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by Christopher Chantrill
September 18, 2007 at 6:02 pm
ITS a long time since we all joked about President Bushs strategery. Things have got a lot more serious since those days in the early 2000s.
But after a week in which Gen. Petraeus report to Congress rocked the Democrats back on their heels, perhaps it is time to talk strategy again.
Last week proved, if anyone needed reminding, that the Democratic Party is little more than a party of Tadpoles and Tapers, the party hacks that Benjamin Disraeli introduced into his first political novel Coningsby. All Tadpole and Taper could think about was organizing for the next election. What is our cry, they would ask, as we would talk about sound-bites and talking points. Aside from that all they knew was voter registration and the allure of a ministerial salary.
The outer limit of Democratic thinking is the tactical maneuvering to win the next election. What are their ideas? They have none except universal health care, the one social service that has not already been completely swallowed by the government beast. What is their vision? We should rather say: What is their cry? At least Bill Clinton, in his new book Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World, has an idea. He says that the issues for government are: terror, climate change, economy and inequality, universal health care, and energy.
In his address to the nation on Wednesday night President Bush did not exactly spell out US strategy. But anyone can read what he means.
This vision for a reduced American presence also has the support of Iraqi leaders from all communities. At the same time, they understand that their success will require U.S. political, economic, and security engagement that extends beyond my presidency. These Iraqi leaders have asked for an enduring relationship with America. And we are ready to begin building that relationship in a way that protects our interests in the region and requires many fewer American troops.
So American troops will stay in Iraq. In 2009, the victorious President Clinton will announce that she will bring the troops homeinto their permanent Iraqi bases.
Viewed strategically, you can see that the intransigence of Saddam Hussein was a gift to the west. It enabled the United States to establish a military footprint on the western border of Iran, a necessity if you want to be able to confront or contain that revolutionary regime. A weak Iraq, wedged in between a still revolutionary Iran and a Wahabist Saudi Arabia, needs a powerful friend. Indeed, given its need for a powerful friend we can expect that Iraq to maintain a weak and corrupt government for the foreseeable future. If it solved its problems, then the United States might get up and leave!
Given the deftness with which the Bush administration has played the Democratic Tadpoles and Tapers over the war, you wonder about domestic policy. We are talking about Karl Rove here. Everyone assumes that the Democrats have cold-cocked the Republicans on domestic policy, with the blocking of Social Security reform, the blocking of permanent tax cuts, and the blocking of school choice in the No Child Left Behind Act.
But have they?
What will happen when Democrats vote to let the tax cuts expire? What will happen when Democrats try to pass universal health coverage that messes with the market-oriented changes in health care like Health Savings Accounts and high-deductible health plans? What will happen when Democrats tax energy use to save the planet? Could it be 1994 all over again.
If Karl Rove is as smart as they say he is, and if President Bush really believes in playing big ball, then we should expect them to have left a number of difficult choices for Democrats in 2009.
Many Republicans are eager to copy the take-no-prisoners tactics of the Democrats once we have been sent into opposition. But Republicans are in a different strategic situation from Democrats. For Democrats, a government program is not just a bookkeeping entry in a budget document. It is their livelihood and the source of their status. But for Republicans, government is just an expense.
Republicans are like the Fram oil filter guy. We think you can solve the problem of big government now, or you can solve it later. Over the last half-century, the various members of the conservative coalition have developed a complete critique of the welfare state, from economics to pensions, from education to health care, and from subsidies to welfare.
But we dont want to force the American people to accept our prescription. As James Tooley writes in The Miseducation of Women, feminists turned education upside down with mandatory laws and regulations forcing education to be gender neutral, or more exactly, girl-centered. Feminists want girls forced to be free.
Conservatives are not like that. We want the American people to agree with us, but only when they are good and ready.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie
that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up
rather than learns... Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois
We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.
E. G. West, Education and the State
When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of agesthey seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
When we received Christ, Phil added, all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh
A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is merely relative, is asking you not to believe him. So dont.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable...
[1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006
At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family.
Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says we should....
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism