Win Some, Luce Some

by David Weigel

This column in the American Spectator by Jeffrey Lord is pretty interesting, revisiting a race that no one much discusses anymore - the 1942 midterm elections. Lord is right that the GOP flourished - as it had stayed afloat in FDR's third win of 1940 - by sticking with FDR on the war and differentiating itself on domestic policy. And then Lord banks left and takes the Rumsfeld Expressway into False Equivalence City.

So in circumstances like this, how does a political opposition approach the upcoming election? Savage FDR? Run on a campaign of "Roosevelt lied and people died"? Should they go out and tell the American people just how dangerously incompetent the man was, that the best thing to do was make peace with Hitler and Japan's Hirohito, then elect Republicans who would simply force FDR to bring home the boys and let the rest of the world cope with chaos? After all, a few years earlier FDR himself had turned back an ocean liner filled with 937 Jews escaping the looming Holocaust. The idea of not making Hitler, Hirohito or Mussolini any angrier than they were was certainly one approach.

This is cute, and it would be relevent if the 2006 Democratic Party was running on a platform of making peace with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, appeasing Iran, and ending the U.S. military presence in the Middle East. It's not, obviously. They don't really have plans for dealing with al Qaeda and Iran, which is part of their problem, but the general Democratic stance on those issues is expressed here by Ohio U.S. Senate candidate Sherrod Brown:

Despite the sacrifice and bravery of our troops, the foreign policy of Republicans in Congress and the White House has failed to secure our interests at home and abroad:
- Osama bin Laden is still on the loose and Afghanistan has reemerged as a haven for terrorists and opium producers.
- While we have been distracted by the insurgency in Iraq, Iran and North Korea have gained ground in their effort to posses weapons of mass destruction.

Will voters appreciate that Democrats have decoupled the war in Iraq and the war on terror - that they want to pull out of the former and more aggressively (they say) pursue victory in the latter? I think so. And so do some Republicans.