September 09, 2003

The Cut-And-Run Straw Man

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What do you do when your political opponent catches you in a major blunder and holds you publicly accountable for it?

You claim that your opponent said something despicable that they never said, and then criticize them for it.

That's the latest tactic from the conservative side, with their claim that Democrats are calling for us to cut and run from Iraq, to retreat and leave it behind. And it is a ludicrously false assertion. But they know that if you act like it's true with enough sincerity, enough people will believe it and your opponents will be blunted by it.

You know that Bush botched the war effort, trying to get it done quick so he could win an election, and not have the U.N. bog it down with irrelevancies like weapons inspections and diplomacy. He insulted our allies and cobbled together a skeleton "coalition," leaving the U.S. and Britain holding the bag, the U.S. most at stake economically. With no exit strategy and no projection on how much it would cost, Bush flew in to do the job before anyone realized the scam. And in the end, we found out that Bush's arguments were not much more than hot air: no WMD, no nuclear program, no terrorists, no threat to the U.S.

In short, he rushed to war, broke the bank doing it, and there was not enough of a good reason in the American national interest to have done it.

So the Democrats made the reasonable charge that Bush planned and executed the war in an incompetent manner, and now we're stuck with the quagmire. Now that the damage is done and we're in Iraq, we have no choice but to follow through, whatever the cost. But there is excellent reason to criticize Bush for having brought us into this mess.

The right-wing play on that: the Democrats are saying it's too expensive and they want us to retreat, to cut and run, but we conservatives are too brave for that; we're staying and we're gonna beat the terrorists. And so on.

Of course, no Democrat ever suggested we "cut and run." In fact, they have been the first ones to make it crystal clear, in the debate last week and elsewhere, that we cannot and must not retreat from Iraq. Carol Moseley Braun, one of the more liberal candidates, said simply, "We don’t cut and run."

But the truth doesn't stop conservatives when they feel they've got a good thing going.

This columnist says we should not follow "the Democrats' cut and run advice." Huh? This one takes a more subtle course, claiming that "the constant carping of the media and the Democrats gives the terrorists and our other enemies in the region the hope that the Vietnam experience will be repeated and we'll cut and run." That, of course, is in line with Rumsfeld's recent charge that anyone who criticizes the Bush administration is giving aid and comfort to the enemy and hurting our armed forces, so just shut up and give us the money.

And now the talking heads on TV are disseminating the charge, claiming that Democrats want us to give up and run, tail between our legs. I've heard it more than once from the left-right guests brought in on the news shows, one just a few minutes ago on CNN--the right-wing guest making the clear assertion that liberal criticism means they want us to just high-tail it out of Iraq.

Something tells me, though, that this high-speed spin cycle won't really buy much slack from the American people. A new Zogby poll puts Bush down to 45%. There's only so far you can lie outrageously to them before they start to tire of it and wonder how they're going to fare in the future with half-trillion dollar deficits, rising unemployment rates, and what little money we have going to places like Iraq.

There's no question we have to finish the job there. The point is, we shouldn't have gone there in the first place, and Bush is to blame for that.

Posted by Luis at September 9, 2003 10:54 PM

Statistics. Like they mean much...really.

Posted by: James at August 8, 2005 10:44 AM