Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The GOP Plays Its Last Card

Facing a bleak Election Day next week, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have now made it clear that Republicans are willing to play their last card in an effort to shift attention from their own record and fan fears about Democrats. Campaigning in Georgia in one of the few House districts where a Republican candidate wants him around, Bush said of a potential Democratic takeover of Congress: "The terrorists win and America loses."

Removing any doubt about the deliberate nature of this disreputable line of attack, Cheney said on Fox News that Iraqi insurgents are essentially working to help Democrats. "It's my belief that they're very sensitive of the fact that we've got an election scheduled... [and believe] they can break the will of the American people." This is actually a habit for Cheney, who said on Rush Limbaugh's show on October 17: "I was reading something today that a writer -- I don't remember who -- was speculating on increased terrorist attacks in Iraq attempting to demoralize the American people as we get up to the election. And when I read that, it made sense to me. And I interpreted this as that the terrorists are actually involved and want to involve themselves in our electoral process, which must mean they want a change."

So there you have it. After botching the Iraq War about as thoroughly as possible, and refusing to admit errors, change strategies or hold anyone responsible for their incompetence, the Bush administration is now arguing that the American people don't have the right to hold them responsible, either, since a Democratic victory would cheer terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere. In effect, Bush and Cheney are trying to hold America hostage to their own mistakes.

This breathtaking line of "reasoning" is all the more deplorable because it expresses a sense of complete U.S. helplessness in the struggle against jihadist terrorists. We can't change direction because that would be a victory for our enemies. So they effectively control us. Given the administration's obsession with denying there are any practical restraints on U.S. freedom of action in Iraq or anywhere else, that's an especially ironic point of view.

In any event, it's unlikely the latest Bush-Cheney fear offensive will do their party much good. Maybe changing every subject back to Iraq and the war on terrorism used to work for the GOP, but at a time when the public is decisively repudiating the administration's bungling of Iraq, it's no longer a safe subject for Republicans. Moreover, Americans are not likely to respond well to the GOP's cynical assumption that they can be frightened into giving up their right to provide what the president once called "an accountability moment" for this and every other administration.

But we suppose they cannot think of anything else to do. What else are they going to campaign on? Competence? Compassion? High ethical standards? Bipartisanship? Fiscal stewardship and limited government? Courage and foresight in meeting big challenges like globalization, affordable health care, and energy security? Civility in politics?

Not hardly. It's amazing to remember that George W. Bush was first elected after a campaign in which he relentlessly promised to restore honesty and integrity to the Oval Office, to act as a "uniter, not a divider," and to usher in a "responsibility era" in American politics and government. For his administration, his party, and his country, it's been a long downward spiral from those heights of fine rhetoric.

From the DLC New Dem Dispatch

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