Borrow it from Ronald Reagan’s approach to the Cold War: “We win, they lose.”
The Senate is delusional if it thinks the American people want it to run the war. John Kerry? Joe Biden? Barbara Boxer? Patrick Leahy? Robert Byrd?
Could some Republicans possibly have talked themselves into the idea that the country has shifted towards the Democrats on the war because of the elections?
Lincoln Chafee was a loon, George Allen and Conrad Burns ran terrible campaigns, Mike DeWine was saddled with a dysfunctional governor and corrupt party establishment, and Rick Santorum couldn’t beat the demographics of a state that voted both Gore and Kerry.2006 for the GOP was like a typical year for the Cleveland Browns, and that everything went wrong did not equal an endorsement of defeat in Iraq. Jim Talent lost by 46,000 votes out of more than 2,000,000 cast in the sixth year of a cycle in the closest of swing states -again, not a repudiation of victory in the war with the jihadists. Mark Foley and grandstanding by a couple of senators deflated the GOP agenda in September. Yes, it was a thumping, but the country did not embrace defeat, though the Democrats most certainly did. Ned Lamont, recall, lost. The center held in a blue state, and it can hold across the country if the Republicans will just say “Not now, not ever, never will we vote to encourage the enemy.”
TheNRSCPledge.com is open at its permanent site, and more than 14,000 people have signed up in the first 30 hours of operation.
Senators Warner and McCain are getting flooded with anti-resolution e-mails and phone calls, as are many other senators linked with the half-hearted defense of the war. The numbers of ten senators –some resolute, others not– are listed on the printable pledge card. I hope some of these are printed off and passed around the National Review Conservative Summit opening tomorrow.
The left is increasingly angry over the attempt by the center-right to remind the GOP that they are becoming as identified with defeat as the Democrats, and doing so only days after General Petraeus bluntly stated that resolutions attacking the plan to reinforce Baghdad would encourage the enemy. “I think he couldn’t have been more clear,” Senator John Cornyn said on my program today. Senator Thune said the same thing. (That transcript will be posted here later.) Their anger signals the combination of insecurity that comes naturally to anyone advocating American surrender combined with the clear beliefs of those in the middle of the fight that it can be won. They would not be in such a hurry to damn the effort if they thought it would genuinely hurt the GOP. But they know the last thing the Democrats want is clarity as to their party’s embrace of defeat and their contempt of the troops and the sacrifices they have made and are making.
All the GOP senators need to do is recognize that they ought to have the political courage to match the real deal on display in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are some signs that this renewed resolve is growing, and if Senator McCain hears from enough Republicans, he too could shake off his sudden desire to undercut the reinforcements he has been arguing for for two years and lead the GOP opposition to any resolution except one clearly proclaiming confidence in the troops, General Petraeus, the rightness of the cause, and the necessity of victory. To demand more “oversight” two days after confirming the general committed to the new strategy is quite simply political cowardice of the highest order. They had their “oversight,” and they said yes. How can any of them send the man off to Iraq and then undercut him before the plane takes off. He was clear and forceful. And they voted yes.
Two years ago John McCain blew up his party’s strategy on judicial nominations, and defended his Gang of 14 deal on the grounds that the GOP might someday need the filibuster.
While a party loyal to the Constitution ought never to need the filibuster for judicial nominees, it is the perfect legislative weapon for defeatist resolutions. Having sacrificed so much to keep the filibuster untarnished, Senator McCain ought to reach for it now. Urge him to do so. His campaign office phone is (703) 418-2008, and his Senate office phone is (202) 224-2235. You can e-mail his exploratory committee here.
You can’t aspire to lead the Party of Reagan unless you agree with the approach of Reagan: “We win. They lose.”