Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Conservative cannibalism

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Gotta love it. Republicans eating their own, led by the insufferable Hugh Hewitt and the "Victory Caucus," his lame answer to

Not that they'll abandon their shameless assault on the Democrats: "The GOP political strategy is to shift the focus away from an unpopular war and unpopular president to the Republican claim that Democrats would abandon the troops."

Right, sure. Just as Bush equates support for the Iraq War with opposition to Islamic terrorism, these Hewittistic Republicans (and there are many of them -- this has long been a Republican refrain) equate opposition to the Iraq War (both generally and with respect to Bush's surge) with opposition to the troops.

It's spin, of course. Do you really think even the most pacific Democrats would abandon the troops? The most ardently anti-war support bringing the troops home, not leaving them to fend for themselves in the chaos that is today's Iraq.

Partisans misrepresent each other all the time. That's politics. What's true of Republicans is also true of Democrats.

But what differentiates Republican misrepresentation from Democratic misrepresentation is its nastiness. If Democrats were to say that Republicans don't give a damn about the poor, which they rarely do with such venom, Republicans respond with outrage and cries of foul play. But if Republicans say that Democrats don't give a damn about the troops, and they do with venom, it's just politics. And Democrats, fearful that the Republican slur will stick, fall all over themselves to show that they do in fact support the troops, thereby remaining on the defensive while Republicans continue their assault.

This "Democrats-will-abandon-the-troops" meme will guide Republicans through the next two years at least. With a war many of them continue to support enthusiastically continuing to go horribly wrong, and proving to be a lost cause, all they have left is to slur Democrats and eat their own.

It's called GOP strategy.

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