How Bush Lost the Right by Waging the Wrong War

It’s a given that Republicans have lost the confidence of conservatives over issue after issue; unfulfilled promise after unfulfilled promise.  From spending to immigration; from expanding rather than eliminating the Department of (Mis)Education to the creation of the new prescription drug entitlement.  But when you hear that conservative support for the war in Iraq is a major reason the GOP may lose control on Congress next week, you have to wonder if that’s true or just left-wing media spin.
Sadly, it’s true.
But not for the reasons the Left would have you believe.  It’s not that the Right doesn’t still support the war on terror or even the war in Iraq.  It’s that the White House is losing the Right’s support for not aggressively pursuing the war; for pussy-footing around and waging a politically correct “sensitive” war.
This erosion of support started almost immediately after 9/11, and has decreased steadily ever since.  Let me suggest six key turning points which have helped chip away at conservative support for President Bush’s war effort.
The first missed opportunity was the president’s post-9/11 statements.  Instead of telling the American people to get back to their normal lives, he should have called for sacrifice.  And he should have stoked the public’s righteous anger into support for doing whatever was necessary to wipe this militant Islamic scourge from the face of the earth.  And his very first action should have been to announce to the world that he was rescinding the Executive Order which bans assassinations of foreign leaders.
I’m not saying he necessarily should have used it; but he should have declared it.  He should have sent the unmistakable message that America would not fight this war with one hand tied behind its back.  And that if one of our Marine sharp-shooters gets a shot at a dirtbag, that dirtbag is going down.  End of story.  Case closed.  Hello, 72 virgins.
Then the world would have known we were serious.  Dead serious.
The second decision which began a slow erosion of conservative support for the president’s war on terror was the president’s new war on grannies and toddlers.  I’m talking about combining a bunch of big federal agencies into one HUGE federal agency – the Department of Homeland Security.  Oh, and its evil spawn, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Conservatives instinctively know that expanding the government bureaucracy is never the answer to a problem.  By taking private airport security screeners and making them government workers, Republicans asked for – begged for – the backlash they’re getting now.  The longest lines in the United States today are government-created: the DMV and the TSA.  Thanks, Republicans.
But wasn’t just the federalizing of an entire workforce.  And it’s not just the inconvenience.  It’s the pure stupidity.  It’s watching little old ladies and tots in strollers being patted down while 18-to-34 year old Middle Eastern men are shuffled right on through for fear of being accused of “profiling.”  A nation serious about winning a war isn’t worried about offending the sensitivities of those who just happen to match the description of those most likely to do us harm.
As for going into Iraq, conservatives aren’t having second thoughts about that.  They’re not buying the liberal line that “Bush lied and people died.”  Saddam Hussein was one of the bad guys.  In fact, he was one of the worst or the worst bad guys.  Given the chance he’d have gladly financed, if not organized, additional attacks on America (or Israel).  Saddam gave us reason, cause and opportunity to make an example out of somebody.  And lo and behold, almost the minute Saddam went down, Muammar Khadafi gave up all his hidden, secret weapons of mass destruction.  Go figure.
Which brings me to the third big mistake the Administration made in the war.  We knew Saddam was one of the bad guys, and we knew we were going to take him out.  But instead of doing so immediately, we pussy-footed around with the United Nations and the Democrats for months.  Months in which Saddam had plenty of opportunity to hide weapons that everybody, including the hapless Bill Clinton, knew he had (after all, he’d USED them already on his own people in Halabjah).
The Air Force and the Navy’s rockets red glare should have lit up Baghdad in October, not March.
And just think, as a White House spokesman said at the time (which landed him in a heap of trouble), one sniper’s bullet back then could avoided this whole thing.
Taking out the Taliban in Afghanistan and taking down Saddam in Iraq WAS the original mission of our military.  So yes, THAT mission WAS accomplished…no matter how much and how often the Left continues to deny it.  The problems which have eroded conservative support for the war effort have occurred afterward.
The first major sign that the Administration wasn’t taking prosecution of the war seriously was when Americans learned that pilotless Predator aircraft were patrolling the battlefield armed with Hellfire missiles but let one of the bad guys go.  We learned that a Predator had Taliban leader Mullah Omar in its sights, but as USA Today noted, “military lawyers could not decide whether he could be struck.”  Instead of taking the dirtball out, the Predator’s missiles “were ultimately fired near him, but not to kill him.”
What?  A declared enemy of the nation could have been taken out, but our military wasn’t allowed to do so because of…lawyers?  Is that insane or what?  No wonder conservatives are ticked off.  Who’s running this show…the Pentagon or the ACLU?  If it’s the ACLU, “Check, please.”
And then there was Fallujah.
Americans were told that the Iraqi city of Fallujah was Insurgent Central.  It was a terrorist swamp.  Indeed, the top leaders of the opposition were believed to be holed up in Fallujah.  The military’s mission: Drain the swamp.  Exterminate the vermin.  And if that means blowing up a mosque or two in the process, so be it.
But, nooooooo.
Political considerations entered the picture.  Some in the new Iraqi government – which wouldn’t even BE there if not for the United States military – objected.  So the swamp-draining mission into Fallujah was postponed…and by the time we finally did go in, most of the terrorist roaches had already checked out.
But I think the biggest mistake we made was in capturing Saddam Hussein.  Not in actually capturing him, but in not immediately giving him a firing squad instead of a two-year (and counting) circus trial for all the world to see.  Where’s Judge Roy Bean when you need him?  (“Bring that guilty man in here so we can give him a fair trial and a proper hanging before dinner.”)  
THAT’S what Saddam deserved.  THAT’S what he should have gotten.  And if Americans didn’t have the stomach for it, they should have just turned him over to the Kurds in Halabjah.
If Republicans are losing conservative support for the war in Iraq or the war on terror, it’s not because conservatives don’t support the notion of the war in Iraq or the war on terror.  It’s because conservatives no longer believe this administration is willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to WIN the war.
Saddam’s still alive…and 3,000 American servicemen and women are dead.  Lawyers are calling the shots, not generals.  We can’t blow up buildings where terrorists and insurgents are hiding.  Military missions are delayed for political considerations.
But at least no one’s allowed to carry a big tube of toothpaste on a plane any longer.
And that’s why the war in Iraq may now be a reason why Republicans lose control of Congress next Tuesday.  Get me Jack Bauer on the phone.