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The Miers/WMD Connection:
Hugh Hewitt has introduced a new argument for the defense of the Miers nomination: Opposing the nomination of Harriet Miers may lead to the deaths of millions of Americans at the hands of terrorists. As best I can tell, the argument is that a Miers defeat would hurt the Republican Party, and hurting the GOP would limit the nation's ability to fight terrorist threats and place millions of American lives at risk:
  With a nomination made, I prefer to press to the desired outcome, and support the president and recognize that the defeat of a nominee is a calamitous political consequence, no matter what other people say.
  It may come as a shock to people, but I am a Republican, who believes that the care and nurturing of governing majorities of the GOP in the Senate and the House in time of war, and the preparation for a monumental struggle with Hillary in 2008, are crucial --indeed the most important-- goals on the table.
  We can lose the war. We can suffer terrorist attacks far more devastating than 9/11. Iran is not being deterred, and North Korea continues to be run by an unbalanced dictator with nukes. There are at least hundreds of thousands and probably millions of Islamofascists who would gladly bring WMD to this country and use them in our major cities. I would have preferred a different nominee, and I hope that my short list is the president's short list the next time a vacancy occurs.
  But the field is large, [and there are] many forces are at work on it only a few of which I glimpse . . .
  Wow. Am I misreading Hewitt, or is he really saying what I think he is saying? If the former, I'll correct it immediately; if the latter, I am just speechless.
Medis:
Is this surprising? This is the #1 play in the playobook: when any issue looks bad for the President, make it about 9/11, and then accuse his critics of wanting the terrorists to win.
10.15.2005 1:50pm
Ugh (mail):
Why would you be surprised, this has been the Bush admin MO since 9/11. I suppose Hewitt is not part of the Bush admin, but it shouldn't surprise you that a right wing talking point is essentially "if you vote for the Dems the terrorists will eat your children."
10.15.2005 1:51pm
dk35 (mail):
I'm with Medis and Ugh. How can you possibly be surprised by this, Orin? This is par for the course rhetoric by the Republicans.

Unfortunately, I just can't give Orin and the other Libertarian bloggers (Randy, Eugene) a pass on this. By supporting the Republicans all of this time, Libertarians like you have been supporting this kind of odious behavior. If you want another recent example of it, I encourage you to read about how President Bush's press secretary openly accused Helen Thomas of being "against the broader war on terror" simply because she was asking questions about some of the failures of the US govt's Iraq policy.
10.15.2005 1:58pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Prof. Kerr inches closer, perhaps, to the "Hewitt is a hack" theory?

Desperate Bushies will play this card just as long as it works. When people like Orin Kerr laugh it off, maybe it won't work any more.
10.15.2005 1:59pm
Jacob Lister (mail):
Steel plant owners might want to look into selling...
10.15.2005 2:02pm
paa:
Are you just now realizing that Hugh Hewitt is a complete and utter moron? He will support anything the Bush administration does.

Typical Hewitt Thought
10.15.2005 2:05pm
Jeremy (www):
I think Prof. Hewitt has completely gone off the deep end with this Miers thing, making every single argument he can think of.

Prof. Hewitt is approaching the Miers defense as some attorneys would approach a hopeless case. Throw out absolutely everything and hope something sticks.

Unfortunately, lawyers as advocates are not required to be intellectually honest. They are free, and in fact ethically obligated, to make colorable arguments on behalf of their client regardless of whether the lawyer himself believes in each and every argument put forward.

Friends tell me that with criminal defense work you often don't personally agree with a single argument that you're making. I think Hugh Hewitt is in a similar position over Harriet Miers. But participants in a public debate, as opposed to participants in a courtroom debate, should be intellectually honest. I hope that at some point in the future Prof. Hewitt regains his intellectual honesty.
10.15.2005 2:09pm
JayJ:
Perhaps the logic of Hewitt's argument can be described as follows:

1. If you hold position X, then you are hurting Bush.

2. If you are hurting Bush, then you are hurting the Republican Party's ability to win elections.

3. If you are hurting the Republican Party's ability to win elections, then you are hurting the ability of America to fight terrorism at home and abroad.

4. Therefore, if you hold position X, then you are hurting the ability of America to fight terrorism at home and abroad.

Such a blatantly unsound argument has been used many times in the past by the White House, but the Miers nomination is the first major case (or perhaps just one of the first major cases) that such an argument has been used against those who comprise a significant part of the Republican Party's base.
10.15.2005 2:09pm
erp (mail):
Why speechless?

Do you doubt that if the Republicans are split and Democrats regain the congress and White House, terrorists would rejoice and step up attacks? The anti-war bump and grind is what's keeping the violence going in Iraq. They're waiting us out hoping for a repeat of Vietnam.

If there are Republican gains in the congress in 2006 and a Republican is elected in 2008, Islamic violence in Iraq and elsewhere will grind to a halt. If not, then the opposite will happen and in no time, we'll be just another third world country dancing at the end of the UN/EU string with the Islamists playing the part of the puppeteer.

In the silver lining department, at least then, all the koolaid drinkers who worked so hard to rid the world of American style democracy, will be among the first to be sent to paradise.
10.15.2005 2:16pm
Hilarious:
During the Katrina aftermath, I posted a spoof under the name "Grand Old Poster" trying to give the most outrageous conservative position imaginable. Sadly, Hewitt, in all seriousness, has surpassed my spoof.

It would be like if Swift had a chance to see the English start forcing pregnant Irishwomen to rip out fetuses and boil them into soup.
10.15.2005 2:19pm
Adrock (mail) (www):
Yes you can say this but are you definitely sure about that. I think you have to take certain changes that how this will help to others. I am not offending your comment; just I want to give my personal suggestion. As this is the only way to help them. This is the only way to tell other people about that. Hope this will be beneficial for them.
10.15.2005 2:28pm
The Family:
He's indulging in hyperbole to make the (mistaken) point that the Supreme Court isn't as important as all that. It is the basis of the elitism charge, too: Only pointy-heads worry about that stuff. He's right about that, of course, and that's why we pointy-heads (or is it egg-heads?) must continue to throw our hiss-fit, learning from Hugh. SCOTUS is more important than party. But that point is very hard to make convincing for those not already convinced.

Much of the population uses shortcuts to understanding, including, on any given issue, the emotional wattage of people they trust. Hugh is very reliable, and builds up the trust of those who want to resist the creepy, snarky left but can't afford to educate themselves on every issue. Hugh is for Bush always, so you can go there for the pro-Bush argument. Same for Rush for the principled conservative/libertarian take. Or the WSJ for a more libertarian take. (And same for the left, too, of course.)

How much trust do the pointy-heads have? Makes you guffaw, doesn't it? Smart, sarcastic, social misfits are always the evil guys in movies for a reason.
10.15.2005 2:38pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"If there are Republican gains in the congress in 2006 and a Republican is elected in 2008, Islamic violence in Iraq and elsewhere will grind to a halt."

Are you serious, or is this a joke?
10.15.2005 2:49pm
mikem (mail):
I think it's the former. If what Hewitt said can be extrapolated so easily to your interpretation we all better just shut up.
I think Hewitt is just saying that we are hurting Bush's chances of majority support for the rest of The Agenda.
I oppose Miers' confirmation.
10.15.2005 2:50pm
Michael B (mail):
None of this "Potter Stewart," WMD, "trust me blindly and unthinkingly," etc. shilling had to be used during the Roberts nomination. That alone should be a major clue - for conservative/centrists - concerning the weakness of the Miers nomination.

Cancel Miers and nominate Estrada, or a Luttig or Brown or Jones, among others which can reasonably be shown to be better qualified and suited for the position.
10.15.2005 2:57pm
roger (mail):
Sorry Professor Kerr ... I gotta go with the consensus on this one. It should surprise nobody that the Right and its ardent supporters are using this vile yet laughable technique. It's been the favored tool in their box for the whole time W has been in office. This must have gone unnoticed because you agreed with the wielder (even if not their methods) in its copious prior deployments.

Not that anyone should forget that it was the Left and its defenders who raised this process to an art form with its use/abuse ... but the poignancy of 9/11 has given it a far greater effect in the current hands. I rather think we need a new corrolary to Godwin's Law that treats these sorts of assertions in a similar way. While this may be great pablum to the masses, this approach actually undercuts one's credibility with any intelligent audience.
10.15.2005 2:59pm
roger (mail):
*gasp* when excerpted ... Mahan's snippet becomes even more ghastly. I suspect this was indeed Hewitt's intent, but he sought to water it down, just a touch, by placing it into a contrived context!
10.15.2005 3:01pm
lucia (mail) (www):
Who knows what he means. Heck, I'm just trying to make sense of this sentence:

But the field is large, many forces are at work on it only a few of which I glimpse, and President Bush has not broke his word on a promise to his party yet.


Huh? What field is large? The field of potential nominees for the Supreme court? Of dangers? Or of potential Democratic candidates for president?

I'm assuming it refers to "the field". Why would forces be acting on "the field"? Wouldn't "the field is filled with many players" or even "chock full of corn", make better metaphors?

And how would Hugh glimpse any force?

I'm also glad to read "Bush has not broke his word".

Oh well. I guess Hewitt has as much a right to write badly as I do.

But, no, I have no idea what he's saying in that sentence, or in the article at a whole.
10.15.2005 3:04pm
SimonD (www):
He's indulging in hyperbole to make the (mistaken) point that the Supreme Court isn't as important as all that.
His view is distinctly mistaken. No terrorist or group thereof can defeat America; we are Mondo (think Blazing Saddles: "don't shoot him, you'll only make him mad"). Every time the land a hit on us, it only redoubles our resolve. By contrast, a Supreme Court that is not committed to the Constitution and the principles that underpin it can and will destroy our system of government. Just because the latter is slow and insidious, while the former is sudden and in the full glare of public concern, does not change the relative danger each poses.
10.15.2005 3:06pm
AF -- other one:
If we are really thinking about unintended consequences, the primary one will be that if Meirs is defeated, no President will ever appoint anyone to the Court that is not already a sitting appellate judge. Just as Bork insured that nobody with a record gets appointed. Both terrible outcomes, that hurt the nation and give the Court a narrower and narrower skill set.
10.15.2005 3:08pm
SimonD (www):
It seems that Hewitt senses the danger. Like the insurgents in Iraq - who fight harder and harder the closer they get to defeat, so Hewitt gets more and more absurd and desparate as he realizes that the position he took in support of Miers is undefendable. Some, like John Fund, have realized their mistake, and swapped sides. Others, like Beldar and Hewitt, may take a longer.

Apropos, Hewitt declares that he is "a Republican, who believes that the care and nurturing of governing majorities of the GOP in the Senate and the House in time of war, and the preparation for a monumental struggle with Hillary in 2008." Does he really believe that those of us who are trying to stop Miers are trying to do something other than this? I am resigned to losing the House next year, but I would still like to stop it from happening, likewise the Senate and likewise the White House in 2008. I just don't think the way to achieve those goals that is to split the party by nominating yet another stealth candidate.

It seems to me that those who are defending the nomination simply have no clue how to respond to dissent from within, rather than attacks from Democrats. Lacking any other weapons, they have turned those they use to fight the Dems on our own party. The results won't be pretty.
10.15.2005 3:11pm
Nikki (www):
Roger - hm? Calling the left soft on defense and national security has been de rigeur for a very long time. It well predates 11 September 2001, if my memory serves me correctly.
10.15.2005 3:11pm
SimonD (www):
If we are really thinking about unintended consequences, the primary one will be that if Meirs is defeated, no President will ever appoint anyone to the Court that is not already a sitting appellate judge. Just as Bork insured that nobody with a record gets appointed. Both terrible outcomes, that hurt the nation and give the Court a narrower and narrower skill set.
On the contrary - rejecting Miers and the subsequent confirmation of a candidate with a paper trail - Judge or not - will repudiate the legacy of the Bork nomination, and may well preclude the other scenario you mention. A person doesn't have to be a judge, but they do have to be able to demonstrate why we should trust them. That means a paper trail, preferably - but not necessarily - judicial or scholarly. It does not mean service as a lottery commissionner or attorney. What's next, Justice Hutz?
10.15.2005 3:15pm
Dustin R. Ridgeway (mail):
Disregarding shallow characterizations about Democrats and Republicans, or liberals and conservatives, can many of us at least agree that Hugh Hewitt is a hack? Or at least grant me this; Mr. Hewitt is among a small class most likely to defend a Bush sponsored mandatory baby eating law on the grounds that if it's challenged, it will weaken Bush and the GOP and consequently allow the Terrorists to win?
10.15.2005 3:18pm
A Blogger:
Why do people think Kerr is surpised that Professor Hewitt made this argument? He said he was speechless, not surprised.
10.15.2005 3:19pm
Medis:
AF,

Actually, I think the bar for non-judge nominees may well be lowered after Miers, even if she gets withdrawn or rejected, because it will be so easy for a non-judge nominee to be much more qualified than Miers.
10.15.2005 3:22pm
The General:
If a unified GOP would make America safer against terrorism and withdrawing the Miers nomination and nominating a true legal conservative will unite the GOP, then withdrawing Miers nomination and nominating a true legal conservative will make America safer against terrorism! I think Hugh may be on to something here!
10.15.2005 3:49pm
erp (mail):

Sneering, sarcasm and ridicule don't change the facts, nor does name calling.

Hewitt is right that splitting the Republican party and risking a Democratic sweep would be disastrous. Do you all really think Democrats in the White House and congress would make our children more secure? Arguments to support that preposterous theory would make mighty entertaining reading.

I neither oppose not support Miers because absolutely nothing about her, other than the few facts of her age, her religion, her jobs, etc, is known. That's why we have hearings, to hear more about her. I'll wait until I have some basis for an opinion before I start shooting off my mouth. It's not bad rule to follow.
10.15.2005 4:02pm
Jeremy (www):
I think The General makes an excellent point. Why, Prof. Hewitt, is it not President Bush's responsibility to unify the party, if party unification is so crtitical to our continued survival as a nation in the face of the Islamofascist threat?
10.15.2005 4:03pm
SimonD (www):
I neither oppose not support Miers because absolutely nothing about her, other than the few facts of her age, her religion, her jobs, etc, is known. That's why we have hearings, to hear more about her.
Could you tell us what new information about Judge Roberts we discovered during his confirmation hearings? Point-by-point, what revelations did we have during Judge Ginsburg's hearings? What did we learn about Steve Breyer's heart during his hearings? What about Judge Souter, did we get an accurate picture of his subsequent jurisprudence during his confirmation hearings?
10.15.2005 4:11pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Do you all really think Democrats in the White House and congress would make our children more secure? Arguments to support that preposterous theory would make mighty entertaining reading."

Really... Well considering how badly the Bush adminstration has screwed up the war in Iraq, I don't see your position holding much water. The fact is, our campaign in Iraq has seriously weakened our position in the war on terror.

How could we do any worse than Bush has? Have we caught Bin Laden? How about Zarqawi?

Have you forgotten who was President when we were attacked on 9/11?
10.15.2005 4:11pm
Michael B (mail):
I'll applaud The General's sentiments. Leadership, not capitulation; Miers's nomination, consciously intended or otherwise, represents the latter, not the former.

Nobody wants a fight if it's unnecessary or if the stakes to not warrant it, but the fight has already been initiated by the Dems and Left/Dems (e.g., Estrada) and the stakes do warrant it, so at this time it's more simply a matter of acknowledging that fact.

Or we can pretend otherwise and be led by our nose by the Gang of Fourteen.
10.15.2005 4:17pm
Syd (mail):
When Bush appointed Miers, it weakened his position which by this argument will lead to the triunph of the terrorists?
10.15.2005 4:41pm
erp (mail):
Let's try to keep our eye on the ball here. We didn't need to learn anything new about Roberts, Breyer, Souter et al. because they had a paper trail. Remember, the very thing Miers is lacking. So, if we didn't learn everything we should have about them, I guess the media and committee members didn't dig deep enough or ask the right questions? They'll all get a chance to redeem themselves in the next weeks.

The WoT? Mistakes? Less safe? On the very day of the second peaceful vote in Iraq? This is koolaid drinking moonbat talk that requires no response.

I haven't forgotten who was president on 9/11, nor have I forgotten the former president whose cowardly acts of appeasement led up to the attack, nor have I forgotten how he ran to the uber-corrupt UN to cower and hide while terrorists concluded that we Americans were too weak and fearful to defend ourselves, so they were emboldened to launch what they thought would be a fatal blow. Nor have I forgotten the nightmare that might have been had Gore's attempted coup d'etat succeeded.

Let's get back to the point. Splitting the Republican party over the Miers nomination would be folly and electing Democrats because of it would be disastrous.
10.15.2005 5:02pm
Eric:
I'm generally conservative but ever since I read the first Hewitt column on NRO I thought he was a hack/shill. I had a timely comment on Eugene's last post about Hewitt where I said "Hewitt will say anything." I didn't expect to be validated so soon.
10.15.2005 5:06pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"The WoT? Mistakes? Less safe? On the very day of the second peaceful vote in Iraq? This is koolaid drinking moonbat talk that requires no response."

Sorry, but voting on a constitution isn't going to stop the insurgency.

Ignore me all you want, but guess what: We're stuck in Iraq. We have hundreds of thousands of troops stuck there. And it has done absolutely zip to advance the war on terror. In fact, it is turning more people into terrorists.

I'd love to hear what your pro-war arugment was before we invaded. I bet it was utterly divorced from reality. Were you arguing that there were WMDs in Iraq? I bet you were, right?

So tell me, what makes you think you're so damned infallible?
10.15.2005 5:13pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
It does seem a bit of a stretch. I mean, if Roberts hadn't been confirmed, I'd have expected terrorists to kill millions of Americans as a result, but Miers does seem a less likely case. I doubt more than two or three thousand would be killed. It's just an Associate Justice position, after all.

Terrorists have a sense of dignity, too. You don't see them trying to assassinate building code inspectors or diving airplanes into the local Circle K.
10.15.2005 5:14pm
SimonD (www):
Let's try to keep our eye on the ball here. We didn't need to learn anything new about Roberts, Breyer, Souter et al. because they had a paper trail. Remember, the very thing Miers is lacking. So, if we didn't learn everything we should have about them, I guess the media and committee members didn't dig deep enough or ask the right questions?
So you concede the point that we didn't learn anything about the views of any candidates in any nomination hearings since Bork, yet contend that it didn't matter because they had a paper trail? How is that an argument in favor of Miers? If the nomination hearings are a facrcical waste of time - which I think everyone except the judiciary committee agrees with - then we're left with the nominee's paper trail as the only criterion on which to appraise them. Miers does not have a paper trail, and we will not learn anything during the hearings, so why wait for the hearings?
10.15.2005 5:14pm
D. Fox (mail):
Medis: In fairness to Hewitt, he is not accusing Miers' critics of wanting the terrorists to win. He is saying that defeating Bush on the Miefrs nomination will make it more likely that the terrorists to win.

Is it a silly argument? Sure. But your paraphrase of it is simply wrong.
10.15.2005 6:04pm
Challenge:
"With a nomination made, I prefer to press to the desired outcome, and support the president and recognize that the defeat of a nominee is a calamitous political consequence, no matter what other people say."

Linda Chavez?

Bernard Kerik?

Brownie?

Yes, this hurts the president--but it hurts him MORE if he doesn't withdraw her name. If he withdraws her name, then the rebellion ends. The longer this goes on, the worse it is for the President.
10.15.2005 6:21pm
Eric:
actually correction it was weekley standard online I think.
10.15.2005 6:24pm
erp (mail):
I originally replied to Orin's post that he was speechless because Hewitt seemed to be saying that splintering the Republican party over the Miers nomination could lead to reduced security for our children. I fully agree with Hewitt on this and don't want to see Democrats back in control of the country because of internecine warfare over Harriet Miers.

What makes me infallible? Hmm? That's a tough one. Believe or not, I don't really know, but empirical evidence over the years has shown it to be true, so I've just learned to live with it.

I'd forgotten how amusing arguments from the left side of the spectrum can be. Thanks for an enjoyable Saturday afternoon.
10.15.2005 7:27pm
PersonFromPorlock:
I'm reminded of Charles De Gaul's quip that "the cemetaries are full of indispensable men." Also Presidents, policies, political parties and even nominees.
10.15.2005 7:31pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"What makes me infallible? Hmm? That's a tough one. Believe or not, I don't really know, but empirical evidence over the years has shown it to be true, so I've just learned to live with it. "

I ask you again, were WMDs part of the reason why you supported invading Iraq?

"I'd forgotten how amusing arguments from the left side of the spectrum can be. Thanks for an enjoyable Saturday afternoon."

Amusing? You couldn't even answer my question. Is that your idea of debating with someone, just ignoring them?

Tell me, how are we going to get out of Iraq? When will it happen? Do you have any anwers whatsoever for these questions?
10.15.2005 8:00pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
BTW, erp, you refer to this as an "argument from the left side of the spectrum." Well I hate to tell you this, but there are an awful lot of people on "the right" who are pointing out the same thing.

Hanging the word "left" on an argument and walking away is a pretty weak form of debating, don't you think?
10.15.2005 8:07pm
David Hecht (mail):
Hm. Non-lawyer that I am, I guess the Hewitt argument strikes me as an ipsedixitism rather than an argument per se.

I think it is undeniable that fighting the GWOT is the prime priority: all else must be sacrificed. Salus Populi Suprema Lex, and all that.

I think it is undeniable that--for all its many faults--this administration is committed to fighting the GWOT as best as is feasible, given the political environment...which is extremely hostile to both the administration and (by extension) the effective prosecution of the GWOT.

If there were any reasonable chance that the Democrats, once they gain office, would continue to prosecute the GWOT with equal fervor and effectiveness, I wouldn't worry so much...bearing in mind that (say) a President Hillary Clinton is hardly likely to give us the SCOTUS justices we want either.

To argue against the Hewitt position, you have to come up with a plausible counterfactual that shows how the Administration is strengthened by a major political defeat at the hands of Congress.

Some of us remember the fall of Saigon, which was caused by the political weakening of a President who was attempting to wage an unpopular war, by a completely unrelated scandal. You don't have to think that Nixon should have escaped punishment for Watergate to recognize that there is a connection between the two events.

And I would just as soon not go through all that again.
10.15.2005 8:09pm
SimonD (www):
To argue against the Hewitt position, you have to come up with a plausible counterfactual that shows how the Administration is strengthened by a major political defeat at the hands of Congress.
The President cannot run again. Members of Congress can. The President has made a serious mistake, and therefore, by rejecting that mistake, members of the party that can run again increase their standing at the expense of someone who cannot. The GOP is strengthened by the demonstration that it's members are not tethered to a sinking ship.
10.15.2005 9:46pm
Justin (mail):
think it is undeniable that—for all its many faults—this administration is committed to fighting the GWOT as best as is feasible, given the political environment...which is extremely hostile to both the administration and (by extension) the effective prosecution of the GWOT.

Wrong as a matter of fact.

If the current administration is committed to a faulty "fighting the GWOT", then a committed opposition to it is, by definition, not acting in hostility to an "effective prosecution" of the GWOT.

For your statement to be correct, you have to say that the current administration is being effective in fighting the GWOT. Given we've basically lost the Iraq war and haven't captured any real major Al Queda operatives nor done anything to stop their capacity, I find the required postulate aburd on its face.
10.16.2005 12:45am
mikem (mail):
"Given we've basically lost the Iraq war..."

This has become a mantra among the left and Democrats. By any historical definition, the Iraq War is an incredible victory. You can't wish away what has happened, just as the Iraqi people cannot wish away the "insurgents" who have rushed to their country to blow them to pieces in the hopes of ending their democratic experiment. It amazes me how the left will allow themselves to be seen as cheerleaders for murderous sore losers.
10.16.2005 1:27am
Mahan Atma (mail):
If the Iraq war was such a great victory, why do we still have 140k troops there?

Second, as a matter of factual accuracy, the vast majority of insurgents are native Iraqis, not foreign fighters.

"cheerleading for murderous sore losers"... No, nobody wants the insurgents to win. It's a matter of pointing out reality. Believe me, I would LOVE for the U.S. to successfully put down the insurgents and get out of Iraq. But do you honestly believe we can strengthen our own position stragically by deluding ourselves about where we stand? Deny that you've made mistakes, and you're doomed to repeat them.

You can't shrug this off as "leftist moonbat" meanderings. There are plenty of generals and Republicans who fully admit what a disaster we've created. Shall I quote them for you?
10.16.2005 1:56am
CTW (mail):
"the fall of Saigon ... was caused by the political weakening of a President ... by a completely unrelated scandal."

haldeman suggested (and the chronology confirms, if one assumes saigon's fall was due to US withdrawal) that cause-effect went the other way: nixon's (unwarranted, as it turned out) preelection fears of being weakened by widespread anti-war sentiment led to self-destructive behavior that culminated in watergate. (nixon reelected by a landslide nov '72; american troop commitment, declining for some time, effectively ended mar '73; john dean's testimony june '73. Vietnam, S. karnov, p. 634, chronology: pp. 685-7).
10.16.2005 3:00am
mikem (mail):
"There are plenty of generals and Republicans who fully admit what a disaster we've created."

Are we children here? I can find plenty of Jews, even Israeli Jews willing to 'admit' that Zionism is a form of genocide and Israel a terrorist nation. I guess that makes it so.

"If the Iraq war was such a great victory, why do we still have 140k troops there?"

If WWII was such a great victory, why did we keep troops in Europe for decades after? Same with Japan. You seem to recall Bush stating that the troops would be home 'by Christmas'. I remember Bush stating quite clearly that the transformation from dictatorship to democracy, and the need for troops to protect it, would take years. I recall four or five years as his prediction. Two and a half years later and despite Iraqis bravely facing down anti-democratic (you'll allow that description, won't you?) terrorists to vote, you have declared defeat as a given. Please. It is a disaster for people who fear American power.
Was the Civil War a defeat and disaster because the Democratic South resorted to lynchings and bombs for a hundred years after to keep blacks enslaved?
If I thought you were just being cute in your declaration, I wouldn't have bothered to respond. I have no doubt that Democrats and the left view Iraq as a disaster. They have said so since day one, fervently.
It is a shame that Democrats and leftists can't channel some of their anger toward Michael Moore's and Cindy Sheehan's "freedom fighters". (You remember MM, don't you? He sat next to President Carter at the DNC.) A little of that and Democrats might convince swing voters that they are actually hoping for democracy in Iraq.
10.16.2005 3:03am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Are we children here? I can find plenty of Jews, even Israeli Jews willing to 'admit' that Zionism is a form of genocide and Israel a terrorist nation. I guess that makes it so."

No, what that means is that anti-Zionism isn't the same as anti-Semitism, just as opposition to the Iraq war isn't the same as leftism.

"If WWII was such a great victory, why did we keep troops in Europe for decades after?"

Because it benefited us greatly, and we weren't being attacked by an insurgency! Are you suggesting that we want hundreds of thousands of our troops to be in Iraq despite having achieved victory? That'd be mighty peculiar, because I seem to recall Bush promising that our troops wouldn't stay more than "a day longer than necessary."

Your analogies to WWII are completely inapt. Numerous historians and analysts have pointed this out time and again. For one, Hitler occupied Europe; Saddam occupied nothing but Iraq. Japan attacked us first; we attacked Saddam first. None of the justification for WWII is present in Iraq. Second, post-war Europe and Japan were utterly different societies than Iraq, where warring factions put the country in constant risk of civl war.

"I remember Bush stating quite clearly that the transformation from dictatorship to democracy, and the need for troops to protect it, would take years. I recall four or five years as his prediction."

This is pure BS. Please, post a link to one single quote in which Bush stated -- prior to our invading Iraq -- that our troops would be there for four or five years. Nothing. He never said any such thing until it had become blatantly obvious that we were mired in a disaster. Most people who supported the war expected us to be out in a year or less.

Oh, and BTW, I hate to tell you, but unless we want to turn Iraq into an even bigger disaster, or unless Bush drastically changes his tactics, our troops are going to be there a lot longer than four or five years.
10.16.2005 3:26am
mikem (mail):
"Most people who supported the war expected us to be out in a year or less."

That is BS, although I lack the bold lettering to strengthen my argument.

Have a nice one.
10.16.2005 3:35am
Mahan Atma (mail):
Well here's this article:

http://www.usatoday.com/educate/war28-article.htm

with administration officials predicting the war would last "weeks, not months". You'll say they were strictly talking about the invasion stage necessary to depose Saddam. But of course, this only underscores the fact that they completely failed to consider the possibility of a prolonged insurgency -- because if they did anticipate that, shouldn't they have mentioned it to the American public?

So where's the quote from Bush telling us we'd be in Iraq for four or five years (before we invaded)?
10.16.2005 4:01am
Mahan Atma (mail):
* Feb. 7, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, to U.S. troops in Aviano, Italy: "It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."

* March 4, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a breakfast with reporters: "What you'd like to do is have it be a short, short conflict. . . . Iraq is much weaker than they were back in the '90s," when its forces were routed from Kuwait.

* March 11, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars: "The Iraqi people understand what this crisis is about. Like the people of France in the 1940s, they view us as their hoped-for liberator."

* March 16, Vice President Cheney, on NBC's Meet the Press: "I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. . . . I think it will go relatively quickly, . . . (in) weeks rather than months." He predicted that regular Iraqi soldiers would not "put up such a struggle" and that even "significant elements of the Republican Guard . . . are likely to step aside."

Oh, and you gotta love this one:

"The administration's top budget official estimated today that the cost of a war with Iraq could be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion, a figure that is well below earlier estimates from White House officials.

[...]

Mr. Daniels would not provide specific costs for either a long or a short military campaign against Saddam Hussein. But he said that the administration was budgeting for both, and that earlier estimates of $100 billion to $200 billion in Iraq war costs by Lawrence B. Lindsey, Mr. Bush's former chief economic adviser, were too high."


Say, what ever happened to that guy Lawrence Lindsey?
10.16.2005 4:11am
mikem (mail):
You've been very selective. Congratulations. So tell me. How does some people making confident predictions of how long the months long war would last render a defeat out of victory?
What Bush underestimated, along with how viciously Islamist terrorists would resist democracy in Iraq, is the depths that the Democratic Party would sink to inorder to defeat him. Who could have predicted that the Democratic Party would lend moral support to the Baathists and terrorists by honoring those who call them freedom fighters?
The Democratic Party sold its soul to defeat Bush, but hey, priorities.
10.16.2005 4:45am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"You've been very selective. Congratulations."

I've been selective? Well by all means, please show me where anyone in the Bush Administration told us in advance that the war would take four or five years! I've asked you for such a quote, and you've ignored me.

Tell me, if Bush and the war supporters knew this war was going to last years and not months, don't you think someone in the Administration should have told the public???

"How does some people making confident predictions of how long the months long war would last render a defeat out of victory?"

It doesn't; that's a total straw man, an argument I never made. What I have said is that there's no victory so far. That's quite simply because we haven't even come close to achieving our goals.

Sorry, but holding an election does not, by itself, a free and democratic society make. The problem in Iraq is that people can't go outside of their houses at night for fear of kidnapping and murder. Without the most basic level of security, holding elections in Iraq is meaningless.

Second, we have no way of getting out. How can you possibly declare victory when our army is *stuck* there? Do you think Bush and the rest of the country wants to have our army in Iraq?

Tell me, how are we going to get out, and when???

"What Bush underestimated, along with how viciously Islamist terrorists would resist democracy in Iraq, is the depths that the Democratic Party would sink to inorder to defeat him."

Sorry dude, that just doesn't wash. This is Bush's war to win or lose. Blaming defeat on the Democrats is utterly ludicrous and simply demonstrates how desperate you are to deny Republican incompetence.

Besides, I thought we'd won the war... remember?
10.16.2005 5:30am
Medis:
D. Fox,

OK, I'll be more precise. The way this play works is that you claim that opposing the President will help the terrorist win, and then you rhetorically ask, "Is that what you want? For the terrorists to win?" I should never have confused that with actually accusing anyone of wanting the terrorists to win. My bad.

Anyway, the rest of you arguing about whether Bush has been relatively good or relatively bad at fighting terrorists have all fallen into the trap. It would be like saying those who opposed FDR's court-packing wanted the Nazis to win (oops, I did it again: it would be like asking rhetorically if those who opposed FDR's court-packing wanted the Nazis to win).

In a deliberative democracy based on a separation and balance of powers and public accountability, we citizens have to be able to separate out issues, discuss them independently, and criticize our elected officials for their decisions. Otherwise, we might as well dump this whole experiment in democracy and appoint an autocratic Glorious Leader to protect us from all our enemies (external and internal too).
10.16.2005 10:02am
mikem (mail):
It is a victory. See where Saddam is? See what the Iraqi people are doing these last few days? Who won the war, friend? Who holds Iraq? Saddam and his forces, or the Coalition and Iraqi forces?
Do you really consider the Iraq war a defeat because Islamic terrorists keep blowing up civilians by the hundreds? That is called a terror campaign, like the KKK might do in the old Democratic South.
And yes, this is the Republican's war. I would love to say that my old party had a hand in liberating Iraq, but it's obvious what scenario Democrats want to see played out.
Also, your repeated assertion that the Iraqis are being blown up and terrorized by an insurgency are misleading at best. There are, for sure, some Baathists, but you are engaging in wishful thinking to ignore what the Islamists themselves state.
It was YOU who started this by saying it is a given that we have been defeated. I merely pointed out the obvious, that we won the war against Saddam. The terror campaign comes from Islamists angry that the democracy 'infection' that Bush has planted may indeed spread.
Lastly, if you want to argue that we cannot call it a victory until the troops come home (as you have done twice), would you mind if I asked you to honor your logic and not call it a defeat until we leave?
10.16.2005 10:03am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
would you mind if I asked you to honor your logic and not call it a defeat until we leave?

No. Because this has become the right's new definition of victory, that we don't leave, as it appears to be pretty much the only "goal" that we will be able to accomplish. The battle isn't really about the Iraqis any more, it's about the Republicans' hatred of the liberals and their own embarrassment at botching their pretty little war. Everything is about how to blame someone else. You'll note that the pro-war posters have ignored repaeated demands for quotations.

Let me tell you a secret. mikem. Keeping our troops immured in the IraqWagmire will not have Viagra-like effects for you.
10.16.2005 12:29pm
mikem (mail):
I don't bother searching for links to satisfy commenters like you. It is a rather tiresome ploy to demand links when other commenters make no such demands on you, which I could have done several times. I remember Bush's speech when he said that we have years of work ahead of us in Iraq. You want to call me a liar, fine.
Thank you ever so much for the Viagra comment. Nothing else could have better placed your remarks in context than a silly little juvenile insult like that. Real class. Consider yourself a fully formed liberal.
10.16.2005 1:06pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"It is a victory. See where Saddam is? See what the Iraqi people are doing these last few days? Who won the war, friend? Who holds Iraq? Saddam and his forces, or the Coalition and Iraqi forces?"

But... The objective of the war is not to occupy Iraq! That was an intermediate step towards a much more ambitious goal, as nearly as I can tell.

"It was YOU who started this by saying it is a given that we have been defeated."

Actually, NO, that wasn't me! That was someone else.

I've never said we've been defeated; I said we haven't yet achieved victory. At the present, we seem to be locked in a stalemate, more or less.

"would you mind if I asked you to honor your logic and not call it a defeat until we leave?"

Would you mind not mistating my position?

"Also, your repeated assertion that the Iraqis are being blown up and terrorized by an insurgency are misleading at best. There are, for sure, some Baathists, but you are engaging in wishful thinking to ignore what the Islamists themselves state."

I don't know what you're talking about. First, the vast majority of anti-American forces are in fact native Iraqis. The U.S. military has itself said so.

Of the insurgents, I don't know how many are Islamists -- some for sure, and yes Al Qaeda now has a presence there -- but the vast majority of the Islamists are actually the ones voting for the constitution! You are aware, aren't you, that the constitution enshrines Islam as the official state religion, and Islamic law as the governing law for a wide area of legal issues, right?

" I remember Bush's speech when he said that we have years of work ahead of us in Iraq."

He said something like this long after we were in Iraq, and when it had become obvious we were stuck there. He NEVER said -- prior to invading Iraq -- that this would take four or five years (and of course it will now take much longer).

He never said how long it would take because: 1) they probably had no clue it would take so long; and 2) the American people never would have supported this war had they known!

Of course, they very clearly stated the war would only cost $50-$70 billion, which was obviously a vast underestimate. And the fired the guy who told them it would take longer. Oh, and remember General Shinseki, who said it would take a lot more troops to occupy Iraq successfully? He's gone too.

Face it: Bush screwed up this war. The Democrats had no role in it. The Democrats are way out of power now. Bush and the Republicans are in power. With power comes responsibility. The fact that Republicans want to blame this war on Democrats is utterly pathetic, and a very accurate indication of their lack of character.

What a mess... You think we want this outcome??? Give me a break -- I was doing everything in my meager power to prevent all this from happening!
10.16.2005 1:30pm
Jam (mail) (www):
The POTUS is trying to stack the SCOTUS with justices that will interpret the uSC to grant the POTUS more and more authority to keep us safe from terrorism. Roberts and Miers are part of a goal to grant the executive branch with all possible latitude to fight "terrorism."

To oppose Mier is to be aligned with terrorists. Which makes you a ...?

Feel safer now?

The "living Constitution" is a "dead letter."
10.16.2005 4:27pm
SimonD (www):
The POTUS is trying to stack the SCOTUS with justices that will interpret the uSC to grant the POTUS more and more authority to keep us safe from terrorism. Roberts and Miers are part of a goal to grant the executive branch with all possible latitude to fight "terrorism."
The United States Constitution was created to keep us safe from government, not from terrorists. Just because we feel more threatened by the latter in this day and age is no justification for the continued attempt to turn the President (and the Federal Government as a whole) into precisely what the Convention sought to avoid.
10.16.2005 6:47pm
David Maquera (mail) (www):
After reflecting upon the increase in size of federal government over the last five years, the increase in federal spending over the last five years, the increase in unfunded federal mandates over the last five years, etc., it has now become clear that President Bush's liberal, big government policies have hijacked the Republican Party of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.
10.16.2005 9:07pm