The Washington Post reports on candidates for the United States Senate in Maryland and Virginia who are basing their campaigns on a demand for withdrawal from Iraq. As I have written many times, former Reagan Adminsitration Navy Secretary James Webb poses a unique challenge to Senator Geogre Allen in that Webb is a warrior who is arguing the decision to invade was wrong and the occupation bungled.
Webb’s primary opponent, Harris Miller, is also running against the war.
Across the state line in Maryland, Kweise Mfume is campaigning that the Democrats must use the appropriations process to shut down the war in Iraq:
Kweisi Mfume has said Congress must force the president’s hand through the appropriations process and establish a plan for withdrawal. “If we can set a date certain for an Iraqi constitution and a date certain for establishment of an Iraqi government, which we did, I think we ought to be able to set a date certain for withdrawal” in concert with increased international participation, he said.
Mfume’s primary opponent, Congressman Ben Cardin, “was one of 133 House members who voted against the original resolution authorizing President Bush to take action.”
As the Post puts it:
“[W]herever Democratic loyalists gather, there are five words sure to prompt applause for a Senate candidate:
End the war in Iraq.”
This clarity among Democratic candidtaes is welcome news for the GOP and the country. If the GOP’s candidates will rise to the defense of the war –its necessity and its success not only in driving out the threat that was the Saddam regime but also the very difficult process of helping to erect an Iraq that is both democratic and a counterweight to Iran– the elections of November can go the Republicans’ way.
But if they mistake the president’s poll numbers for an endorsement of Democratic calls for retreat, Republicans will get crushed.
The GOP has to commikt to arguing hard but true things:
*That Saddam was a threat, and it is good that he is gone.
*That while a difficult and ongoing operation, Iraq, and Afghanistan, were not battles America chose to fought but battles it had to join and win.
*That both countries are much better off today than they were on 9/12, as is the United States.
*And that there is much, much more difficult fighting ahead, and not just in those two countries but around the globe and that Democratic isolationism is a guarantee of more and more devastating attacks on the United States.
The opposite of a resolute defense of the war and its effectiveness is the attempt by Ohio’s Mike DeWine this week to demonstrate “independence” with an attack on Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. DeWine told Salon:
“Rumsfeld has made some very serious mistakes,” DeWine declared, repeating his verdict for emphasis. “Very serious mistakes. I think history will judge him very harshly.”
Senator DeWine writes fundraising letters that extoll his conservative credentials, and his votes to confirm Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito help mitigate his membership in the Gang of 14 (as will a solid performance in the collision over circuit court nominees that is brewing). These are important evidences as to why Republicans in the Buckeye State need to rally to DeWine.
But bashing Rumsfeld is a sure fire way to shatter the base that he needs.