Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 3, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

RATING THE WAR PRESIDENT....Instapundit makes a good point today or rather, one of his "war base" readers does:

To my mind, continued support of a president who has many objectionable policies in other areas of interest to me is dependent upon confidence in his future leadership on the war. I for one need to hear much more from him about the war objectives for his second term.

This "pandering" political strategy works only when voters such as myself sacrifice less-important principles in favor of the most important, the war. However, if I come to believe that a Democratic candidate can be as effective on the war as President Bush, or - worse - that President Bush in a second term will be as ineffective on the war as the likely Democratic candidates, then my heretofore solid support for the President will be far less certain this fall.

Glenn and I part ways on the right interpretation of this, though. Glenn thinks the problem is that Bush has done such a good job with the war that people don't care about it much anymore. After all, who needs a war president if the war is pretty much won?

But I think his reader actually has the right take on this: the problem isn't that Bush is doing well, but rather that he never really had a serious plan for fighting terrorism in the first place. Invading Iraq was pretty much it. And while we can argue about how well things are going in Iraq, the combination of continually caving in to Sistani, going to the UN for help, Iran and North Korea thumbing their noses at us, Osama still on the run, Tenet still running the CIA, stonewalling the 9/11 investigations, and no real visible action from the White House aside from tough sounding speeches and eventually even hardcore supporters of the war are going to see through the emperor's clothes and realize that Bush may indeed not be any more effective against terrorism than gasp! a Democrat.

Sure, Bush got a tremendous amount of support from the war party by invading Iraq, but you can't keep invading countries forever. They want to know what's next, and it's not clear what Bush has in mind. A lot of his supporters seem to have projected their own views onto Bush and convinced themselves that he bought into the same "clash of civilizations" argument that they did, but I suspect he never did. He just wanted to kick Saddam's butt. The only question is, how long will it be before his erstwhile fans figure this out?

Kevin Drum 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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