By Carol Devine-Molin
It's no wonder that the Republican base is so highly demoralized on the issue of Iraq. On the home front, we're waging a battle not only against the Democrats, but with the out-of-touch Republican elites – particularly those in the Senate – that are doing a tremendous disservice to the rank-and-file of the party. I'm now convinced that the GOP is going to have to hit rock bottom before it slowly makes its way back up through the efforts of the grassroots conservatives.
Watching Senator Sam Brownback (R-KAN) on Fox News Sunday this morning was a real eye-opener. I have no doubt that the senator is a sincere man and a good social conservative. However, he displayed a very limited perspective on both Iraq foreign policy and the domestic political battles that have raged over the course of the Bush administration. Unfortunately, he came across as something of a dingbat that didn't even have the pertinent facts at hand. To begin, Brownback is now on board with Senator John Warner's non-binding resolution from the Republican camp that denounces President Bush's new strategy in Iraq and the attending troop surge. It's softer than the Democrat version, but it's a slap at the president nonetheless. Moreover, the senator from Kansas insisted we should be following the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group (ISG) recommendations. Is Brownback a transplant from another planet? The ISG report did indeed endorse a temporary troop increase if it was deemed necessary. And, in fact, the temporary troop surge is a priority of both the President and his new commander in Iraq, Lt. General David Petraeus – one of our foremost experts in counterinsurgency – who was just confirmed unanimously in the Senate after hearings that permitted him to delineate on the record his stance for more troops.
Brownback sounded just darn silly as he tried to argue that he had spoken to General Petraeus in the past, and the general never mentioned troop surge, but, rather was in favor of a political solution. Let's be clear: Troop surge and political solution are not mutually exclusive, but go hand-in-glove. You have troop surge, security of the populace, followed by a political solution among the warring factions. Why is that so difficult for Brownback to grasp? The senator was ignoring the fact that, as part of the overall strategy in Iraq, the military is required to secure the populace in Baghdad and elsewhere in that nation before a political solution can be negotiated and take hold. Essentially, the Bush plan is the last, best hope we have of victory in Iraq. That's something that Brownback should ponder. And did it ever occur to Brownback that Petraeus failed to mention "troop surge" on prior occasions since his then boss, Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, was against it?
That being said, Brownback basically pooh-poohed the notion that denigrating the president's plan in Iraq was a further encouragement to the enemy. I'm amazed! Of course the enemy is emboldened by these non-binding Senate resolutions that signal "no-confidence" in the war effort. That's basic common sense, which apparently is in short supply among some Senate Republicans such as Warner, Hagel, Collins, Snowe, Smith, Brownback and Voinovich. As an aside, frankly, I'm surprised that Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota would throw in with this bunch, which doesn't care that it demoralizes our troops by impugning their mission. I really hope he comes to his senses.
To continue, on Fox News Sunday, Brownback kept harkening back to the need for the two major parties to pull together. Now that sound positively lovely, but the reality is that it will be a cold day in hell before that happens. The Congressional Democrats ostracize (Senator Lieberman) and punish (Rep.Jane Harman) anyone in their ranks that cooperates with the GOP. Senator Brownback needs to "get real" and come to grips with the fact that the Democrats have consistently lambasted any ideas or legislation championed or even floated by President Bush and the GOP. Simply put, if we're for it, they're against it. That's not going to change. What's more important at this juncture is for Congressional Republicans to work closely with each other and provide a united front against the Democrats. In truth, the Democrats would like to see our military hamstrung, but they don't have the political courage to pull the plug on Iraq. Besides, the Democrats like to use the war as a club to assault the president at every opportunity.
Senator Brownback is a solid example of the nitwitery that some Congressional Republicans exhibit. But now on to the Democrats.
Whenever questioned on her Iraq vote, it's now de rigueur for Democrat presidential frontrunner Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) to assert that "there's no do-overs in life". What twaddle! Hillary provides the illusion that she's taking responsibility for her vote in one breath, as she quickly follows-up with some blame-game nonsense that President Bush "took my vote, and others' votes, and basically misused the authority we gave him." She's weaseling big-time – the ostensible "victim" of the big, bad president – and eager to cast aspersions on even the notion of the do-over. Ah, yes, Hillary would have us believe that do-overs are bad form, which, of course, is a not-so-subtle dig at President Bush's current do-over, also known as his "change in Iraq strategy". Hillary should have simply repudiated her Iraq vote as presidential hopeful John Edwards had done, and declared her "mistake". Moreover, President Bush acknowledged that mistakes were made in Iraq and that we were losing, before proffering his "new way forward".
That being said, every red-blooded American knows that "do-overs" are as American as apple pie and the flag. Successful Americans practice the art of the do-over on a regular basis. Which brings me to President Bush's plan for troop surge in Iraq with a view toward victory. Perhaps the president, when referencing Iraq, should borrow Hillary's latest catchphrase, "I'm in it to win it". Yes, I certainly like the sound of it.
Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.