Sunday, July 16, 2006

YESTERDAY'S REFORMER - TODAY'S APOLOGIST

David Postman over at The Seattle Times blogs an interview with Republican luminary Newt Gingrich, who recently visited Seattle - well, Bellevue – in support of Dave Reichert, Doug Roulstone, and the state party:

“Gingrich says it's World War III”

http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/davidpostman/archives/2006/07/gingrich_says_its_world_war_iii.html

Gingrich discussed several topics within the strategy of winning in 2006… You can tell right off what caught Dave Postman’s eye… Here’s what caught mine:

“Gingrich said he is "very worried" about Republican's facing fall elections and says the party must have the "nerve" to nationalize the elections and make the 2006 campaigns about a liberal Democratic agenda rather than about President Bush's record.

Gingrich says that as of now Republicans "are sailing into the wind" in congressional campaigns. He said that's in part because of the Iraq war, adding, "Iraq is hard and painful and we do not explain it very well."…

He said that as Democrats make the elections about George Bush, Republicans should make it about House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. He said voters need to be told "how weirdly San Francisco these guys are voting" and Democrats will "collapse in defeat."”

There you go, boys! Mr. Republican says if Republicans run on the Republican record, especially the record of GWB, they’re toast. Instead he suggests ferreting out the most liberal faces in the Democratic Party and trying to build a scare campaign around them!

Vote for us! We’re incompetent bunglers, but the other guys are scary loons!

Anyone for a second amendment party? There’s a few things we need to toss into the bay…

WWIII… My dear honorable [ex] Senator dipshit, we’re still fighting WWI, still cleaning up the mess of a century past. The whole tragic mess in the Middle East represents the result of our arrogant continuation of yesterday’s mistakes. Some historian you are…

We have to find a better way, because if we do it your way, we’re sure to lose.

Meanwhile, I’m reading The Huffington Post so you don’t have to…

Over at Huffpo, and coming from the other end of the ideological spectrum, Gary Hart is blogging along a very different track:

“Welcome to the Hornets' Nest”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gary-hart/welcome-to-the-hornets-n_b_25061.html

You’d think Hart & Gingrich would have more in common… After all, they’re both card carrying members of the “my affair ruined me” club…

Hart could have just said “I told you so.”… His remarks aren’t remarkable, except he’s one more person pointing out the obvious:

“By our justified overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan, though unsuccessful decapitation of al Qaeda, we removed a thorn in Iran's side. By removing Saddam Hussein, we removed a thorn in Iran's other side.
But, inadvertantly and ignorantly, we empowered Iran to undertake a major intervention on behalf of the Shiite majority in Iraq. In response to our insistence that Iran not develop any nuclear capability, Iran and Syria have emboldened Hezbullah in Lebanon to energize Israel's formidable military and Hamas to do the same.”

That seems to be common wisdom, but another HuffPo link offers a different view:

“The Rules of the Game”

http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=11724

Laura Rozen of The American Prospect interviews Mark Perry, who has the advantage of actually being in the middle of the hornets nest: He’s “co-director of the Conflicts Forum, a Beirut-based nongovernmental organization that has, over the past three years, put former senior American and British policy-makers and intelligence officials in talks with Hezbollah and other militant political Islamic groups in Lebanon.”

Read this.

Perry thinks this most recent flare-up in what he sees as a 25 year war between Israel and Hezbollah probably began the way so many other wars started: Local bungling that wasn’t rectified in time by higher-ups. No grand scheme… Just the near certainty that if you have two armies looking for opportunities to shoot at each other across a frontier, occasionally incidents occur…

Which brings us to another HuffPo must-read:

“Shrewd Israeli Objectives May Be to Curb US Deal-Making Options In Middle East”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-clemons/shrewd-israeli-objectives_b_25110.html

Steve Clemons asks the question, “Why is Israel pounding most of Lebanon rather than just the South and rather than pinpointing its attack against Hezbollah assets? Why the dramatic bombing of explosive fuel centers? The attacks both in Gaza and in Beirut seem made for Fox News, CNN, and the next Schwarzenegger movie.”

He ascribes this to many factors, some as petty as Ehud Olmert’s and Amir Peretz’s desire to avoid looking “timid,” and others very significant:

Clemons suggests that recent moves by the US in the Middle East are viewed by many Israelis as running counter to Israel’s interests. Israel may have seized upon this latest provocation to deliberately boil the pot, destroying the American peace initiatives in the unholy land and recent American attempts to reach an accommodation with Iran - destroy them once and for all…

Which makes sense, I think: Israel doesn’t want peace with Iran. Israel wants safety from Iran. They’re not interested in an uneasy “MAD” style coexistence, believing that the “MAD” system confers the advantage on the madman.

The Israelis are equally uninterested in attempts to accommodate - or appease, if you prefer - Hezbollah or Hamas; here, they are only interested in decimating hornets…

But if we don’t deal with Iran, probably Israel will be forced to accept what they clearly view as an unacceptable status-quo; bluster aside, they can’t go this one alone.

They need a big fat war now…

At the same time, it’s hard to doubt Hezbollah and Hamas aren’t equally interested in war now… Why??? Why do they think they have a winning hand?

Do they have some of Saddam’s “missing” WMD’s?

Or is it that they are equally afraid of accommodation and mainstreaming? After all, if Iran and Syria’s leaders come to their senses, H & H inc. is finished… Even their own success could doom their more radical elements… Hamas won an election awhile back… Nothing brings on accommodation quite as fast as peace, quiet, and democratic moderation…

All in all, I wish we could just walk away… Away from the curse of our “allies” and “enemies” alike in the region, on both sides of this ancient conflict. But we can’t. This is the price we pay for taking out Iraq while leaving Iran and its little buddy Syria intact, functioning powers. Until a new, balancing, militarily competent regional power emerges - something that may never happen - there are 80 million Iranians and 20 million Syrians standing between our army and home.

Well, at least Newtie is right about one thing: The Republicans shouldn’t try to run on their “accomplishments”…

Postman’s Postscript:

David Postman has published some quotable quotes from Gingrich’s performance today on Meet The Press:

“A different tone from Gingrich on World War III”

http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/davidpostman/archives/2006/07/a_different_tone_from_gingrich_on_world_war_iii.html

On the whole, quite interesting, especially this. Quoting Postman:

“In both interviews he praised John F. Kennedy, though in Bellevue it came with a clear shot at the current leadership of the Democratic Party:

"The old Democratic Party was led by John F. Kennedy who threatened nuclear war over missiles in Cuba; because the old Democratic Party was a very patriotic, hawkish party. It had fought the Second World War, the First World War and the Korean War. It was a tough party.

"The current Democratic Party would say, 'Well, if only if we had abandoned Miami than Cuba wouldn't have any grievances' -- the Howard Dean vision."

On TV Gingrich said only:

"And John F. Kennedy, a Democrat who understood the importance of power in the world, was prepared to go to nuclear war to stop missiles from being in Cuba."”

So in private, we get the old “pick a fight” Newtie… In front of the larger audience, we get the new, kindler, gentler Newtie…

Caveat emptor…


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