Monday, April 21, 2008

We're Still at War. McCain Wins in '08.

I am up to my eyebrows in grading, but I do not want to leave the blog "dead." So I will be selecting some interesting posts from the archives for any who wasn't among the dozen or two readers of Principalities and Powers had when they first appeared. "Wartime Means a Republican President" first appeared on July 19, 2007. I was favoring Fred Thompson at the time, so just substitute the name "John McCain." Of course, McCain was nowhere in sight at the time, completely written off by just about everyone.

Note that in last Wednesday's debate, Hillary Clinton reaffirmed that she would withdraw our troops from Iraq within sixty days of taking office regardless of conditions on the ground and regardless of advice from the military leadership. Barack Obama would give it sixteen months.

Yogi Berra once said, “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future” (or something like that; I can't find the original source). Political science purports to be a predictive science, but because the variables are innumerable the future is not ascertainable and fortune is ultimately unconquerable. "Black swans" will often confound our political expectations (See The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb or the review in The Economist).

Nonetheless (ah, the fool's word), it is such irresistible sport to predict elections.

People are saying that the unpopularity of the war in Iraq guarantees a Democratic victory in 2008. Rasmussen reports that 53% favor troop withdrawal within 120 days. The Democratic candidates favor early withdrawal, the Republicans do not. Next question please. But this is irrelevant.

Since 1964, Americans in times of war, including the Cold War, have elected Republicans in general and convincing commanders-in-chief in particular, to the executive office. In the 1964 election, Barry Goldwater, the Republican, came across as unstable and unfit to have his finger "on the button." In 1968, Lyndon Johnson had us deep into an unpopular war in Vietnam, and Nixon, the Republican, was a more convincing commander-in-chief than Humphrey. 1972, Nixon. No contest. In 1976, it took Watergate, Ford's pardon of Nixon and Ford's inexplicable assertion that "there is no Soviet domination in Eastern Europe" to put the Democrat, Jimmy Carter, into the White House. It helped that Carter was a naval officer. Carter proved to be utterly incompetent. The "debacle in the desert" sealed his single term presidency. Reagan was the unflinching hawk: two terms followed by Bush. In 1988, Michael Dukakis broadcast his unfamiliarity and discomfort with military affairs by riding in a tank with his clownishly helmeted head peeping out of the top, accomplishing just the opposite of what he has hoped. In the 1992 and 1996, we were at peace, so the Democrat, Bill Clinton, was given charge. In 2000, we were still at peace, but George W. Bush won only on account of the electoral college system. Most voting Americans chose Al Gore, the Democrat (or thought they did). By 2004, we were back in a wartime situation and we chose the incumbent Republican candidate.

That brings us to 2008. In a Thompson-Obama race, Thompson wins because Obama has no foreign policy experience or even executive experience at the state level. He barely had time to find the bathrooms in the Senate building before he went off on the campaign trail. In a Giuliani-anyone race, Rudy wins. I wouldn't mess with him. Neither should Osama. In an anyone-Hillary race, anyone else will win. She is too widely perceived as being disingenuous, instinctively disinclined to support the measures necessary to prosecute the terror war (wire taps, firm handed interrogation techniques, etc.) and too willing to sacrifice national security for personal political gain. I don't know where they get these ideas.

Regardless of what people think of the Iraq situation, the terror threat still confronts us and Americans will not elect someone who is less than convincing as a defender of our national security. The one who takes the oath of office in 2009 will be the one whom Americans will have recognized as being a true or at least plausible commander-in-chief. That will be a Republican because the Democrats, with one eye on their far left base and another on the polls, are all playing the pacifist in one form or another. This outcome will be all the more certain if al Qaeda to blows up something or cut off a head at an appropriate moment.

But then there are always Black Swans.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pining for the Fjords.

Ethan Campbell said...

The Yale Book of Quotations attributes this quote to Niels Bohr, Danish physicist, 1885-1962:
"It is difficult to predict, especially the future."

David C. Innes said...

Prof. Campbell, you are a gentleman and a scholar.

pcsolotto said...

To the owner of this blog, how far youve come?