January 15, 2008 5:28 AM

Yeah; you don't want to risk alienating voters by actually talking about issues

Whatever happened to the war? For months, it was all the rage on the campaign trail. Democratic contenders never missed a chance to pound on the Bush administration, rip the Republicans and remind voters over and over how badly things were going in Iraq. Republicans, as often as not, staunchly insisted that distant battles and homeland security went hand-in-hand. Day after day, stop after stop, the war was the focus of all things presidential. Now, the war is little more than a distant echo in most stump speeches. The Democrats are generally saying little more than “We should get out as soon as we can.” The Republicans are hardly mentioning it.

Hey, you remember the war, right? Yeah, that’s the reason so many of our sons and daughters are coming home from Iraq in flag-draped boxes. You’d think that the war would be Topic #1 on the campaign trail…but that would mean candidates actually having to take positions, or in some cases (et tu, Sen. Clinton?) justify their votes to authorize Our Glorious and Benevolent Leader’s © Excellent Adventure in Iraq © . Yeah, we couldn’t have that, could we?

Republicans aren’t mentioning the war because they know that the leader of the Party is the one responsible for the clusterf—k in Iraq. The GOP has the blood of 4,000 Americans on their hands, and they know it. They also think that if they ignore this reality, they can propagandize their way past it. The sad thing is that they’re probably right.

Democrats aren’t mentioning the war because for too long they’ve displayed exactly ZERO moral courage. They have caved in to the demands of The Worst President EVER © at every turn, even though they now hold a majority in both houses of Congress. Terrified of being branded as “soft on terrorism”, Democrats have talked a good ballgame, but haven’t backed it up with the courage of their convictions. I’m not sure there’s a working set of cojones in the Democratic majority.

Here’s a theory: Republicans know that a defining characteristic of the electorate now is widespread distaste for the war that Bush launched and has continued with the help of the Republican Party.

They know that voters want out, and so most of the GOP campaigners are like kids who got bad grades in school last week: Although they need to address the issue, for the moment they’d rather not mention it, for fear of further punishment.

The biggest exception of course, is Arizona Sen. John McCain. He is still talking about the war extensively and still trying to make the case for a continued U.S. presence in Iraq for years to come.

But why aren’t the Democrats talking it up so much anymore?

Simple: The war is going much, much better than it was a year ago — even a few months ago. You might even say we are winning. I fully accept that anytime our young people are dying and civilians are being killed in the midst of combat, it is difficult to even talk about winning or losing. But fatalities for troops and civilians alike are way down.

I’m not at all certain about the debate over whether or not we’re “winning” in Iraq. I’ll leave that argument to intellects nimbler than my own. It’s kind of hard to have an informed discussion from half a world away when you have to separate truth from propaganda- especially when the “truth” happens to depend on what side of the political divide you happen to occupy.

It would be nice to think that Indecision 2008 could turn into a discussion of how to move this country forward. Yeah, it would be nice…but it seems a horribly naive dream. No one wants to rock the boat or risk committing the sort of gaffe that might sink their ship before it can sail. Yes, it appears we’ll be served more empty platitudes and sound bites while more and more Americans continue to die in Iraq.

Same as it ever was, eh?

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Cluth published on January 15, 2008 5:28 AM.

It's getting so you can't keep them straight was the previous entry in this blog.

Those who do not learn the lessons of history are...oh, fuhgeddaboudit is the next entry in this blog.

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