May 02, 2006

Doh! Being A "War President" Backfires

Writing in the bizzarre neo-con mouthpiece The Weekly Standard, Jeffrey Bell and Frank Cannon (principals of Capital City Partners, a Washington consulting firm) claim that Bush's bad polls are due to one thing and one thing only - the war in Iraq.
The truth is that in wartime, public perception of a president's handling of the war is more important politically than everything else combined.
The proof of this, they claim, is that the US economy is now going great but people still give Bush low ratings on the economy.

Never mind that the economy is only going great when you ignore the record debt levels and leave the war budget out of all your calculations, as the White House does. Never mind that these are only economic boom times for the richest of the rich, and the oil companies, while the rest are left behind. I mean, FOX News anchors say the US economy is going great, therefore it must be. OK? So on with the spin! On with the grand, mis-guided assumptions!
The debate on the war has often taken the form of a debate on whether our decision to seek regime change in Iraq is a necessary, integral part of the larger war on terrorism, or a diversion from it, as many Democrats have argued. It seems likely that Bush has won this debate, but winning or losing this debate has lost its political salience. That is because the central fact of today's political landscape is that Iraq is seen by voters as going badly--so badly that it is affecting the rest of the war on terrorism.
So Bush has won that debate, OK? In other words, people do now believe that Iraq is a necessary, integral part of the larger war on terrorism. Right? But the problem is that, um... people do not now believe that Iraq is a necessary, integral part of the larger war on terrorism.

No, wait! The problem is that the people who do believe - including an unspecified number of new, post-invasion believers - are getting frustrated. Which means "what Bush always said it would mean: marked progress, perhaps even victory, for Islamist radicals in the war as a whole."

So it is those people, those bastards who do believe in the war in Iraq, who are now getting frustrated, who are actually handing victory to the Islamist radicals! Traitors within our own ranks, boys! Shooting is too good for them, I tell ya!
Is Iraq going as badly as voters believe it is? There is much evidence that it is not. But this is another argument of declining political relevance...
In other words, it doesn't matter any more whether the war in Iraq is going well or not! Even if this is crucial to whether or not US voters believe it is going badly, and even if that is the very key to victory for the Islamic radicals, it still doesn't matter. No. What really matters is that those wily little terrorists have somehow managed to make American voters and political elites "feel an overwhelming sense of futility". Like Stephen Colbert said, it's all about your gut.

You see, just like the Commies in the 60's, this new breed of little brown bastards in Baghdad have come to master the ancient art of "asymmetric warfare", whereby the loser is always the winner!

Oh, dear. What can we do now?
If our view is right, nothing the administration does on the economy, health care, immigration, or any other non-war issue will affect the president's overall performance rating very much. Only a change in public perception of the administration's handling of the war on terrorism is capable of doing that.
You see, it's still just a question of "public perception"! All the enemy has to do is keep undermining the Bush team's great work with stupid little PR stunts. It doesn't even matter if the USA withdraws! Iraq is lost, I tell you - LOST!

But wait, there is hope yet... because "most voters" (even those who were against the invasion of Iraq) believe this is a global war on terror. The Weekly Standard says that's what "most voters" believe, so that's what they believe. So Bush can lose the battle in Iraq but still win the war on a global scale.
THE TRUTH IS, even as the struggle in Iraq has intensified over the past three years, other fronts in the world war have become far more active than they were earlier.
We're talking about Syria, Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt... All countries where anti-Americanism is on the rise, where the (ahem!) war on terror appears to be going very badly. But let's stop looking at these growing lists of terrorism-related problems as a damning indictment of Bush's failed policies. That's just so damn negative! Let's look at them instead as a glowing opportunity for further achievements!

That's right! We've gotta push on, folks! We've gotta hold firm to all our discredited assumptions, our outright fabrications and our collapsing power base. We've gotta make a stand! Yes, damn it, there is really only one solution to this mess. There's only one way for Bush to save his ass, and we all know what it is - a nuclear attack on Iran!
The president's decision on who is right--those who would handcuff him because of Iraq, or those who believe a world war sometimes requires grave, unpleasant decisions on more than one front--will almost certainly determine the future of his presidency in the eyes of the American electorate as a whole.
So it's over to you, George. Make another "grave, unpleasant decision" and Nuke Iran... or be a wimp.

Your call. You are, after all, The Decider!

But what will happen if, long after you have declared victory on some warship off the coast of Iran, those little bastards in Tehran also master the ancient art of "asymmetric warfare"? Well, we will just have to attack another country... and another...


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