Political Hay

Blood for Power

For Democrats, the simplest path to winning in November is losing in Iraq.

By 6.30.04

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President Bush's overall approval rating and his standing versus John Kerry tend to rise and fall with his Iraq numbers. He has experienced a brutal six months, with military setbacks, intelligence failures, a prison scandal, 9/11 hearings, several negative books, and now a blockbuster anti-Bush film, Fahrenheit 911. Yet for all of that, the race is a dead heat. While pollsters may discuss other issues like health care and education, intuition says that the election is all about Bush and the war.

It stands to reason, then, that Kerry's hopes in November depend greatly on U.S. failure in Iraq. Fahrenheit 911 underscores this point. The focus of hard-lefties like Michael Moore, as well as a good deal of the Democratic Party, is on weakening a wartime president so that he is unable to prosecute the war effectively and goes down to defeat. Unfortunately, success in this endeavor carries with it certain real-world consequences, like U.S. casualties, the failure of U.S. policy, and the empowerment of our enemies.

Such is the Faustian bargain the Democrats are making -- dead Americans in exchange for the presidency. Are they really willing to trade U.S. success in Iraq for the White House? Unfortunately, they have already answered. The presence of leading Democrats at Fahrenheit's Washington premiere should remind us of what that answer is. They are willing to cripple the war effort if doing so will defeat the president.

Kerry's absence from the Fahrenheit premiere is less important than his silence about the film. Sooner or later, someone will ask him about it, and he'll give a tortured answer. Whatever he says or seems to say, it won't be a condemnation. If there's anything to bank on between now and November, that's it.

The Democrats showed their colors long before Moore came to town. Their obsession with Abu Ghraib, their barely-contained glee at the inability to find weapons of mass destruction, and their posturing over the intelligence failures in Iraq and in the 9/11 hearings are just a handful of examples. The party wants to return to the White House, and it needs death and disaster to get there.

The Left, and much of the Democratic Party, see George W. Bush as a tyrant; a "miserable failure," in the words of Richard Gephardt; a Fascist by the lights of a sitting federal judge and a former vice president; and a war criminal in the view of a party-endorsed propagandist. So ousting him would be worth more than a little sacrifice. (Maybe Moore can reprise a scene in his film and ask liberals if they would be willing to send their children to die in exchange for Bush's defeat.) If the price of beating Bush is losing the war, and losing the war by necessity means the death of U.S. troops in substantial numbers, isn't that a fair price to pay? The future of civilization is at stake.

The Left has been down this road before. They wanted us out of Vietnam, and the way to accomplish that was to demoralize the American public, thereby emboldening the enemy and ensuring a protracted struggle, and more casualties. The body bags they pretended to decry were crucial to their success; they relied on death far more than did the warmakers they demonized. Theirs was the most bloodthirsty peace movement in American history.

Thirty-five years later, it's a replay. The Democrats need for the United States to lose in Iraq, whether that means a military withdrawal under duress, the collapse of the government that just took over, or some other dark scenario.

The Left didn't get this far by telling the truth, so naturally they will never admit such things. They'll go on mouthing platitudes about how they "support the troops," all the while spreading slanders against the commander of those troops that weaken his ability to protect them and bring them home alive. And they'll know, no matter how they deny it, that every dead soldier or Marine they see on the television helps to advance their cause. They give different names to that cause -- anti-Bush, anti-war -- but no matter their goal, the means is the same: the defeat of the United States.

Their standard bearer, John Kerry, became famous in 1971 with a question: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

Thirty-three years later, it's Senator Kerry's turn to answer a question: How do you ask for a nation's support when your success depends on its failure?

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About the Author

Paul Beston is associate editor of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal.