The War Or the Scandal?
What should this Congressional election be about? A critical decision about whether to re-commit new resources and manpower to Iraq or pull out? Or a Washington sex scandal that raises serious questions about responsibility, but none about the country's policies as a whole? Money quote from my column today:
My sense is that the American people, when confronted with imminent defeat and withdrawal [in Iraq], may balk. If they have vented against the war in the election, they might be open to arguments about winning it afterwards.
If McCain emerges as Bush's successor he could mount an election campaign on a plan for more troops and victory. If Hillary Clinton, the senator for New York state, is the Democratic nominee and tries to out-hawk McCain, her party will turn on her. If Al Gore, the defeated candidate in the 2000 presidential election, is the nominee and urges withdrawal from Iraq, then he might win the nomination but be vulnerable in the final campaign.
Either way you can see how a big Republican defeat next month will play a critical role in the course of the war. It could certainly empower McCain. It could split the Democrats. Or it could empower the anti-war Democrats in a congressional takeover, jolt them to cut off funding for the war, as happened in Vietnam, and force a retreat sooner than expected.
The war, in other words, is in the balance in this election.
And yet we're talking about IMs.