Reflections on Tuesday's ElectionPosted: Updated:
In the words of President Bush, the Republicans got a "thumping" on Tuesday. A thumping that I think most of America saw coming except for the President and those who surround him in the White House. I believe it is their arrogance, not ignorance, that blinds them.
I had an interesting conversation with a Republican Congressman on election eve. I was struck by his anger and frustration with the adminstration's stubborn refusal to admit that things weren't going as envisioned in Iraq. And, more importantly, acceptance that the time had come to change our approach. I asked if that had been conveyed to the President. Indeed it had, the congressman said, but it hadn't appeared to have made much of an impression.
I asked about the future of Donald Rumsfeld if the Republicans lost control of congress. Again I was surprised by his candor. He said the best we can hope for is to be two or three seats down in the house and maybe break even in the senate. And that sooner or later, the president would have to fire Rumsfeld. If nothing else, the abrasive Secretary of Defense was going to be served up as a "sacrifical lamb" to convince America that the White House was listening.
We both thought Rumsfeld's sacking would come in a couple of weeks. It is significant that he "resigned" the very next day. Make no mistake, Rumsfeld was fired. But is the gesture enough to convince the electorate and the Democrats that Mr. Bush is ready to embark on a "new day" of bi-partisanship? Is the new "set of eyes" on Iraq really going to lead to a substantive change in the Pentagon's approach to the insurgency? If the past is any indication, the answer to both questions is probably maybe.
The President is an excellant politiican. He is very cognizant of his place in history and as such, he does not want to run the risk of becoming a republican version of Lyndon Baines Johnson whose presidency was destroyed by the Vietnam War.
But Mr. Bush is also a stubborn man whom, I beleive, wants to be remembered as the man who introduced democracy to the Middle East. He will fight tooth and nail to seek vindication of his vision.
The next few months will provide all of us as good a barometer of how clearly the adminstration heard the american voter. I hope the Bush White House truly is listening.
I am a Vietnam Era Veteran. To this day, I am angry over the number of young American men and women who died in that war because politicians couldn't decide or articulate clearly the purpose of our mission. It is much the same today in Iraq. My hope is that we don't repeat the same mistake.
We toppled Saddam. Regardless of how you feel about the wisdom of that action, lets now at least recognize that it is up to the Iraquis to decide of their country's future. It is their country. Let them decide.
America decided what course we will follow in the next two years. Lets extend the same courtesy to Iraq. I beleive that is the loudest message the American Electorate sent to Washington this Tuesday. It wasn't so much a thumping as a plea. Its time that we end the needless sacrifice of our brave young men and women in a Peace that it appears we cannot win.