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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Staying the Course, No Matter Where it Takes Us

Staying the Course, No Matter Where it Takes Us
Image © Austin Cline
Original Poster: National Archives
Click for full-sized Image

The Republican Party worked hard to ensure that American troops wouldn't be able to spend as much time home resting as they do enforcing the occupation of Iraq — only half of the time which the Pentagon already promises but fails to deliver on. These are the same Republicans who are responsible for the lack of adequate supplies like body armor and armored vehicles, the lack of proper planning for the occupation, the insufficient number of troops to do the job, etc. In the world of sober conservatism, this seems to qualify as "supporting" our troops. With support like that at home, who needs al-Qaeda?

In the past, many conservatives have argued that the government should be run more like a business. I've always found that such claims betray an appalling ignorance about what the proper function of government is in a liberal democracy — or, if I'm not feeling very generous, they reveal that the speaker just doesn't care for liberal democracy in the first place. Setting aside such concerns for the moment, let's imagine that this threadbare conservative position still has a little life in it and can be treated as legitimate: based on such a standard, how has George W. Bush performed?

As CEO of America, Inc., Bush has performed about as well as he did in his previous management jobs, which is abysmally. Why would business leaders support a failed businessman for leader of the entire nation? That's a mystery we may never have answers to but there was no reason for them to expect Bush to have performed any better than he has thus far. It's not that any of the consequences could have been predicted in detail, but the overall arc of failure, incompetence, cronyism, corruption, and insularity could have been readily discerned from past performance.

Given George W. Bush's overwhelming support among Republicans and above all other contenders, doesn't this suggest that the GOP can't be trusted to select a competent and reliable leader? Others, like the media, certainly have much blame to carry, but ultimately it's the responsibility of the GOP to present a candidate who can be trusted with the nation's welfare and best interests — and how's that been working out for us so far? Today Bush's support has probably bottomed out. Approval remains strong among a committed core of conservatives, people who surely wouldn't waver in their devotion even if he strangled a kitten on national TV. We can't let the terrorists think we're soft and weak, right?

Perhaps providing American troops with adequate armor, adequate rest, and adequate support would also send the signal that we have become soft and weak. Iraqi insurgents get by without luxuries like body armor and they don't get to go home far away from the fighting, so why should Americans? If Bush has enough resolve to stick by his plan even though it's already completely fallen apart, then the troops should have enough resolve to continue the fight no matter what the cost to them personally. They have a duty to stand by their man in the White House.

Congressional Republicans are certainly looking like they intend to stand by their man — as well they should, since they are responsible for helping him push through almost everything he's ever wanted with hardly any oversight or challenge. Very few are challenging Bush's actions, much less his record. Even the Republicans vying for their party's presidential nomination keep trying to out-do each other in being more authoritarian, insulated, and out-of-touch than Bush himself.

Every Republican running for office, no matter what the office, should be judged, at least in part, on the record of George W. Bush personally and the Republican control of the government generally. They should be expected to answer for it and defend it if they want to run as Republicans, promoting the Republican and conservative philosophy of government. If they want to promote some other philosophy of government, they should stop calling themselves Republicans — as some have had the courage to do, recognizing that what it means to be a Republican has changed in recent years.

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We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.