Saturday, July 03, 2010

The War Party [UPDATED]

John McCain has been severely screwing over conservatives, not to mention the Constitution via his ill-conceived campaign finance reforms, for roughly a decade now.

Yet National Review, in an extremely rare (and heavily criticized) move, recently endorsed McCain over his GOP primary opponent. McCain may be the better candidate, but he was likely to win anyway, so National Review's decision to involve itself is somewhat puzzing. Until, that is, you read their explanation, and then it becomes painfully obvious what REALLY matters to those who call themselves "mainstream conservative" these days:
... when McCain is right he can have a terrific impact. McCain has a credibility on national security that few other Republicans can match. It is entirely possible that without Senator McCain we would have left Iraq in ignominy. Few legislators ever accomplish as much good as McCain did through his leadership on the surge. Conservatives should be grateful for this service and appreciative of the wisdom and fortitude that made it possible. This accomplishment, in our judgment, more than makes up for McCain’s mistakes, the impact of which has also been major (as in the cases of campaign-finance regulation and interrogation policy).
(emphasis added)

Got that? Be as squishy as you want on pro-life issues, especially things like ESCR. Screw over your party's efforts to get qualified conservatives onto the judiciary by compromising with the Dems who are filibustering those nominees, making it that much more difficult to get originalists through the Senate confirmation process (and, thus, Roe v. Wade overturned). Quash political free speech by pushing for restrictions on campaign financing that are, in fact, efforts to shield incumbents from the criticism of politically active citizens. Play footsie with the media and the opposing party, while reserving your harshest language and criticisms for those in your own party and in the conservative movement.

But, as long as you toe the War Party line, that "more than makes up for" the afore-mentioned deficiencies.

Another example: Michael Steele.

Steele has been needing an ousting from the role of RNC Chairman for quite a while now. Poor fundraising in what should be a banner GOP year is just the tip of the iceberg. Steele has been guilty of political misstep after political misstep, and is prone to stick his foot in his mouth and alienate some segment of the party on a weekly basis.

Long ago, Steele fell afoul of social conservatives over his irresolute and ambivalent remarks regarding abortion. I called for his removal over a year ago after he seemed to admit that he was "pro-choice" on the abortion issue.

But for all the pratfalls that have bedeviled Chairman Steele throughout his tenure at the helm of the RNC, he is only now in real danger of losing his job. Why?

Because his most recent misadventure with foot-in-mouth syndrome just so happened to cross the War Party cheerleaders:
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is under increasing pressure from within his own party to step down for saying the nine-year old U.S. military conflict in Afghanistan is a "war of Obama's choosing" that history suggests is "probably a lost cause."


But Rove didn't go as far as other prominent conservatives, including Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol, who are calling on Steele to resign.

"Everyone makes mistakes, but Mr. Steele has failed at virtually all of the tasks expected of him," Christian Whiton, a State Department official in the Bush administration, wrote in an opinion article for "He is gaffe prone, off message, and has repelled rather than attracted RNC donors."

"His comments on Afghanistan, reminiscent of isolationists who called World War II 'Mr. Roosevelt's war,' and who were kept out of office by voters as a result, ought to be the last straw," he wrote.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a Marine combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Steele's "irresponsible comments show him to be completely out of touch with the majority of the Republican Party."

"Time and again, Steele has demonstrated this disconnect," he said Saturday in a written statement. "His comments were not only tactless, but showed an unfortunate level of ignorance on such a significant national security issue."

Hunter added that Steele's comments were "as wrong as it is a disservice to our military men and women."

In remarks captured Thursday on camera and posted online, Steele criticized President Obama and his handling of the Afghan war and suggested the war cannot be won.

"This was a war of Obama's choosing," Steele said. "This is not something United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in."


Kristol, writing for The Weekly Standard, was among the first to say Steele should resign.

"There are, of course, those who think we should pull out of Afghanistan, and they're certainly entitled to make their case," wrote Kristol, a consistent supporter of the Afghanistan war. "But one of them shouldn't be the chairman of the Republican Party."

Liz Cheney called on Steele to resign, telling Politico in a statement that Steele's comments were "deeply disappointing and wrong."

"I endorse fully Bill Kristol's letter to Chairman Steele," she said. "It is time for Chairman Steele to step down."
Whenever the GOP performs poorly, it is inevitable that the presence of social conservatives in the party will receive the lion's share of the blame. But it is inarguable that the GOP performed poorly in the last 2 election cycles because of the Bush Administration's war policy.

Unfortunately, the War Party tail is STILL wagging the Republican Party dog.

UPDATE (7 July 2010)
Damn. I hate it when I find myself agreeing with a vitriolic windbag like Ann Coulter. But she hit this one out of the park:
... But now I hear it is the official policy of the Republican Party to be for all wars, irrespective of our national interest.

What if Obama decides to invade England because he's still ticked off about that Churchill bust? Can Michael Steele and I object to that? Or would that demoralize the troops?

Our troops are the most magnificent in the world, but they're not the ones setting military policy. The president is -- and he's basing his war strategy on the chants of cretins.

Nonetheless, Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney have demanded that Steele resign as head of the RNC for saying Afghanistan is now Obama's war -- and a badly thought-out one at that. (Didn't liberals warn us that neoconservatives want permanent war?)

I thought the irreducible requirements of Republicanism were being for life, small government and a strong national defense, but I guess permanent war is on the platter now, too.

Of course, if Kristol is writing the rules for being a Republican, we're all going to have to get on board for amnesty and a "National Greatness Project," too – other Kristol ideas for the Republican Party. Also, John McCain. Kristol was an early backer of McCain for president -- and look how great that turned out!

Inasmuch as demanding resignations is another new Republican position, here's mine: Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney must resign immediately.
(emphasis added)

Amen! Couldn't have said it better myself.

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At 7/06/2010 11:21 AM, Blogger Paul Zummo said...

Personally speaking, this is not the most egregious comment he's made, but it is yet another in a long pattern of stupid, foot-in-mouth moments. I'd be able to forgive Steele if he were otherwise effective at doing his job, but considering the yawning gap between RNC and DNC fundraising totals, I think that the overwhelming evidence suggests that Steele needs to go.

At 7/06/2010 11:54 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

I agree he needs to go, but he needed to go a long time ago. I'm just finding it interesting that what it takes to get the GOP insiders REALLY exercised is to run afoul of the foreign policy / military establishment.

Maybe I'm just giving voice to my inner Shea, but it's stuff like this (and the NR endorsement of McCain) that at least gives the appearance of adding legitimacy to the charge of a "neo-con" takeover of the conservative movement.

At 7/06/2010 1:16 PM, Blogger Dad29 said...

You said it. Crossing the War Party is the equivalent of crossing the Jock Bloc in a grade- or high-school (public or private.)

You will not survive that occasion.


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