They Were Right About Iraq! Git 'Em!

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The ever-perceptive W. James Antle III (read his reason stuff here) makes an observation that's been made on this blog—every single Republican who opposes the Iraq War or even just the surge is facing a primary opponent, rarin' to punish him for his heresy. (Eric Dondero makes a cameo.)

If the ranks of antiwar Republicans have barely grown since public opinion began shifting, this ferocious response may be the reason. When the Democrats gave Jones and other antiwar GOP congressmen some of their allotted time to speak against the surge, The Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti warned about "Move-On Republicans" (in reference to the left-wing group), whose rhetoric is "indistinguishable from that of the antiwar Democrats."

The 17 GOP congressmen who voted against the surge—or for a "defeatist resolution," as the single-issue hawks prefer to put it—were swiftly denounced as "White Flag Republicans" by a group called the Victory Caucus. Although it doesn't have the resources of the anti-tax Club for Growth or various social conservative organizations, outfits like the Victory Caucus hope to play a similar role in pushing incumbents to adopt the party's majority viewpoint.

Ah, there's the rub. There was a Victory Caucus, and there have been a few other small pro-war "coalitions" launched over the last year or so, but none of them have gathered any momentum whatsoever. So there's no Ned Lamont or MoveOn metric to keep tabs on. Is it because Republicans are more worried about gaining back their majority than beating up traitors? No, Lamont/MoveOn took off when Democrats were in the deep minority. Is it because the GOP base isn't as active online? Hm. Maybe a little. Is it because it's more divided on Iraq than the Democrats? That's probably the reason. Virtually no Democrats want to slog it out in Iraq while a healthy 30 percent or so of Republicans have lost confidence in the war.

NEXT: The President's Strained Mercy

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  1. “Ron Paul might face some frivolous challenges,” says libertarian Republican activist William Westmiller. “I’m not sure [Dondero] has the resources to take him on.”

    What do you want to bet that in the original quote, [Dondero] was replaced by “that fucktard” or some variant thereof.

  2. I think it’s because they’re terrified that they’ll spend money and time going on record trying to beat anti-war Republicans, and then Bush will pull the rug out from under them by throwing in the towel.

    If you build an insurgent campaign on the basis of “War Forever! Bush is God!” and then Bush decides he’s seen enough two months before your primary, you’ll look pretty stupid and all your base will belong to your opponent.

    So I guess the reason these movements aren’t taking off is because they in their hearts know that the war is lost, and are afraid Bush will acknowledge defeat before they can use war-chief-loyalty as a bludgeon to win a primary.

  3. If you build an insurgent campaign on the basis of “War Forever! Bush is God!” and then Bush decides he’s seen enough two months before your primary, you’ll look pretty stupid and all your base will belong to your opponent.

    We can only hope that happens in the Presidential primary…

  4. The rout is on.

  5. Eric Dondero (every time I see his name the jingle for the Canyonero goes through my head) has a secret plan to bring peace in our time.

    You gotta give it up for The American Conservative. They’re the only rightish mag that didn’t go crazy in 2002-3. They’re also one of the few things that are self declared as conservative and are, you know, actually conservative instead of radically imperialistic.

    Psst. The secret plan is to redefine neoconservatism as being pro-life.

  6. De Stijl,
    Like this?

    Six yards long, two lanes wide
    Sixty-five tons of American pride
    ERIC DONDEROOOOOO!!

  7. The current popularity of TV Poker has put new phrases into the lexicon. The War Hawks are on full tilt. Having bet big and lost, with each new hand they’re shoving more and more chips into the pot, betting more and more with less and less. They’ll keep this up until they put this country ‘all in’ if we don’t yank them off the table.

  8. I live in a district with an anti-war Republican (Wayne Gilchrest) who is facing a primary challenge. Although I support Gilchrest on the war, I am backing his primary opponent. Gilchest is right about the war and gay rights. That’s about it. He’s in favor of higher federal spending, he voted to criminalize “price gouging,” he’s anti-gun, and he’s an environmentalist. I’m not sure about other races, but at least here in Maryland there are more issues at play in Gilchrest’s primary challenge besides the war.

  9. MK,

    I dont know if you read the article or not, but I thought one of the most interesting comments was that other “single issue” primary challenges have been successful when the candidate disagreed with his party on multiple issues and not just the one issue.

    So, a conservative like Jones or Hagel should be safer from a pro-war challenger than a Gilchrest, who has other issues than just the war in which he disagrees with the party.

  10. Warren,

    I remember during the Gen. Petraeus confirmation hearings, he made reference to the surge being a “double down” move. Sen. McCain corrected him by saying “it’s not double-down, it’s all-in.”

    It’s mind-boggling that these guys can at the same time appear to understand the incredible amount of blood and treasure that we’re betting on the surge, and then defend it by saying, “it’s different, it might work, at least give it a chance.” But then again, I guess you’re less careful when you’re wagering with someone else’s chips.

  11. Just to continue where BTS left off…

    Top of the line in utility sports;
    Unexplained revocation of individual liberty is a matter for the courts!
    DONDEROOOOOO!! Don-der-oo.

  12. “Virtually no Democrats want to slog it out in Iraq while a healthy 30 percent or so of Republicans have lost confidence in the war.”

    That of course pretends that we have a choice. If we surrender and go home and Al Quada claims victory and turns Iraq into Afghanistan west with Iranian money and perhaps nukes, how long before the next President be he Democrat or Republican is right back in Iraq? If only the world were so simple that we could just go home and everything would go back to where it was.

  13. “I live in a district with an anti-war Republican (Wayne Gilchrest) who is facing a primary challenge. Although I support Gilchrest on the war, I am backing his primary opponent. Gilchest is right about the war and gay rights. That’s about it. He’s in favor of higher federal spending, he voted to criminalize “price gouging,” he’s anti-gun, and he’s an environmentalist.”

    Why doesn’t he just switch over to the Democrat Party?

  14. “That of course pretends that we have a choice. If we surrender and go home and Al Quada claims victory and turns Iraq into Afghanistan west with Iranian money and perhaps nukes, how long before the next President be he Democrat or Republican is right back in Iraq? If only the world were so simple that we could just go home and everything would go back to where it was.”

    How is that our business?

  15. Well, John, occupying Iraq with troops has proven to be no more effective at defeating terror than standing off at a distance and bombing Iraq. Actually, it’s been somewhat less effective.

    So if we’re going to be “right back in” Iraq, I choose the military option that costs less, creates fewer US casualties, and plays to our strategic strengths rather than our strategic weaknesses.

  16. DONDEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  17. John,

    OK, how bout if all that happens anyway, but only after we’ve further crippled our armed forces by overextending them, not allowing for “recharge” time back home, and losing another ten thousand or so to death and permanent injury? (Not to mention the hundreds of billions of dollars we’ll have to pour into the sand if we stay).

    Because there’s no evidence that we won’t be at that point after the surge. The fundamental problems on the ground can’t be solved without the political cooperation of the Iraqis, and it doesn’t appear they’re in a cooperative mood.

  18. …Al Quada claims victory and turns Iraq into Afghanistan west with Iranian money and perhaps nukes….

    Well, ummm, except for the fact that Al Quaeda has absolutely no friends who would give them Iranian money or nukes.

    Maybe they’ll have Iranian money and nukes after they go into Iran and eliminate the infidels (ie Shiites) there. According to some that’s their next target.

    At least get the enemies straight. Al Quaeda are Sunni, and more particularly Wahhabi. They are the mortal enemies of the Iranian Mullahs.

  19. If we surrender and go home and Al Quada claims victory and turns Iraq into Afghanistan west with Iranian money and perhaps nukes,

    There is a colossal amount strategic ignorance demonstrated in just that one statement.

  20. I was wondering when Timothy or ERIC DON-FUCKNG-DERO! would show up. I think we finally shamed the real Eric Dondero into staying away, though.

  21. *FUCKING
    man, I’m slipping

  22. You’re right, John, we don’t have a choice.

    This is a democratic republic, and the public doesn’t support the war anymore.

    Game, set, match.

    Fortunately for us, neither the “Iranians helping Al Qaeda” nor “al Qaeda taking over the country” have even the slightest connection to reality.

  23. At least get the enemies straight. Al Quaeda are Sunni, and more particularly Wahhabi. They are the mortal enemies of the Iranian Mullahs.

    Just to review:

    Al Qaeda is a Wahabbist Shiite organization that considers Shiites to be infidels.

    When the al Qaeda-backed Taliban took Kabul, they massacred the Iranian embassy staff.

    Al Qaeda has bombed Shiite mosques in Iraq, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

    Al Qaeda has spent the last three years carrying out massacres of Shiite civilians in Iraq, in an attempt to provoke a Sunni/Shiite civil war. Now that their efforts have been successful, they have been fighting on the side of the Sunnis, against the Iranian-backed Shia.

    When the United States invaded Taliban/al Qaeda-run Afghanistan, the Iranians agreed to provide us with assistance, including the rescue of downed pilots, overflight authority, and sealing their border against escaping al Qaedists.

  24. d’oh! That should be “al Qaeda is a Wahabbist Sunni organization.”

  25. crimethink wrote, But then again, I guess you’re less careful when you’re wagering with someone else’s chips.

    It goes beyond being less careful. The whoe incentive structure changes.

    Imagine if you wallk into a casino with $100,000 of your own money, and you lost $80,000 of it. The smart thing to do is to walk out. That way, you can still pay your mortgage the next month and have some nest egg. Losing that last $20k and going broke would be much worse for you than just losing the first $80k.

    Now imagine that you stole $100,000 from the vault at the bank where you work, and you lost $80,000 at the poker table. If you lose that last $20k, you go to prison; but if you go home and put it back, you still go to prison for stealing the $80k. Losing that last money is only a little bit worse for you than losing the first $80k.

    If George Bush stays the course until the day he leaves office and the war fails anyway, he personally will be no worse off than if you begins the withdrawal today. Even if he walks away from the table right now, he’s still going down in history as the worst president in at least a century, who started a foolish war and lost it, at a great cost to our country. The consequences for him are pretty much the same.

    However, for the 1000 or so additional dead soldiers and the 8000 or so additional maimed ones, the difference is huge.

  26. joe,

    Good analysis. I take back what I said about your goatee.

  27. The American Conservative is a good magazine, not only on the war, but it gives space to many libertarian writers.

    Note to De Stijl – another right-wing magazine has also remained antiwar and anti-Bush – The New American, published biweekly by The John Birch Society.

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