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William Buckley: The Waning of the GOP

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MWZjMDBlZDg2MDlmMDM4MmE1MGFmNjlkOTE5OWVkOTc= April 28, 2007 10:45 AM The Waning of the GOP By William F. Buckley Jr. The
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 2007

      April 28, 2007 10:45 AM

      The Waning of the GOP

      By William F. Buckley Jr.

      The political problem of the Bush administration is
      grave, possibly beyond the point of rescue. The
      opinion polls are savagely decisive on the Iraq
      question. About 60 percent of Americans wish the war
      ended — wish at least a timetable for orderly
      withdrawal. What is going on in Congress is in the
      nature of accompaniment. The vote in Congress is
      simply another salient in the war against war in Iraq.
      Republican forces, with a couple of exceptions, held
      fast against the Democrats’ attempt to force Bush out
      of Iraq even if it required fiddling with the
      Constitution. President Bush will of course veto the
      bill, but its impact is critically important in the
      consolidation of public opinion. It can now accurately
      be said that the legislature, which writes the
      people’s laws, opposes the war.

      Meanwhile, George Tenet, former head of the CIA, has
      just published a book which seems to demonstrate that
      there was one part ignorance, one part bullheadedness,
      in the high-level discussions before war became
      policy. Mr. Tenet at least appears to demonstrate that
      there was nothing in the nature of a genuine debate on
      the question. What he succeeded in doing was aborting
      a speech by Vice President Cheney which alleged a
      Saddam/al Qaeda relationship which had not in fact
      been established.

      It isn’t that Tenet now doubts the lethality of the
      terrorists. What he disputed was an organizational
      connection which argued for war against Iraq as if
      Iraq were a vassal state of al Qaeda. A measure of
      George Tenet’s respect for the reach and malevolence
      of the enemy is his statement that he is puzzled that
      Al Qaeda has not, since 2001, sent out “suicide
      bombers to cause chaos in a half dozen American
      shopping malls on any given day.” By way of prophecy,
      he writes that there is one thing he feels in his gut,
      which is that “Al Qaeda is here and waiting.”

      But beyond affirming executive supremacy in matters of
      war, what is George Bush going to do? It is simply
      untrue that we are making decisive progress in Iraq.
      The indicators rise and fall from day to day, week to
      week, month to month. In South Vietnam there was an
      organized enemy. There is clearly organization in the
      strikes by the terrorists against our forces and
      against the civil government in Iraq, but whereas in
      Vietnam we had Hanoi as the operative headquarters of
      the enemy, we have no equivalent of that in Iraq, and
      that is a matter of paralyzing importance. All those
      bombings, explosions, assassinations: we are driven to
      believe that they are, so to speak, spontaneous.

      When the Romans were challenged by Christianity, Rome
      fell. The generation of Christians moved by their
      faith overwhelmed the regimented reserves of the Roman
      state. It was four years ago that Mr. Cheney first
      observed that there was a real fear that each fallen
      terrorist leads to the materialization of another
      terrorist. What can a “surge,” of the kind we are now
      relying upon, do to cope with endemic disease? The
      parallel even comes to mind of the eventual collapse
      of Prohibition, because there wasn’t any way the
      government could neutralize the appetite for alcohol,
      or the resourcefulness of the freeman in acquiring it.

      General Petraeus is a wonderfully commanding figure.
      But if the enemy is in the nature of a disease, he
      cannot win against it. Students of politics ask then
      the derivative question: How can the Republican party,
      headed by a president determined on a war he can’t see
      an end to, attract the support of a majority of the
      voters? General Petraeus, in his Pentagon briefing on
      April 26, reported persuasively that there has been
      progress, but cautioned, “I want to be very clear that
      there is vastly more work to be done across the board
      and in many areas, and again I note that we are really
      just getting started with the new effort.”

      The general makes it a point to steer away from the
      political implications of the struggle, but this
      cannot be done in the wider arena. There are grounds
      for wondering whether the Republican party will
      survive this dilemma.
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