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Friday, October 20, 2006

The Definition of Delusion: Bush Has No Post-Election Plan

It's hard to think of a better example of how out of touch the Republican Party is. There's always been a tendency on the right to the idea that you get to choose what 'truth' is -- reality be damned. From evolution to global warming to economics to their foreign policy disasters, Republicans seem to think that opinion and fact are interchangeable -- that if you believe something earnestly enough, it magically becomes true.

This mental condition was sure to come back and bite them in the ass, sooner or later. And it seems to be happening now. Despite the fact that 45% of americans believe Democrats would do a better job fighting terrorism, compared with 40% who prefer Republicans on the issue, the GOP seems to have decided to run on the question, "Who would you rather have fighting terrorists?"

Associated Press:

WASHINGTON - The Republican Party will begin airing a hard-hitting ad this weekend that warns of more cataclysmic terror attacks against the U.S. homeland.

The ad portrays Osama bin Laden and quotes his threats against America dating to February 1998. "These are the stakes," the ad concludes. "Vote November 7."


The commercial tracks with Republican Party strategy to make the war on terrorism a central theme of this election. It will air as recent polls show Republicans losing ground as the party best able to combat terrorism.

They've got nothing left but fear. As I've written before, great leaders appeal to our courage -- Republicans are appealing to cowardice. And using lies.

The ad displays an array of quotes from bin Laden and his top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahri, that include bin Laden's Dec. 26, 2001 vow that "what is yet to come will be even greater."

The ad also cites al-Zawahri's claim to have obtained "some suitcase bombs," followed by a scene that appears to show a nuclear explosion.

Despite al-Zawahri's claim, portable nuclear devices are believed to be particularly difficult to produce, and elusive to rogue regimes and terror groups.

By 'particularly difficult to produce' and 'elusive', they mean freakin' impossible for anyone without a lot of experience in producing nukes. A primitive device would literally weigh tons. When it comes to what terrorists are capable of, I've got a good idea -- let's not believe things that terrorists tell us.

With Osama bin Laden and al-Zawahri as de facto GOP spokespeople, Republicans hope to literally scare up support. They also hope to scare what faithful they have left into going door to door.

Boston Globe:

Charles Black , a veteran Republican strategist and adviser to the RNC, said the ad is designed to motivate Republican activists whose enthusiasm has dampened in recent weeks, as polls have shown Democrats gaining ground.

"The Democrats are more fired up than we are right now," Black said. "We did a pretty good job in September in getting people motivated until the Foley thing broke. For our activists, we want to change the subject and get them back on what will get them motivated."

The subject of terrorism, Black said, will drive Republicans to knock on doors and turn out voters, and that could be crucial to GOP efforts to retain control of Congress. "The difference between winning and losing here is Republicans turning out the vote," Black said.

To get back to the GOP tendency of living in a reality of their choosing, the White House seems to be the capital of a fantasy world where Republicans are in no trouble at all.

Washington Post:

Amid widespread panic in the Republican establishment about the coming midterm elections, there are two people whose confidence about GOP prospects strikes even their closest allies as almost inexplicably upbeat: President Bush and his top political adviser, Karl Rove.

Some Republicans on Capitol Hill are bracing for losses of 25 House seats or more. But party operatives say Rove is predicting that, at worst, Republicans will lose only 8 to 10 seats -- shy of the 15-seat threshold that would cede control to Democrats for the first time since the 1994 elections and probably hobble the balance of Bush's second term.

In the Senate, Rove and associates believe, a Democratic victory would require the opposition to "run the table," as one official put it, to pick up the necessary six seats -- a prospect the White House seems to regard as nearly inconceivable.


The question is whether this is a case of justified confidence -- based on Bush's and Rove's electoral record and knowledge of the money, technology and other assets at their command -- or of self-delusion. Even many Republicans suspect the latter. Three GOP strategists with close ties to the White House flatly predicted the loss of the House, though they would not do so on the record for fear of offending senior Bush aides.

I suppose you could argue that the White House would pretty much have to appear confident, no matter what they actually believed, in order to keep voters on board. It's hard to get people to go out to the polls when your leadership is saying, "We're gonna get our asses kicked!" People involved in electioneering never admit they're going to lose.

But the fact that many Republicans are put off by Bush's confidence shows this may not be a pose. In a piece for U.S. News, titled Bush Is Said to Have No Plan if GOP Loses, Kenneth Walsh writes:

Some Republican strategists are increasingly upset with what they consider the overconfidence of President Bush and his senior advisers about the midterm elections November 7–a concern aggravated by the president's news conference this week.

"They aren't even planning for if they lose," says a GOP insider who informally counsels the West Wing. If Democrats win control of the House, as many analysts expect, Republicans predict that Bush's final two years in office will be marked by multiple congressional investigations and gridlock.

How far can the GOP tendency for denial and delusion be stretched -- will Bush continue to believe Republicans control Congress after the election? Someone told me in '04, "In a way, it's a good thing Bush won -- I don't think he'd actually leave peacefully if he lost." It's not hard to see Bush as Dickens' Miss Haversham, wearing a wedding dress and waiting for the groom who'll never come.

If we look at Iraq, we see that Bushco was entirely unprepared for an entirely predictable outcome. If they had no plan for the realities of postwar Iraq, why would they have plans for a post-election United States? A phrase I can almost guarantee you'll never hear is 'far-sighted and forward-thinking Bush administration official.' These guys have no long game. That's why they go back to what worked last time and just assume it will work now.

So what does the GOP have going into November? A scandal plagued image, a delusional White House, and an ad campaign based on an issue that polls show as favoring Democrats.

They might still pull a rabbit out of their hat. But, really, it'd have to be one helluva rabbit. And, since everyone's expecting an 'October Surprise', it'd have to look like it wasn't their hat or else it could backfire.

I don't like to make predictions, but I'm guessing they're screwed.


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1 comment:

joeyess said...

This nefarious ad will be aired but once...........on FoxNooz. It was and is nothing more than a Phantom Ad..designed entirely with the idea to get the media talking about it and getting some free air time.