Lies, Damned Lies, and Charles Krauthammer

In his column today, Charles Krauthammer attempts to spin the election as an earthquake that was oh-so-close to being no big deal, really:
... the difference between taking one house vs. both -- and thus between normal six-year incumbent-party losses and a major earthquake that shakes the presidency -- was razor-thin in this election. A switch of just 1,424 votes in Montana would have kept the Senate Republican.

In the final numbers on CNN, Jon Tester defeated incumbent Conrad Burns by 2,847 votes. Krauthammer deftly knocks this number in half to better suggest the closeness of the election.

But he neglects to point out that Montana is so sparsely populated that only 404,000 people voted in that Senate race, making the 2,847-vote margin of victory seem smaller than it is.

Tester smoked Burns by seven-tenths of one percent. That's an extremely close race, but in a more populous state like Florida, which had 4.7 million votes cast in its Senate race, that margin would've been a win by 33,000 votes.


However you slice it, a lot of the races were close. In the aggregate, the Democrats won big, as the Republicans did in 2004. In race by race terms, it was a lot closer.

The Democrats now have the opportunity to do exactly what the Republicans did - misinterpret a narrow win as a clear sign that it's party time, and alienate the people who aren't terribly partisan on either end.

For instance: The Democrat base wants out of Iraq. However, that's not as simple as McGovern would have you believe. If we depart quickly, a huge power vacuum will open up. If you think the forces of good will fill that in, you're dreaming - the most likely result will be a regional war, as Iran funds the Shia, Turkey kicks the Kurds down, and the Sunni powers (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, et. al.) decide that having another Shia state - and one on the border of Saudi Arabia - is not a good plan.

If you liked Afghanistan after the fall of the Soviet backed state, you'll love post-withdrawal Iraq. The big difference will be oil revenues and regional power contention.

And speaking of Afghanistan - after we leave Iraq, what do you think the opinion of the typical civilian who has to live there is going to be? Faith that we'll stick it out, or time to suck up to the Taliban, since the US looks like it isn't willing to stay in for the long haul?

You may not like this Rogers, but if we leave Iraq, here's where things will be within 18 months: Back to the status quo ante of September 10, but with an oil funded state (Iraq) added to the global jihad funding list. A lot of people seem to think "fine, they'll just stay there". Tell that to the Christian girls who were beheaded in Indonesia, or to the 10,000+ killed thus far in southern Thailand. The jihadists have a global vision, whether you want to ignore it or not. Iraq is a messy place now. Leaving will not make it less so.

Heck, look at France and Sweden. Both have significant muslim minorities. Neither are engaged in Iraq. Both have ceded control to a set of crypto-Islamic gangs in multiple segments of their countries - France is still suffering 100+ cars burned a night, with ambushes of police and fire units common. The unassimilated "youths" doing these things are second generation immigrants who've been radicalized by outside funding (mostly Saudi).

If you think leaving Iraq will solve the problem, be prepared to be very surprised when the jihadists - currently fighting there - follow us home for follow up attacks. I don't have a simple plan for Iraq - I don't think anyone does. If you think negotiating with Iran and Syria will help, you're delusional though. If they believe that we are on the way out, what possible reason would they have to stop pushing things their way in Iraq?

I'll answer more at length when I'm not heading out the door, but my short answer is this: There's no good solution for getting out of Iraq, but our chances of finding one are better in a divided government with real checks and balances.

The Democrats are in "be careful what you wish for" territory now, because the party owns the Iraq war as much as Bush does from the moment Speaker Pelosi is sworn in.

krauthammer's math seems fine to me. if you subtract 1,424 from tester and then add those to burns, he wins by one vote.

His math is fine, but it's misleading without the context that it's in a 400,000-vote race.

I am a Republican and I can honestly say we deserved to lose.

Any spin otherwise is simply a lie.

We lost because our policies over the past 6 years have been crap.

The Democrats will bury theselves, just like the Republicans did. It is a cycle. It is that simple...

James Robertson has a thoughtful critique of the situation the U.S. finds itself in Iraq, but I don't hear the Democrats clamoring for immediate, total withdrawal. Rogers is right that the party will own the war as much as Bush does the moment Pelosi is sworn in, but it should be plain by now that the U.S. will never 'win' the war as long as it is an occupying power there. Didn't we learn anything in Vietnam, or from Russia's adventure in Afghanistan, for that matter?

The only way to 'win' is to initiate a phased withdrawal, and to accept the fact that there will always be war in Iraq until the Kurds are an independent state, short of another strongman like Saddam Hussein taking over, notwithstanding the power struggles between the Shia and the Sunnis.

Things really were simpler when the Soviet Union wielded more power in its own geographic sphere of influence. Pardon me, but I always thought it was rather presumptuous of the United States to assert the Monroe Doctrine, and yet throw its weight around in the eastern hemisphere as if that were a God-ordained fact of life. I'm only amazed that it took the U.S.S.R. so long to counter with the Brezhnev Doctrine. The tension between the Superpowers and their jockeying for influence in the Middle East defused a lot of the latent energy for Islamic jihad.

Anwar Sadat's greatest mistake was not demanding a quid pro quo for his co-operation with Jimmy Carter's peace initiative.I suggest that if the U.S. were really serious about 'helping' Iraq, and if this war was really about 'freedom', then the $600 million the U.S. is spending on a mysterious fortress/palace for its embassy would be better spent replacing the infrastructure that it destroyed, and promised to rebuild ("The embassy will sit on 104 acres, six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York."--AP, April 14, 2006. Isn't that ironic? You see, the U.S. government seems very certain that we'll be an occupying power there for a long time, unless this is just one more bone cynically tossed to Halliburton, no matter the cost to the U.S. taxpayer if we abscond.)

I have seen more of this crap on tv tonight...

Recall that in the 2004 election, if 60,000 voters had gone the other way in Ohio, Kerry would now be sitting in the oval office. Yet that magin, which is razor-thin by national standards, didn't stop Krauthammer from writing at the time (Chapter Two, 11/5/04) that "[the 2004] election was a referendum on Bush... the endorsement was resounding." Sounds to me like Krauthammer just has a case of sour apples.

I see from my reading that 'phased redeployment' is the favored euphemism for 'phased withdrawal'. Well, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet."

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