Friday, August 26, 2005

Iraq: still a political winner for the Republicans? Part 1

The situation in Iraq provides a beautiful case study in how the Bush Republicans seem to be able to win elections and dominate political discourse despite having some profoundly terrible policies. John Kerry continually wounded himself (you know, just like in Vietnam) with his political strategies vis a vis Iraq. And not just by voting against the famous $87 billion in the primaries.
His general approach to questions about Iraq was to spout off about the UN and involving more allies, which polled well in the abstract (people like it more than the other choice, going it completely alone and suffering more US losses) but sounded weak and vaguely French when employed as Kerry's #1 talking point about an ongoing war. When asked what his strategy was for winning the Iraq conflict, he said roughly the same things Bush was saying (train more Iraqis, don't withdraw before it's stable, etc.) They agreed on basically staying the course, and rightly so: a complete pullout would have been a political disaster and would have reduced Iraq's chances of a stable future from slim to none, while significantly boosting troop levels (say, via a draft) and trying to fix Iraq properly would have been political suicide for either candidate. It also likely would have been too little too late at that point. So where did Kerry and Bush differ on Iraq?
I think I'll leave it here as a cliffhanger, both to generate excitement and anticipation among my many readers (sound of crickets chirping) and to keep my post lengths nice and short. Stay tuned.


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