What an opening for Bush. Frankly, I find it almost stupefying. The theme of Bush’s convention-closing speech is “The Ownership Society” — meant as a paean to private enterprise and privatization. But herein resides a final irony. Few, if anyone, are going to remember the little Clinton-like domestic applet programs that Bush is going to announce. Immensely more profound is a different kind of ownership being cemented here this week.
The Republicans are, rather boldly, assuming full ownership of what wiser folks assume is the inevitable disaster of the Iraqi war. One convention speaker after another may be spinning, obfuscating, blurring or embroidering, but no one is dodging or flinching. You wanna talk Iraq? Then let’s talk Iraq. This here is a “war president” and, yes, this is his war. Whatchagonnadoaboutit? The other guy already said if he had to do it over again, he’d again vote war authority to Bush.
Just as the American death toll nears a thousand. Just as the number of American wounded crosses 7,000. Just as Najaf, like Fallujah before it, exposes the limits and the folly of American firepower, George W. Bush and the Republicans not only don’t flee from the issue of the war, they embrace it. From the McCain moderates right through to the Dick Cheney crackers crowd. And the delegates stomp and cheer and wave the flag.
Talk about turning lemons into lemonade. The Republicans are squeezing hard, and they are probably as surprised as anybody to see how little resistance they meet.