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I’ve been arguing with people a lot lately. Not sure what it is, maybe it’s the confidence that comes from electoral success, but the liberals in my life have been quick to verbal sparring. I don’t mind it, I enjoy the clash of ideas. It’s necessary in a democracy.

The problem I’ve found in these arguments is they always lead to the same topic: the war in Iraq. Obama significantly raising the debt? Well, “Bush, Iraq, Bush, Iraq” goes the liberal co-worker. Originalism versus empathy on the bench? “Bush, Iraq” goes the parrot, er, liberal. Occasionally you get lucky and the liberal thoughtfully explains how Bush started the spending spree. Normally just before going on a long rant about the war in Iraq.

And sure, I’ll defend the result in Iraq. A stable democracy, several elections, a constitution, autonomy, greater civil liberty and reduced genocide. I’ll take that case. Donald Rumsfeld’s plan for the occupation of Iraq was wrong, his thinking about the “light footprint” were wrong. His ideas about the military were revolutionary, maybe too much so. But after the initial mistakes in the occupation were righted by the surge, Iraq came together. Thirteen of eighteen provinces are under direct Iraqi control. All the other factors, like suicide bombings and coalition casualties are down. The country is close to full autonomy.

But when I make these points, they are ignored. “Bush Lied, Bush Murdered, Bush Tortured, Bush is retarded, Where are the WMDs? Do you like burning dark skinned people? We need to get out now.”

I can’t take it. I will say I think the case for going to war with Iraq was weaker than the case not to. I felt that at the time. Other issues related to Bush’s leadership are moot, Obama is now in office. How to finish in Iraq is more important. I do what I can to be forward thinking in these discussions but it is hard.

Eventually, I just say “you can’t put crap back into the donkey” and let that be my case for remaining in Iraq until the country is stable and fully autonomous.

Really, if I wanted to stay on topic I would never allow the “Bush, Iraq” misdirection and would stay on the subjects at hand: spending, taxation, deficit spending, the role of the judiciary, the sanctity of life, the role of government in a free market, etc.

The epiphany for me has been the fact the Iraq War has created such blind and irrational opposition to conservatives. Even though nation building and active foreign interventions aren’t conservative. The GOP will never be able to make headway until the ideas “Bush” and “Iraq” have left the cultural collective conscious. The GOP needs to foster an image that supersedes our association with the Iraq War and the memory of George W. Bush (rightly or wrongly) will have to fade before we can enjoy electoral success again.


12 Responses

  1. Speaking of debating the facts vs fiction, here’s some commentary from your end of the world:

    Since when are the citizens of Alex “entitled” to a regional airport?

    • Dan Ness is just being what P.J. O’Rourke elegantly calls “A Whore.” LGA is just another form of wealth redistribution and as much as I like the idea of stealing tax payer dollars from the richer suburbs and even the Twin Cities and giving it to the hard working people of Alexandria, it’s still wrong.

      As for the Airport, yeah, there’s little need. The Airport services 3M executives who occasionally fly in on their private jets (and a few flying hobbyists in the area) it is not a hub. Alexandria is on the Interstate and there’s a fine airport in St. Cloud. Let the 3M guys drive in. Local hobbyists? Let them invest in float planes (there are plenty of lakes around and I know my parents wouldn’t mind parking a few planes at their dock.

      To the guy who owns the vintage WWII P-51 Mustang and keeps it at the airport: I’m sorry, but if you’re rich enough to own such an aircraft, you’re rich enough to house it somewhere else.

  2. I disagree. The number of “parrots” is highly limited, not nearly enough to win elections and they will NEVER vote Republican until they get mugged, literally or figuratively, by reality. Maybe not even then.

    On our side, we have the fact it’s the economy, stupid, and unless it can be turned around by the middle of next year, by some miraculous altering of the laws of economics and human nature, that will be the primary issue, and with Republicans on the right side of it.

    • I’m not talking about parrots. These are blue collar folks who’ve never read blogs in their lives. The Iraq War turned a lot of guys who would otherwise have been likely to vote GOP into Democrats (One guy, a security guard, was wounded in Iraq and said to me before the election he would never vote for Republicans for getting the US into a meaningless war).

      As for the economy, FDR was able to win elections again and again w/o seeing anything approaching a true recovery by blaming Hoover for the bad economy. This could easily happen again.

      • Okay, they’re not white collar liberals, then. They are either Heritage Democrats, who have never voted Republican, or they are Reagan Democrats, who made a sensible choice once and will do so again, once the GOP gets its act together and starts communicating the common sense conservative message like Reagan did so well.

        I don’t think our problem is that the sorts of folks you’re talking about have soured on what conservatism really is. The MSM and Demo demogogues have successfully demonized Republicans and conservatives as the “radical right wing,” while themselves escaping the now-demonized “liberal” label by calling themselves “progressives” or even “moderates.” Hah! What we have to do is concentrate on the “common sense” part, and ask which party has the better idea on security, on the economy, and on the cultural issues. Framed correctly, you ought to be able to turn them around. If not, thank you for trying!

  3. Mr. Andrade,

    You make a very excellent point about needing to deflect the spotlight away from “Bush/Iraq” if you want to make any head way.

    But I also believe that moderate beliefs are a cancer on politics and the GOP is full of cancer. I am not saying extremism is the answer, on the contrary, but believing in a religion of “waffling” is no way to secure the interests of the US unless you are more interested in keeping power for yourself.

    This doesn’t bode well for any of us.

    • I doubt the GOP will go moderate, there aren’t many moderates left in the GOP after the last two election cycles. But, the question becomes, how to attract the moderates. I would leave it up to the ambitions of the moderates. Moderates looking to win an elected seat need a political party; right now there are a lot of entrenched Democrats holding down swing or moderate districts and the moderates will have to use the GOP to compete for these seats.

  4. To JEwing: We basically agree. A properly framed conservative message should be very powerful to the electorate after the overreach of the current government. I think the GOP needs a little more time to distance itself from the memory (false memory as it will turn out) of a failed Iraq War. You think we can turn this around by 2010 or 2012. I think a little longer. I cited FDR, you could easily cite the 1992 elections and the 1994 comeback for the GOP (though, in 1994 there wasn’t the memory of a long war in the electorate).

    • My guess is that by 2010 the war will be all but forgotten; even now the MSM are having almost nothing to say about it, because it is going so well. If that continues, the issue disappears. If major new offensives or fighting develops, it will be Obama’s fault. It’s almost a win-win for us, IMHO. Either way, I’m guessing the economy will be so bad that the “misery index” will be back and commanding everyone’s attention.

  5. Slim- thanks for the response. I agree, LGA is what it is. Redistribution. Don’t shit in my pocket and tell me it’s gold, or that your citizens are entitled to an airport, because I pay my left nut in property taxes every year. My city has net loss to LGA of about 2 million.

  6. I agree with you that Democrats can no longer continue to beat the dead horse that is the Bush years in office. I do however, wish that we could have a more substantive debate about foreign policy without people foaming at the mouth.

    I know I don’t look at this through the same lens as everyone else on the political right, but I really do think it’s time we examine why our military has bases in so many foreign countries, at great cost to the American Taxpayer, even in peace time? Do we really need to be in 100+ countries around the world? What is the justification for this cold war policy to be continued long after the fall of the Soviet Union?

    As far as Iraq and the rest of our middle east incursions go, I will pose a completely sincere question:

    If someone came into your house by force and broke a bunch of your stuff, would you want them to stick around and fix it after they realized it was a mistake? Or would you just want them to go away and pay for the damage?

    That’s how I look at the Iraq mess. Some might say that “You broke it, you bought it.” But wouldn’t it have been cheaper to just pay for the damages and let them sort out their own problems? The political right is supposed to be the defenders of individual liberty and social and economic freedom, yet a portion of that same group supports preemptively invading foreign countries that have not harmed Americans. It seems like it’s intellectually dishonest, at the very least.

    We can lambaste the Democrats for their rabid response to Bush, but I think we need to right our ship before we mount a counter attack. When it comes to spending, entitlement, and Government Intrusion into private life, we have to point the finger at GOP Politicians and ask for accountability. We can no longer talk out of both sides of our mouths and expect our Obama criticisms to carry any credibility.

    • I think, simply as a matter of pragmatism, most conservatives are skeptical of foriegn interventions. What seperates the Ron Paul wing of the GOP and the rest is ideological. I’m wary of foriegn entaglements but I don’t feel it is philosophical. You clearly adopt a philosophical stance against interventionism. That’s fine, but what we understand as “conservatism” isn’t a set philosophy. It’s a collection of varying beliefs and interests held together by political nescessity.

      As for your point, I think the GOP has set about righting the ship. We’re ready for the counterattack.

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