Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I missed the GOP debate last night (turned it on at 9 to watch it, in time to see Wolf wrap it up) but I did catch Fred Thompson on Fox News afterward in the coveted post-debate slot previously owned by Newt Gingrich. Admittedly, he had the rare opportunity to speak in paragraphs without interruptions, heckling and counterpoints, but he really nailed every issue Hannity tossed at him. He's the real straight talker, tough, common sense, unapologetic, firm, trustable and likeable. What I really liked was that he spoke only of what *he* thinks, how *he* interprets the issues and what *he* would do. He didn't talk about others, just himself. That is a winning message.

He generally agreed with Hanson's argument below. Americans have not been talked to about the war, so we are not engaged. If someone would like to talk to us about it, there is still the good chance that we will understand and agree. That is Bush's major failing -- not wrongheadedness, not wrong strategy, not stubbornness, mainly a failure to communicate. I don't get him at all.

So what to do?

We can quibble and fight about tactics on the ground, manpower numbers, strategic postures toward Iran and Syria, the need to prod the Iraqis, but our problem is more existential. Either stabilizing Iraq now is felt critical to the United States and the West or it isn’t. If the Left is right that it isn’t, then we should flee; if they are wrong, and I think they are, then we must start using our vast cultural and media resources to explain what is at stake — in a strategic and humanitarian sense — and precisely what it is costing America and why it in the long run is worth it, and how we have adjusted to counter our enemies who in the last four years have not won in Iraq or anywhere else either.

By our relative inaction on these critical informational fronts, we are only raising the bar impossibly high for General Petraeus when he reports back to Congress in the autumn. For election-minded Republican senators and representatives (whose defection alone can end the war) the barometer of success unfortunately may be soon not be improvement in six months, but only an impossible demand for absolute victory in 2007.

So more explanation, less assertion; more debate with, rather than dismissal of, critics. And the final irony? The more brutal honesty, the less euphemism and generalities, the more Americans will accept the challenge.


Tom said...

I too skipped the debate but saw Fred and Hannity. I like how he and Newt are skipping the cattle calls.

I thought he came off quite well and then Ann Coulter came on to complain that he didn't vote for conviction on Clinton's impeachment perjjury charge. If that's all we have to forgive him then he's looking pretty solid.

Dude said...

I watched the debate but fell asleep half way through the second part so I missed what you guys caught. I am really just now beginning to pay attention to the race and there were a few guys on stage whom I had never heard of. I liked the little scrappy Libertarian kook on the end. He came out of the gate saying we should just pack up and leave the Middle East, which I don't agree with, but everything else he said on other issues was right on. I was very impressed by Guliani and of the boys I saw last night, I think he's the no-brainer for me. I'm just the kind of Libertarian pro-choice secular equal rights type who can't find a good Democrat but won't blindly follow the GOP to the far right, so I'm happy to see a fella like Rudy talking sense.

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