Monday, January 07, 2008

War? What war?? The Economy Trumps Iraq in US Primaries???

The implications from this mythology is that Republicans may be given a boost from Bush's semblant improvements in Iraq.
My Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Myths and Realities of the Primaries

Reuters reports:
The Iraq war, once the key issue in the U.S. presidential election, is taking a back seat to the economy as voters fret over a possible recession . . . . Polls in Iowa, the state that kicked off the process for choosing a president on Thursday, showed people pushing the war lower on their list.
The other night, I heard establishment pundit David Gergen say,
The entrance polls in Iowa certainly suggested that Iraq has receded ... as the central issue in the campaign, partly because the 'surge' is working and fatalities are down, and partly because the economy is getting worse. . . .

The latest numbers on jobs that came out (on Friday) ... are being interpreted by investors as yet another sign we may be heading toward a recession.
Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who argued Iraq's diminishing role in the election would be positive for Republican candidates, argues
It means that domestic issues, from what we can tell today, are likely to play a relatively greater role in determining votes. Anything that drives Iraq down the agenda helps Republicans because a majority of Americans think it was a mistake to have gone into Iraq in the first place, and there's very little that Republicans can say at this point to persuade people otherwise.
Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism at the Pew Research Center, which tracks media coverage of the war, goes along:
At this moment in time, the daily accounts [of the occupation] have subsided, the daily concern over 'Is the situation getting worse?' has eased off, and people are beginning to think about things closer to home.
Not! Not the way I see it.

The point is, we are in the Thermidorian Reaction of the Neo-Conservative revolution.
For historians of revolutionary movements, the term Thermidor has come to mean the phase in some revolutions when the political pendulum swings back towards something resembling a pre-revolutionary state, and power slips from the hands of the original revolutionary leadership.
At this point, we are at the same juncture (parallel - not exact) where we were when Lyndon Johnson announced on 31-Mar-68 that he was not running for re-election. Now, as then, the issues, pro- and con- the Iraq Occupation/Vietnam War are/were well settled.

Take a look at some clips from this late December Los Angeles Times Poll.


The vision of a protracted occupation of indefinite duration in Iraq eats at the soul and confidence of Americans. Its continuing and spiraling expense cast doubt over our being able to fund solutions to the myriad domestic problems and challenges which our nation faces. Internationally, Iraq remains an unmitigated public relations disaster.

For Americans, the problem of Iraq is no longer at issue. Because verdict is in. It is settled that Iraquagmire has been the worst self-inflicted shock to the American republic since the civil war. The terminal punctuation of the Busheney chapter in American history looms palpably in sight. Beginning in 378 days from now, Americans can begin the demolition of Bush's warfare state and his doctrine of preventive war. If they cannot annul this Overton break with the past, they can at least hope for its systemic repudiation.

It is this determination defines the profile of 'change' that animates voters in this primary season.

12 Moderated Comments:

Blogger LTE said...

What we see is that the candidate who did not vote for the Iraq War, who vocally opposed it from the beginning, beat the two other front runners who had voted for the war--even if they have now turned against it. The youth vote for Obama can't be explained by his superior policies on universal health care, at least as economist Paul Krugman reads the plans. Of course, opposition to the Iraq War is for younger voters part of a package. They see Obama as the candidate of change, and they want change. Change with regard to Iraq is however for over a third of them the key specific change that they want.

1/07/2008 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Urbanpink said...

I haven't thought about the Republican candidates in terms of the war much since they all seem to be for continuing it. If that is the case I think McCain is sitting strongest because he has never flip-flopped on his support and Republicans love that kind of loyalty. I think, though, that Vigilante you are absolutely right that this is settled and that Americans (and our enemies even) EXPECT us to leave Iraq soon. Any neocon who doesn't realize this is in for a shock when the crowd leaves the room when someone suggests staying on (they are so out of touch it's no wonder they are hopeful now). The perception that we're succeeding (even though we are still losing soldiers and the government is in shambles) means we can leave now, not that we can stay longer.

1/07/2008 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

Very insightful, vigilante. Your analysis is insightful and very credible.

I'm not sure Republicans are running away from Iraq, however. In fact, Guilani's new national commercial focuses totally on the war on terror (and effectively on Iraq). And McCain also hangs onto his Iraq position (his only credible position in the Republican Party where his stands on Immigration, taxes and campaign finance reform are at odds with the party).

Obama's popularity, on the other hand, transends Iraq. He is being heralded as the new "Kennedy" in the international press. America's youth are, indeed, supporting Obama in numbers and enthusiasm not seen since John and Robert Kennedy.

This is Obama's year. And while Iraq gave birth and credibility to Obama's candidacy, it has moved well beyond it now.

the Wizard........

1/07/2008 11:05:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Foregive me for this long comment, but I can't resist throwing into the mix my favorite columnist, Frank Rich, who wrote yesterday that Iowa voters Didn't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow. About Huckabee and Obama:

The two men are the youngest candidates in the entire field, the least angry and the least inclined to seek votes by saturation-bombing us with the post-9/11 arsenal of fear. They both radiate the kind of wit and joy (and, yes, hope) that can come only with self-confidence and a comfort in their own skins. They don't run from Americans who are not in their club.

To take two examples:

* Obama had no problem winning over a conclave of white Christian conservatives at Rick Warren's megachurch in Orange County, CA.

* Mr. Huckabee ignored the boycott of the top tier GOP candidates and showed up last fall for the PBS debate at the historically black Morgan State University and aced it.

And about the foundations of 'change':

The "they" who did not see the cultural power of these men, of course, includes not just the insular establishments of both their parties but the equally cloistered echo chamber of our political journalism's status quo . . . .

What was mostly forgotten in these errant narratives were the two largest elephants in the room: Iraq and George W. Bush. The conventional wisdom had it that both a tamped-down war and a lame-duck president were exiting so quickly from center stage that they were receding from the minds of voters. In truth, they were only receding from the minds of those covering those voters . . . .

. . . . .a majority of Americans favor withdrawal no matter what happened during the "surge."

. . . . .It's safe to assume that these same voters did not forget that Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Edwards enabled the Iraq fiasco. Or that Mr. Obama publicly opposed it.


The two elephants: makes my case!

1/07/2008 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger E said...

It's pure fantasy that Iraq is not a major issue among voters. If it has "receded" another spate of IED deaths among US troops would no doubt bring it back to the forefront. But, like you, I don't think it has receded. Especially since the pursuit of solutions to domestic issues will require funding--and where is much of that money going right now? Also, Obama's message of change includes changing how the US is perceived and received from a foreign policy perspective; that has to include our conduct of the war in Iraq.

1/08/2008 04:31:00 AM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...

The economy should be an issue.
UK living standards outstrip US
British living standards outstrip those across the Atlantic for first time in over a century.

1/08/2008 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger TomCat said...

Most rank and file Democrats are not fully aware of the Democratic candidates' positions on Iraq, because the broadcast MSM keeps telling them the ONLY difference is that Edwards and Clinton voted for it and regret it and that Obama was against it from the beginning. However, Clinton has never admitted that her vote was wrong and would continue large scale military operations. Her only pledge is to ask the joint chiefs for a "plan" to "start withdrawing troops". Obama has said he will withdraw most combat troops, but leave enough to continue offensive operations against Al Qaeda (20,000-30,000). Edwards has said that he will withdraw all combat troops in 2009, leaving only a security force (2,000-3,000) to protect the embassy and humanitarian workers. Obama's plan is better than Clinton's, but Edward's is the one I want implemented.

1/08/2008 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger adynaton said...

I agree with yellow dog that the economy should be a central issue. Especially now with the recession looming in the background.

1/08/2008 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger TonyR said...

We can't worry about the economy, we have to bash Bush about Iraq long after we are confined to using walkers and wheelchairs.

1/08/2008 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

Looks like the story of an Obama sweep is premature.

The race is back on.

I'm surprised, but not necessarily unhappy, with the New Hampshire results.

the Wizard............

1/08/2008 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Excluding Ron Paul's polling because he takes votes from both sides, here's what I see:

The top three Democratic contenders (Clinton, Obama & Edwards) won 56% of the votes.
The top four Republicans (McCain, Romney, Huckabee & Giuliani) won 44% of the votes.

That's close to a landslide for change in my book.

1/09/2008 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...

Healthcare:

France is healthcare leader, USA comes dead last

A study by the Commonwealth Fund and published in the January/February issue of the journal Health Affairs, written by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It looked at death rates in subjects younger than 75 that could have been prevented by timely and effective medical care.

The 19 countries, in order of best to worst, were: France, Japan, Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

1/09/2008 08:24:00 AM  

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