I just ran across The Bull Moose’s entry taking partisans such as me to task for letting our distrust of our President get in the way of our willingness to defend national security and stand up to Iran. (Hat tip: Tom Hilton.)
The ratio of clichés to analysis in the post is pretty high: “the security of the country is in the balance”; lefties consider “regime change” in Washington more important than fighting our enemies abroad; the “ongoing war on terror” should silence “petty and irresponsible partisanship” (“the partisanship of fools,” in Wittmann’s original formulation) because, after all, “this is a dangerous world.” And of course the fact that Iran’s leader spouts genocidal propaganda gives us good reason to fear his ability to carry it out: crazy leaders have never been known for delusions of grandeur. Meanwhile, I’ve still heard no clear explanation of why a country with an unknown future regime, hypothetically armed with a fraction of the weapons held by the nuclear powers that surround it, is such a profound security risk to one of the few big countries not within range of any missile it’s likely to have for decades that we need to threaten as soon as possible to kill thousands of its citizens.
One of Wittmann’s suggestions is genuinely interesting:
For the sake of the country and the ongoing war on terror, the President should form a genuine government of national unity. A thorough house-cleaning should be followed by appointments of Democrats and Independents for important cabinet and sub-cabinet positions. Far more is at stake here than the fates of political parties – the security of the country is in the balance and it demands credible, bi-partisan leadership.
Even we fools have a duty to identify some factual events that would challenge our beliefs. This is one of them.
Bush would provide powerful evidence that he considers Iran a truly enormous national security threat—more important than his partisan goals and domestic agenda—if he publicly asked Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales and Chao to resign and encouraged Congress to follow him in putting, say, John Kerry, Wesley Clark, Patrick Leahy, and Andy Stern in their places. If these candidates balked, Bush could keep on naming prominent Democrats until some agreed to serve. This national unity strategy would indeed demonstrate Bush’s dead-serious, nonpartisan attachment to national security, as Churchill did in choosing Attlee as his effective deputy in his War Cabinet. (Note that I’ve even let Bush keep a big majority of Republicans in top posts—though on second thought I might hold out for Dems at OMB and Interior too, thanks.)
Yes, if Bush did this I’d question my partisan dismissal of his motives and priorities, and admit that he’s ready to put the country first. And when he does, I’ll be a wombat. A four-ton, aquamarine, man-eating wombat.
Wittman’s ultra-DLC attitude—by no means shared by the average New Democrat—has always struck me as amounting to “Democrats should immediately make real, and large, concessions because it would be nice if Republicans someday made small, hypothetical concessions, though I’ll admit that they probably won’t.” If Democrats aspire to national unity while Republicans show no sign of abandoning ideological frenzy, which partisans, precisely, will be the fools?