Tuesday | August 13, 2002
GOP leads attack against attack
How's this for bizarre? While Dem hopefulls remain circumspect on an Iraq invasion, it has been up to Republican skeptics to quiet the beating of the war drums. Robert Novak reports that Bush has cooled on war plans after an in-depth briefing by Colin Powell and Richard Armitage. In addition, words of warning have come from Brent Scowcroft, Jack Kemp, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and Sens. Chuck Hagel and Pat Roberts. And these dovish sentiments from the Right are empowering more rank and file Democrats to oppose the war.
Another sign that war talk is on the wane: the rabidly pro-war National Review published an anti-war piece (from a Cato Institute senior fellow, no less). The magazine has reverted to form today, publishing a piece blasting the GOP naysayers while lauding pro-war Democrats like Biden and Lieberman (apparently he's no longer "Loserman" to the National Review). However, the fact that at least one of NRO's contributors opposes the war betrays the lack of unity from the right on the issue.
Of course, political pressures force Dems to play it safe on the war. Traditionally viewed as the party of doves (despite leading the country into both World Wars and Vietnam), it is difficult for Dems to play the peace card with a hawkish electorate. War is considered a GOP issue, and they can oppose it without risking political damage. Kind of like Nixon visiting China. Or Clinton slamming Sister Souljah.
But as far as the war debate is concerned, Democrats are all but irrelevant. The Republicans have the votes necessary to approve any resolution in Congress, while commander-in-chief Bush has absolute power to send in the cavalry (War Powers Act notwithstanding). Thus, the fate of Gulf War II will be decided by the GOP, and those within that party courageous enough to stand up against unbridled warlust.
Update: I've read some intriguing theories that Armey is simply doing Bush's bidding. It goes like this: Bush has painted himself into a corner. The war drums are beating, but war is actually not a good option. If he backs down, he looks weak and lacking resolve, if he moves forward, he risks catastrophe. Thus, he gets a leader in his own party to publicly oppose the war. Bush takes the warning under counsel, and is "convinced" by the wisdom of Armey's words.Posted August 13, 2002 09:19 AM | Comments (0)