Monday, January 19, 2004

Welcome to the Real World
NewsMax.Com is usually pretty entertaining. For a liberal, it's like a trip to the Bizarro World, where the cable channels are run by screaming liberals who Hate America, and Bill and Hillary are responsible for everything from September 11 to the budget deficit. But it's useful for getting an idea of the basic mindset of the conservative news consumer. Which is what makes this Paul Craig Roberts column interesting--instead of genuflecting at the Altar of Bush, it's highly critical of the Iraqi "trap" his neocon advisors have caught him in.

Roberts writes that if Bush delivers free elections to Iraq, he gets a Shi'ite majority and civil war, which will bring Turkish intervention; if he doesn't, he gets escalating Shi'ite violence as demands for free elections increase. Escalating violence from either source would eventually become more than our present armed forces could control without resorting to a draft, and would threaten the stability of the whole region, from Saudi Arabia to the Indian subcontinent.

Welcome to our side, Mr. Roberts. You have summarized the problem in the proverbial nutshell, and you have demonstrated that there's no good way out of it. It's precisely what we said a year ago when this whole show was getting ready to hit the road. It was perfectly clear then to anyone not drunk on the adminstration's Kool-Aid. That the existence of this trap is only becoming clear to a handful of conservatives now would be humorous if the stakes weren't so high and the outlook so grim.

Bush, of course, will not acknowledge one iota of this during his State of the Union speech tomorrow night. He'll say we're winning and praise the troops; he'll subtly blame Saddam for September 11; he'll promise to stay the course.

Recommended reading: On this Iowa Caucus Day, a CBS News/New York Times poll from over the weekend digs deep into voter attitudes regarding the direction of the country and the November election and provides some optimism for Democrats. It shows that the bounce Bush got after the capture of Saddam has evaporated, and that Howard Dean has recovered the drop in support he suffered after the capture. By two to one, Democratic voters say they'd prefer a nominee who opposed the war to one who supported it--also good news for Dean. And 42 percent of the voters still think Bush stole the 2000 election.

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