Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Ride the lightning

Even after a week of Kerry being on the offensive, it looks like Bush is making some gains in the polls. These polls have been notoriously unreliable, but it seems the consensus in most, is that Bush has a lead over Kerry.

At this point I can't fault Kerry. He's going on the offensive and confronting Bush on all the important points related to Iraq. Most of us have been saying that Kerry needs to make Iraq THE issue of the campaign, but I'm reconsidering the wisdom of that strategy. Saying that Iraq is a disaster simply might be a losing issue for Kerry. Let me explain. Remember, Americans got behind Bush pretty quickly when he made his original WMD argument for this war, and when none of these weapons were found, the rationale shifted to bringing democracy to Iraq, and Americans shifted their support for the effort just as quickly. Even as Iraq descends into absolute anarchy, support for Bush's Iraq policy still hovers in the mid-50s range. This number has been pretty consistent for a while now.

Why I think making Iraq THE campaign issue will be a loser for Kerry is that Americans don't want to be reminded they were duped so easily into this war. They would have to concede they allowed themselves to be duped. With the wobbly evidence that got us in this war in the first place, Americans who got in line for this war have their reputations on the line as much as Bush. Americans don't want to admit they are easily manipulatd simpletons, so, for better or for worse, they're fully invested in this Iraqi endeavor.

So that's why Kerry might not get anywhere with using Iraq as an issue, even though he's saying all the right things. By attacking Bush, he's indirectly attacking Americans that supported/support this war, and there are a lot of independents in that group. By admitting that the war was wrong, and holding Bush accountable for it, these war supporters would have to acknowledge their own complicity and stupidity in the matter. Harsh? Yes, but not nearly as harsh as life is in Iraq right now. We've yet to hit the threshold where Americans might be bothered by the loss of American lives in Iraq (Let's be honest here, Iraqi lives are basically meaningless in this equation.). Until we hit Vietnam era casualties, the war supporters will be content with their delusions of grandeur of bringing democracy to the middle east, and tolerate the chaos that's enveloping Iraq.

A lot of Americans are truly bothered by what's going on Iraq, and more importantly, how we got there. But unfortunately, there just aren't enough of them.

-MB

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