law, politics, and culture from a southern, non-Federalist Society (ex)-law clerk
Friday, September 24, 2004
PARDON MY SHRILLNESS
___________Lately I’ve been trying hard to avoid shrillness. After reading Dana Milbank’s collection of quotes today, I’m convinced that shrillness is the only proper response.Before I get to that, let’s start with the latest Glenn Reynolds/Andrew Sullivan outrage – Joe Lockhart’s disparaging comments about Allawi being a puppet. Sullivan is outraged by them – Reynolds is as well. Now, I will agree that under normal circumstances, the following comments would be irresponsible:
The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and
you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips.
But these are not normal circumstances. Allawi was brought here – forty days from the election – as part of the Bush re-election strategy, and everyone knows it. This was supposed to be a victory lap, further solidifying the themes presented at the Republican Convention – until Kerry and reality intruded. Indeed, Allawi even adopted Bush talking points about how much progress Iraq was making, and that the terrorists were "getting more desperate."
So, let’s dispense with the little charade about how this trip was beyond politics. It was entirely about politics.Second, given that Bush is so radioactive in Iraq right now, I think that trotting out Allawi in the Rose Garden does little to help his legitimacy in the eyes of American-hating Iraqis. On this point, Lockhart is right on. The more Allawi is seen as a puppet of Bush (which was pretty much confirmed this week), the less chance of success he – and thus we – have. If I'm right, then Bush is sacrificing Allawi's legitimacy for the sake of his re-election.I also want to address some of the despicable quotes listed in Milbank’s article today in which he describes the clearly coordinated attack that Kerry’s criticisms are hurting our troops and helping the enemy. Here are a few:
Bush: “You can embolden an enemy by sending a mixed message. You can dispirit the Iraqi people by sending mixed messages. You send the wrong message to our troops by sending mixed messages.
Cheney: John Kerry is trying to tear down all the good that has been accomplished, and his words are destructive to our effort in Iraq and in the global war on terror.The surrogates were even more explicit. Milbank lists more. My favorite was Orrin Hatch: “[Democrats are] consistently saying things that I think undermine our young men and women who are serving over there.”I’ll tell you what undermines our troops – getting troops killed undermines troops, Mr. Hatch – not criticizing the failed policies that got them killed in the first place. Bumbling an occupation and having no plan undermines troops. And Mr. Cheney, I’ll tell you what’s destructive to our effort in the global war on terror – your invasion of Iraq, which was Osama’s wet dream. And Mr. Bush, I’ll tell you how to embolden an enemy – invade the second-holiest land of Islam for no reason and then execute the war without a shred of competence. Lying about our progress also sends the wrong message to the people who are actually fighting your terrorist-aiding war. Let’s not forget that. We know exactly who – and what policies – have emboldened our enemies and undermined our troops. And it’s not John Kerry, or his criticisms of your failure. Nice try, though.And last thing, Glenn Reynolds wins the Hermann Goering Award today.
If you’ll remember Goering’s famous line:
Gilbert [the interviewer]: "There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars." Göring: "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
And now, Glenn Reynolds:
This is behavior that is absolutely unacceptable coming from a Presidential campaign in wartime, and it's not an isolated incident but part of a pattern of such behavior. Joe Lockhart should apologize for these remarks, and Kerry should fire him. Otherwise you're going to hear a lot of people questioning Kerry's patriotism. And they'll be right to.I for one am sick and tired of hearing attacks on those who attack failed policies that got our troops killed, destabilized the Middle East, and have been the biggest gift ever to militant Islam. Don’t blame the messenger, buddy.