The Sweet Spot

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit talks about what he calls the sweet spot :

JOE GANDELMAN looks at Republican pundits deserting Bush, which does seem to be a phenomenon. Bush -- who, as I've said before, has always been politically weak, just stronger than Kerry or Gore -- is in the "sweet spot" on the war, fighting hard enough to anger the antiwar folks but not hard enough to please the prowar folks. This might argue that Bush is getting it right, but I suspect not. If you're going to fight a war, you should probably fight it full bore or not at all, raising the troubling possibility that both sets of critics are right simultaneously. But perhaps a nuanced approach is called for.

Harry Truman once said that we should have another Cabinet position for columnists because they think they run the damn country anyway.

The pundits might be unhappy with Bush, but I am unhappy with them. The conservatives know full well that Bush can not push any harder, he is not King. We are all waiting with baited breath to find out if the Democrats win the midterms because if they do the only people being hunted down for the next two years will be Bush administration officials.

Bush can't just invade Syria and Iran. He can not fight Israel's wars for them. He can not start killing Iraqis without giving a passing thought to how the newly elected government there will react, or if it will survive. The pundits can rail all they want but in truth they are reminding me of fair weather friends and sunshine patriots.

Glenn says we should either fight the war all the way or not at all. Well, what does that really mean? We were on the other side of a tug of war with the Soviet Union for decades, but we did not invade Russia. Does that mean we never really stood against communism? Should we go after North Korea without a thought to Seoul? Should we invade Iran with its population of 75 million? And if we do not do these things should we replace Lady Liberty's torch with a white flag? If Bush wanted to do these things could he get the Congressional support to follow through? This is not about nuance, it is about what is and is not politcally viable.

The pundits are bored, they are tired of the war and they want Bush to end it one way or the other so that they can move onto the next big thing. When it comes to political issues, whether it be immigration, war or judges it seems that people have two states of mind: hysteria and boredom. It is either all they can talk about or they are disillusioned and just tired of it all.

Meanwhile Bush has to be prepared to go to court over the Terrorist Surveillance Program. And where are the conservative pundits who are supposed to be so concerned about things like national security? Bitching and moaning and bitching and moaning. They may bitch and moan themselves right into a minority.

I hear that Giuliani is the number one pick so far for 2008. What makes these conservatives think he will be anymore to their liking than George W. Bush has been?


chuck said...


terrye said...


nomdeblog said...

Well put Terrye, I agree completely. There is such a thing as a utopian right. I never noticed it until recently.

Bush and Blair have come a long way by finally naming the enemy – Islamic Fascists. Now I can use those terms at cocktail parties without the usual- OMG he’s crazy.

There are 1.3 billion Muslims and they are growing. We could walk away from the Viet Cong but not these guys; they may live on our street.

In a world of 6.5 billion people growing to 9 billion by 2050, America is only 300 million. You can’t carry the whole world on your shoulders. The utopian EU has disarmed. This time the US cannot simply bomb Islam into surrender like Nagasaki.

Nevertheless we’ll win this war militarily eventually but our risk is against ourselves, that we’ll lack the will to carry on the internal propaganda war. In Canada I can’t say that we’ve yet turned the corner on the propaganda war. But I can now talk about this subject without people giving me the “oh well, he’s a crazy redneck” look. I go to Denmark a lot and I now get listened to there. I sense from Peter UK that it hasn’t changed much in the UK, but I’d bet it will.

This war will be won because there are enough of us that won’t quit. We used to say I’d rather be dead than red. Now it’s - I’d rather be dead than dhimmi.

Peter UK said...

I have tested "The Sweet Spot" myself $19.99 from Amazon

Barry Dauphin said...

From the beginning Bush and Cheney said this would be a different war and that it would be long and difficult and be fought in a variety of ways and fronts. I think some folks are longing for a definable victory on the battlefield. The messiness and uncertainty of events is disconcerting to the hurrumph corner of the right.

The entire citizenry is experiencing the fog of war on a real time basis. This is the battlefield, i.e., the hearts and minds of us all.

vnjagvet said...

Liberal Richard Reeves, in a recent, mostly complimentary, article about Ronald Reagan in American Heritage points out that after a summit between Reagan and Gorbachev in 1987:

"With conservatives denouncing Reagan for selling out—his friend George Will accused him of losing the Cold War—the President and the General Secretary gambled their political futures (and their countries’ too) on their personal relationship."

Of course, that was later understood to be one of the decisive moments in winning the Cold War.

Punditry is "often wrong but never in doubt" as the saying goes.

Peter UK said...

I can't see a meeting between a president of the US and the president of Iran like the summit between Reagan and Gorbachev in 1987.There is no rational basis for negotiations

terrye said...


No, but there might be a rational basis for negotiations with other leaders in the region and they might be able to put pressure on the mullahs.

Mao was not a rational man either, but the world survived him. Stalin was psycho as well. What we have to worry about is whether the leadership in Iran is as nuts as their rhetoric.

vnjagvet said...


I wasn't suggesting that Bush should be personally talking to anyone in the Mid East.

Just that pundits sometimes misunderstand the purposes of presidential activities, be they negotiations or military action.

Presidential decisions are often reactionary, and binary. While Yogi Berra's advice "if you see a fork in the road, take it" sounds suspect to the sophisticated, a President often has to make a decision just like that. Simply not crashing in the middle is sometimes the best you can do.

Peter UK said...

Yes but they thoughtfully poisoned Stalin,even then there is a world of difference between dialectical materialiism and millinarian theocracy,the latter believes that if it cannot win then we should all go together

Peter UK said...

Oh I think someone should try,but to whom? Ahmadinejad is not the power in Iran,the Ayatollah with the most vulnerable business investments would seem ideal,a quiet chat about liquidating assets,the fact that if Allah had wanted them all to go,he wouldn't have let Ahmadinejad fall down the well.

terrye said...


I understand what you are saying. However, to the majority of the American people another war is not something to look forward to and while they are willing to believe that the mullahs are insane and do believe that we should all go together...they are not prepared to obliterate the country .

And that is really the point isn't it? Some folks on the Right are so sure that Iran is going to kill us all or create a nuclear war that the only sensible thing to do is kill them first. But we have been hearing about doomsday scenarios forever. And yet, we are still here. And so people hesitate and hope for the best. And it is also true that most people I know are just tired of the mayhem. They are tired of seeing reports of people being killed in some awful violent way. They do not want any more of it. Not unless they see no alternative.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Well said Terrye.

I think the pendulum is definitely swinging in the anti-Bush, anti-Israeli, anti-war direction, which was inevitable. People are tired and want it all to go away, which it emphatically won't. The question is now how far this swing will go and how deep the damage it causes. My suspicion is: not much. Because as nomdeblog said so well, unlike the North Vietnamese, these people are not going away and are not stopping their attacks. Whenever we turn the other cheek they kick us in the groin. They are behaving in a decidedly non-Christian manner and our Christian secularists just can't wrap their minds around that quite yet.

terrye said...


I think the pundits are one thing and the people are another. Pundits live and breathe this stuff so they go tired of it all, but while people are tired of seeing the mayhem on TV...they are also sick to death of oil rich Arabs crying about tough they have it and they are also sick of the Middle East.

The phrase I hear most often, Those people are nuts.

This can work for Bush as much as the other works against him.

People may be sick of the war, but they don't even want to get on a plane with a young man from the Middle East.

That keeps the pendulem from going too far the other way. Well except for the pundits but most of them are disconnected from reality anyway.

CF said...

Toqueville observed that democracies haven't the patience to endure long wars. Well, we have to. Luckily, out opponents will surely remind the rest of us why we can't leave the field.

I used to regularly host people on Sunday afternoons around the pool. Among the regulars was my neighbor I.F. Stone and friend Richard Perle who regularly debated Reagan's foreign policy. After the USSR threw in the towel, Stone told me he was wrong and Richard right--that spending more on defense and staying firm had proven to be the way to break up the Soviet Empire--

terrye said...


I remember I.F.Stone debating Kent State with someone. But I can not remember the other guy, maybe it was Perle. That has been awhile ago.

Sometimes it takes distance to see things and right now people have none.

lurker said...

"Sometimes it takes distance to see things and right now people have none."

As vnjagvet pointed out, it takes time to see things in retrospect. I've a feeling that many people will, eventually, ultimately, and in retropsect, learn of many decisive moments of the Bush adm.

nomdeblog, Bush already knew the enemy for a long time. There are non-Islam fascism but they haven't been as bad as Islamofasism because of the strengh in the horrors of terrorism.

lurker said...

If Guiliani or any other Republicans win '08, they would be as subjected to BDS as Bush has been.

Peter UK said...

Terrye,Who siad anything about obliterating the Iran? Frankly it does not matter what the people think,it is what the rulers of Iran think your intentions are,MAD worked because each side was convinced the other would retaliate to a first strike nuclear attack.It is obvious,from various terror attacks,the recent Hezbollah action that Tehran is not convinced that there is any cost to their provocations.It is equally obvious that those provocations are increasing in intensity.In the not too distant future,Iran willl have nuclear weapons,so if the people do not have the will,it is up to the administration to fake it.