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Friday

"You can't send mixed messages to the troops"

This line of Bush's (heard several times during the display last night) seems to confuse some people. They think it's an ultimate underhanded argument, to impugn the challenger's patriotism, imply that he is treasonous, because he discusses what's going wrong in the war.

If you notice, one of the president's major attacks on Kerry through the dabeate was his claim that Kerry's criticism of the president's own war policy made him unfit to be president. That's extraordinary - certainly a set of rules that would put Kerry in something of a bind if he followed them, no?

Well, first of all, we assume that Bush is referring to the guerilla insurgency in Iraq, but what if he means the War on Terror itself? Wouldn't that be interesting? It's not such a stretch, given what we have observed so far of the President's penchant for gravitating his thinking to the broadest of terms when dealing with any issue.

But more importantly, I think everyone's missing the deeper reading of this charge of Bush's. It is a continuation of his most fruitful line of attack, the inversion of Kerry's Vietnam credentials. Bush hasn't yet come out and explained the charge in full detail, but I'm sure he or Cheney will, and the gist of it will be: it was the criticism of the war effort in Vietnam by men such as Kerry that lost us the war, and now it the criticism of the war effort in Iraq (or against Islamic fundamentalism more broadly) by men such as Kerry that is costing us this war. This is clearly a genius move on Rove's part, and I enjoy hearing this attack because deep down, I agree with it: personally, I do think we should and will lose the war in Iraq... but that's neither here nor there, I am not an expert on the subject.

Let me just say instead that the conceptual basis for such an attack rests on the unshakeable belief of Americans that America is all-powerful, and can only lose a war by its own lack of resolve. It can only experience economic depression when its consumers lose heart and fail to purchase enough, you can only wind up a poor American if you don't exert yourself enough, democracy and capitalism American-style are the bride and groom of the prosperous world of the future, etc.
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