Baghdad Falls! Is the DNC Next?

Now that the war is essentially over, Democrats, leftists and other assorted anti-war folk have very little time to regroup their efforts and focus attention on the purported goals of our Iraqi Expedition.

In the coming days (if not hours), media outlets will quickly inform us of how Bush's approval ratings have skyrocketed, or how Wall Street has finally got its groove and how happy, brown-faced Iraqis are jubilant about being liberated. There will be a palpable sense of "I told you so's" coming from all four corners of Talk Radio Land, waxing poetic over the bold warrior poet George W. Bush truly is.

So the first question we ask is, where are the weapons of mass destruction? We know that preliminary searches are under way but so far nothing has been found. Irregardless of that, we know for a fact that the Iraqis did not use weapons of mass destruction on American -- sorry, "coalition" -- forces throughout the conflict. They put up resistance, yes, but hardly the "ground burning under your feet" nonsense the Arabs are so adept at promising and failing to deliver. It is vital for Democrats to stress this: "Why were we there in the first place?"

The immediate (and planned for) answer is Iraqi liberation. We know this is bunk because the Administration repeatedly tried to tell us that Iraq supports international terrorism, will give WMD's to terrorists, gassed their own people and are developing "the worst weapons imaginable". The last issue on the checklist was Iraqi liberation, and this is exactly how the Administration will spin the entire reason for invading in the first place. Democrats must be tenacious about this issue and ask why the White House tried to fool everyone with bogus claims that haven't been proven thus far. All the doctored evidence about aluminum tubes, an old thesis paper being passed off as recent intelligence and misleading translations of intercepted communiques were for what, theatre value? What did they have to do with Iraqi liberation? Why the constant subterfuge? Democrats have to hammer this point time and time again, but be careful not to make it sound as if they wanted these WMD's being used against our troops, otherwise Republicans will seize on that and question, "So, you wanted our boys to die, didn't you?" and immediately denounce you as traitor.

And since the American public is so -- well, how shall we put this delicately? -- dumb, the reasons for invasion will be quickly dismissed under the rubric of Iraqi liberation. Already, according to some polls, Americans don't care if there are weapons of mass destruction, which is enough to make any sane person throw up his arms in despair. So, you might be tempted to ask, why don't go in and liberate the Palestinians? But that's an ironic and intellectual question, the very essence of which will be denounced as anti-Semitism so you're better off not asking that question in public.

"How long will the occupation last?" is a great question that Democrats can throw in the face of Republicans. Follow it up with, "Oh, and how much will it cost the American taxpayer, since the rich are exempt thanks to tax cuts." Conclude by asking the American taxpayer, "So, how's your retirement looking? Going anywhere on vacation?" Do that gently because the American public is -- well, how shall we say this delicately? -- a fickle bitch that tends to forget things when passed from its field of vision. It won't be enough to say "It's the economy, stupid!" but to add in "It's the occupation, stupid!" because people need to know that America will be occupying Iraq for years to come, and that we will be footing a great deal of the bill, no matter what the White House says. The war may have ended quickly, but reconstruction will take a long, long time. Don't let what happened to Afghanistan happen to Iraq, now that the former has already slipped the mind of the average American.

And don't invoke the "Arab street." Leftists love talking about how the Arab is going to explode if the United States pursues Plan A or Plan B, as much as they love invoking the so-called "silent majority" to assuage their feelings that they are not alone. The Arab street has been exploding for some time and it hasn't accomplished much, other than to give media outlets nearly endless footage of upraised fists and burning American flags. As a political tool, it ranks up there with talking about "world opinion", which has no meaning for voters in a time of perceived victory and jubilation. If you're a Democrat and you appeal to how the much the world distrusts or dislikes us, you'll immediately denounced as being French.

Republicans have two formidable weapons on their side: patriotism and terrorism. The former cowers the pacifists and the latter subdues the populace. These are trickier to plan for, because fair-weather patriotism is like having the flu: you have wait for the symptoms to pass before the patient can recover fully. Republicans can easily rally people around their president and the flag, but inevitably, the shtick will wear off when people get tired of hearing about "supporting the troops" and "being in a time of war." When people start tearing themselves from canned media packages about America's bravest and the somber "Image of War" and start paying more attention to their health/retirement/wage statements, the Iraqi Expedition will appear less like a cakewalk and more like a hangover of massive proportions. And since Bush is an ex-alcoholic, even he might understand that analogy.

Terrorism is a trickier issue. Democrats can swear to spend more on homeland security, but in some way, we all might be waiting for the next terrorist attack to claim that "liberating" Iraq did not end terror as Bush promised. It's too macabre to mention as your political strategy, but it might be worth asking, "Are you safer yet? Is the world a better place?" The Bush Administration has promised democracy within weeks and the domino effect of a new Iraq: let's hold them to that. Consider it a kind of passive resistance, wherein we don't privately care for Pax Americana, but will publicly push it and demand results from the White House. Our best bet here is a quiet strategy of determination and making good use of human resources (does anybody in the services actually speak Arabic other than maybe 5 or 6 people?), rather than high technology and blowing up countries to free them.

Democrats will have to stomach quite a bit, but all is not lost. Of course, that depends on the commitment that Democrats have in challenging the White House's grandiose plans for free markets, er, rather, democracy and combating terrorism. But if you follow these general guidelines, it just might be possible to get a Democrat in the White House by 2004.

By the way, have we caught the Anthrax Terrorist yet?