Skip to comments.The Antiwar Right Is Ready to Rumble
Posted on 11/08/2004 9:37:29 AM PST by tpaine
The Antiwar Right Is Ready to Rumble
November 7, 2004 The Antiwar Right Is Ready to Rumble By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
ROUND 8 p.m. Tuesday, a gloomy mood was settling over the dozen conservative stalwarts gathered with martinis and glasses of red wine in an office in Arlington, Va., to watch the returns. Early exit polls showed President Bush trailing, and Richard Viguerie, dean of conservative direct mail, thought he knew who was to blame: the neoconservatives, the group associated with making the case for the invasion of Iraq.
"If he loses, they are going to have a bull's-eye on their back," Mr. Viguerie said.
Ronald Godwin, a top aide to Dr. Jerry Falwell, agreed. "I see a real battle for the Republican Party starting about Nov. 3," he said.
The euphoria of Mr. Bush's victory postponed the battle, but not for long. Now that Mr. Bush has secured re-election, some conservatives who say they held their tongues through the campaign season are speaking out against the neoconservatives, against the war and in favor of a speedy exit.
They argue that the war is a political liability to the Republican Party, but also that it runs counter to traditional conservatives' disdain for altruist interventions to make far-off parts of the world safe for American-style democracy. Their growing outspokenness recalls the dynamics of American politics before Vietnam, when Democrats first became identified as doves and Republicans hawks, suggesting to some the complicated political pressures facing the foreign policy of the second Bush administration.
"Clearly, the war in Iraq was a drag on votes, and it is threatening to the Bush coalition," said Grover Norquist president of Americans for Tax Reform and a strategist close to the administration who had not spoken up about the war's political costs before. He contended that the war reduced Mr. Bush's majority by 6 percentage points to 51 percent of the vote. Mr. Bush now has two years to "solve Iraq" to protect Republican candidates at the midterm elections, he said. His suggestions: withdrawing United States troops to safe citadels within Iraq or by "handing Falluja over to the Iraqis and saying, 'It's your headache.' "
On Thursday, Paul Weyrich, founder of the Heritage Foundation and chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, issued a call to conservatives for a serious debate about the administration's foreign policy. "The consequences of the neocons' adventure in Iraq are now all too clear," he said. "America is stuck in a guerrilla war with no end in sight. Our military is stretched too thin to respond to other threats. And our real enemies, nonstate organizations such as Al Qaeda, are benefiting from the Arab and Islamic backlash against our occupation of an Islamic country."
Proponents of the war, however, argued that Mr. Bush would not have won re-election without it because Americans did not want to change the commander in chief. "Bush's foreign policy decisions seem to have been exactly why he won this huge victory that he did," said the neoconservative David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He argued that candidates who opposed the war - Gov. Howard Dean the most, and Senator John Kerry to a lesser extent - suffered the biggest losses. IF the Democrats have silenced some of their loudest complaints about the war, however, some on the right said they were turning up the volume on their own previously muted objections.
"A lot of the antiwar conservatives had to hold their tongue during the campaign because the No. 1 goal was to get Bush re-elected," said Stephen Moore, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and an important conservative fund-raiser.
Even on the eve of the election, William F. Buckley Jr., founder of the National Review, was decorously edging closer to full-throated opposition to the war. "At War With What or Whom?'' was the headline of his column on Oct. 19.
A few months ago, Donald Devine, a vice chairman of the American Conservative Union, publicly apologized to Mr. Bush after it was reported that in disgust at the war he had failed to applaud a presidential speech. But in a column shortly before the election, Mr. Devine wrote that conservatives should vote for Mr. Bush precisely because he was likely to withdraw from Iraq sooner than Senator Kerry would.
Arguing that the president had dropped hints like a quickly retracted statement in a television interview about the impossibility of winning a war against terror, Mr. Devine argued that "the president's maddening repetition of slogans" about the war was the "only politically possible tactic for a candidate who has already made up his mind to leave at the earliest reasonable moment." He added: "The neoconservatives will be devastated."
But Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, dismissed those theories, pointing to the president's statement in his post-election news conference that troops would stay in Iraq as long as needed: "Our commanders will have that which they need to complete their missions," the president said.
Mr. Bush now has two years to "solve Iraq" to protect Republican candidates at the midterm elections, he said.
His suggestions: withdrawing United States troops to safe citadels within Iraq or by "handing Falluja over to the Iraqis and saying, 'It's your headache.' "
This is the rational solution to a non-problem.
Why should we care if Iraqis kill each other in tribal squabbles? They've been doing it for centuries.
So you're cool with the Iranian- and Syrian-backed thugs taking over in Iraq? Get real.
For mercy sake, format your Profile Page!!! Sheesh.
Same old garbage from Wahabbi-stooge Norquist and Friends.
It has nothing to do with altruism. It's a defense war in the enemy's territory.
This story is grat chowder for the true believers that are French and waiting to surrender to Democrats. I wish you subversive trolls would go away.
grat = great.
Very disappointing to see the ailing Weyrich join this crowd. Two years ago he slammed Norquist, now he joins him. Sad to see such little faith by some veterans on our side.
How long have you been posting here? And you believe something the NY Times writes about intramural squabbles within the conservative movement? The only time the Times notices the antiwar right is when they think they can act as a wedge against the GOP.
t, your FR Profile Page exploded! Yikes!
Didn't work out that way did it?
LOL You're right, it's a headache waiting to happen.
I think Grover just married an Arab girl recently. That might have something to do with his views, either as cause or effect.
This is the same Grover Norquist who sold out US national security for personal profit? If he's against the war, that's another reason for me to be for it.
I'd really appreciate a calm, rational discussion of the subject, without knee-jerk hysteria. But then I'd also like to be able to hold my breath for 15 minutes without passing, but I give that much of a chance either.:)
Richard Viguerie must still be miffed that Judicial Watch's lawsuit against Dick Cheney for his energy task force records got laughed out of court. Bitterness and embarrassment are poor motivators.
please, if you have one ounce of dignity, dont post crazy things like this, while our armed forces are FIGHTING to WIN, in Iraq, maybe even dying, in this mighty battle there today...
you are busy with your simple solutions, while these folks are busy battling for freedom from terrorism...
where DO YOU COWARDS COME FROM?? if you KNOW, please GO BACK..
Bush knows what he's doing. He's not going to weenie-out to appease a small gaggle of Weyrich's followers.
Sounds like this is as close as one is going to get for the neocons to admit why they wanted to go to war in the first place, to help get Bush re-elected.
And apparently you can throw Jerry Falwell into that little cabal.
Apparently this little group is hell bent on making some kind of political move to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!
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