Sunday, August 21, 2005 Conservative notices the gathering storm What might have been: "It's time for us conservatives to face facts. George W. Bush has pissed away the conservative moment by pursuing a war of choice via policies that border on the criminally incompetent. . . . .

"While we remain bogged down in Iraq, of course, Osama bin Laden remains at large somewhere. Multi-tasking is all the rage these days, but whatever happened to finishing a job you started? It strikes me that catching Osama would have done a lot more to discourage the jihadists than anything we've done in Iraq."

"What really annoys me, however, are the domestic implications of all this. The conservative agenda has advanced hardly at all since the Iraq War began. Worse yet, the growing unpopularity of the war threatens to undo all the electoral gains we conservatives have achieved in this decade. Stalwarts like me are not going to vote for Birkenstock wearers no matter how bad things get in Iraq, but what about the proverbial soccer moms? Gerrymandering probably will save the House for us at least through the 2010 redistricting, but what about the Senate and the White House?"

This is a hopeful sign. It is one thing for liberals, consigned to the political wilderness to use coming storm rhetorical frames to express their fears of the consequences of bad policy, combined with hope that those undesired consequences will oust the hated ones. But, when conservatives sight the storm clouds, you can begin to think they are real. The storm is coming.

Of course, Democrats could still screw this up. The key is contained in a Bainbridge addendum: "I still think that's probably the worst possible strategy. But I'm very angry at Bush for having gotten us into this mess in the first place. And, as per the Powell doctrine, I do think it's time for the administration to come up with both a viable long-term goal and a clear exit strategy."

A Democrat calling for withdrawal is opening himself up to be blamed for losing Iraq: "the Democrats made us cut and run."

The right thing for the Democrats is to focus on making Iraq stick to Bush like hot tar, feathers to be added later.

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