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November 08, 2006

I Blame Bush

No one loves and supports this President more than I do. But after yesterday's debacle I have to say it: I blame Bush.

It was a debacle, and don't let anybody tell you different. The voters threw forty Republicans out of office, and they would have thrown Bush out too, if they'd only had the chance. Not a single Democratic incumbent lost, and the carnage would have been much worse if it had not been for Gerrymandering.

Clinton's famous catch phrase was, "It's the economy, stupid." It's pretty obvious that the American people sent a message this year, and the message was, "It's the war, stupid." That there are Republicans out there who failed to hear this message is one of the truly astounding things about yesterday's election.

Hugh Hewitt is the prime example. Don't get me wrong, Hugh Hewitt knows more about government and politics that I could ever hope to learn. His radio show is the highlight of my listening day. And he has done amazing work for the party before, as he will again. But Hugh's Townhall column today was so clueless, I think he must need some time off.

In an essay that's 1,351 words long, Hugh failed to cite the Iraq War even once as a possible cause for the Republicans being thrown out on their asses yesterday. Instead, incredibly, he blames John McCain:

The post-mortems are accumulating, but I think the obvious has to be stated: John McCain and his colleagues in the Gang of 14 cost the GOP its Senate majority while the conduct of a handful of corrupt House members gave that body's leadership [to] the Democrats.
That's an incredible example of denial. Look, I'm no McCain fan. I've already placed on the record my vow never to vote for him, even in a general election. But what percentage of swing voters — the middle third who decided this election — do you think even know what the Gang of 14 was? Not many, I'd wager. And how many of these swing voters would eagerly admit that the Iraq War was their number one issue? I'd say virtually all of them.

Listen carefully to what I'm saying. The principled base might have been pissed off at Republican betrayals, but the base still turned out yesterday. The middle third, the independents, the swing voters, they're who I'm talking about. They're the ones who led the revolt, and their issue was the War. Any one of you can verify this for yourself by asking a few questions around the water cooler.

I'm not saying that we Republicans lost because Americans want to cut and run. Don't believe that bullshit. I absolutely do not believe that the majority of Americans think their country is engaged in an immoral war. I believe that Americans wouldn't really care whether there were WMD in Iraq, if the war was over and won by now. Most Americans want to win, and they can't understand why we haven't yet. The 2004 election was America's rejection of the hate-America crowd who believe the Iraq War was wrong, immoral, what have you. Those people are a loud but small minority. In 2004, Americans made a different choice and said to the President, "We're sticking with you, now go get it done."

And the problem this time around was that, two years later, the President still had not gotten it done.

We can blame the media all we want. We can blame the Cindy Sheehans and the Michael Moores and the Jimmy Carters and the Kos Kids and the George Soroses all we want. They deserve blame. But the fact remains, George W. Bush was handed a vote of confidence by the American people in 2004, and he did not get the job done. Not only that, he took our patience for granted.

The patience of a Democratic people is a historically fickle thing. It would be nice if it weren't so fickle, but it is. And that's part of the ground that President Bush had to fight on. You can't excuse it by saying, as we've heard for three years now, "It's hard work. Stay the course. Stay the course." Americans demand results. We're willing to sacrifice; we're willing to be patient; we're willing to trust our leaders. But ultimately, we demand results.

And 105 brave souls lost in the last month is not results.

We can say that the media is not reporting the real progess being made in Iraq, and I believe that's true. But at some point you gotta ask, "Can we stop with the building schools and the passing out candy, and just win this thing — and get our people home?"

President Bush's task is often compared by people on my side of the aisle to Lincoln's task during the Civil War. Lincoln is said to have stood firm in the face of vehement opposition. He stayed the course during the darkest days, and won through to victory. But the comparison, as it looks right now, is not an apt one. Lincoln fired a shitload of generals. Lincoln demanded results, and eventually he got results. Look, I love Rumsfeld for the way he talked back to the media. I was willing to support Rummy through thick and thin, despite what the generals thought of him. But the war plan was Rumsfeld's baby, and as soon as he stopped getting results, he should have been gone.

I understand that the enemy adapts. I get it. But to use a football analogy, we're sick of the three and outs. We need to see some first downs here, guys.

I supported the decision to go to war against Saddam. Even knowing what I know now, I still support that decision. But my support is given with the assumption that we're in it to win. We simply must win. As I said before, there is no third way in Iraq.

Victory in Iraq — let's just call it "success" at this point — should be defined like this: any situation in Iraq that would enable us to bring our troops home without everything we've done in the last three and a half years falling to pieces once we leave. I'm not sure that the Democrats have any idea how to accomplish this, but I also know that the President sure as shit hasn't gotten us there yet.

So that's why we Republicans lost the House and Senate yesterday. There's plenty of other reasons you can cite to me, and they're all valid criticisms, I'm sure. Culture of corruption, Foleygate, Delaygate, etc. Dubai Ports, Harriet Meiers, even the Gang of 14, if you like. The Bridge to Nowhere, earmarks, amnesty, Hurricane Katrina, whatever. The list goes on and on. But there's one thing I'll argue 'til I'm out of breath. The American people would have forgiven any of those things — hell, all of those things — if only we knew that our boys were coming home soon, and victorious.

Posted by annika, Nov. 8, 2006 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry


I think you are exactly right. When a company doesn't perform, you don't blame the stock boy, you blame the CEO. When the party gets its collective ass kicked, you look to the party leader. I think Bush's press conference today was one of the best appearances of his Presidency. Maybe if he had learned a few of these lessons a couple years ago, we would be celebrating yet another Republican sweep.

Posted by: Frank on Nov. 8, 2006


Well said.

Posted by: reagan80 on Nov. 8, 2006

Well said, annika.

My biggest gripe with the Bush administration has been it's inability (or flat unwillingness) to use the bully pulpit a la FDR in building and maintaining support for the war effort.

And the inability/unwillingness to adapt has had me banging my head on walls for months.

Posted by: KG on Nov. 8, 2006

KG, you are exactly right. The failure of Dubyah's administration is the failure to communicate and thus failure to lead. The perception of futility, true or not, is a very dangerous thing. You'd think that they never lived through the Clinton years, where all we got was nonstop 24/7 lies to feed the media cycle. So much for Rovian brilliance. Ya gotta feed the beast.

Posted by: Casca on Nov. 9, 2006

Annie - Well put, but Frist and Hastert have to take blame as well. When only 16 percent of Americans approve of the job you're doing, you should expect to take a hit if you are in charge (worst approval rating for Congress ever according to WSJ/NBC poll).

As for the efficacy of the bully-pulpit, I agree the President has not done a good job in even making most the U.S. government, let alone the American people, be involved in this war. Although Clausewitz and Sun-Tzu are perhaps over-quoted, there is merit to the notion of knowing the conflict you are entering, including knowing yourself and the enemy. Read the following:

The Iraq Syndrome
John Mueller
Foreign Affairs, November/December 2005

Posted by: Col Steve on Nov. 9, 2006

Very well put, Annika. Like you, I like and support GWB. My one real problem with him has been, as Casca and KG say above, his failure to consistently and persuasively make the case for our efforts in Iraq. What has begun to really concern me is the idea that, in additon to the President's acknowledged difficulties communicating effectively, perhaps a much more serious problem is he really doesn't have an effective strategy to communicate. I completely agree with you that the American people might dislike many of the Republican foibles you list, but that all of that would have been overlooked if they saw real, demonstrable progress in Iraq. Your allusion to three and outs vs. a few first downs is well chosen. There are many people who just want to get out of Iraq, but there are almost certainly more who want to see us get more agressive, and, as you say, "just win this thing." By God, I am one of them. If it appeared to the public that we were winning this thing, the Republicans would have cruised through Tuesday's election.

Posted by: DBrooks on Nov. 9, 2006

So riddle me this... why is it that the Democrat nominee in CT who is anti-war lost so badly to the formerly-Democrat-now-independant candidate who supports the war in Iraq?

I think the war was a major part of it, but scandal after scandal and no restraint on the size of the gov't... it was too much. Talk to your water cooler coworkers and find out what they want to happen. I'll bet they're just like you, they want victory and they want the troops home. But both sides want that.

The Republicans lost their way and stopped standing for what got them in power. Victory over Iraq is not what got them in power.

Posted by: Darkmage on Nov. 9, 2006


Well reasoned, cogent thinking about the loss. I agree, if any demonstrable progress had been made in Iraq, Americans, the tack sharp and attentative group that they are would have let all the malfeasance, pedophilia, graft, bridges to nowhere, and other trespasses against Democracy heaped on America pass. When manipulated by fear, trumped up as it was, they will always lick the hand of the one who promises protection like the dog that was beaten hours before.

I, as you well know and care less, do not feel the invasion was the least bit necessary and given how it could not be justified without resorting to lies and cherry picked "intel", neither did the Bush gang. They have paid the price in a limited way. Losing control of the legislature is a small price to pay for the destruction of Iraq, 20,000 maimed and 3000 dead Americans. (I'll leave the Iraqi's out of this since none of you give a shit about them). When and if Bush is tossed into the dock, pronounced a criminal on the scale of, lets say Saddam (who was responsible for far fewer deaths and far less destruction), and sentenced to hang, then I'll be confidant he paid the price for his decisions.

Posted by: Strawman on Nov. 9, 2006

You're trackbacks don't work. So, this will have to suffice.

Posted by: Robbie on Nov. 9, 2006

If you trust exit polls, Lieberman won because:

2/3rds of the voters were 45 yrs or older and they went mid-50% for Lieberman while Lamont only got mid-30's.

44% of the voters said Bush was not the dominant factor and 15% said they supported Bush -Lieberman got 70% of both those groups' vote.

Even of those who strongly (46%) or somewhat (20%) disapproved of the war in Iraq, Lieberman still got 30% and 62% respectively.

Lieberman got 55% of the independent vote.

And most telling, almost 60% said Lamont did not have enough experience and Lieberman got 75% of that vote (and the Republican got most of the rest). 15% of the 40% who thought Lamont had enough experience still voted for Lieberman.

In other words, Lamont needed to offer more than we differ on the war.

Annie -
I don't completely agree on the 3 and out analogy. If we are using football, I believe the more appropriate reference is people don't know where the first down markers and the goal line are. We have had a National Strategy for Victory in Iraq since Nov 2005 and I bet 999 out of 1000 people couldn't name the 3 broad tracks and the main objective under each. Every now and then the President will say "we've trained X number of Iraqis" but there is no context for that statement. In the football analogy, the team has had a 5 yard gain but nobody is sure if we are in in 3rd and short or 3rd and long.

Read Ralph Peter's op-ed in USA Today (2 Nov) -- and recall Hamilton's discussion in Federalist Papers #23: "means ought to be proportioned to ends."

Posted by: Col Steve on Nov. 9, 2006

If Straw wants Bush dead so much and can't afford to hire an assassin by conventional means, I recommend that he use this method of bargaining instead when contracting the hit.

Posted by: reagan80 on Nov. 9, 2006

The beginning of the end for the Republican revolution of '94 was exemplified by the sound of a zipper being pulled down.

It belonged to the genius who engineered the revolution and was making it tick.

I blame Newt Gingrich's dick.

Posted by: shelly on Nov. 9, 2006

First time poster, long time reader...

I have to disagree with you on one thing. I think 54 percent or so of the American voting public DID vote for cut and run Tuesday. I think the so called "libertarian" wing of the party is turning isolationaist, and that the fabled "swing voters" made a conscious decision that we should just cut our losses, and load up that last chopper out of Saigon, so to speak. What worries me, and what truly hurts, is that if we do that, it WILL probably be Vietnam redux...we'll essentially be leaving the people we went to help to die, while we turn our short attention spans to the latest Lost episode or how many touchdowns Peyton Manning threw.

Ironically, the Democrats have made much hay about how we're wasting the lives of our soldiers in Iraq. If we do pull out, then that's exactly what we'll have done, as all of our efforts there will have been for naught.

Posted by: Douglas on Nov. 9, 2006

you and I dont disagree Douglas. What happened is that the "cut and run" line was easy to sell to the swing voters. It wouldn't have been if there had been tangible progress in Iraq, instead of a situation that everyone admits is now getting worse.

Posted by: annika on Nov. 9, 2006

Col Steve -

You give the American public too much credit. I'd say 999 out of 1000 (alas myself included) don't even know there are broad tracks with objectives.

Posted by: DHammett on Nov. 9, 2006

So, in the end, "Mission Accomplished" isn't and Rumsfeld took the fall. But where do we go from here? Do we cut and run, or do we listen to the generals that say that we need many more troops in Iraq? Even if Gates proposes the latter policy, it's not going to get through Congress. And Bush may even discover the veto and actually veto any troop reductions. So, in essence, the post-Rumsfeld troop levels will stay at the Rumsfeld-preferred levels - not too many, not too few.

Posted by: Ontario Emperor on Nov. 9, 2006

One tires of that old canard, Canadastan breath. It was the ship that posted THEIR "Mission Accomplished" Banner upon returning to port from a long deployment, not the White House.

Posted by: Casca on Nov. 9, 2006

Funny how the MSM has never bothered correcting that obvious distortion and in fact has perpetuated it without a hint of shame. Just one of the many lies spread by the Left that would never be allowed by the MSM if the tables were turned.

Posted by: blu on Nov. 9, 2006

Shelly, that's hilarious.

Posted by: Leif on Nov. 9, 2006

Blu, Casca,

That’s bullshit. Pure wishful bullshit that the troops lettered the sign, posted the sign and the poor schnook of a president and his oblivious handlers inadvertently allowed it to become his backdrop. Idiotic thinking.

If I remember that was the horseshit the Presidents press people cooked up as the excuse after everybody went nuts with what a piece of choreographed crap it was, him in his flight suit emerging from a plane where he sat in the 2 seat 30 miles off San Fran. Strutting his arrogant dimwitted ass across the deck. You think he saw the sign and thought "gee, I wonder if this might be a bit premature, might be kinda grandstanding like, better check with the media people and see if they thought this through". His people did the sign. His people put him under the sign; his people thought this was a fucking great idea because their heads were so far up their collective asses they thought the war was OVER and Iraq a nice secure protectorate! It was a seriously printed banner, not a paint brush on a sheet; it didn't get done spontaneously by the crew. The crap you get yourselves to believe is astounding.

Posted by: Strawman on Nov. 9, 2006

White House pressed on 'mission accomplished' sign
Navy suggested it, White House made it, both sides say
From Dana Bash
CNN Washington Bureau
Wednesday, October 29, 2003 Posted: 9:18 AM EST (1418 GMT)

Navy and administration sources said that though the banner was the Navy's idea, the White House actually made it.

Bush offered the explanation after being asked whether his speech declaring an end to major combat in Iraq under the "Mission Accomplished" banner was premature, given that U.S. casualties in Iraq since then have surpassed those before it.

Posted by: Strawman on Nov. 9, 2006

Perhaps it works both ways:

1. For swing voters, Iraq is the big issue.

2. For some of the base and some of the libertarians it was the spending and corruption.

If you had good Iraq results but still had the other stuff, it might have turned out differently.

That said, if Iraq remained the same, but there had been excellent control of fiscal spending, no corruption, and good policies made, then it could also have been different.

Posted by: Aaron on Nov. 9, 2006

"The crap you get yourselves to believe is astounding."

Kind of like "Bush is responsible for more deaths than Sadaam"? Yeah, it is amazing to see the crap that people get themselves to believe.

The fact remains that the sign was associated not to the President or to a completed war but to that specific ship and its mission. Get over it.

Posted by: blu on Nov. 9, 2006

Strawfuck, we have learned some things from you here, e.g. you are both a fool and a liar, and you know nothing of the military. Back under your rock, slimey.

Posted by: Casca on Nov. 9, 2006

I believe the disillusionment of the independents, and many of the 'base', was a combination of factors. The war issue was not just about a lack of victory, but about the full understanding of deception, followed by a number of other scandals that showed how arrogant some right-wingers really were.

The Gang of 14 was a ringing alarm that the arch-conservatives put back on snooze.

One of the final kickers was the private denigration of conservative religious leaders, discouraging or angering that portion of the base.
A Culture of Corruption is one thing, but to snicker at them behind their back supplied a handful of coffin nails.

People have short memories, however, so this does not mean 2008 is by any means a foregone conclusion.

Posted by: will on Nov. 10, 2006


Whether or not the sign was inspired by the tired sailors and marines who were out 190 days, it was hijacked by the president for his purposes. Right? Did anybody care what the original impetus was and what does it really matter? Should the MSM have reported on the event and put a crawl on the bottom of the screen explaining that the giant, 50 foot long, professionally made by the white house staff, red white and blue "Mission Accomplished" banner was the idea of the sailors and should in no way be construed to be the opinion of the president who is standing under it shouting "mission Accomplished" and waving his draft dodging hand like an ass." Yep, that should been the disclaimer

I guess in your distorted mind that would have made the press objective and unbiased.

Are you really being this foolish? Why Casca is is no mystery.

Posted by: Strawman on Nov. 10, 2006

"The Gang of 14 was a ringing alarm that the arch-conservatives put back on snooze."

excellent. that's such a great quote, i wish I'd said it first, will!

Posted by: annika on Nov. 10, 2006

Feel free to use it if it strikes a chord.

On another note, was it just a couple of days ago that blu and strawman were having a reasoned discourse? I look forward to more of those, when they are both ready again.

Posted by: will on Nov. 10, 2006

Ah, yes, reasoned!

Posted by: Strawman on Nov. 10, 2006

"when they are both ready again."

Both? I can appreciate the fence straddling, but it isn't Blu's fault that the comments degenerate. It can't be avoided since he's dealing with someone that is certifiably batshit crazy.

Posted by: reagan80 on Nov. 10, 2006

Thanks Reagan80.

Will, you may not agree with me, but I don't believe that I was being unreasonable. And, if Straw believes he was right then he wasn't being unreasonable either. Disagreement is not unreasonable.

Does reasonable in your world mean that you bend over and grab your ankles? split every argument down the middle? or articulate what you really believe? If you want to be a nancy boy or a cajone-less moderate, go for it.

But, hey, we all play on Annie's playround, so I promise to double-check my work and make certain I'm more thoughtful in my disagreement.

Posted by: blu on Nov. 10, 2006


Each time I re-read one of these old posts I still get a charge. Succinct, lucent, punchy, to the point and still a better evaluation of the reality of Iraq than anything you've ever written or thought of writing. Thanks for the memories.

You know its not that i don't feel for the guy's wife and kids, i really do. I just am so saddened by his thoughtless behavior and the choices he made as to how best to care for his family. A single guy with no dependants wants to drive a truck around Bagdad dodging IED's and rpg's is different. BTW, what’s keeping you over here? Lot's of opportunities for sharp dressed militarist like yourself.

Posted by: Strawman on Nov. 10, 2006

i don't agree...

the President is the only one who has waged a serious GWOT...

some Conservative pundits, critics, etc., got tunnel visioned, missing the larger picture.

the GWOT...

the Man who was asked by the American Public after 9-11, did so, was abandoned.

Conservatives seem to blame the Man for everything, but who expected him to do it alone?

for 6 long years the Liberals demeaned and slandered him, and Conservatives failed to defend him.

the wimpy Rhinos in the Senate only increased the problem, and the weak House Republicans helped with the folly as well.

but i would 'carry the water' for this President anyday.

i never expected perfection, and understood the alternative nightmare in the unethical DNC.

Posted by: hnav on Nov. 11, 2006

It's appalling to hear or see the phrase "cut and run," used by so many people who've never had to stand and fight.

Posted by: Marc on Nov. 14, 2006

That chickenhawk argument is like, so 2005.

Posted by: annika on Nov. 14, 2006


How exactly do you presume to know who or who hasn't had "to stand and fight"? Kinda presumptuous don't you think?

Posted by: blu on Nov. 15, 2006