Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 3, 2006
WAR: Staking Out a Position

Mark Steyn nails why Democrats have so often failed to win public trust after September 11:

[W]hen they talk about [Hillary Clinton's] skill in crafting a centrist position on the War On Terror, you think about how absurd that is. You think how ludicrous it would be if people were to talk about people crafting a centrist position on World War II, or World War I, or the Civil War, and it would be absurd. I mean, this is...what it means is that this woman doesn't actually have a position on the war that is not dictated by anything other than focus groups and internal polling. She's a completely empty shell in that respect.

I'm not entirely certain that this is a fair charge against Hillary, who has seemed pretty consistently hawkish, although you can't ever discount pure political calculation when you're talking about the Clintons. But the larger point is crucial: while it's certainly true that around the edges all politicians need to work at staying within the bounds of public approval needed to get anything done, war is something you can't approach without a deeply seated base of the kind of convictions that supersede electoral politics. Any attempt to "craft" a position on the matter is necessarily doomed to failure.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:09 PM | War 2006 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I think the point Steyn is trying tomake is summed up by the line from the Rush song, "if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." War is not something you can sit on the fense about. Either you are for it or against it. Hillary had paid lip music to being for thewar, but her actions have often indicated otherwise.

Posted by: maddirishman at February 3, 2006 10:01 PM

I don't think Hillary has ever really questioned the war, or failed to support funding it. She's chosen to be pretty far to the right of her party in doing so. I think it is valid the knock people like Kerry who have equivocated over and over again, but still tried to claim support of the war. I don't think Hillary is one of them.

Posted by: Jerry at February 3, 2006 10:54 PM

Hi, first time posting so feel free to rip into me if I'm being a moron. Sure, Hillary is quite disingenuous, but in some way isn't it good for the nation to have a prominent politician making decisions based on the latest public whim? It's a step closer to a true democracy. Not that I would want all politicians like this, but Senate is a dangerous place, because there's so few of them and terms are so long. Someone like Hillary almost functions as a public check on Congress.

Posted by: Elliot at February 4, 2006 12:06 AM

I find the emphasis you placed on the WWI and WWII lines somewhat ironic, given that the U.S. chose not to enter those wars until well into both of them. Seems pretty "centrist" to me!

Posted by: Ed at February 4, 2006 2:47 AM

Sure, but the point is that once the war has been started, the time for fence sitting has ended. You can't accuse the bulk of Dems in Congress of this, though-at the SOTU they sat on their hands when Bush talked about failure not being an option in the GWOT. Success would be good for the the GOP, so they're against it. At least Hillary has kept herself out of that camp.

Posted by: John Salmon at February 4, 2006 1:05 PM

I wouldn't concede Ed's point. At least not regarding WWII. Our formal entry in Europe should have come earlier and w/out equivocation. Lend/Lease is among FDR's great accomplishments, not least b/c it was the outer limit of what isolationist and provincial ("centrist", these days) domestic sentiment would allow him to do. The argument that we were not materially prepared as of 1 Sept 1939 is persuasive, but equivocating voices- Lindbergh; the Republican Party- forced us to the "center", even rhetorically. Hitler, of course, saw this as weakness. Our late-ish entry into WWII is no argument for the wisdom of "centrism". Just the opposite, I'd say.

Posted by: seamus at February 4, 2006 1:57 PM

This 'your with me or against me' mentality is bullsh*t. The decision to invade the Iraq War involved (or should have involved) a long list of calculated risks, potential costs and likely benefits.

Much of the country was apprehensive about it, but felt Saddam was enough of a menace to defer to the President if he wanted to take him out.

Now that we learn the Bush administration had no idea what it was doing or why it was going into Iraq, much of the country is rightly po'd.

Posted by: patrick at February 4, 2006 11:14 PM

'your with me or against me' mentality

It would great if the Democrats (and I'm generalizing of course) didn't say they were "with us" in the nineties and now, when things are going badly, try to position themselves with the most politically advantageous position.

That's the reason the Democrats have such problems convincing the public that they're serious on national security issues.

Throughout the nineties there was bi-partisan and widespread agreement on both sides of the political aisle of the threat to the region and to the interests and security of the U.S. that emanated from Saddam Hussein and his regime. He was a state sponsor of international terrorism, he had WMDs and was, in the words of Bill Clinton, going to use them again, he was a de-stabilizer in the region and on and on.

Only now, some 5 years later, we hear the same parties now embracing the realist school of foreign affairs, something that these same folks rejected as amoral when practiced earlier during the Cold War.

Why this sudden and newfound embrace of Kissingerian realpolitik if it's not simply political posturing?

SMG

Posted by: SteveMG at February 5, 2006 4:26 PM
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