Saturday, December 24, 2005

We Outta There - Victory In Iraq Is About To Be Declared

Four stump speeches in four weeks, the weekly radio address on screen, an address to the nation from the Oval Office, and a press conference. All with one message. We're winning in Iraq. It can only mean one thing.

We outta there.

For the greater good of the Repulican party's dreams of long-term political hegemony, the administration is doing what it has to do to win, and that's declare victory in Iraq, or more accurately bail and bail fast.

For all the talk of the war on terror going on for centuries, and persevering in the face of adversity, and honoring the fallen by completing the mission, the United States is about to make itself scarce from Iraq, and leave the train wreck to the Iraqis who say they want us out of there anyway.

The Bushies have made the simple and correct calculation that all will be forgiven if we dump the Iraq adventure. Let's move forward. The 300 billion that was wasted, and the 2000+ US troops who died for naught are yesterday's news. We won.

But wait, people will say, what about the bloody civil war that will break out in Iraq after we're gone? No problem, replies the White House, that's just part of a young nation finding it's democratic feet. After all, we had a bloody civil war, so why shouldn't they have a bloody civil war? It's only right.

And what about the fact that we're leaving Iraq as a failed terrorist state in the hands of Islamists widening the regional power of Tehran and it's fruitcake president? The answer is simple. Who the hell cares about a basket case country 6000 miles away? We've got a budget deficit to fix at home. There are social programs to slash and burn. There's the corporate trough to feed and the wars on abortion and Christmas to win.

Some people might say, c'mon the Iraqi 'security' forces are riddled with Badr Brigade militiamen looking for revenge. And the answer is simple. We trained 'em. Now they have to stand on their own two feet. Who cares if the Iraqi army has as much chance against the insurgents as the South Vietnamese Army had against the VC? It ain't our problem.

Karl Rove knows that politics is the art of the possible. And it's probable that people will buy the GOP victory story. The reason is simple. If you start saying you've won often enough, the American people will start to believe it.

Four repetitive but very upbeat speeches, a press conference and an Oval Office address, and Bush is back at the 50% approval mark. It worked. Ergo, the people bought the bull. And they'll do it again. So maybe November 2006 will be just as rosy as November 2002, and November 2004 for the GOP.

Which leaves the Democrats in a hole, yet again. The War on Terror is about to become a done deal, so all the outrage over spying on our phone calls, and torture at Guantanamo will be just tired footnotes to a war that we've already won.

As Lee Atwater always said - attack the enemy's strengths. Democratic strength comes from dissilluionment with the Iraq adventure. Get out of that - and they're left with nothing.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Abortion - Why Roe won't go.

The Alito nominaton has already been analyzed about a hundred times more thoroughly than that of John Roberts, and the one area of discussion that has dominated has been the most predictable of all. If Alito's the swing vote on the court, will he vote to overturn Roe v Wade and remove a woman's federal right to an abortion?

There have been numerous dissections of Alito's posititon on this, most of which seem to point to a no vote on overturning Roe. But this article's not about predicting how the court votes when the inevitable case comes up that would bust Roe wide open, but more about why the Bush administration and the Republican Party in Washington faces the music whichever way the vote goes.

When Karl Rove took the nation's temperature and decided that the evangelicals were the voters to court, he was brilliantly correct in the short term. For nearly four years after 9/11 he has shown himself to be an electoral genius. But the next few years will likely show that in the long term his strategy is a catastrophe for the GOP. Why? Because the culture wars are not real - except to the fringe. And by elevating their hopes and pretensions to power as much as the Bush administration has done, leaves only two ways to go. Either they get what they want, and federally legal abortion is gone, or they don't and they bite the hand that fed them. These people are utterly committed. And they think Bush and Rove owe them for delivering 2004.

So let's say Alito and four or more others on the bench decide it's time to throw out Blackmun's landmark abortion decision of 1973. What happens? Well, simply put, a good majority of soccer moms in the ex-urbs and suburbs suddenly feels a lot less sure about which way they're going to vote. Their allegiance to the party will become less about security (assuming there are no attacks on the US), and more about, well themselves, as women. Can the GOP pretend to have their interests at heart? Result, abortion is a sure vote loser in key congressional districts and could make far more states contestable in the Presidential contest.

Okay, so abortion stays. Alito (as is likely) helps to hold off a full-scale attack on Roe and the anti-abortion wingnuts go ballistic. Sure they'll blame the court, but wait, didn't George just pack the damn thing with people he assured would do the 'right' thing? So he did. The result - feelings of betrayal, and a moment when the far right could decide that it's time to take matters into their own hands and force the issue by threatening to put up an independent Christian candidate to split the GOP vote. Unless, of course, the GOP in Congress legislates to ban abortion, or the Whitehouse issue an executive order criminalizing it.

The Right is at a crossroads. It's unlikely, but let's hope the Democrats can make sure they total their car.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Charity Is The Enemy Of Good Government

Katrina opened many eyes to many truths.

We all know that it exposed the poverty of the black underclass, the incompetence of the Bush Administration, its emasculation of FEMA, its travesty in Iraq at the expense of our 'homeland', and the profound weaknesses in the American infrastructure.

Luckily, for those caught by this tragedy that need not have happened, the Red Cross, and numerous other organizations, funded by a the generosity of the American People were there to pick up the slack. Story after story on NPR followed these lines. There was nobody from FEMA to help, but there were these folks from a church in (insert faraway state name here) who helped us find a home in (insert faraway state name here).

But it's not just the bedraggled masses of New Orleans who are grateful for the help, even if their new life does take them to the frozen wastes of North Dakota. Because Katrina was also a hallelujah for the true libertarian. Their dreams were coming true. After years of erosion and inertia, the Government had reached a point of such utter uselessness that the plucky American People could finally show that the bad old Feds were surplus to requirements. Who needs the government when you have the Red Cross, Pat Robertson, and our friends from Sri Lanka (not sure what they donated but it's almost certain to have tasted a damn sight better than those bad old government MREs)?

The American People's penchant for charitable giving was in overdrive. Celebrities fought to be part of benefits across the nation, phones rang off hooks, from the smallest charity to the studios of Monday Night Football where Hall Of Famers took donations. And yet, if asked to put the same amount of money into a single central fund dedicated to the good of the nation overseen by the central government, by raising taxes, and there would be virtual civil war. As a nation, we trust the Red Cross more than we trust the Feds. And the more we give them, the better they do, in absolute terms, and relative to the outfit that's not getting our money - that would be the government.

In short, giving to charity deprives government of the ability to do its job. It sends the clock back, back, back to the Victorian era and even earlier, when there was no welfare state, when there was no safety net, except for you've guessed it - charity. Far from being the mark of a civilized society, charity is a sure indicator of its failure, of the rise of the individual, of the role of pity, and the supremacy of money as the source of all power.

Sure, the Bushies get kind of upset, the President has even appeared vaguely apologetic, but behind the scenes his handlers are chuckling. Because the charitable surge after Katrina has done more damage to Federal Government than just about any single event. But their joy doesn't end there, because the Bushies can revel in the fact that the fervency of the individual to give charity crosses party and ideological lines. In this one respect, even the Democrats, Progressives, and true lefties in this country are right wing libertarians, feeding the anti-goverment fire.

Even in their supposedly darkest hour, the right has scored a victory. After all, with government weaker and less respected than its been for decades, are we really going to let the people of New Orleans suffer?

Friday, July 29, 2005

What Will Make Us Care? - Part 1

For all the left's frantic cries of horror at the ceaseless torrent of Bush excess there's only one truly profound conclusion that can be drawn. Nobody is listening. Nothing that the Republicans can do, from Iraq, to bastardizing American Democracy, to turning the nation into a third world society, seem to matter. The American people just don't seem to care. And the less they listen, the more we shout and steam at every outrage.

Is this because the nation has moved profoundly to the right. Despite what the rapturists would like to think, the answer is clearly no. If you take into account the fact that the old Southern Democrats were Republicans in all but name, the nation has always been broadly split in two. Bush lost by a handful in 2000 and got the keys. He won (maybe) by a few more in 2004, and kept them.

The only real change is that we care less and less about the meat of politics. It just doesn't seem to affect us. America has always been suspiciously close to being a continuum, rarely affected by politics. After all, that stability is enshrined in the constitution. But now, for the first time, as the quality of political discourse hits an all time low, and the potential of understanding true political damage through debate and revelation has joined it in the toilet, it's as if the haze has settled thick, and low, and permanently.

It's not that we're too far right, or left, or too centrist, it's just that we don't give a damn anymore. We're not excited and energized by our political leaders. We don't talk politics, we don't think about our role in a civil society, we don't perceive that government involves us.

There's nothing wrong with that, in essence. After all a curveball that buckles the knees of a hot hitter, or a beautiful sunset over the quiet prairie, or a Studebaker in perfect condition are all far more valuable than having to listen to a politician. But only as long as the nation can sustain the needs of its people to enjoy those things. And America is on the very edge of its ability to maintain itself. Our infrastructure is failing, our core economic system is weak, we badly need reform in many areas. In short our nation is crumbling. For all the kneejerk, patriotic bombast of our leaders, America is failing, and failing fast.

Which is where our problems begin. For if the people insist on paying no attention as the ship is sinking, there will come a time - when we're drowning - that we will be forced to respond. And it will be too late. Decisions will be made in haste. And they will make matters worse. Just take Iraq as an example. We had plenty of opportunity to plan for every eventuality. We're on the way to creating a client state of Iran. Not sure we planned for that.

Some might say that when disaster strikes will we rise to the challenge. After all this is America. Civil War. Depression. World War Two. It's what we do best. But this time it's going to be very different, because the world is nastier, and more competitive than ever. We're no longer on the up and up, we're a has been nation, supporting ourselves on chimeras, and the backs of cheap Chinese labor, feeding the beast of our consumerism with an ever more cannibalistic mutation of capitalism. Take away the strut of cheap goods and cheap mortgages and where exactly are we? Galbraith's term 'private wealth, public squalor' has never rung more true.

Like it or not, we're at a critical point in American History. Either we wake up to our predicament and begin to debate a way out, or we remain uninterested until it's too late.

For America, the stakes are higher than they've ever been any time since the Civil War. The day to day viscissitudes of politics are irrelevant. the Iraq war, the tax cuts, the health crisis, irrelevant. The pork, the religious wingnuts, the lies and manipulations, irrelevant. The fact that the Bush Administration is probably the worst in modern American history irrelevant. The time for blame is over.

The solution to our problem is simple, but most likely impossible. We must raise the level of discourse, and rely on the American people to solve our problems.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Sometimes, Democracy Just Doesn't Work

Are The People Ever To Blame?

To say the Bush Administration is going through a rough patch is an understatement. Unfortunately, all the bad news doesn't matter one bit. Because while the Republican Party is a total catastrophe when it comes to governing, it's the definition of true genius when it comes to winning elections.

The Democratic Party on the other hand is the GOP's mirror image. Great in office, lousy at winning it. And if you're a Democrat, that means you've got a problem, and ironically it's what you're named after - Democracy.

No wonder Bush sings its praises like it's going out of style. Right now, it's the worst thing to happen to the Democratic party in years.

Being glib about democracy isn't something that happens much these days, but it's worth examining its flaws. So let's start with a little history.

One of the supreme ironies of the success of Bolshevism in 1917 was that for all its talk of empowering the proletariat, it didn't want to take the chance of actually letting the proletariat vote for their own empowerment.

But maybe Lenin was onto something. Because Democracy is unpredictable. Illogical. And sometimes, downright insane. After all Hitler was duly elected Chancellor of Germany in 1933.

Russia in 1917 and Germany in 1933 are two sides of the same coin. Sometimes, and it's hard to say, the people do the strangest things, especially when the search for absolute power is the order of the day.

For the best and most succinct piece of advice on how to achieve absolute power via democracy, who better to turn to than the master propagandist himself.
"Arguments must be crude, clear and forcible, and appeal to emotions and instincts, not the intellect. Truth is unimportant and entirely subordinate to tactics and psychology".
Sounds very much like it's been ripped from the secret mantra of the Karl Rove playbook, and maybe it is, but the words were written by the father of modern propaganda, Josef Goebbels.

You see, in the hands of a modern scientist of mass deceit, like Rove or Goebbels, democracy can easily become a tool of demagoguery.

This might sound like kneejerk rhetoric, but it's not. Because as shockingly different as they may seem in intent and outcome, Democracy and Demagoguery are two words that are really close family.

The word Democracy comes from the Greek "rule of the people", and its close cousin Demagogue is Greek for "ruler of the people." One R is all it takes to change the world. Or is that a W.

The former word has exclusively been seen as a good thing, while the latter term has been viewed as a dangerous pejorative since about the same time, about two thousand years ago. But there's a point where they meet, that's palpable and very, very dangerous.

Of course, nobody for one moment would pretend that George Bush is or could be a demagogue. He wouldn't last five minutes in the job, before his handlers had second thoughts. On his narrow shoulders the artful edifice of power would not sit for long.

But the court of President Bush is filled with clever propagandists, led by Rove, who collectively fill the role of demagogue very nicely, in the name of conservatism. Of course, in order to do their demagogic worst, they need a willing ally - which is where the 'demos' part of the equation comes in.

In short, the people, or in this case a plurality of them are as responsible for this disastrous moment in American history, as the deceivers themselves.

There, I said it. I did what every good Democrat, and Progressive secretly did in his heart in the late evening of November 2, 2004.

I blamed the people.

Not all of them, just enough of them to make the difference between light and dark.

"How could these people be so gullible?", we lamented. "Couldn't they see they're being manipulated?"

The answer, of course, is clearly no. They clearly could not see that their interests did not lie with the Republicans. They could not see that their futures were at stake, that they were destroying the country they loved and getting no booty in return.

These people are the modern version of the mob, the rag-tag sans-culottes in their pick-up trucks and SUVs who are complicit in the last desperate Republican search for hegemony.

It's almost as if the GOP knows that with the world changing as it is, the writing is on the wall for its rabid and unholy concoction of political control and economic laissez faire. As if they're saying amongst themselves,"now is the time to grab and hold power, or it will be gone forever".

But how could such a small (if noisy) mob become the lynchpin of the GOP power-grab? The answer is simple. The voters of the far-right are the metaphorical storm-troopers of the new absolutism. The pervasive symbols of right wing power and potency.

By whipping the new mob into a frenzy with cultural arguments that "appeal to emotions and instincts, not the intellect", the new propagandists have tapped into the dark underside of American life, doused but never extinguished, and enabled it to grow, and infect and transform the zeitgeist.

The moral exhaustion that allowed that to happen in Germany in the late twenties and early thirties is similar to the apathy we're living with today. Except instead of the Weimar Republic's depressive malaise, and smouldering humiliated nationalism, and volkische anti-semitism, our inertia is sourced in the muzak of consumerism, combined with fear, and a profound spiritual aimlessness.

The Nazis did not have the benefit of the internet and instant media to drive their message home. They needed Nuremberg Rallies to show their power. But there are also problems for today's propagandists. They have to contend with another irksome problem, a populace that, unlike that of Weimar Germany accepts its democratic institutions as a profound birthright.

But whether we're talking about Germany in the late twenties, or the United States today, there is one common truth that propagandists understand. What matters in the pursuit of absolute power is what's remembered. And what's remembered is the "crude, clear and forcible".

Force becomes the benchmark to which all is compared. Clarity develops its own legitimacy. The visibility and apparent strength of crudity become the almost magical source of its ability to convince.

And the victim in both Germany and America is reason.

Reason can never trump the visceral. Intellect will always be drowned out. But oh, how hard it tries; to make the inchoate see their folly, to educate them, to understand them. How endless is its capacity to absorb the taunts of the mob. And how little it sees and understands that every time it's spurned, the forces it's trying to nurture back to their senses grow in power and confidence, as well as the profound conviction that they and only they are right.

In the thirties in Europe it was called appeasement.

Today, in America, it's called The Democratic Party.

The Nazis drew their strength from their disregard for reason. They delighted in humiliating those who wanted to 'save' them.

So instead of seeing Karl Rove's recent statements about liberals wanting to offer therapy to terrorists as an A-list political blunder, see them as carefully positioned red meat to the far right's metaphorical storm troopers, another tap on the accelerator of intolerance.

It goes without saying that no liberal would ever suggest for one moment offering therapy to terrorists. It's not reasonable to even consider the statement. But that's the point. 'Reason is for the weak', Rove is saying to his mob. 'And you are not weak. You are strong. We are allowing you, the lowly sans-culottes, to rise up and be counted among the strong'.

The key word in Rove's statement isn't 'terrorists', it's 'therapy'. By bringing the two together in such an apparently ridiculous way, he is inviting the absurd to be met with reason.

And that's exactly what the Democrats have done. Instead of ignoring the comment, the party has blundered into a reasonable response that does nothing but make Rove's statement seem feasible, and make the Democrats, merely defending their honor reasonably, seem like weak bleeding hearts.

The Rove statement is a subtle exposition of the quite brilliant trap that he has set for the feckless Democratic Party. And it kind of goes like this.

By using right wing noise to redefine the zeitgeist, and push the boundaries of the non-existent culture wars, the Democrats are forced to choose. Do they tilt to the prevailing but empty cultural wind, or do call its bluff. In short, will they appease it, or confront it.

Let's examine a historical parallel. In 1936 Hitler's army marched in to reclaim the Rhineland. If the French had sent a single division to confront them, the wooden rifles that many of the German soldiers carried would have been no match for even the most incompetent of French troops.
And that would have been the end of the Hitler confidence trick.

Instead, we thought there was another way, a better way than war. In short, we tried reason. We have never been more wrong.

Seventy years later, here in America, we're doing it all over again again. We're reasoning with the sans culottes. Just listen to Hillary Clinton, as she shifts to the right ahead of her presidential bid in 2008. And as she does, you can feel the bile and contempt rising among the expanding mob, fed by her very attempts to appease them. And in her wake, Hillary will leave her core constituency to wither and dissipate, to seek third party alternatives, to give up entirely on the process, to campaign with less vigor, to be more open to mistakes, to attempt to square the circle, and dilute their message.

The same will be true of Biden, Barak, or just about anyone else.

And all because of a few ridiculous people speaking in tongues outside Terri Schiavo's nursing home.

The alternative is very simple.

Confront the enemy. Face them down. And accept the fact that we, the Progressives, the liberals, the forces of reason, will have to engage in the unreasonable to win in the name of reason.

In short, we have to go to war with the right.

And for the sake of the future of the glorious human experiment that is the United States of America, let us do everything we can to win.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Can The Right Change America? - Not A Chance.

Imagine a world where family's are god fearing, men wear boots and have firm handshakes, women do what they're told, sons play football and daughters lead cheers. Where the suburban streets are leafy, the picket fences freshly painted, the television clean, and the news, well that's all good. Nobody has sex before marriage, gay people stay behind closed doors, and abortions are just not neccessary. The cars are big, the gas is cheap, and the lawns are just so.

Like that's gonna happen.

America is a big old country, a cacophonous, contradictory, charmingly adolescent nation that lurches from one fad to another as it bounces towards its' 231st birthday. And this image of cookie-cutter suburban bliss is just more spin. The people who want to build picket fence America know this. They know they don't have a hope in hell of sending us back fifty years. They're only doing it as a convenient smokescreen to cover their efforts to turn America back into the place it once was about 75 years ago, before bad old FDR came along to spoil the party.

You don't have to imagine the world they really want to create. You can check the history books. And it wasn't pretty. There was no regulation. There was no welfare state. There was no health coverage. Poverty was rife. Abortions were often fatal, as was being gay and being black. Votes were tampered. Corruption was rife. And everybody was on their own, while the rich well they just got richer and sent out the Pinkertons when required.

This world has more of a chance, but the strong likelihood is that America will avoid that one too. The Right has already seen its limitations in the Social Security debacle, which just happens to be the centerpiece of the whole New Deal deal. The recently elected President stomped the nation for sixty days and ended up way worse off than he was when he started.

Of course that leaves everyone with a serious problem. All that talk, especially from A Mr. Can Do like The President, pretty much means that he has to do something if he doesn't want to be seen as a lame duck. Sadly, Congress isn't quite som gung-ho. They've got their jobs to worry about. The result will be some watered down, unworkable disaster of a bill to reform Social Security that will do nothing to really harm it. People will shrug and move on, their retirements broadly intact.

Sure, The Pres will stomp around for another sixty days, declaring that he has 'solved' the Social Security Crisis, and the media will meekly give him the benefit of the doubt, while the New York Times says 'hold on a minute' and nobody listens. And probably the hapless Democrats will make sure the Republican Caucus in Congress squeak home in November 2006 with another of their classic own goals. But for all the Right's religious and cultural bleating the end result will be that we're no closer to that nasty pre-New Deal world than we were.

Because people like the New Deal. They like Government programs. Sure, they whine about the Feds on their back and taxes, but they don't want to go back to the bad old days. So the Far Right is going to be left with nowhere to go. Because in a few years time it's going to be put up or shut up on the Culture War, and they'll have nothing to show for all their whipping up the 'base' into a frenzy, except a whole lot of very disappointed Baptists.

And when the hubris and the disappointment start tearing the right asunder we'll be there to pick up the pieces, probably with enough time to save what's left of our Environment, dignity, and international standing.

It probably sounds wildly optimistic in these dark days, but it's really just accepting that political events in this country rarely change peoples' lives. Because what the Right don't like to admit is that America is a continuum, with its own quirky faddish tendencies to spice things up. Right now we're in their American Dream meets God fad. But it won't last. The place is just too damn big to keep reality hidden for that long.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Iraq - The Damage Really Done.

$300 billion dollars of US taxpayer money (well over $1000 for every man woman and child in the country), an unbeatable inurgency, mounting casualties, a crumbling coalition, no exit strategy, an incompetent Iraq on the verge of civil war, lasting and serious damage to US diplomatic prestige, and the dismantling of the fabric of the US Army and Marine Corps.

Yep, Iraq's one helluva party.

But the long term kicker's even worse.

Because our little Iraq adventure has turned The Islamic Republic of Iran into a major world power we will be hard pressed to control.

The Iranian diplomatic performance in the past three or four years is up there with the genius of Bismarck in the late nineteenth century when he turned backwater Prussia into the warrior heart of the German uber-state. But just like Bismarck, the Iranians couldn't do it without a little help fro their enemies.

In only a few months, we've given Iran what years of war and bloodshed with Iraq constantly denied them. A passport to control their western neighbor. And it all went like clockwork.

They used Ahmed Chalabi brilliantly to sucker the US into the invasion. He knew full well there were no WMD (remember them?), but his Tehran controllers also knew that the Bush administration would believe his and "Curveball's" carpetbagging hokum, because that is how they operate themselves. Bush's people sell stories. It stands to reason they'll buy the ones they want to hear. And now, with the Shiites firmly in control, and the Kurds just waiting for their chance to ditch the failing Iraqi state, the Iranians are poised to take over in all but name. With the Americans unlikely to ever listen to them after Bremer's Baathist clean out blunder, it's no wonder the Sunnis are fighting so hard to get their power back. They face generations of retribution from Tehran-led Shiites if they don't.

At the same time, the Iranians timed the show and tell of their nuclear ambitions to absolute perfection, as they gear up for the big bluff of the world community, and once it's called putting themselves in the big leagues of Middle East strategic decision-making, with a nuclear presence.

The US is in an intolerable position. Regardless of the European diplomatic initiative backed by US threats of sanctions and ultimately military action, the Iranian's know very little can and will be done, despite all the bluster. Iran is just too powerful not to accomodate. The French could veto because of their heavy Iranian interests, while the Russians and Chinese are very likely to abstain to avoid a US-led hot war on their borders. What's most likely is that the other major powers will leave the US holding the baby once more. Whoopee.

Only this time, with all our forces tied down on endless rotation for years in Iraq, and our intelligence in Iran even worse than it was in dealing with Saddam (not exactly a sterling seal of approval), a full invasion is out of the question. And with an Israeli-led proxy attack not the sure thing that Sharon and the Israeil military would demand before an attack - that leaves the US with responsibility for delivering a non UN sanctioned strategic strike with little hope of doing anything except buttressing domestic support for the clerics in Tehran, and further accelerating Iranian support for outraged Islamicists throughout the Middle East and beyond.

The second alternative is no more palatable. Doing nothing, as Iran builds its nuclear arsenal will cause immeasurable loss of American prestige. For the first time

None of this was inevitable. But the blame for it lies almost entirely with unrealizable Neo-Con dreams of a Democratic Middle East. Their stunning naivite and almost ritual self-justifications became dangerously predictable and opened them to outflanking on an almost daily basis that led America into one of its most profound foreign policy reverses of modern times.

It's no surprise that Bush has covered his train wreck policy with Wilsonian rhetoric. Any smart politician would do the same.

Now all we have to do is find a way of framing this foreign policy disaster in a way that ignites rather than enrages heartland American Patriotism. How about telling them that Bush didn't just send our forces into a dangerous no-win counter-insurgency but that our troops have become the mere pawns of Iran's expansion plans. Unwittingly working for the bad guys was something we didn't even stoop to in Vietnam.

And Bush thought Foreign Policy was his strength in the last election.