Friday, April 20, 2007

A new rule for political debate

The other day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid voiced an opinion on the Iraq war.

"The (Iraq) war can only be won diplomatically, politically and economically, and the president needs to come to that realization," Reid said in a news conference.

Later Thursday on the Senate floor, Reid said: "As long as we follow the president's path in Iraq, the war is lost. But there is still a chance to change course -- and we must change course." The war funding bill should contain a timeline to "reduce combat missions and refocus our efforts on the real threats to our security," he said.

It's a reasonably big deal when the leader of the Senate says something like that. Coverage and commentary are expected.

But I'm getting darned tired of the garbage from places like Wake Up America, which called Democrats "the Tokyo Rose of Iraq."

Or the "shut the hell up, you traitor!" letters compiled by Michelle Malkin.

Then there are the lesser offenses, like characterizing the timetables included in the war-funding bills as tantamount to surrender in Iraq or even the larger fight against terror -- even though the bills give Bush even more money than he asked for, the timelines don't kick in for at least a year, the Senate timetables aren't even mandatory, and the whole point of the bills is to refocus resources from the Iraq distraction so that we can more effectively combat terrorism.

Note the logic (or lack thereof): In debating the war, any suggestion that the war should be ended or cannot be won is treason and disloyalty. Thus the only valid debate is over how best to continue fighting the war -- not whether we should continue fighting it.

The "damned if you do, damned if you don't" logic lines that people set up are just ridiculous. If Democrats don't propose an immediate end to the war, they're liars and cowards; if they do, they're traitors. No matter what they do, war supporters get to slam them.

Such a logical setup -- and it is committed by people from all parts of the ideological spectrum -- should be accepted as proof of partisan framing and disregarded as a fallacy.

I think Reid is jumping the gun, inasmuch as the surge still needs time to prove itself -- the recent humongous carnage in Baghdad notwithstanding. But that's just my opinion, not received fact. Maybe I'm wrong and he's right. Heck, maybe we're both wrong and Bush is right, unlikely as that would seem.

In a democracy, it is perfectly acceptable to voice the opinion that the war is unwinnable. That is the only way to have a free and full debate over the war and thus arrive at the best policy. It is distinctly unAmerican to frame the issue in such a way as to disallow viewpoints you don't like.

The good news is that after four years of such rhetoric from rabid war backers, I think many, many people are getting heartily sick of it and recognize just how illegitimate the framing is -- and starting to wonder why such partisans fear opposing viewpoints so much that they try to drown them out rather than simply deal with them on the merits.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon confirms that Bush has been scaremongering on the effects of delaying the funding bills and the Secretary of Defense apparently gives comfort to Al-Qaeda by warning the Iraqi government that "the clock is ticking" on U.S. involvement.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

rabid war backers ....
nice term Sean, I like your use of words. But you know what, they don't deserve it. War mongers, that is the right word. McCain's "bomb bomb....." is proof enough, that is what they have in mind all the time. Pathetic war mongers

GK

4/20/2007 4:09 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

To me, "warmongers" suffers from its overuse during the Vietnam war, as well as its heavy usage by people protesting any sort of military spending. By some standards I was a "warmonger" simply because I joined the Army.

And I'm giving McCain a pass on this latest gaffe. He was joking, and followed up the joke with a serious answer.

Although it's once again evidence that he's channeling the bad side of Ronald "we start bombing in five minutes" Reagan....

4/20/2007 4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's exactly what Majority Leader Harry Reid said:

"I believe myself that the secretary of state, secretary of defense and — you have to make your own decisions as to what the president knows — (know) this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday,” said Reid, D-Nev."

He said..."this war is lost." The Democrats do not accept additions to and corrections of statements made by Gonzales....so why would we accept any further explanations and corrections by Reid? He said....this war is lost. He cannot take it back.

The only thing LOST for sure....is ANY hopes of ANY of the military vote going to Democrats in November 08.

JP5

4/20/2007 5:15 PM  

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