Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, November 17th, 2005.


The GOP’s Abortion Problem

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abortion, Republican Party

Remember last year, when the punditocracy decided that Democrats didn’t know how to talk about abortion? That’s because Dems had to simultaneously promise to honor privacy while showing respect for the anti-privacy position. It’s tricky to do that without coming across as a tad nuanced.

But in the future, Republicans might themselves in the same fix.

This is something I’ve believed for a long time —

The Republican lawmaker who helped guide the GOP to an expanded majority in the House three years ago warned yesterday that a Supreme Court ruling overturning a woman’s legal right to an abortion — a possibility if the high court shifts further to the right — could hurt his party’s political prospects and cause a ”sea change” in suburban voting habits. …

… Davis’s comments underscore the complexities the GOP faces on the issue, at a time when some party strategists worry that the president’s low approval ratings are a drag on Republicans’ prospects in the 2006 congressional midterm elections.

Democratic pollsters have argued that the Republican Party’s firm antiabortion stance risks alienating suburban voters, especially women. But abortion historically has animated conservative voters who overwhelmingly favor restricting or outlawing it and typically vote Republican, said Karlyn H. Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute.

Republican strategists are now pondering whether a Supreme Court ruling that voided Roe would anger moderate suburban voters and galvanize abortion rights activists, giving Democrats an edge.

For years, the Right has been hiding behind Roe v. Wade. Rightie politicians can court the Fetus People vote by calling for the criminalization of abortion, while trusting those “activist judges” to protect them from doing something that would piss off an even bigger chunk of the electorate. The large majority of Americans do not want Roe v. Wade overturned.

But now that the Right is about to get another right-winger on the Court, at least one Republican is getting nervous.

The abortion rights cases most likely to land on the Supreme Court’s current docket mostly deal with restrictions, but legal observers say the court might still address a question at the heart of Roe: Is there a constitutional right to abortion?

That’s what worries Davis. ”It’s nice to make a stand” against abortion, he said, when ”it’s not a real bullet, it’s more theoretical.”

GOP dominance in the Midwest and South, especially in rural areas, came at a cost. Urban and suburban moderates and independents are getting squeamish about voting Republican. And if Roe v. Wade goes down, expect a stamped to the Left.

One sometimes hears that there was little abortion controversy before Roe, which is a flat-out lie. I well remember the Missouri state legislature did little else but argue about abortion, and I believe that was fairly standard. When Roe was decided, the relief in state capitals was palpable. If Roe is reversed, several states will outlaw abortion immediately, and most of the remainder will be embroiled in abortion wars as the Fetus People demand satisfaction. And Republicans won’t be able to hide any more. Most of ’em will have to find a way to placate the Fetus People while not scaring away everyone else.

Ain’t enough nuance on the planet to pull that one off.

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Scared Straight

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Democratic Party, Iraq War

Congressman John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, just put the fear o’ God into some righties. Murtha–a culturally conservative hawk–just held a press conference and called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region. …

…Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis.
I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.

My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.

Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.

Please read the whole thing. I wanted to paste just enough to show that he actually does have a plan, and it sounds to me like a sensible plan.

Crooks and Liars, as always, has the video.

Now for the fear o’ God part–Rod Dreher posted on NRO’s The Corner:

Don’t know how many of you caught Rep. John Murtha’s very angry, very moving speech just now in which he called on the White House to institute an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. CNN didn’t air the entire thing, but as I listened to it, I could feel the ground shift. Murtha, as you know, is not a Pelosi-style Chardonnay Democrat; he’s a crusty retired career Marine who reminds me of the kinds of beer-slugging Democrats we used to have before the cultural left took over the party. Murtha, a conservative Dem who voted for the war, talked in detail about the sacrifices being borne by our soldiers and their families, and about his visits out to Walter Reed to look after the maimed, and how we’ve had enough, it’s time to come home. He was hell on the president too.

If tough, non-effete guys like Murtha are willing to go this far, and can make the case in ways that Red America can relate to — and listening to him talk was like listening to my dad, who’s about the same age, and his hunting buddies — then the president is in big trouble. I’m sure there’s going to be an anti-Murtha pile-on in the conservative blogosphere, but from where I sit, conservatives would be fools not to take this man seriously.

Holy shit.

I agree with Joe at AMERICAblog that this speech could mark a turning point on the Iraq War debate. I’d like to see Dems get behind this in a big way. There are details to be worked out, of course, but it seems to me this plan is just what most Americans have been wanting to hear.

Kevin Drum writes,

My prediction: we’ve already started to see this, but I think Republicans are about to crumble. Pressure on the White House to use the December elections as an excuse to declare victory and go home is going to mount, fueled by equal parts disgust with Dick Cheney’s lobbying for the right to torture; unease even among Republicans that the president wasn’t honest during the marketing of the war; lack of progress on the ground in Iraq; Congress reasserting its independence of the executive; a genuine belief that the American presence has become counterproductive; and raw electoral fear, what with midterm elections looming in less than a year.

I also think the Rove/Cheney/Bush counterattack is going to backfire. Congressional Republicans are looking for cover right now, and I don’t think they believe that a ferocious partisan attack from the White House is what they need right now. The public is looking for answers, not administration attack dogs on the evening news every day, but this particular White House doesn’t know any other way. It’s going to cost them.

This is right. Bush’s pathetic counterattack is just one more demonstration that he doesn’t know what to do. He’s all talk, no walk. By now people are hungry for direction and eager to see something like actual progress, somewhere. They are sick to death of Bushie attacks and smears and lies and bluster. They want leaders who will shut up and DO something.

Murtha just grabbed the ball. Let’s see if the Dems can run with it.

Email your representative now. And your senators, too.

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More Pitiful Than Persuasive

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Bush Administration, Dick Cheney, Iraq War

The Bigus Dickus himself came out swinging yesterday against critics who say the administration misled us into war in Iraq. Michael A. Fletcher and Peter Baker write in today’s Washington Post:

President Bush and Vice President Cheney lashed out again against Democratic senators who have questioned the handling of prewar intelligence on Iraq, with the vice president accusing critics of engaging in “one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city.”

Speaking before a Washington dinner of the Frontiers of Freedom Institute, a conservative research organization, Cheney said last night that Democrats who say they were misled by the administration are “making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war.” The criticism, Cheney said, threatens to undermine the morale of U.S. troops while “a few opportunists are suggesting they were sent into battle for a lie.”

I’d normally feel obligated to wade through The Dick’s rhetoric and refute it. Fortunately, many others have already done this job, including — praise be! — some reporters.

James Kuhnhenn and Jonathan S. Landay of Knight Ridder write that in defending its old lies, the administration has come up with some new ones. The reporters present each of the administration’s arguments and knock them down. I’m not going to paste it here; just go read it. And bookmark it.

Sidney Blumenthal writes in Salon
that Bush “has retreated from the ruins of his grandiose agenda into a defense of his past.” And in the past few days Bush, and now Cheney, have been caught up in a “paroxysm of revenge.”

In the immediate aftermath of the fall of Baghdad, Bush was the man of action who never looked back, openly dismissive of history. When asked shortly afterward by Bob Woodward how he would be judged on Iraq, Bush replied, “History. We don’t know. We’ll all be dead.” But his obsessive interest in the subject is not posthumous. The Senate’s decision last week to launch an investigation into the administration’s role in prewar disinformation, after the Democrats forced the issue in a rare secret session, has provoked a furious presidential reaction.

Josh Marshall writes that the administration’s counterattack is right out of Karl Rove’s playbook:

How do you go after a decorated war veteran running against a quasi-draft-dodger? Hit him hard for cowardice and disloyalty to country.

How do you knock out a respected juvenile court judge? Spread rumors that he’s a pedophile.

You can see pretty clearly that Karl Rove is back in the saddle because what we’re seeing now is straight from the Karl Rove play book. You throw them off balance by charging directly into their line of fire.

When the veil is finally being lifted on your history of lies, hit hard against the other side for ‘rewriting history’ or trying to deceive the public.

This strategy has served the Bushies well for many years, but I don’t believe it will work this time.

Oh, the Big Lie strategy will work on the bitter-enders; the hard-core 37 percent 34 percent who still believe, after all that’s happened, that Bush is doing a good job. These people would believe in the Tooth Fairy if Bush made her part of his attack on the Dems. But now a solid majority — 57 percent last I checked — of American adults believe that Bush deceived them into going to war. I don’t think screaming at them and calling them traitors for their lack of blind faith will bring them back to Bush’s side.

Robert Scheer writes in The Nation (web only)
that “Bush now sounds increasingly Nixonian as he basically calls the majority of the country traitors for noticing he tricked us.”

Here’s a nice little detail from Scheer:

… the idea that individual senators and members of Congress had the same access to even a fraction of the raw intelligence as the President of the United States is just a lie on its face–it is a simple matter of security clearances, which are not distributed equally.

It was enormously telling, in fact, that the only part of the Senate which did see the un-sanitized National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq–the Republican-led Senate Select Intelligence Committee–shockingly voted in the fall of 2002 against the simple authorization of force demanded by a Republican President. Panicked, the warmongers in the White House and Pentagon pressured CIA Director George Tenet to rush release to the entire Hill a very short “summary” of the careful NIE, which made Hussein seem incalculably more dangerous than the whole report indicated.

And, of course, in recent days we’ve learned much of this “intelligence” had been flagged as untrustworthy by the Defense Intelligence Agency several months earlier –a flag the Senate never saw.

Even Richard Cohen catches on now and then:

In one of the most intellectually incoherent major speeches ever delivered by a minor President, George W. Bush last week blamed “some Democrats and anti-war critics” for changing their minds about the war in Iraq and now saying they were deceived. “It is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began,” the President said. Yes, sir, but it is even more deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how history was rewritten in the first place.

It is the failure to acknowledge this that is so troubling about Bush and others in his administration. Yes, the President is right: Foreign intelligence services also thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; Saddam Hussein simply ignored more than a dozen UN resolutions demanding that he reopen his country to arms inspectors.

We can endlessly debate the facts. More important, though, is the mind-set of those in the administration, from the President on down, who had those facts – or, as we shall see, none at all – and mangled them in the cause of the war.

For example, the insistence that Saddam was somehow linked to 9/11 tells you that to Bush and his people, the facts did not matter. It did not matter that Mohamed Atta never met with Iraqis in Prague. It did not matter that Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was finding no evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program. None of that mattered to Vice President Cheney, a fibber without peer in the realm, who warned of a “reconstituted” nuclear weapons program, promoted the nonexistent Prague meeting and went after legitimate critics. “We will not hesitate to discredit you,” Cheney told ElBaradei and Hans Blix, the other important UN inspector. ElBaradei recently won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The President’s recent speech conflates all sorts of terrorist incidents – neglecting that they are specific to their regions and have nothing to do with Al Qaeda. Every bombing somehow becomes an attack on Western values.

Like his pathetic attempts to re-create a “bullhorn moment” after the Katrina disaster, Bush’s desperation to take back the narrative on how we got into his war is more pitiful than persuasive.

Update: See “In Lawsuit, Team Bush Swore Saddam Was Behind 9/11” at DU.

Update update:
Big MUST READ and big smooch to the Heretik for finding it … read about Iraq War deceptions by Stephen Zunes in Foreign Policy in Focus.

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