Hewitt is certainly within his rights to try to influence the Senators of his party, and 25,000 names is hardly political chicken feed. Larison may well be right that if the war is not resolved quickly, it will divide the GOP (which has hardly covered itself with glory on other issues). I still don’t know, however why he is so excited about this particular issue. ~Grumpy Old Man
It’s true that I have been giving Hugh Hewitt a lot of grief for his pledge drive this week. For me, I don’t know that five posts constitutes a “great deal of time,” since when I really get on a tear about something the posts dedicated to it number in the dozens (for instance, my focus on Romney & Mormonism), but the reason why I have dedicated this much “space” and time to the subject is to illustrate a number of grave problems with Hewitt and the mentality that he represents. He is within his rights to draw up petitions and speak his mind, but when his petition is ridiculous and his speech obnoxious it is only fair that others point this out.
All of this does turn on a military plan that I, in my admittedly amateur estimation, regard as being insufficient because of its excessive reliance on a government known to be essentially Sadr’s puppet. It is because of this same central fact, essentially unacknowledged by the administration (and ignored by the Hewitts of the world, even when it leads to the abandonment of an American soldier in enemy hands), that I assume no good will come from this plan and that the better alternative is to begin considering how to get Americans out of Iraq rather than find new ways to send more there. If someone proposed a plan for Afghanistan saying that we would improve security for the Karzai regime by relying heavily on the forces of the Iran-backed and inveterately hostile Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, I would be similarly unenthusiastic and regard supporters of this plan as holding the wrong view. I would take an even more dim view of someone who insists that those who object to this pretty obviously bad plan are encouraging the enemy, when to the eyes of the critics the plan is a plan premised on effectively handing over immense responsibility to a government effectively held hostage by one of the enemies of American forces in the country. I would be even more annoyed if that same person took his mistaken view to be the self-evident moral truth of the moment and demanded, on pain of political punishment, that elected members of Congress toe the line in support of this bad plan. I would find this mistaken view to be fairly disgusting if it stands in complete contradiction to the view the person held in the previous year when it was considered the pro-administration and anti-Democrat thing to be against reinforcements. I would be even more appalled by the person’s political agitation if the basis for his ridicule of dissenting Republican Senators was that the President and the commanding general said the resolutions would send the wrong message, as if that settled the issue. A sudden deference to military judgement is passing strange for the crowd that has never cared a whit for the opinion of any military officer, active or retired, no matter how distinguished or decorated, if he has said something that does not match exactly the signals coming from Mr. Bush. I regard the pledge drive as an act of prostration at the feet of Mr. Bush. To put it bluntly, I loathe people who would prostrate themselves at his feet in this way on a matter of no small importance.
There appears to be no thought as to whether the claim made by Gen. Petraeus is actually true, and there seems to be no consideration for the possibility that a non-binding resolution is the pathetic Senate’s way of avoiding a real constitutional confrontation with Mr. Bush that may well come if fools like Hewitt get their way and intimidate a sufficient number of Republicans to prevent consideration of any resolution. No, as far as Hewitt and friends are concerned, support for one of these resolutions is equivalent to desiring defeat and cannot be motivated by anything other than narrow political considerations. Of course, it’s true that many of the dissenting Senators from the GOP are concerned about their political future–because the war is widely unpopular and the public does not support the “surge”–but in their dissent they are trying to reflect the beliefs of their constituents. Representative government of this kind evidently offends Hewitt, and he seeks to mobilise the forces of a pro-war faction to stop it from working as it otherwise would.
The entire episode is a perfect example of every bad trait frequently exhibited by die-hard Iraq war supporters: unthinking adherence to the President’s line, contempt for any dissent, no matter how serious and no matter the immensely strong pro-military records of some of those (such as Sen. Warner) who are proposing resolutions against the plan, and the reflexive accusation of something very much like treason for failing to possess the wisdom of a lackey to just shut up and accept whatever he is told. Top that off with an underlying contempt for the procedures of our own representative government, and you have a very nasty phenomenon on your hands. It is a glorified exercise in bad citizenship that holds itself out as a true-blue defense of patriotic loyalty. We have seen all of this before, in late 2002 and early 2003, and the results of allowing this sort of mass abdication from serious thought are what have brought us to this sorry state today.
I reacted as strongly against all this as I have because I find the entire attitude behind it inherently offensive and all together too similar to the fairly mindless endorsement of presidential claims that helped pave the way for the war itself. The nation listened to the very poor guidance of men such as Hewitt in the past, and we have been paying for their ignorance and servility ever since. Most Americans have learned to ignore people like this, but the idea that these same people will be able to pull off another political victory, albeit an ultimately Pyrrhic one (because Hewitt will help to wreck the GOP’s ‘08 chances if he ties these Senators to the “surge”), through the usual fear-and-smear tactics that helped start this war greatly troubles me.