina, the economy or any other of the myriad domestic issues where the voting public already sides with us. We have to talk about the war incessantly, the costs in lives, treasure and international prestige. We have to remind the American people that George W. Bush gave up 2,500+ American lives and hundreds of billions of our taxpayer dollars to give the Iraqis a government that will offer amnesty to insurgents who have killed American G.I.'s.

These are the stakes: if Rove can successfully con Democrats into ignoring Iraq and reciting their laundry list of other priorities, Republicans win. It's shameful that the minimum wage hasn't been raised in nine years and that thousands of ailing Americans will ultimately die because of Bush's position on stem-cell research. But those issues won't get the Congress back for Democrats. Iraq can.

You would think it would be the GOP running away from the war. Instead, in gamblers' parlance, Republicans "doubled down" on Iraq. After the good news about Zarqawi's death, they bet that by uniting behind Bush, they would shift the blame to the squabbling Democrats, even though the Democrats have no power at all to change—or even affect—policy on the ground. Rove's notion is that strong and wrong beats meek and weak.
Of course parrying "cut and run" with "Levin-Reed" won't suffice. But Sen. Joe Biden's riposte to the GOP's symbolic roll-call votes—"The Republicans are now totally united in a failed policy"—is a start. This isn't rocket science. Unless things improve dramatically on the ground in Iraq, Democrats have a powerful argument: If you believe the Iraq war is a success, vote Republican. If you believe it is a failure, vote Democratic.

Isn't that irresponsible? Not in the slightest. It's only under Bush that criticizing the conduct of a war has been depicted as somehow unpatriotic. Lincoln was lambasted by opponents during the Civil War as was FDR during World War II. To take a lesser example, some of the same Sean Hannitys of the world who slam antiwar critics were blasting Bill Clinton's Bosnia policy in 1999 when U.S. planes were in the air over Belgrade.

We'll see this summer if Democrats begin to get up in the morning, look in the mirror and say, "This isn't about us. It's about them." We'll see if, when Karl Rove wants to talk about Iraq, the Democrats respond with three familiar words: "Bring it on."


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