Friday, October 20, 2006


War? What War?

Well, it looks like Stephen Bainbridge was right: Republicans have been turned into Basil Fawlty.

As Thursday's Times
clearly shows, (even making allowance for Timesian "spin"), Democrats have decided that the war is the issue and they're talking about it. The energy in the current campaign is on their side. Unlike 2002 and 2004, they are not shying away from Iraq and foreign policy in general.

They are taking the fight to Republicans and the Bush administration (even though Democrats don't have an exact idea on what to do about Iraq). Conversely, the irony is that many GOP candidates have chosen to, ahem, "cut and run" from the Bush administration's "stay the course" policy. Republicans are either trying to "whatever you do, don't mention the war" -- or find ways to differ with the president without it sounding like they are, well, differing with the president. New Jersey Senate GOP candidate Tom Kean, Jr. has already called for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation -- just to show his independence. Indeed, this state of affairs was
suggested about ten days back when Republican strategists began openly advising candidates to "focus exclusively on local issues."

If this trend holds -- and Democrats ride into the majority -- they will be able to say, with some justification, that this election is a referendum on the Iraq War and, by extension, George W. Bush's development and prosecution of it.

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