A Republican Divide
The New York Times has an interesting article up about the Iraq Study Group’s report and what it tells us about the state of the Republican Party. According to the NYT (and I do not quite see how one can possibly disagree with it), it is a sign of the division that exists within the Republican Party about how to deal with Iraq. A division that’s deep. Very deep.
Republican moderates clung to the report, mindful of the drubbing the party received in last monthâ€™s midterm elections, largely because of Iraq. They said they hoped President Bush would adopt the groupâ€™s principal recommendations and begin the process of disengagement from the long and costly war.
It is too early to say how the war will figure in Republican primary battles, as other potential candidates are still developing their positions and conditions on the ground in Iraq may change. Mr. McCainâ€™s chief early rival, Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, has been in Asia all week and has not yet read the report, an aide said.
The ambivalence and introspection were summed up by Senator Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, who spoke at length in the Senate this week about the dangers of withdrawing from Iraq but said he could no longer support the status quo.
â€œI, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day,â€? Mr. Smith said. â€œThat is absurd. It may even be criminal. I cannot support that anymore. I believe we need to figure out how to fight the war on terror and to do it right. So either we clear and hold and build, or letâ€™s go home.â€?
To all those who are interested I’d say read the entire article.
Representative Christopher Shays, the Connecticut Republican who survived a Democratic electoral sweep across New England last month, said, â€œI donâ€™t think thereâ€™s a real consensus in Congress in generalâ€? on Iraq. But he added, â€œHaving been to Iraq 15 times, staying the course would just be foolish.”
â€œTo ignore the message sent in the last election is to do so at our political peril, because the message was a resounding repudiation of the status quo with respect to Iraq,â€? said Senator Olympia J. Snowe, the moderate Republican from Maine. â€œThe American people are essentially unified in their intense dissatisfaction with the way things have progressed in Iraq.â€?
We have Shays, Snowe, etc., but we also have the Rush Limbaughs, Perles, etc., of this world who strongly disagree with just about every aspect of the report. What we see now are Republicans going after Republicans, neoconservative Republicans calling moderate Republicans “surrender monkeys”, etc. Some conservative blogs joined in on the fun…
The most important question is, obviously, what side will win? Will it be the moderates, or will it be the neoconservatives? Personally, I believe that the Republican Party can only win the elections in 08, if its candidate is a moderate or something like a Goldwater conservative. McCain might think that he needs to profile himself as George W. Bush II, but I think that he is making a fatal strategic mistake if he does.
My view is that the Republican Party has to reform itself. Will it do so before 08, or does it need another major defeat before the message finally gets through?