September 05, 2003

This Just In...France and Germany Cast Their Votes for Bush in 2004

Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder cast their votes for George Bush yesterday, which is odd, given how stupid they think he is. With their beer swilling, smug, photo op, punctuated by the kind of comments sure to win Toby Keith another Grammy, they’re performing their anti-American shtick just in time to give Bush a big domestic political boost. They may even deliver him the election. Try this spin on for size: The Bush team senses the public mood shifting against them on Iraq. The media’s drumbeat of biased coverage is taking its toll in the polls. The “American street” is doubting its “Top Gun.” And now that political season is underway in earnest, the Democratic presidential candidates are scoring points with the out-to-lunch left wing of their party by attacking the President without offering any real answers to terrorism or even being serious about the threat of terrorism (or at least claiming, as some might, that terrorism is a red herring.) Bush and Rove know they can’t win a media war with a media full of liberal gasbags and a spattering of neocon blowhards. And they’re perfectly content to let the Democratic party nominate a candidate who could get whomped by 18 million votes, like Gene McCarthy did in 1972. In the meantime, to shore up support for the President in the “red” states, Bush and Rove offer U.S. voters another showcase of U.N. ineptitude and Franco/German diplomatic anti-Americanism. Even Bill Clinton couldn’t come up with a better way to show how astoundingly empty the idea of “multi-lateralism is” than to let the U.N. Security Council publicly humiliate Colin Powell on live T.V. It’s good theater, and might play well in Berlin and Paris. It won’t help get the power back on in Baghdad, though. And it won’t do much to root out die-hards in the Sunni triangle. And it won’t put an ounce of domestic political pressure on the President to “go along” with the U.N. But if the U.N. is asking for more rope… “Not dynamic enough and not far-reaching enough,” says German Chancellor. “The proposals seem quite far from what appears to us the primary objective, namely the transfer of political responsibility to an Iraqi government as soon as possible,” says the French President. Let me get one thing straight, Germany and France can’t be held accountable now for cleaning up a mess they didn’t want to cause in the first place (although I don’t think it’s nearly as messy as the hysteric media is making out. It’s complicated, but the American media is failing to tell an accurate story about Iraq in the most spectacular fashion since Vietnam. If they had any shame, they’d be feeling it.) But if Chirac and Schroeder think they can use the Security Council to get what they want out of Iraq AND bring Bush to heel, it’s the largest strategic miscalculation since the Maginot line. Nothing is more likely to rally Americans to the Bush position (and distract attention from those ballooning deficits) than the sight of U.N. diplomats scolding the American public for its arrogance and “unilateralism.” And if the Security Council happens to be debating on around…oh say…September 11th, what kind of reaction do you think the American public will have? Contrition? Penitence? Doubt? Humility? On bended knee to Jacques Chirac? The American public isn’t much in the mood to be lectured on how to handle a war in which its soldiers are still dying, much less, lectured by countries with nothing to lose politically and everything to gain economically by getting involved now. It’s hard to believe that this is anything but a carefully calculated political gesture. If the Administration’s strategy is to turn Iraq into a magnet for all the terrorists willing to die for jihad, it’s working. How does bringing the U.N. in now help that at all? It doesn’t. By making the rest of the world say exactly what they’d do in Iraq, I think the Bush folks want to show that even though what we have isn’t ideal, it ain’t the Ivory Coast either. Or Rwanda. Or Bosnia. Or any of those places where the U.N. has successfully conducted operations. We’ll consult with our allies, per the outraged requests of Carrol Mosely Braun, John Kerry, Howard Dean, Paul Krugman, the New York Times, and Katie Couric. And when they tell us we shouldn’t have been in Iraq in the first place and, by the way, WE have to solve the Palestinian question first and should go back and sign the Kyoto treaty and maybe see if the Supreme Court will take up the Florida election again and while we’re at it, we ought to consider that being rich is a natural affront to those that aren’t…and that maybe, finally, we ought to look deep within our greedy, materialistic, arrogant collective national soul and find that dark sin that causes the desperate, and poor, and hopeless to fly jet liners into our skyscrapers…what will we say? I can think of a couple of things. But none of them begin with “You’re right, let’s do things your way.” The President is lucky. His political opponents are unwilling or unable to make the sensible, direct, and obvious criticisms his policies so richly deserve. It’s too bad. Just when the country could use a legitimate opposition party to conduct a responsible national debate, we get Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton and Howard Dean. Then again, it’s been along time since national politics did anything but leave the country worse off. The really interesting question now is whether another diplomatic rift with Old Europe will lead to the kind of rhetoric that makes a trade war more politically justifiable domestically, and thus, a lot more likely. More to come...


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