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Serious Business

Dean Barnett blogging at Hugh Hewitt.com says this is serious business we are in and we all must do our part to win hearts and minds.

The most important thing any conservative writer can do today is convince people who think that we're perfectly safe that we're not. Personally, I desperately want to reach those who think once Bush leaves office, the republic will be safe. I badly want to communicate with the vast majority of Americans who are benignly indifferent to politics and convince them of the peril we face. I doubt there's a way of knowing how successful I am at these things - I'm pretty sure progress in such matters is measured in inches, not miles. Anyway, I'm trying.


At the risk of sounding self-important, this is serious stuff. America can't win this war as a divided nation. We also can't win if the majority of the country decides to sit out the debate and believes the comforting notions that the media sells so tenaciously. There's a real question of whether or not we'll be able to summon the national will necessary to deal with Iran and our other portfolio of existential challenges before we cross a point of no return.

Many Americans have become convinced that there is not a dime's worth of difference between Democrats and Republicans. Those paying attention on both the left and right side of the aisle know better. The outcomes of the 2006 and 2008 elections definitely matter.


Comments (12)

There is another possibilit... (Below threshold)
_Jon:

There is another possibility with regard to the "...deal with Iran..." comment.

It could be that - true to our Jacksonian heritage - many people in America are not willing to get involved until we absolutely *have to*.

We have shown in the past that we are reluctant to get involved in foreign wars until we have no choice.

We were attacked on 9/11 and we have taken action to prevent it from happening again. But we have seen that cleaning up someone else's problem (e.g. removing Saddam) is difficult, expensive, and divisive. And, really, most Americans just want to be left alone and we figure most people do too.

We believed that helping Iraq would help us, but the line is unraveling (honestly or not), and many are questioning this direction.

Most of us don't travel by airplane. Most of us don't work in skyscrapers. It would require a concerted, coordinated effort to make it clear why we should sacrifice. That isn't happening. What positive are we getting for this sacrifice? There are no assurances that 9/11 won't happen again! In WWII, the Nazi's were destroyed and Shintoism was banned. Pearl Harbor would never be attacked like that again. France - a free and peaceful nation - was free once more.

I have a lot of respect for you, Lorie. And I respect Hugh's points. But I *don't* see a lot of difference between the D's and R's - and I'm a political junkie. I talk with people from across this nation while I'm fixing their computers. A very common point is "What is the difference?" I can't motivate these people to vote because I can't find a message to motivate them with. I can't find an example of why we need to keep the leadership we have because the people we have *aren't leading*! I try to address serious questions about whether the success in Iraq & Afghanistan is due to political leadership in D.C. or individual courage in theatre. The people I talk with tell me the men & women risking their lives are not getting what they need to do the job right. That's a disaster waiting to happen. That's another Vietnam waiting to happen.

The only success I have had is with a spin on the "throw the bums out" line of reasoning. I have found that people are loyal to their political party. So my suggestion has been to get involved in the Primaries and work to ensure the challenger replaces the incumbant. I have had a very positive reaction to suggestions such as those. Dems love being Dems and Repubs love being Repubs. But they both hate who is in office. And even so, there isn't much motivation to do even that. There is the perception that the next guy (or gal) will be bought off within days.

Hopefully, we will see some turnover in Congress. We need to see a lot of it. I know there is a lot at stake. But I'm having a heck of a time getting that message across.

(btw, I have loved ones deployed in I&A and I fully support freeing Iraq.)

I believe the crux of the s... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

I believe the crux of the situation is this: Americans, and that includes some conservatives, are generally tired of being at war. Afghanistan was a great success, and still remains a success in spite of the recent and largely muted resurgence of the Taliban. Iraq, while at first successful, is becoming bogged down for myriad reasons—not the least of which are the undermining tactics of anti-war, anti-Bush Western liberals and the military being reigned in by Western politics

Yet I believe one of the important arenas in the GWOT where the Bush Admin has utterly failed is in properly communicating the incredible length and far-reaching scope of this war to the American people. But this is not a surprise. Historically, save for Ronald Reagan, Republicans have been piss poor in the art of communication. They simply don't do enough of it. The last time this Administration did a great job in stumping for Iraq was last November when they campaigned hard against "cut and runners". Since then? Almost near silence. I was hoping Tony Snow might change that, but that doesn't seem to be happening for whatever reason.

I believe what the President needs to do is say this in a more eloquent manner: "Ladies and gentlemen, almost five years ago I came to you said that this global war on terror would be long and fought on many fronts. Well, I wasn't kidding...here's who we're fighting..here's why...." And he needs to do it often with "TV-side" chats with the American public.

So, if we want to win hearts and minds of the fence-sitters then we better begin by being real upfront about who we are fighting (Islamo-fanatics, Islamo-fascists, whichever you prefer), why we are fighting them (restoring the Caliphite, wiping out all non-believers, etc.), just how long the war will last (in possible decades), that it is the culture of the Middle East that the world must challenge and change if it truly wants peace and that it won't always involve an invasion of some country but very well could depending on that country's amount of cooperation in an international war (cough, cough Iran). Then ask, are you with us in this fight? And I bet dollars to donuts the public would overwhelmingly say yes and vote for a conservative.

Jon,I guess I could ... (Below threshold)
Lorie Byrd:

Jon,
I guess I could have qualified my statement to say there is not much difference between some Republicans and some Democrats or that on some issues there is not much difference. On other issues, though, there is a big difference between how most Democrats and most Republicans would govern. I am thinking mainly of the issue of fighting terrorism, but tax policy is also another huge one. If Democrats were in charge we would not be in Iraq. John Kerry would have done as Bill Clinton did and ignore the warnings were were getting about Saddam. Many will think that is a good thing and will see it a reason to vote for Dems, and others won't, but it is definitely one way the world would be incredibly different had the other party been elected.

Jon,I guess I could ... (Below threshold)
Lorie Byrd:

Jon,
I guess I could have qualified my statement to say there is not much difference between some Republicans and some Democrats or that on some issues there is not much difference. On other issues, though, there is a big difference between how most Democrats and most Republicans would govern. I am thinking mainly of the issue of fighting terrorism, but tax policy is also another huge one. If Democrats were in charge we would not be in Iraq. John Kerry would have done as Bill Clinton did and ignore the warnings were were getting about Saddam. Many will think that is a good thing and will see it a reason to vote for Dems, and others won't, but it is definitely one way the world would be incredibly different had the other party been elected.

Lorie,Thanks for r... (Below threshold)
_Jon:

Lorie,

Thanks for replying. There is no doubt there would have been a difference. I think Gore or Kerry would have just sent a few missiles (and not replaced them), and wrung their hands a bunch. And they would have left taxes high.

But US taxes (corporate especially) are very high (corporate are among the highest in the world!).

To a non-political junkie, there isn't much difference. I hear "lesser of two evils" quite a bit.

Also, Peter - excellent opinion.

One of my clients expressed a great amount of disdain for W around 2003 (or 2004). His opinion - roughly summarized - is "that W didn't do enough to mobilize this country as to how bad this threat is". He makes a great point about it now - "If we were supposed to just continue with our jobs and lives without sacrifice then, why should we sacrifice now?"

I think it's kind of hypocritical to tell us in 2001 & 2002 that this is going to be a long war but we don't need to cut back or adjust our spending habits, yet in 2004 we were asked to accept the sacrifices of the men & women in the service.

My experience is that good people (and the citizens of the US are very good people) are uncomfortable with that with that solution. I don't have many friends who are comfortable with a situation where only one group shoulders the entire burden of a job that needs to be done.

The politicians are saying; "Let us handle this, you don't need to be concerned with the details." But lots of people aren't comfortable with that answer - for anything. It smacks of the elitism attitude that we see in Europe (and have much disdain for). We are a nation that pulls together - we celebrate together and we mourn together. Having representatives who don't want us involved makes one wonder who they are representing.

It's frustrating.

In many ways, I too am ambi... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

In many ways, I too am ambivalent about the difference between D's and R's, especially when neither (with a few exceptions) seem to be too bashful about lavishly spending money taken from me by the power of the threat of imprisonment, and then chastising people like me who question their decisions. The thing they seem to have forgotten is that THEY WORK FOR US. If I were as imperious to my clients and prospective clients (in residential real estate) as these politicians, I would not last very long. Yet they keep getting elected! It would take way to long to list all the R's and D's whose continuous incumbency vexes and perplexes me, but unfortunately, that just tells me that many people just don't get it (Yes, I know it is presumptuous of me to think I "get it", but if I'm convinced of my opinions and premises, why shouldn't I think so?).

That being said, I have no illusions which political party in America is truly (if not completely) serious about defending us from internal and external threats. The problem I have with the idea that we have not been asked to sacrifice is just palin wrong. Just because we don't have to ration anything, and we don't have the draft of our young people hanging over our heads, doesn't mean we aren't sacrificing. Every day that we don't completely confront the threat that faces us (if we take those who have declared war on us seriously), we sacrifice the lives of those who will be killed by our enemies. If you don't think that President Bush has been communicating this effectively enough, then you must only read the NY Times and watch CNN. He has made speech after speech about the struggle we face, yet amny in the media, the oppostion party, and even some in his own party have drowned out that message by whining about Katrina, stem cells, Valerie Plame, NSA, SWIFT, gas prices, etc.

Accurate history will show this president to be a man of strength, vision, conviction, and, most of all, action. He has my support, whether or not he completely satisfies me on every point

No comment.... (Below threshold)
todd:

No comment.

Okay, I have a comment. Hu... (Below threshold)
todd:

Okay, I have a comment. Hugh is to be respected, that is, in law and as an interviewer. Frankly, on most other matters his batting average isn't very good. And, he's probably the biggest Bush shill out there.

Hey, I've voted Republican since 1978, and mostly straight line. Frankly, I'm not at all sure about the effectiveness of our Commander-In-Chief's strategy in dealing with terror so far. And it looks very inflexible as well, with corruption on both sides of the ocean without plateau.

By the way, who's the Secret Santa, er, I mean Secret Senator?

And, as far as Hugh sounding self-important - that's a given.

Amen, John F not Kerry. <br... (Below threshold)
Charles Bannerman:

Amen, John F not Kerry.
I like the fact that Bush steps up to the plate and takes his swings. Sometimes he strikes out but he doesn't throw his bat or kick dirt on the umpire's shoes. He takes it like a man.

Bush is carrying a heavier load than any president since Nixon and he doesn't whine about it. The man has big brass balls and most of the Washington politicians couldn't carry his jock.
Chuck

"Frankly, I'm not at all su... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

"Frankly, I'm not at all sure about the effectiveness of our Commander-In-Chief's strategy in dealing with terror so far."

Posted by: todd

Todd,

With all due respect to your stellar voting record, I think you are missing something. After 9/11, there were few anywhere who thought we wouldn't get attacked again soon on our soil. There are many things about this war that we will never know, intelligence leaks by the NY Times notwithstanding. Bush caught the terrorists completely off guard by taking the fight to their lands and rounding up cells here in America. I have no problem debating strategies, especially long-term, but to say that Bush's has lacked effectiveness is to ignore what has and hasn't happened over the last 5 years:

- No attacks on American soil
- Major terrorist leaders killed and captured all over the world
- 2 regimes that harbored terrorists and were a threat to us and their neighbors were conquered and their people given the chance at self-determination
- increased vigilance and a greater understanding (for some) of the threats we face

Of course not all of Bush's stategies have gone perfectly. War is about survival, and carping about imperfect strategies without offering a real alternative (Democrats) only emboldens our enemies. And yes, we must confont the evils of Iran and North Korea. Throughout history evil has reared its head despite the best efforts of those opposed to it. If we could ever unite behind Bush or any president to to take them on, we would not be stopped. You can call me a shill for Bush, but I don't see any other leaders out there, just talkers.

Hmmm.The ... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

The most important thing any conservative writer can do today is convince people who think that we’re perfectly safe that we’re not.

Yeah! Tell it man! We're in a lot of peril. Why every day is perilous from the peril of freedom and liberty imperiled by the perilous enemies of America!

Why we're in so much damn peril that we don't have any serious plans to actually secure our borders! Yeah man! 'Cause we're in such peril for our lives that actually securing the borders is simply far too extreme for the peril, which is very very perilous.

...

Here's my reaction: YAWN.

You want me to believe that the Republican party actually thinks we're in danger?

Then secure the f**king borders.

Until then, I don't believe a frigging word.

Hmmm.It's actually... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

It's actually a pity really. If the Democratic party, the ultra-liberal left, weren't so intent on kissing hispanic ass over illegal aliens, they could use the dichotomy of Republicans screaming about the dangers of terrorism and the GOP's complete incompetence and inability in actually securing the borders.

Politically speaking it would be like like a disemboweling stroke in a knife fight, where the enemy's intestines fall out of his belly and pull his internal organs out with them, leaving them in a coil at his feet.

It's really rather curious this philosophical incompetence of the two parties that make them incapable of actually taking serious advantage of each other's significant weaknesses.

Perhaps instead of the Age of Aquarius we've entered into the Age of Political Stupidity?




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