Should it lose its majority in one or both Houses next week, the GOP is already building a greater win-win assault for 2008, which is why I half-hope the Dems will lose-win by losing-losing, thereby laying a larger win-win groundwork. I'm not alone in wondering if the now-losing-losing GOP also hopes for a Democratic loss through winning -- nor am I alone in resenting like hell the sadistic clown-clown who invented the tempting language of "win-lose."
Nevertheless the language is apt, and no one understands its implications better than GOP strategists. While they may be hunkering down in preparation for a short-term hit, they have their eyes as much on the long-term war of building and maintaining a permanent majority. Paradoxically, little could help that cause more than a Democratic victory next week. Once they're in a position of legislative war-authority, Democrats forever will be etched, to mix metaphors, as the Neville Chamberlains who lost China.
Yesterday Messrs. Bush and Cheney debuted the post-election strategy. In Georgia the former said, "However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses. The Democrat goal is to get out of Iraq. The Republican goal is to win in Iraq." And Cheney said, "It's my belief that [Iraqi insurgents are] very sensitive of the fact that we've got an election scheduled." They -- and quite subtly not only "they" -- believe "they can break the will of the American people," and "that's what they're trying to do."
The above language has nothing to do with Iraq. It has nothing to do with the "war on terror." Rather, the above language is that of certain defeat, while simultaneously turning that slow, torturous defeat into domestic victory. All that's needed is a backstabbing scapegoat.
I laid out the GOP's long-term designs nearly a year-and-a-half ago, reproduced below, in part. From June 29, 2005:
History isn’t just repeating itself. It’s mocking us. Every bloody day we hear this glib administration cite the rosy progress of a perpetually grim situation, with its generals in tow, nodding in self-denying but sycophantic agreement.
Meanwhile we’re back to counterinsurgency improvisations, frontless battles, body counts, indigenous-personnel training, fuzzy justifications, budget-blasting, a seething public at home, world scorn, and just plain disgust with how we got there and why we can’t get out.
Ultimately, others will take the fall for this failed war, one that from the get-go, as former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski said, “has been conducted with tactical and strategic incompetence.”
The jig is up -- so the right needs a chump. And when the U.S. presence is finally forced out there, because no one supports it here, guess who will get the blame.
You got it. Liberals.
Never mind what every pollster and politician, left and right, knows today: “What’s interesting in this decline in support for the war is that it has sprung from the public itself,” said the Pew Research Center’s director. “It wasn’t led by politicians or by an antiwar movement.”
You won’t hear that from the right in the war’s aftermath. What you’ll hear is that the left and its elected hacks began weakening America’s resolve. We had it won, the right will say, until the embedded Liberal Elite once again badmouthed America and sweet-talked the masses astray. What you’ll hear is that things were going swimmingly. Sure we had a bump here and there, but no real setbacks. You’ll hear that all was according to plan....
We would have had the Middle East under wraps today, the right’s fantasy will continue -- a veritable heap of desert-flowering democracy, if it just hadn’t been for those liberals undermining our determination, abetting our enemies, disdaining our military might and upending our righteous cause.
Given the right’s well-oiled attack machine and well-justified reliance on Americans’ notoriously short memory to boot, today’s reality will get buried by tomorrow’s carefully fashioned historical myth: 'Liberals cost America the war.'
Just like Vietnam.
Care to bet?
The only winning defense to the GOP's coming gibberish will be the offense of a sustained, frontal, singular and pointed assault on the Bush administration's lone and incompetent prosecution of the war -- not, I repeat not, generic blame on the GOP, since Congressional Democrats were complicit in launching the wretched thing. The blame game over origins would prove circularly endless and inconclusive.
Democratic blame must be swift, uniform, and above all, isolated to Bush himself. Leave identifying the war's instigators to historians, or so the party line should go. It was Bush, and Bush alone, in charge of its strategic formulation and prosecution. It was Bush who blew it. It is Bush who is accountable, now and forever.
That's historical hogwash, of course, just as hogwashish as the GOP's evolving scapegoat strategy. In 2003 Democrats sold their conscience for political insulation. The only hysteria from which they suffered was the horrifying prospect of war-happy electoral backlash in 2004. And their only excuse is that they merely acted in the truest nature of any political beast -- that which is borne of, and self-preserved by, the basest of human emotions.
But enough with philosophizing. Turning from that idle abstraction to the more profitable art of speculation, mine is that the GOP's Machiavellis are comfortably resigned to, if not secretly praying for, a Democratic victory next week. Such a short-term loss will begin the identification process of a lost war and national humiliation with a "Democrat" stamp, and could soon convert into a long-term gain by those claiming they alone would not have lost Vietnam, that they alone would not have lost Iraq, and that they alone shall not lose any future "war of national survival" -- but it must be theirs, all theirs.
Should it happen, rather than mourning a Democratic loss, celebrate that leaving the whole, miserable mess in Republican hands would kick a permanent dent in their permanent-majority strategy. And for the longer-term good.