McCain drew loud applause from the partisan debate audience when he turned a question about the war in Iraq into criticism of the leading Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
“When Senator Clinton says this is Mr. Bush’s war, President Bush’s war,” she is wrong, he said. “When President Clinton was in power, I didn’t say Bosnia was President Clinton’s war,” the Arizona senator said.
Which is not to say it wouldn’t have been true. Besides, despite the illegality, immorality, and stupidity of Clinton’s war, you can’t really say he lied to get the country behind him. At least, not nearly as blatantly as Bush. Sure, he had reasons that weren’t related to national security, or even to altruism; but those interests weren’t so baldly money-oriented. Like his predecessor, Clinton needed to prove he was tough, and he needed some public distractions from his problems. This probably made it easier to convince him to bomb the Chinese embassy. For example.
“Presidents don’t lose wars. Political parties don’t lose wars. Nations lose wars,” he added.
One outta three ain’t bad for an old warhorse like the Senator. Presidents and political parties who forge documents and lie about weapons systems and rig intelligence (and out agents for political gain) to convince a skeptical public to buy into a war that then fails, as it was obviously bound to, do indeed lose wars. And this generation of Americans is unlikely to forget that, no matter how much re-branding Boehner does.
What I think will stick with people most of all are the Bushies’ blatant distaste for the truth, the overt corruption that pervades not only the administration but the hierarchy of the Republican party, and the attempt, most visible in the US attorney scandal, to turn the executive branch into an arm of that party. Rebranding, or finding kinder, gentler candidates, is not gonna save the Republicans in 2008.
The problem with that is, of course, that we’ll then be stuck with the Democrats, and we’ve already seen the strength of their commitment to what we voted for in 2006.
I’ve already predicted that Obama will win the Democratic nomination as a compromise between the DLC (Clinton, Biden, the money) and the anti-war wing (Edwards, Dodd, Richardson, Gravel, Kucinich). It’s a battle for the soul of the Democratic party, at a moment in history where the Democratic nominee is extremely likely to cruise into the White House with a comfortable (i.e., unriggable) margin. That gives people who vote in the Democratic primary a lot of voice.
Which means the Rove machine will try to rig the Democratic primaries. The 2008 Republican presidential candidates look like a lost cause; but Karl might try an old Nixon trick, tying the opposition in knots. Nixon, of course, did it when he probably would have won anyway. But Rove et. al. would have a slightly different motive: electing an incompetent. And given that it’ll be a Democrat, this is not an insubstantial threat.
What we need, I love to quote Bob Kerrey saying, is not a little more of the same thing, but a lot more of something completely different. Particularly as regards foreign policy, and most particularly as regards Iraq.
And you might figure that, if anyone is positioned to strike out in such new directions, it would be Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, neither of whom is burdened by much foreign policy history on the national stage.
Now those two candidates have laid out their foreign policy visions in parallel articles, released last week prior to publication in the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs. And after you cut through some of their campaign rhetoric, here’s what you find:
(1) The two candidates’ programs are strikingly similar to each other.
(2) Both are strikingly similar to Bush administration policy.
(3) And both, far from retreating to isolationism in the face of Iraq and other challenges, set forth their own wildly ambitious calls for American leadership and the promotion of American values. “Boldness” is an operative word for both of them.
I admit that I don’t know Fred Hiatt of the Post very well; if you do, please comment. His piece seems on the surface to be a straightforward comparison of the two positions. However, I haven’t read the Foreign Affairs piece he references, so for all I know his analysis could be cockeyed, or worse.
Hiatt is by no means claiming that Obama is indistinguishable from Romney. But, he says, as to foreign policy,
…the similarities dwarf the differences. Both want bigger, not smaller, armed forces: Obama calls for an additional 92,000 ground troops, Romney for 100,000.
Obama calls for a doubling of foreign aid; Romney wants a Marshall Plan-like “Partnership for Prosperity and Progress” that would support schools, microcredit, the rule of law, human rights, health care and the free market in Islamic states.
Romney says that “the jihadist threat is the defining challenge of our generation,” as real as the threat that was posed by Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, and he promises an appropriately sized response. Obama, albeit using slightly different terms, agrees: “To defeat al Qaeda, I will build a twenty-first-century military and twenty-first-century partnerships as strong as the anticommunist alliance that won the Cold War to stay on the offense everywhere from Djibouti to Kandahar.”
That’s what we need, a new Cold War. The economy was humming, the people being killed by the war machine were in Asia, and the threat of Communism with a capital C kept our unions strong. Those were the days, my friend, I thought they’d never end…