Friday, September 29, 2006

Not a Good Month for Bush and his Apologists

No one can be surprised that the Republicans have been seeking to keep the war on terror front and center in this election season. How's it going for them? Not as they hoped. Let's look at the last month.
September started with commemoration of the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which kept the media busy for the first week. I don't think that President Bush and his apologists made much headway in denting the public view of the federal handling of the disaster as a disaster.
Next up was the fifth anniversary of 9/11, which Republicans hoped would set the tone for fall campaign season. ABC produced a fictional docudrama, "The Path to 9/11, which instead of leaving Democrats cringing in fear at once again being called soft of terror, created a firestorm of criticism based on its protrayal of events that never happened.
It didn't help that after five years, more people are asking about Osama what's his name and why, as the Washington Post reported, we don't have a clue as to where he's hiding. As for Afghanistan, this week's cover story of Newsweek International is the resurgence of the Taliban:
Ridge by ridge and valley by valley, the religious zealots who harbored Osama bin Laden before 9/11—and who suffered devastating losses in the U.S. invasion that began five years ago next week—are surging back into the country's center.
Democrats were expected to be put on the defensive by Republican legislation to give President Bush the authority to do what he already thought he could do in terms of secret prisons, military tribunals and torture, without regard to the niceties of the Geneva Conventions. Republicans hoped to maneuver wimpy Democrats into showing that they cared more about terrorists' rights than about protecting our citizens. Instead, we saw a protracted argument between Bush and his fellow Republicans about the importance of international law in protecting our men and women in uniform.
The focus on the war on terror was intended to draw attention away from Iraq. But somehow, the mess found its way back into our conciousness. The Senate Inteligence Committee released two reports on Iraq that included this conclusion:
Postwar information supports prewar Intelligence Community assessments that there was no credible information that Iraq was complicit in or had foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks or any other al-Qa'ida strike.
The leaking of a national intelligence estimate reinforced these questions as to whether the war in Iraq is making us safer from terrorism.
And today, we read that Bob Woodward's new book, State of Denial, presents a devastating picture of our national government unable to come to terms with the mess they created in Iraq. Among the revelations the New York Times describes is this remarkable picture of the vice president micro-managing the work of weapons inspectors:
Vice President Cheney is described as a man so determined to find proof that his claim about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was accurate that, in the summer of 2003, his aides were calling the chief weapons inspector, David Kay, with specific satellite coordinates as the sites of possible caches. None resulted in any finds.
Bush and his supporters saw a glimmer of hope in the fiery speeches from anti-U.S. leaders, notably Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, but just pointing out that some folks don't like us doesn't help given the relentless bad news and the time elapsed since we were attacked. Yes, we know it's a dangerous world, but after five years, shouldn't we be making progress against our adversaries?
The GOP playbook isn't working for three reasons. First, facts have a way of coming to the fore despite the most determined political strategy. Second, authoritative voices, including the intelligence community and high profile military veterans in the U.S. Senate, have questioned the fundamental assumptions of Bush's foreign policy. Third, Democrats are speaking out more forcefully.
As E. J. Dionne Jr. writes in the Washington Post, Bill Clinton's angry outburst on Fox News a week ago has had a galvanizing effect on the public discourse:
By choosing to intervene in the terror debate in a way that no one could miss, Clinton forced an argument about the past that had up to now been largely a one-sided propaganda war waged by the right. The conservative movement understands the political value of controlling the interpretation of history. Now its control is finally being contested.
Instead of playing offense, Republicans are continually being forced to respond to events beyond their control and to the arguments of their critics.

3 Comments:

Anonymous larry said...

This is off thread...but how about that Carper and his assistance in obliterating the Constitution? The one which Delaware was the first to sign. First to sign is a big deal to me, and Carper cynically reduced it to zero. That was a truly disgraceful act, and deserving of some attention from a Delaware blogger. I live in Newark.
On thread...that was a good description of George's slow spiral down the toilet; throw in a Repub. Florida pedophile (is that redundant?) and things are looking up, except for that Constitution thing.

12:08 AM, September 30, 2006  
Blogger TommyWonk said...

Actually the surprise is that 33 Democrats and one Republican did vote against Bush on the bill, called the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Ten Democratic senators up for reelection in November voted nay: Akaka (HI), Bingaman (NM), Byrd (WV), Cantwell (WA), Clinton (NY), Conrad (ND), Feinstein (CA), Kennedy (MA), Kohl (WI), Stabenow (MI). Also, congressman Ben Cardin (MD-3), who is running for the Senate, voted no.

They voted against the bill, knowing that an opponent could very well run a negative spot accusing them of placing terrorists' rights above national security.

1:55 PM, September 30, 2006  
Anonymous larry said...

C'mon, Tommy, Carper leads Ting by about 40 points. He's in no danger whatsoever. The man who brought Delaware the Needle doesn't give a crap about either the state's place in history, or about the rights of its citizens. He did what he did because he's craven, period.

8:39 AM, October 04, 2006  

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