“Divisive Partisanship”

by on February 20th, 2007

When exercised by Democrats, strategic cunning is lauded as a brilliant defense of their core values. However, when it’s practiced by Republicans, it is derided as “divisive partsianship.” Enter E.J. Dionne who artfully–that is, with Machiavellian verve–argues the case for Congressional opposition to President Bush’s decision to increase troop strength in Iraq.

Mr. Dionne argues that the effort should begin by the Democrats making this about

“Bush, not themselves, and to make clear that the president has rebuffed all efforts to pursue a bipartisan path out of Iraq.”

It doesn’t take a political code breaker to parse the unavoidable message in that assertion which is that the president’s willful intransigence amounts to nothing more than a self-serving determination to ‘stay the course,’ effectively throwing good political money after bad.

More fundamentally, it’s an oblique but undeniable endorsement of the Democrats’ intent to exit the war, events on the ground notwithstanding, and this, despite the fact that no one on the left has has advanced a credible plan. But their only hope is to peel away wavering or weak-kneed Republicans. As is their wont, Mr. Dionne quotes a member of nominal enemy camp to make his case, Senator Jack Reed (R-RI) on Meet the Press:

“Republican influence on the president might be more decisive than Democratic voices.”

That remark at once reflects the quintessence of Republican cowardice and a profound misunderstanding of our predicament in Iraq as well as our more lethal war against Islamic extremism. To illustrate that point, imagine if we flipped that statement, with all its components: It’s now a Democrat referencing a fellow Democratic president: “Democratic influence on the president might be more decisive than Republican voices.”

Does the word ‘quisling’ come to mind? Indeed, only in our age when moderation is a considered a badge of presumptive courage–although wholly undeserved–would a Republican musing aloud on a news show about how best to subvert the agenda of his colleague, a sitting president, be deemed laudatory.

Mr. Dionne finishes his tribute to Chamberlain by reference to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who believes the Iraq Study Group’s proposals should be reanimated from the political dead letter box. This, of course, is the left’s reflexive nod to ‘regional diplomacy,’ which means talking to Iran and Syria. which would make negotiations with Cold War double agents akin to an undergraduate exercize.

As we have come to expect, Mr. Van Hollen chides the president for his ‘refusal to listen,’ which, in our over-heated, self-serious political environment is synonymous with an open-handed slap in the face:

“The refusal of this administration to try to work with others to resolve this in a responsible manner has created a very polarized atmosphere. They’ve refused to listen to anyone else.”

The Maryland liberal has unwittingly provided a useful lesson in our democratic process: Although his choice of words is itself intentionally polarizing, ‘polarization’ inherently presumes the presence of two entities, and, in politics there are no guarantees that one entity is correct.

Therefore, the question that must be asked is whether, on balance, our chances to bring stability to Iraq–and thereby security to the region–are enhanced or undermined by the Democrats’ plan of establishing a withdrawal date? If not, then we should be pleased that President Bush is not listening to the Democrats, because it’s abundantly evident they have nothing to say.

Philip Mella