"There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there," Bush told reporters at the White House. "My answer is: Bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation."
Bring 'em on? Let me get this straight: the President of the United States is encouraging Iraqi militants and Saddam loyalists to attack coalition soldiers? Mr. President, we may have the strongest military in the world but that doesn't make us invincible. You may feel invincible, but I have no doubt that the 19 year-old servicemen protecting the citizens of Baghdad don't exactly feel at ease.
He's proven it before - be it through cutting veterans medical care or by shrinking the paychecks of those who defend us - but now it's painfully clear: this president does not care about those in uniform. As long as his war is won, his popularity soars and Fox News is playing its triumphant anthems, this president doesn't care how many young men and women die protecting America.
I'm a big fan of David Brooks. He came to Kenyon last fall and gave a great talk that largely centered on his excellent book, Bobos In Paradise. He has a great knack for identifying the social and political dynamics that many of us see but don't fully understand. In his most recent piece in the Weekly Standard he takes a close look at how many Democrats have tied themselves in knots trying to show the evilness of the Bush administration so effectively that they have essentially weakened their own chances of success against him.
"It's mystifying. Fury rarely wins elections. Rage rarely appeals to suburban moderates. And there is a mountain of evidence that the Democrats are now racing away from swing voters, who do not hate George Bush, and who, despite their qualms about the economy and certain policies, do not feel that the republic is being raped by vile and illegitimate marauders. The Democrats, indeed, look like they're turning into a domestic version of the Palestinians--a group so enraged at their perceived oppressors, and so caught up in their own victimization, that they behave in ways that are patently not in their self-interest, and that are almost guaranteed to perpetuate their suffering."
Now, this analogy is probably too strong, but the general argument remains: Democrats are on the verge of losing it - and I'm not just talking about the election. People are flocking to Howard Dean, and his financial report will only embolden his support. But a lot of that is because he's the "hate Bush" candidate. As Brooks identifies clearly, the "hate Bush" candidate won't appeal to that very small segment of swing voters that Democrats desperately need. As the country has gotten more and more partisan, those swing states will become more and more important.
Demonizing the president won't play as well in West Virginia, Florida and Nevada as Dean might think. Sure there's lots of hatred out there, but it won't help Democrats win anything. Once primary voters realize this, they will realize that Dean isn't all he's cracked up to be - and Democrats will be better off because of it.