alien & sedition.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
  Tales from the Dolchstosslegende, Part XXVIII

It's becoming ever more clear that Republicans are planning to put the Dolchstosslegende at the center of their 2008 strategy. Consider, for instance, Eli Lake's op-ed in today's New York Sun, "welcoming" Senator Brownback back into the anti-anti-war fold. Brownback, who has been waffling artlessly on the escalation, ultimately came out against the latest anti-surge resolution in the Senate:
In prose Vice President Cheney might use, he said the Reid resolution, which lost 50 to 48, played directly into the hands of Al Qaeda. Today, the senator's campaign Web site says the situation in Iraq is "precarious, but hopeful."
Of course, it was in fact the Iraq war itself that has played directly into the hands of Al Qaeda - succeeding beyond Osama bin Laden's wildest dreams. But bracket that. Here's Brownback, for one, embracing the Dolchstosslegende. Lake argues that the Senator flipped because he didn't like the Democrats' timetable - and because he was frightened of Hugh Hewitt-esque backlash against anti-war Republicans. One might suggest that Brownback's change of heart in fact had a lot more to do with the latter than with the former.

So we know that Senator Brownback is a real man of principle. Meanwhile, Lake sounds curiously optimistic describing the situation on the right:
In other words, Messrs. Hewitt and [Mark] Levin, along with such figures as Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Michael Reagan, are defining the base. While taxes, immigration, and values are important, this year the war trumps all. The people who will show up in New Hampshire and Iowa to pick the Republican nominee are victory voters.

Hence for all of their flaws, the big three contenders for the Republican prize talk about winning in Iraq. Mayor Giuliani may be too left on the social issues. Senator McCain may be too much of a lick-spittle to the liberal press. Governor Romney may be too new to the struggle. But none of the three wants to sabotage the mission the way the liberal Democrats do. It was Mr. Brownback who sputtered on the war, and when it became clear that it was not a winning course, he made a course correction.
Now, if I were a Republican strategist, passages like this would have me buying Tums by the carton. The GOP's presidential candidates are gambling that a year and eight months from now, the American public will still be in the mood to hear their leaders yakking about the need to stay the course in Iraq. Even worse, the Republican field is, apparently, beholden to the political strategy advice of people like Hugh Hewitt, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh.

So there's that self-marginalization again. But maybe they're counting on the intensity of the Dolchstosslegende to overcome it - after all, they pulled off something similar in 2004. Now that the Democrats have at last more or less come out against the war, it's clarified. Democrats are not seeking the support of "victory voters." They, to use Lake's execrable phrasing, "want to sabotage the mission."

You can see, theoretically speaking, the utility of the stab-in-the-back myth. It can be used against Democrats while the war still sputters along; it can be used just as effectively - perhaps moreso - after the war is over. So in one sense, it's a way for Republicans to hedge their bets on the question of whether or not the war will end before November '08. In another sense, as we've discussed, it's a way to try and shift the blame for the failure in Iraq from where it clearly belongs - with the Republican party - to the Democrats.

To be successful in 2008, the Democrats and their nominee will have to find an effective way of dealing with this. I always like ridicule, but maybe there are other approaches. Meanwhile, as pretty as the Dolchstosslegende sounds to conservatives, they might consider that, these days, their Hannity- and Limbaugh-composed tunes don't actually resonate so well outside the conservative echo chamber.

Labels: , , , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

"An obscure but fantastic blog." - Markus Kolic


Critical analysis of the American conservative movement from a progressive perspective. Also some stuff about the Mets.

Email Me

Favorite Posts

I Was a Mole at the Conservative Summit, Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Wars of Perception, Part One
Wars of Perception, Part Two

Conservative Futures
Reading Conservative History


I also post at:

The Daily Gotham
The Albany Project
The Right's Field

Various favorites:

Ben Weyl
Chase Martyn
Cliff Schecter
Crooked Timber
D-Day (David Dayen)
Daily Kos
Ezra Klein
Five Before Chaos
Future Majority
Glenn Greenwald
The Group News Blog
Jon Swift
Lawyers, Guns, and Money
Matt Ortega
Matthew Yglesias
My Thinking Corner
New Democratic Majority
The November Blog
The Osterley Times
A Pedestrian View
The Poor Man Institute
Progressive Historians
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
Talking Points Memo
Think Progress
The Third Estate
Undercover Blue
Vernon Lee
wAitiNG foR doROthY

Watching the right:

Orcinus (Dave Neiwert)
Rick Perlstein
Right Wing Watch
Sadly, No!

The conservative wonkosphere: (AEI)
The American Scene
Andrew Sullivan
Cato @ Liberty
Contentions (Commentary Magazine)
Crunchy Con (Rod Dreher)
Daniel Larison
Eye on '08 (Soren Dayton)
Jim Henley
Josh Trevino
Mainstream Libertarian
National Review Online
Patrick Ruffini
Ross Douthat
Ryan Sager
The Weekly Standard

New Yorkers:

Amazin' Avenue
Chris Owens
Z. Madison


December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2008

Powered by Blogger