That Bush 'Strategery'

It's a long time since we all joked about President Bush's "strategery."  Things have gotten 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 today 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, 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 a week ago, 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 home-into 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 don't 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.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his roadtothemiddleclass.com and usgovernmentspending.com. His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.
It's a long time since we all joked about President Bush's "strategery."  Things have gotten 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 today 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, 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 a week ago, 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 home-into 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 don't 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.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his roadtothemiddleclass.com and usgovernmentspending.com. His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.