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Is Iraq Better Off Today Than It Was Four Years Ago? The Question of the Day at the Palm Springs Fesitval of Books.

Saturday, April 22, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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Iraq the Model blogs the big day in Iraq. Key excerpt:

(6:00 pm)

-Talabani and his two deputies have won the vote by 198 votes out of a total of 255 actual votes with 57 papers left empty.
Talabani, Abdul Mahdi and al-Hashimi sworn in as members of the new presidency council of Iraq for a full 4 year term.
Talabani prepares to give a speech.

(6:10 pm)

-Talabani thanks the forces of the liberation in his speech and officially annouces Noori Kamil al-Ali (aka Jawad al-Maliki) as the nominee for new PM of Iraq.
Talabani also thanked Jafari for ending the deadlock and asks him to give a speech.

The importance of events in Iraq seems largely ignored by the American left which is focusing all its ire on SecDef Rumsfeld. As Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff notes that the charges against Rumsfeld are absurd when examined as opposed to merely repeated, and the WaPo announces that the Pentagon continues its Rumsfeld-inspired/driven shift to new priorities.

I spent the day at the Palm Springs Festival of Books, and was on a panel with the always canny Susan Estrich. (She was on my right; Susan McDougal on my left. I pleaded with the audience for a photo.)

Professor Estrich believes the Dems must press the attack on Rumsfeld as the way to signal to the voting population that the Dems have a different plan. This was the only point on which we disagreed, and deeply so.

For serious Americans, Rumsfeld, like the vice president and president, represent tough-minded and responsible stewards of the national security.

The Deans/Bidens/Durbins/Pelosis etc –and their MoveOn.org cheerleaders– are understood by majorities to be irresponsible and even silly. And quite unprepared to lead the country in a time of war.

Every time a Democrat attacks Rumsfeld, he or she sends a message that a Democratic Senate or House will spend its time harassing Rumsfeld instead of supporting the war.

Democrats are thus beginning the campaign of 2006 just as they did the campaigns of 2004 and 2002: Committed to telling the voters the Democrats think Republicans are a bigger threat than terrorists and rogue states.

Professor Estrich and I did agree that the incredible level of venom on the left –not only undenounced by Democratic leaders, but actually embraced– is a huge problem for her party. After Susan McDougal had gone on a bender of how she absolutely hates George Bush, and psycho-babbling Justin Frank had encouraged everyone in the pretty far left audience to unleash their hate of Bush, (“I’m going to stand up for hatred,” he said to Estrich’s amazement and my glee), Estrich admonished the crowd that their cheering of such rhetoric would only doom the party’s chances.

I had already responded that I loved to heard hear Susan McDougal hate Bush, and that she should get a 24/7 cable channel. Professor Estrich instructed the crowd that I was right. But they refused her counsel. After all, what does it mean to run a presidential campaign? They know it is all about “truth-telling!”

And so it went for an hour that embarassed Estrich because the left is unhinged and doesn’t know it.

The moderator of the panel was Aaron Glantz, a very pleasnat Pacifica Radio host whose book, How America Lost Iraq, may be a tad premature.

Consider that panel: Glantz, McDougal, Frank, Estrich…and me.

I thought it was a fair match.

So did Professor Estrich. For the first time in many weeks I felt good about the GOP’s prospects in November. There’s no way to hide the Democrats’ crazy aunts in the basement.

There are too many of them.

Two more book recommendations.

Peter Kennedy Lawford was on a panel, and told a very interesting anecdocte about the night his Uncle Jack was nominated by the Democratic Party. Lawford was very compelling, and I will read his book. I asked a question about his grandfather Joe, which brought a response about Hyannis Port in the days after Joe’s stroke. Richard Reeves allowed as how no good bio of Joe has been done. Mr. Lawford is off writing novels now, but he might think about a portrait of his grandfather –a major figure in American history about which very little is really known by the public at large.

Now to author #2.

The Palm Springs Book Festival is still at a scale where you can wander around among readers and writers and enjoy the afternoon. This leads to discoveries.

My discovery this afternoon was of a funny, pleasant, and very talented lefty, John Dicker, who’s book on Wal-Mart may have crossed your attention span last year.

Dicker’s description of the Wal-Mart’s annual shareholder meeting as a cross between “Triumph of the Will, the Olympics’ opening ceremonies and Hee-Haw” telegraphed talent –though perhaps not perspective– and his idea on a “next book” on young evangelical Christian culture is brilliant. Memo to left publishers: Sign this winsome fellow up. Think Michael Moore without the branding.

Here’s what I marvel at:

Iraq has a new government, free of a Stalinist despot –a murderer of hundred of thousands– and America has a booming economy, in which far more boats are rising than falling.

But the Left can’t see it, or won’t. They’d rather rant about President Bush.

There is a reason that most Americans feel great love for President Reagan: He believed in the essential goodness of the country and was not shy about saying so.

Even when Reagan’s “approval ratings” dipped very low, Reagan did not falter.

This is the key to the elections of 2006, and, far more important than those results, success in the war.

The GOP must continually announce to every voter that it believes in victory.

That it believes Iraqis and Afghanis want to be free.

That it believes in the American economy. And that gas prices won’t cripple the boom, and can in fact be tamed with new exploration.

The GOP must keep a focus on the Democrats who would have power: The Reids, Durbins, Deans, Kennedys, Kerrys, Pelosis and, of course, the Clintons.

The best electoral weapon the GOP has are the Democrats.

Off to NYC. Painting the Map Red is turning out to be prophetic.

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