Thursday, February 18, 2010

War Party and Tea

With the surprise retirement of Evan Bayh, widely assumed to be a shoo-in for reelection, Republicans can lick their chops some more about the electoral gains they are sure to make this fall.

Perhaps the Tea Party pressure is paying off. Maybe enough of those evil Democrats are getting the picture that their big government machinations are history and a renewed, revitalized, and reformed Republican Party is poised to set the ship aright by following the Constitution and restoring the republic to the one bequeathed to us by the founding fathers.

Probably not.

Like Obama, the Republicans are misreading the early election returns.

In 2006 and 2008, Americans sick of the Republicans, their ill-conceived wars, and a miserable economy, threw the GOP and their “permanent majority” out. 2008 was a year where the Republicans were so despised that Democrats could have literally nominated a yellow dog and still won the presidency. Not sensing this, Obama and the Democrats introduced to America an agenda that envisioned a health care plan that would inevitably lead to a government take-over of the industry.

Republicans have responded by defeating Democrats in Virginia, New Jersey, and of all places, Massachusetts.

So how are they misreading the election results?

They are taking these early Democratic defeats to mean that, even though the Republicans have offered no agenda of change, the American people must want back the good old days of the early 2000s of the ambiguous “War on Terror” and endless deficit spending.

No sooner had Scott Brown embarrassed his daughters on national television did National Review’s Andrew McCarthy assure us that it was the War on Terror that really motivated people to get out there by praising how:

“Scott Brown went out and made the case for enhanced interrogation, for denying terrorists the rights of criminal defendants, for detaining them without trial, and for trying them by military commission. It worked. It will work for other candidates willing to get out of their Beltway bubbles . . . .

“He said the United States needs to stop apologizing for defending itself. And he won going away, in the bluest of blue states.”

What McCarthy means by “defending itself,” is keeping the same Bush foreign policy that Americans have already repudiated.

This also shows how, despite all the good rhetoric about the Constitution, limited government, and reduced spending at home, all of that takes a back seat to the ubiquitous “War on Terror” and makes the so-called Tea Parties a farce.

Just look at the reception given to Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul.

Paul, who has consistently led in Kentucky polls for at least four months, is continually vilified by his party and their media henchmen for a variety of bizarre reasons. He’s kooky. He’s pro-abortion (untrue). He’s a marijuana advocate (a dramatic distortion). But the most telling criticism is that Rand Paul is somehow weak on military matters and wants to surrender the “War on Terror.”

To make that argument ignores the fact that Paul’s first campaign commercial declared that he will “stop travel visas from terrorist nations” and “keep prisoners off U.S. soil,” as well as supporting military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. On his website, he has expressed his support for a declaration of war on Afghanistan. He also wrangled the endorsement of war empress Sarah Palin. To the chagrin of all the little Churchills with laptops, Rand Paul is not Neville Chamberlain.

But it was Jeanette Pryor of Newsrealblog that summed up the supremacy of war when she said this regarding Sarah Palin’s endorsement:

"The logical conclusion of this endorsement is that Palin considers America’s global defense of freedom, national defense, the War on Terror, the defeat of Radical Islam, and the support of Israel and our allies, to be less important than 'some' domestic policy issues."

Pryor says plainly that not only are the wars more important than our domestics, but Israel is too. Are we for America first or are we not? Or as The American Conservative’s Daniel Larison noted about the reaction to Palin’s endorsement, she “has erred because she forgot that national security is the one area where conservatives cannot meaningfully disagree and still be accepted.”

During the Bush administration, everything took a backseat to the wars. Spending skyrocketed. The Roe v. Wade atrocity remained firmly in place. Border security was abandoned. The federal government sunk its claws deeper into American education. Executive power increased. But the wars, well, that’s what really mattered.

These GOP sycophants have already demonstrated that once the Republicans are back in power, the latter aim to do everything exactly the same once again. And the former aim to continue their bidding.

From the party that has had no ideas for fixing the problems they helped cause this should be no surprise.


TAO said...

It would really be nice to figure out why empty words and slogans are so able to dominate any meaningful conversation about the issues...

All I can do is scratch my head....

P.S. As long as Rand Paul keeps rubbing McConnell's nose 'in it' he has my vote! McConnell is not comfortble with another Senator he cannot control...

Oh, and it doesn't take much to get my vote nowadays...

Chris W said...

Great post Carl.

Slowly but surely the neocons are co-opting the Tea Party movement, a movement that firmly has it's roots in the mad as hell rant of Rick Santelli and the Ron Paul R3volution.

All we will get is the hard -core right of the Bush administrations (daddy and W) and no help for our economy or a return to small government.

Oso said...

Of the many things about Ron Paul which impressed me, by far the most impressive was his understanding that Israel is not part of the US, it's a foreign country and should be treated as such.

Carl Wicklander said...


Rand Paul has been very diplomatic in his treatment of McConnell. One of his most consistent campaign points has been that the Republican leadership voted for all the things the tea parties are supposed to despise, like bank bailouts. That's taking it to the state's top Republican without mentioning him while he's also been reaching out to him. Very good politics I might say.

Carl Wicklander said...

Thanks, Chris W.

This was a fear that I had all along. The neocons used and trashed the GOP and it will be the same for the tea parties.

The tea parties had good rhetoric about domestic spending and such but foreign policy has been pretty much left untouched. Unless they addressed foreign policy, and the larger issue of defense spending, I was afraid the tea party was only going to be a bunch of noise.

These claims that the tea parties are going to split off from the GOP or wreck it from the inside are grossly exaggerated.

Carl Wicklander said...


I appreciate your comment and I agree completely.

The treatment of Israel like the 51st state and any skepticism about our alignment with Israel being tantamount to anti-Semitism speaks to the success of the Israel Lobby. Many Americans, and sadly many conservatives, have been made to believe that Israeli and American interests are one and the same.

Law and Order Teacher said...

I am very skeptical of the new found power of the Repubs. I fear they haven't learned a thing and we'll have a revolving door in congress with each party taking its turn in trashing the country. As for the tea parties, I don't at this point feel the same urgency for the wars as I do for the economy.

I realize the spending involved, but I feel we need to address the profligate spending by all of congress and put a stop to it. We're in the wars and it's hard to pull out now. Domestic first, wars second.

Carl Wicklander said...

Law and Order Teacher,

What I mean about the supremacy of the wars is that I see them as the main reason that the grassroots activists would not support someone like Ron or Rand Paul. I'm just still very disturbed at the way so many conservatives looked the other way while Bush spent like mad. Although I can see that if Rand Paul wins his races this year, it will be because of his stance on domestic spending.

And I do admit is a need to spend on defense, it is one of the few constitutional functions of government. I just take exception when I see that people would be unwilling to support one of the Pauls when they want to cut spending on both foreign and domestic programs. Cutting defense spending isn't tantamount to "surrender" or "retreat," because as big as that part of the budget is, there must be some waste somewhere.

Teresa said...

I believe that most members of the GOP has learned at least one lesson, and that is they must stop binge spending like money is going out of style.

America has had an interventionist policy of helping other nations, spreading freedom and liberty, and stopping tyranny that dates backs many, many years so I am not sure what lesson should be learned or what actually should be changed by the GOP. Although, I can understand how people disagree with our troops entering Iraq. But, Hussein did violate 18 U.N. resolutions and murdered thousands of his own people. How many years should we have allowed those atrocities to go on? Like we did in Rwanda?

I agree with Palin supporting Rand Paul. His positions are quite laudable.

But, we must stop progressives in both the GOP and in the Democratic Party.

The GOP has given common sense solutions for tackling the health care problem. The GOP has voted against the Dems government takeover of health care and Cap & Trade. The Dems are for spending like runaway freight train and for hiking our taxes on many items so I think that there are many good things that the GOP stands for.

The GOP is not for giving terrorists extra rights like the Dems are.

Carl Wicklander said...


Your argument is essentially one of America as the world’s police force. There’s an injustice in the world and we put it upon ourselves to intervene and save the world from itself.

I understand completely the anger over what murderers like Saddam Hussein have done to their people. But our presence in Iraq has produced many unintended consequences. It has inflamed Muslims because many of them interpret our action in Iraq as an invasion of an innocent country where thousands of people have died as a result of the insurgency. The invasion also led to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing the country because they would face an uncertain fate under a more fundamentalist Muslim regime. Our action of overthrowing the Sunni government and replacing it with one that reflects the Shiite majority of the population has led Iraq to align itself more closely with their Shiite-majority neighbor, Iran. That is why we should always be wary of intervening into someone else’s business.

To look at it another way, let’s consider a hypothetical for the United States.

According to the National Right to Life, over 49.5 million abortions have been committed since the Roe v. Wade judicial diktat of 1973. From browsing your blog I can see that you and I would probably agree that that’s a tragedy that goes beyond words. Now let’s consider how another country, one where no abortions are permitted whatsoever, might react to these statistics. What if they sent in an army into the U.S. and deposed the sitting president and the Supreme Court, hanging them as mass murderers for allowing abortions to take place, and giving us a new government, one that we didn’t ask for and that imposed a national abortion ban without as much as consulting the electorate of the country. How would we react to that? Would it matter to us if the country invading said that its motives were pure and it was for good because they were stopping abortions?

Tying that in to atrocities, like in Rwanda, we have stood by numbers of other times. Millions of Jews still perished in Hitler’s death camps before either the U.S. or the Soviets got to them. In fact, saving the Jews had little if anything to do with why the U.S. entered World War II. We didn’t intervene to stop the Soviets from murdering millions in their own revolution or the millions during the reigns of Lenin, Stalin, and Khrushchev. Closer to home, there was no one to intervene for the millions of American Indians who were slaughtered at the hands of the U.S. government.

This is a matter about the role of government. I agree with you that progressives in both parties are the problem. That’s why I wish to see the government remove itself from the private sector and remove itself from the affairs of other nations. You can’t have a big military presence around the world without increasing the size of government at home.

Democrats want to use the government to extend health care to every American. These are people who think the single-payer system that is Medicare is a great idea that should be extended to the entire health care industry. This is government in action. I think you would probably agree that this is progressivism.

But this is also the same perspective that most Republicans take when it comes to foreign policy. The military is an arm of the government. The notion that government, through the military, spreads goodness in the world is also a progressive idea. This was birthed by our involvement in World War I and instigated by one of our most progressive presidents, Woodrow Wilson. It was to “make the world safe for democracy.” How else would Wilson or any of his descendants attempt to accomplish that goal unless it’s through the government imposing its will on others? How is that different from Bush’s second inaugural address where he said it was the goal of the United States to rid the world of tyranny?


Carl Wicklander said...

As far as health care goes, the Republicans haven’t offered much other than “Democrat-lite.” Yes, they have introduced their own legislation, but none of it has to do with repealing the current health care bureaucracy. If anything, it’s just a plan to give us government-run health care at a slower rate than the Democrats would give us. The newest star in the GOP, Scott Brown, voted for Massachusetts state health care while Mitt Romney was governor. He’s not against the concept of government-run health care, he’s just against the Obama plan. Consider how Brown’s stance on his campaign website is barely distinguishable from any moderate Democrat’s:

“I believe that all Americans deserve health care coverage, but I am opposed to the health care legislation that is under consideration in Congress . . .”

I know I wrote a lot in response and I hope you will give it consideration. You seem to be a good Republican. Your philosophy and defense of the party resembles mine during my college days. Today I just prefer a Republican Party of bygone years.

Thanks for stopping by.