Blood, Toil, Tears and Bullshit

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In the dying days of the campaign, some Republicans are winning over the media by puffing out their chests and talking about the war in Iraq in high-minded, "take your medicine" terms. The war's been so unpopular for so long that Rick Santorum's current gambit—a series of speeches dubbed "The Gathering Storm Tour" (after Churchill)—looks almost heroic.

Santorum linked Iran and North Korea with a network of enemies that include Venezuela, Cuba, Syria and Islamic extremism in general. Quoting Winston Churchill, Santorum said that, as in the lead-up to World War II, America does not recognize the "gathering storm."

"Unlike the past, the wicked are not just building a military machine that can threaten us with a large war on the ground and in the air, they are building weapons of mass destruction unlike anything we have ever seen… . The consequences are higher than they've ever been," Santorum told cadets at Valley Forge Military Academy and College in Wayne.

It's impressing the hell out of conservatives, but Matt Yglesias has an analysis that's probably more in line with what voters think.

And just think—what if the Venezuelan terrorists get on the Iranian space station? What then Mr. Casey, huh? huh? Seriously, these people are morons. Dangerously dishonest or (I fear) dangerously confused about what's going on in the world. "Say what you will," remarks [National Review's Kathryn Jean] Lopez, "but this is leadership." Custer-quality leadership at that.

Meanwhile, Minnesota Senate candidate Mark Kennedy (last seen here) is getting a ton of soft media coverage, including a block on Fox News later today, for an ad where he hikes up his John Mark Karr-brand khakis and defends the war in the wheeziest possible terms.

None of us like war, and we've made some mistakes in Iraq. We're facing an enemy that must be defeated. Leaving Iraq now will create a breeding ground for new attacks on America. That's the harsh reality. My opponent says the answer is diplomacy, but you can't negotiate with people who wanna kill ya. I'm Mark Kennedy. Securing the peace is a lot harder than wishing for it. I approve this message, even though it may not be what you wanna hear.

I've watched that ad twice and I can't see what's substantially different between his message and the Bush administration's message. It's just phrased in a mopy, self-righteous way. So, why do media and political experts see stuff like this and stroke their chins thoughtfully at the "honesty" on display? Pro-war Republicans refuse to take responsibility for the conduct of the Iraq war, refuse to consider alternative arguments in the "war on terror," and want to be taken very, very seriously. I see some light at the end of the tunnel: After election day, maybe some few think tanks will have openings for former Senators and congressmen to make these very, very serious arguments.