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Can GOP Reverse the Damage Done by Iraq? ^ | March 29, 2013 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 03/29/2013 11:02:23 AM PDT by Kaslin

Is the Iraq war to blame for the mess we are in?

Now, I should qualify that question by explaining "mess" and "we." By "mess," I mean the dawn of Barack Obama's second term, the predictably catastrophic rollout of Obamacare, the exploding debt and deficit, the stimulus boondoggles, etc. By "we," I mean conservatives (particularly those, like me, who supported the war), but also anyone else who doesn't think Obama has done a bang-up job.

There seems to be a growing consensus that the answer to that question is "yes." In a recent column, the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein writes, "It's hard to see how Obamacare would have become law if Bush had never invaded Iraq." New York Times columnist Ross Douthat says the war is "responsible for liberalism's current political and cultural ascendance." In The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan laments that the war "muddied up the meaning of conservatism and bloodied up its reputation." She even goes so far as to assert that the war "ended the Republican political ascendance that had begun in 1980."

Quibbles aside, their most basic claim seems irrefutable. Whatever defenses there may be for the Iraq war, it was a staggering political disaster for the Republican Party. Is that fair? Maybe -- or maybe not. As a matter of analysis, fair doesn't have much to do with it.

That the war became an albatross for the GOP -- particularly after so many pro-war Dems (like Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Joe Biden) ran for the hills -- is undeniable.

The backlash against the war emboldened liberals and opened their minds and hearts to a vast new sense of what was possible. During George W. Bush's second term, liberals seemed to have lost the taste for cannibalism that had made the Democratic Party such a great spectator sport. Gone were the obsessions with factionalism and the hand-wringing squabbles about appealing to the center.

Younger liberals in particular had shed their disdain for the label "Democrat." Heck yeah, we're Democrats. We're "fighting Democrats," as the left-wing bloggers liked to say. And that was before the "historic" candidacy of Barack Obama, pitted first against the pro-war dinosaurs of the Democratic Party (again: Clinton, Biden), then against Sen. John McCain, an energetic elder statesman who was actually more pro-war than Bush himself.

Obviously, none of this means that if there had been no Iraq war, Republicans would be sitting pretty. As Douthat notes, we might be in the middle of a second Hillary Clinton term. But a Hillary Clinton administration, minus the legacy of the Iraq war, might have been a far sight more conservative -- and successful -- than the spectacle of the Obama years.

The more interesting question is: "What do you do about it?"

One answer is for the GOP to do what it's been doing. Fight, squabble, debate and, ultimately, grope its way out of the ditch. The Republican National Committee's recent "autopsy" had many flaws, but the impulse for introspection was not one of them.

Some didn't even need a committee report. Whatever the merits of his positions, one has to admire the swiftness and alacrity of Sen. Rand Paul's positioning as a different kind of Republican.

Another (in no way exclusive) answer is to take a page from the Democrats.

If the Obama agenda has pulled the country leftward -- and I think it has -- that creates new opportunities for the GOP.

Obamacare, the stimulus and the various green-energy boondoggles are in no literal way like the Iraq war. But as a matter of politics, Obama's overreach is real. For instance, every promise the White House made about the Affordable Care Act has turned out to be untrue, overblown or misleading. It borrows vast sums to make the health-care system more onerous, complicated and expensive while still leaving 30 million uninsured.

The press coverage of this unfolding train wreck remains timid in a way that coverage of the war wasn't. The moment the mainstream media could get away with calling Iraq a "quagmire" it did. With Obamacare, much of the press is like Kevin Bacon trying to be a traffic cop in Animal House. It shouts "All is well!" even as it's being trampled by the crowd.

Sad as it may be to say so, the failure of Obamacare touches more people's lives directly than the war did, meaning the media filter matters less.

Politics is about moments and personalities. Just ask Obama. By all means the GOP should keep working out its own problems as best it can, but its practical salvation in the near term may just have to depend on the right candidate taking advantage of the right moment, which president Obama may just be kind enough to provide.

TOPICS: Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: barackobama; elections; georgewbush; gop; hillaryclinton; iraqwar; lamestreammedia
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1 posted on 03/29/2013 11:02:23 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

The damage has been done by fielding poor Presidential candidates, and spending like drunken sailors....which makes people beg the question, what the Hell does the GOP stand for?

Seems to me they just stand for, “We don’t suck as much as the Democrats.”

2 posted on 03/29/2013 11:04:14 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Kaslin

The “damage done by Iraq” isn’t the problem. RINOs are.

3 posted on 03/29/2013 11:04:47 AM PDT by FlingWingFlyer (Barry gave the Republicans a free lunch. All the taxpayers got was a lousy tax increase.)
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To: Kaslin

We can do a better to point out that the major cabinet positions are held by people who voted for the war Biden, Kerry, Hagel, and Clinton ALL voted for the war.

4 posted on 03/29/2013 11:05:27 AM PDT by Perdogg (Sen Ted Cruz, Sen Mike Lee, and Sen Rand Paul are my adoptive Senators)
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To: Kaslin
let's use the obamite argument that they have successfully employed about the economy, towit; "you just don't know how bad it would be right now if we hadn't taken the action that we did. In fact, we saved the world. you just don't realize it. you would all be dead now if it wasn't for us. that makes you a bunch of ingrates".

srsly. it's impossible to disprove.

5 posted on 03/29/2013 11:07:21 AM PDT by JohnBrowdie (
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To: Kaslin

The problem is that big govt republicans killed us.

6 posted on 03/29/2013 11:09:16 AM PDT by Darren McCarty (If most people were more than keyboard warriors, we might have won the election)
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To: Kaslin
Can GOP Reverse the Damage Done by Iraq?

Can GOP Reverse the Damage Done by the Liberal press?
If Clinton or Obama had attached Iraq, the press would be giving us daily success stories about Iraq.

7 posted on 03/29/2013 11:09:36 AM PDT by aimhigh ( Guns do not kill people. Abortion kills people.)
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To: Kaslin

First, Jonah, you ain’t a conservative.... lost me right there

8 posted on 03/29/2013 11:09:49 AM PDT by SeminoleCounty (GOP = Greenlighting Obama's Programs)
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To: Perdogg

Bush, on the advice of Karl Rove, chose not to point out that Biden, Kerry, and Hillary Clinton voted to invade Iraq. I see Karl Rove as enemy #1 and the Democrats as enemy #2. We need to get rid of Rove and everybody associated with the Bushes and then attack the Democrats.

9 posted on 03/29/2013 11:11:19 AM PDT by forgotten man (forgotten man)
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To: Perdogg

Quotes from Democrats about WMD

“One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line.”
President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998

Quoted on CNN

“If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program.” — President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998

Quoted on CNN

Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.” — Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998

Transcript of remarks made at a Town Hall meeting in Columbus, Ohio — from USIA

“He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983.” — Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb 18, 1998

Transcript of remarks made at a Town Hall Meeting in Columbus, Ohio — From USIA

“We urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the US Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs.” — Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI), Tom Daschle (D-SD), John Kerry (D — MA), and others Oct. 9, 1998

See letter to Clinton by Levin, Daschle, Kerry and others

“Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.” — Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998

Statement by Rep. Nancy Pelosi — House of Representatives website

“Hussein has chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies.” — Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999

Answer to a question at the Chicago Council of Foreign Affairs

“There is no doubt that . Saddam Hussein has invigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies.” — Letter to President Bush, Signed by Sen Bob Graham (D, FL,) and others, December 5, 2001

Letter to President George W. Bush signed by 9 Congressmen, including Democrats Harold Ford, Jr., Joseph Lieberman, and Benjamin Gilman.

” We should be hell bent on getting those weapons of mass destruction, hell bent on having a credible approach to them, but we should try to do it in a way which keeps the world together and that achieves our goal which is removing the... defanging Saddam..” — Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI), Dec. 9, 2002

Online with Jim Lehrer — Public Broadcasting Service

“We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.” — Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

Transcript of Gore’s speech, printed in USA Today

“Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.” — Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

Transcript of Gore’s speech, printed in USA Today

“We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.” — Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002

U.S. Senate — Ted Kennedy

“The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons...” — Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002

Congressional Record — Robert Byrd

“When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security and that of our allies in the Persian Gulf region. I will vote yes because I believe it is the best way to hold Saddam Hussein accountable.” —Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9,2002

Congressional Record — Sen. John F. Kerry

“There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years .. We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction.” — Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002

Congressional Record — Sen. Jay Rockefeller

“He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do” — Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA), Oct. 10, 2002

Congressional Record — Rep. Henry Waxman

“In 1998, the United States also changed its underlying policy toward Iraq from containment to regime change and began to examine options to effect such a change, including support for Iraqi opposition leaders within the country and abroad. In the 4 years since the inspectors, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001.

“It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein wiill continue to increase his capability to wage biological and chemical warfare and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East which, as we know all too well, affects American security.”
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002

Congressional Record — Sen. Hillary Clinton

“The Joint Chiefs should provide Congress with casualty estimates for a war in Iraq as they have done in advance of every past conflict. These estimates should consider Saddam’s possible use of chemical or biological weapons against our troops.

“Unlike the gulf war, many experts believe Saddam would resort to chemical and biological weapons against our troops in a desperate -attempt to save his regime if he believes he and his regime are ultimately threatened.”
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) Oct. 8, 2002

Congressional Record — Sen. Ted Kennedy

“There is one thing we agree upon, and that is that Saddam Hussein is an evil man. He is a tyrant. He has used chemical and biological weapons on his own people. He has disregarded United Nations resolutions calling for inspections of his capabilities and research and development programs. His forces regularly fire on American and British jet pilots enforcing the no-fly zones in the north and south of his country. And he has the potential to develop and deploy nuclear weapons... — Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), Dec. 8, 2002

Congressional Record — Sen. Bob Graham

But inspectors have had a hard time getting truthful information from the Iraqis they interview. Saddam Hussein terrorizes his people, including his weapons scientists, so effectively that they are afraid to be interviewed in private, let alone outside the country. They know that even the appearance of cooperation could be a death sentence for themselves or their families.

“To overcome this obstacle, and to discover and dismantle Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, UNMOVIC and the IAEA must interview relevant persons securely and with their families protected, even if they protest publicly against this treatment. Hans Blix may dislike running ‘’a defection agency,’ but that could be the only way to obtain truthful information about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction — Sen. Joseph Biden

Congressional Record — Sen. Joseph Biden

“With respect to Saddam Hussein and the threat he presents, we must ask ourselves a simple question: Why? Why is Saddam Hussein pursuing weapons that most nations have agreed to limit or give up? Why is Saddam Hussein guilty of breaking his own cease-fire agreement with the international community? Why is Saddam Hussein attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don’t even try, and responsible nations that have them attempt to limit their potential for disaster? Why did Saddam Hussein threaten and provoke? Why does he develop missiles that exceed allowable limits? Why did Saddam Hussein lie and deceive the inspection teams previously? Why did Saddam Hussein not account for all of the weapons of mass destruction which UNSCOM identified? Why is he seeking to develop unmanned airborne vehicles for delivery of biological agents?
Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), October 9, 2002

Congressional Record — Sen. John F. Kerry

“Saddam Hussein’s regime represents a grave threat to America and our allies, including our vital ally, Israel. For more than two decades, Saddam Hussein has sought weapons of mass destruction through every available means. We know that he has chemical and biological weapons. He has already used them against his neighbors and his own people, and is trying to build more. We know that he is doing everything he can to build nuclear weapons, and we know that each day he gets closer to achieving that goal.

“Iraq has continued to seek nuclear weapons and develop its arsenal in defiance of the collective will of the international community, as expressed through the United Nations Security Council. It is violating the terms of the 1991 cease-fire that ended the Gulf war and as many as 16 Security Council resolutions, including 11 resolutions concerning Iraq’s efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. — Sen. John Edwards, October 10, 2002

Congressional Record — Sen. John Edwards

10 posted on 03/29/2013 11:11:28 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Kaslin

God maybe punishing the GOP for the war lies. The GOP get Bush again, followed by McCain and Romney. It just seems like it will get worse until the GOP hits bottom and begins with a 12 step cure. “I am a waraholic”.

11 posted on 03/29/2013 11:12:18 AM PDT by ex-snook (God is Love)
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To: FlingWingFlyer
The “damage done by Iraq” isn’t the problem. RINOs are.

Soooo Bush senior (RINO ) fails to complete desert storm. Years later Bush junior (RINO ) decides to finish the job while bin laden does a fandango in Afghanistan and Pock-e-Stan. His spy network ultimately get Osama, but the credit is taken by Obama?

12 posted on 03/29/2013 11:12:38 AM PDT by Vaquero (Don't pick a fight with an old guy. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.)
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To: ex-snook

Heck, McCain wanted to nuke Belgrade during Kosovo.

I swear he would have gotten us into WWIII had he won in 2008.

13 posted on 03/29/2013 11:13:15 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Kaslin

Yes, very easily.

Just get rid of pro-war senators like McCain and Graham, and return to a semi-isolationist point of view, which is where the GOP used to be.

It used to be, before the Bush father/son combo came along, that the GOP ended wars, not started them. WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam.... were ALL started by Democratic presidents. The GOP didn’t rush into big, expensive wars, and some people voted GOP just because they hated the DNC getting us into wars where we had no business being (especially WWI, Korea and Vietnam).

14 posted on 03/29/2013 11:16:36 AM PDT by NVDave
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To: dfwgator

Yet they do.

15 posted on 03/29/2013 11:19:58 AM PDT by Olog-hai
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To: dfwgator
"Heck, McCain wanted to nuke Belgrade during Kosovo. I swear he would have gotten us into WWIII had he won in 2008."

You are right. He was doing his bomb, bomb, bomb Iran as part of his campaign.

The GOP has to come up with a candidate who is for America first and end bombing and nation building the world. Constant wars and the wrong end of trade deals doomed England. We are going full speed in their path.

16 posted on 03/29/2013 11:21:53 AM PDT by ex-snook (God is Love)
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To: Kaslin

The first step in this recovery is to come out against the DHS. That was our baby, and now that it is a full grown monster, we need to end the occupation of America.

17 posted on 03/29/2013 11:28:33 AM PDT by Vince Ferrer
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To: Kaslin

Iraq isn’t the cause.
It is just a symptom.


Imagine if the neighbor on one side of your house shot your dog.
You are really P.O.’d and want to retaliate.
But he and you have been pals - you play poker together and go fishing together.

However, the neighbor on the other side is an obnoxious butt-hole.
Not only that, but he once gave your father the finger.

So you shoot him and his family instead, even though he is not the guy that shot your dog.

Later on you start to feel guilty - so you build all his relatives new houses.
But they all still hate you and you can’t figure out why.

18 posted on 03/29/2013 11:29:55 AM PDT by Iron Munro (Welcome to Obama-Land - EVERYTHING NOT FORBIDDEN IS COMPULSORY)
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To: Kaslin

I think a better question is can the GOP do anything other than help advance the democrat agenda?

Anything at all?

19 posted on 03/29/2013 11:33:35 AM PDT by chris37 (Heartless.)
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To: FlingWingFlyer
The “damage done by Iraq” isn’t the problem. RINOs are.


20 posted on 03/29/2013 11:38:45 AM PDT by itsahoot (It is not so much that history repeats, but that human nature does not change.)
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