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November 07, 2012

Catastrophe Across The Country: Mia Love Loses

Here are some people who lost:

Allen West.

Rick Berg, for North Dakota Senate. He just conceded.

Mia Love, as the headline mentions.

Michele Bachman may or may not win -- the count is close, and her opponent is paying for a recount.

While we're mostly looking at Why Romney Lost, we have to also figure out why so many other people lost. People who should have won.

Why didn't they win? It can't be "because Romney drove down the vote." In Utah and North Dakota, Romney won easily. Why did some voters vote for Romney but then vote against Mia Love and Rick Berg?

The only thing I can think of is that the Republican Congress is even more unpopular than Congress generally, and more unpopular than Romney generally.

Why? Not sure. I think the Rape Abortion stuff plays into the "extremist" label but I've made that point already and there is surely more to it. For example, let's face it, most people with less money want those with more money to pay more to give them free stuff, and it's long been that way, and it will almost certainly continue being that way. That aspect of fiscal conservatism is also not terribly popular.

I don't know. I was harping on the Rape Abortion thing in the comments last night, and a commenter wisely noted: "Fiscal conservatism also proved to be not so popular, too."

One more thing (which I'd meant to include in the Why Romney Lost thread) is that Bush's maximalist military policy is also incredibly unpopular. Romney made a play for distancing himself from that at the very end of the campaign, but probably too late.

I think it might be folly to blame any of the three stools of conservatism for the loss, as all three wound up losing to one extent or the other.

I've said this before, but I'll say it again: I don't think the public minds bombing foreign malefactors. Given the popularity of Obama's drone strikes -- he brags to the press about his Kill List, so popular is it -- I'd say bombing is just fine.

The problem is occupation. Occupation is designed to spare the population of the targeted nation the horrors that will inevitably flow from a power vacuum -- riots, banditry, ethnic cleansing, civil war. All of it.

I think the public has now spoken pretty clearly on this: They aren't willing to sacrifice American lives for this latter purpose, this merciful part of military intervention.

It costs too many good American boys, and we wind up trading their lives for foreign lives, whose actual worth is subject to some debate.

If it's not evident already, the Neocon Project is dead. It's actually been dead since around 2006-2007 (and was very unwell before that), but there has been a cowardly reluctance in the Republican establishment and among Republican pundits to admit this.

A lot of us (and I include myself here) have just hoped that no one would notice this fact, so we wouldn't have to admit it, and we could stick to our guns and keep sort of claiming we've always been right.

Well, we weren't. We certainly misjudged how quickly we could transform backwards, alien countries during an occupation, and also misjudged the public's patience for such a project.

If we could do it in two years and then get out, that's one thing. That is potentially doable. (I don't know if it would be advisable; but it would be politically achievable.)

But we're obviously not looking at a two-years-and-gone situation. We're looking at 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 years, and the public simply loves their sons more than they like the idea of transforming Afghanistan into a pluralistic democracy.

I don't think they think that's even possible, for one thing. I can't say I disagree with them.

One thing we got a little too used to during the Bush years, and then during the McCain candidacy, was speaking glibly about doing "whatever it takes" to achieve this result or that. We are now suffering from Vietnam Syndrome-- a national aversion to war. Happens after every long, bloody, grueling struggle. Happened after WWI. Happened after Korea. Nations -- people -- tend to forget how awful war is during times of peace. They then go to war, and are unpleasantly reminded.

On foreign policy, we cannot speak in maximalist terms. For every statement we make about what we would do, we must limit that with a clear statement of what we would not do.

Otherwise, the public will imagine we want to occupy another country. Obviously we don't -- there is no appetite for that -- but I think we're still trying to pretend we think the Iraq Occupation was just terrific, so the public isn't completely crazy to take us at our implication.

I've said this before: I think the public would tolerate a bombing campaign against, and even the injection of ground forces into, Iran, so long as the ground forces were an armored column with the strictly-defined and limited goal of seizing nuclear material and then exiting-- within in days and weeks, not months and certainly not years. A strictly defined mission, always kinetic, always moving, always in mass, always bringing maximum firepower to anyone coming within a mile of the column.

No nation building, no protecting engineers as they rebuild electrical grids and bridges. None of that.

Nations will rebuild themselves. They always have. They don't need American hand-holding, and even if they do, that's their problem.

We continue paying a price for the Bush years. I hope Obama's disastrous second term, and the coming recession, will be the last payment.


By the Way: I think that even what I lay out -- bombing Iran, plus an armored column or two to dash to the reactors and centrifuges and destroy them -- would be politically unpalatable.

This is a horrifying thought, but here's where I think we are: Obama is pretending he's going to stop Iran's bomb production, but he's actually lying. He intends to let them have the bomb, then hope for the best. Hope that containment and deterrence work.

But the horrifying thing is that I think the public knows he's lying, and is on board with that. They just don't have the resolve -- or understanding of the future -- to stop it. So they want to lie along with Obama.

So, the course I laid out is something that could never be announced in a campaign.

Once already in office, though, it's possible the public would withhold judgment long enough to accomplish it. So long as it was in-and-out.

One big difference between anti-war conservatives and anti-war liberals is this: Liberals talk endlessly about foreign deaths, while conservatives are pretty focused on American deaths.

I think, on that point, the general public is on the conservative side. No one's happy about foreign deaths, either, but when push comes to shove, when America is threatened, they will tolerate them. They won't cheer foreign deaths, but they'll chalk it up to the Way of the World.

But when it comes to American deaths, most independents, and a lot of conservatives, start balking.


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posted by Ace at 03:10 PM

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