May 20, 2004

Disgruntled Hawks

Jeffrey Bell's fine article in this week's Weekly Standard makes an intelligent comparison between Vietnam-1968 and Iraq-2004:

It is often recalled, as an oddity, that the breakthrough Eugene McCarthy vote in New Hampshire in March 1968 consisted more of hawks than doves. But that McCarthy vote was no oddity. The turn against the Johnson-Humphrey war strategy, and the ultimate passing of presidential dominance to the GOP, was not due to the doves, most of whom wound up voting for Humphrey in November 1968. The center of gravity of American politics shifted because of Vietnam hawks voting their frustration at the loss of a simple, understandable mission.

I am not going to jump into the naysayers camp. But I agree strongly with the Bill Kristol/Al Davis school of punditry: "Just Win, Baby!"

The real depression I feel is not the emboldenment of the doves after Abu Graib, the malaise is the hawks' legitimate concern that the administration has lost its devotion to victory. I hope it is not so, but there is less and less empirical proof that this is not the case. Bell continues:

Rumsfeld may never have fully believed in the president's democratic mission in Iraq. That may have made it a simple decision to choose, in Falluja and perhaps elsewhere, to put a cap on American casualties at the expense of achieving decisive victory over antidemocratic and anti-American forces. But that sense of a loss of mission, not the level of U.S. casualties, is the gravest threat so far to the Bush war strategy, and thus to the Bush presidency.

This segues unfortunately well into Peggy Noonan's anecdotal conversation with a frequent-GOP-voter who may vote for Kerry:
And oddly enough she's starting to feel a little like Mr. Bush can be let go because maybe he has already done the job he was meant to do. He did what we hired him for. He got us through 9/11, he led us through, he got the Homeland Security Department. He cleaned out Afghanistan. Then he moved into Iraq, he fought hard. And maybe that's the job he was supposed to do. And maybe now we can let him go. Maybe Kerry's supposed to handle it the next few years.

Posted by jk at May 20, 2004 12:09 PM
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