Sunday, August 28, 2005

Bush uniting-not-dividing his opposition

Frank Rich today spells out some of the parallels between Vietnam and Iraq. The interesting point, however, or what struck me, is the extent to which this war has galvanized not only the Sheehan-led anti-war movement, but an array of anti-war figures across party and ideological lines. We have Chuck Hagel and Russ Feingold, Cindy Sheehan, John McCain, etc. Of course, they all have different takes on what ought to be done, whether withdrawing troops, reinforcing them, or whatever. This uniting of sorts has also dropped the pro-war Democrats into the messy pile ("back to the pile!") of false consciousness/conscience. Hillary, Biden, Kerry, etc. took the wrong political track because it seemed politically advantageous when the public perception of the war and the Bush administration was positive. Now that it's not, they squirm. Good.

We all know this war was wrong from the beginning and that there was already strong evidence that belied administration claims and justifications for the war. To buy into the war, you either had to be a neo-con influenced domino-theory "idealist," as they say (though I think they're actually old-fashioned realists in party dresses), or party hack or political manipulator or simply not paying attention. None of these positions sheds any better light on supporters of the war, regardless of party insignia. If Hagel and Feingold are thinking in terms of political strategy -- which we can assume they are at least partially doing -- they're smart. They're on the right train of public opinion. And there's a critical mass for the effectiveness of Swiftboating -- some kind of ratio of public opinion polls, media representation, and nasty political attacks -- and we've approached that critical mass.

So what we have is a ragtag assemblage of various figures from the different parties, from different walks of life, from different social situations all uniting against the war. Brilliant. And W, for once in his life, has told the truth: he's a uniter not a divider.

The policies of this administration have been rejected by the American people, by the international community, and by the better political minds. The key now is to put some of the better strategic minds behind the problem of how to get out of the Iraq mess. Don't count on the best ideas coming from the Democrats. But we also know that the administration is better off locked up than listened to.

No comments: