Fighting an Enemy Congress
Bill Bennett has a Great Idea
By Mark I Posted in 2008 — Comments (39) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Last week on his radio show, Morning in America, Bill Bennett proposed that the GOP presidential candidates hold a joint press conference. The purpose of such an event would be for the declared candidates to position themselves firmly beside President Bush and in support of his policies in fighting the Global War on Terror. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, the candidates would be placing themselves directly in the path of a Congress hell bent on bringing about a defeat for America in Iraq.
Every candidate for the GOP nomination needs to stand up right now. In fact, I'd urge them to hold a joint press conference and stand up and say a) they support the troops and their mission; b) they believe in giving Petraeus and Lynch and their boys a chance; and c) that they will do everything in their political power to lead us through to victory, rather than retreat. It would be a helluva statement and a necessary corrective to the national debate. They should get together on this and do it next week. It would make the cover of every paper and we think it'd show the American people and the world that while we are divided on some things, we are not divided on war—at least one party in America is not divided. Guys, do this.
This is an idea whose time is now. This week, Congress continues to debate new and exciting plans designed to guarantee failure and humiliation in Iraq. The Republican presidential candidates, who stand to inherit the disaster the Democratic Congress is attempting to engineer, should put their primary rivalry aside for one day and fight back.
Bennett fleshes out the rationale for his idea a little more in an article today at National Review Online. He concedes that the media narrative of the presidential campaign thus far has focused on how much daylight there is between an unpopular White House and the Republican candidates. However, Bennett argues that on the issue of the Global War on Terror, which by al-Qaeda’s reckoning includes Iraq, it would be to the candidates’ political advantage to be as close to the president as possible.
Do the candidates need to distance themselves from the president in order to win the presidency? We think not. Americans will not vote for surrender when the stakes are clearly laid out. Does the left that claims they support the troops and want to end their strain have the moral high ground? No, and John McCain (who knows a thing or two about a war that politicians undercut when the military is committed to victory) put this will-o-the-wisp political argument to rest on the Senate floor last week when he said, “The fact is, when you lose a war, the consequences of failure are far, far more severe on the military than the strain that’s put on the military when it’s fighting. It’s a fact.” McCain then reviewed the [loss of the Vietnam War], saying it led not only to a demoralized military that it took a decade to recover from, but it led to “three million people slaughtered in one of the greatest acts of genocide in history…thousands killed in reeducation camps, and thousands more executed,” all while the “liberal Left” argued “Yeah, we cared about American casualties.” [emphasis in original]
We are told over and over by the mainstream press and Democrats that the American people are tiring of the war. This may be the case, but it does not follow then that they want to lose it. I challenge anyone who bases their political calculations on the premise that the country is not signed up for this war. It is definitely not signed up for the violence and the reporting on it, but it is equally not signed up for losing or for leaving a bloody mess behind. If it was, the United States would be a lot closer to being out of Iraq than it is. Democrats know this, and it is why they cannot muster the votes to cut off funds for the war.
Some may argue that not all of the Republican candidates will want to tie themselves so closely to Bush on Iraq. Others may say that not all of the candidates will agree on the best way forward in Iraq. I say that they must. The Republican nominee will not have a shot of winning the presidency if he presents himself as a watered-down Democrat on the war. The American people would rather vote for the real thing. The Republicans must differentiate themselves from the Democrats, and on this issue, the most important of the campaign, those differences must be clear and sharp. Furthermore, the candidates don’t have to agree on a strategy going forward. They only have to agree that Congress’s attempts to undermine the troops and the war are harmful and must be resisted. They must only agree with Bennett’s pledge:
“On this issue, on the war against Islamic terror, in the battle for Iraq, we stand with one voice and one policy: Victory. We support both the troops and the mission and you cannot divide that support. The troops and their generals believe in what they are doing, that they can win if they are given the necessary support. We believe them, we believe in them, and will do everything in our political power to help see them through to victory. On this issue, there is no daylight [between] the president, our servicemen and women in Iraq, and us. We will not support premature withdrawal or surrender.”
This event must happen and it must happen soon. You can help. That’s what the shiny red button at the top of this post is for. Click on it and you will be taken to the Republican National Committee’s contacts web page. From there, you can send an e-mail or place a phone call to the Chairman’s office, the political director, the communications office, member relations, and so on. You can also link to your state party headquarters and send e-mails or place phone calls to them. Let the Republican Party at all levels know that you want to see our candidates unite against Congress on the issue of the Global War on Terror. Let them know that this issue is the defining issue for Republicans in this campaign and that your support is contingent on the Republican nominee standing up to Congress and taking a strong position on prosecuting the war. You lobby members of Congress, you can lobby a political party as well. This event will happen, and change the narrative of the 2008 campaign, if enough Republicans and Conservatives make their voices heard.
Bill Bennett has a good idea. We have only to carry it out.