How Difficult is the Easy Way out?
Political fortunes of defeatism aren't good.
Michael Ubaldi, May 15, 2007.
Just as April gave way, Rudy Giuliani discovered how to flummox leading Democrats: confidently engage the opposition party.
Giuliani described, in parallel, a Democratic administration's repudiation of policies to which he himself subscribes, and the reasons for that support. "We will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation and we will be back to our pre-September-11th attitude of defense." No concession can mollify, Giuliani warned, men who "hate us and not because of anything bad we have done," except for an inherent "conflict with the perverted, maniacal interpretation of their religion." On this, transgressions include, verifiable through a quick read of Islamo-fascist doctrine, "freedom for women, the freedom of elections, freedom of religion and the freedom of our economy."
What the former mayor said on April 24th was potent stuff alone. How one of Giuliani's leftist counterparts responded, though, was revealing. Barack Obama refused to rebut, as if the statement were an insult. He answered by beginning with a rebuke of Giuliani for imputing risk to a Democrat's presidency, and ending by imputing risk to George Bush's presidency. Later that week, party presidential candidates at a televised debate, queried on a martial posture in retaliation to twin terrorist massacres, either sidestepped the use of their obligatory war-making powers or admitted their reluctance thereto — well, all except Joe Biden, who is, anymore, as vestigial as Joe Lieberman.
The perfect shade Democrats want is not too tough, but tough; sort of tough enough. Implicit in the Democrats' fussing is the knowledge of what mettle the American electoral mean still demands of its executives, and why George McGovern, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry were runners-up.
But over here, William F. Buckley, Jr. argued that it is the Republican Party that has grown foreign to the habitat, all because it will not renounce the most challenging campaign of the war. "It can now accurately be said," wrote Buckley, two weeks ago, "that the legislature, which writes the people's laws, opposes the war," as far as polls on Iraq today are advocative inversions of those in 2003. He traced a path from 60-percent disapproval of the campaign to ruin, concluding that "There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican party will survive this dilemma."
Buckley speaks of a conundrum over the separation of powers, but uncovers another problem. If in political discourse something as distinct as a military retreat can be effectively paraphrased, and interpolated as honorable; and the evident democratism of a country's lucid majority willfully abandoned; then it is possible to pass by the axiom that men well outside of desperate circumstances do not volunteer for their assured doom or defeat. And chances actually prescribe someone who is optimistic about Iraq to be either an Iraqi or an American soldier standing beside him.
We can submit that when the public appears to want an escape, Congress is tractable. But what about that 60 percent? If Congress consents to giving up, it chooses what is pretend (morbid impressions of the public) over what is empirical (a slow-moving war of patent but understated importance, to which those fighting it hold fast). Decisions of war will no longer be made from indications of the theater itself, and Washington will be pulled into a disentitling state of luxation.
The last president to craft policy from within an imaginary plane was President Carter, who was distrusted long before the end of his term. Reality will extrude quickly and explosively if fronts are surrendered; there aren't any more halcyon days to be got on loan. Undesirable is more desirable than unworkable. A few Democrats will instinctively remember this, even through all of their dulling; just a few. Giuliani and Buckley are both right, then. The Republican Party probably is frangible: the isolationists will break off, maybe join with Democrats, yet either way lose.
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