The Hole in the "Oil Spot" Strategy
Plus--You Can't Shut Anyone Up Anymore.
After all, what would happen if we won? Or to put it more precisely, what would happen if we stabilized the situation enough to stop the steady combat losses of Americans and enable the Iraqi polity and economy to move forward? (If you think that's unlikely, then consider this a useful thought experiment.)
The answer is pretty obvious: Attention would quickly shift back to domestic issues. Since Bush has no remaining saleable domestic agenda to speak of--and hasn't, really, since the passage of his Medicare drug plan--Democrats would clearly have the advantage. (Even on the national security front, attention might rightly focus on delayed accountability for whatever went wrong in Iraq, without fear that such scrutiny would undermine morale. Again, advantage Democrats.)
Krumm points out that that it was Bush's father's victory in the first Gulf war that opened the path for Clinton's election in 1992. Contrast that success with what happened in 1968, when the public became disillusioned with Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam War. They didn't turn to an antiwar Democrat. They turned to Richard Nixon and his "secret plan." Similarly, if Americans today sour on the Bush Iraq project, are they going to turn to Russ Feingold (even if he was right about the war) or John McCain who says he has a strategy to win? My guess is McCain.
If that's right, then succeeding in Iraq, as quickly as possible, may not only be the surest route to the White House for the Democrats. It may also be the quickest. ... If there is a way to win, Democrats have at least as big a partisan incentive to find it as Republicans do. ...[Via Instapundit] 11:10 P.M. link
Shift_Glitch: What's happening at Nissan's Canton, Mississippi factory? The big news in the 2006 Consumer Reports New Car Preview--which features a large-sample reliability survey--is that the vehicles built at this plant have dreadful reliability records. Their repair histories are so bad CR has to use a broken bar to fit them on its chart! The Nissan Quest minivan has a reliability score of 133% worse than average. The Nissan Titan pickup is 101% worse than average. The Armada SUV is 151% worse than average. And the $50,000 Infiniti QX56 SUV scores 297% worse than average, a result so bad it might have been thought unattainable. ... Maybe the Mississippi factory's record will improve--CR documents the tendency of carmakers to work the bugs out of a new model over several years. Maybe it's just a question of weeding out bad local suppliers. But the amount of money Nissan is saving by moving its headquarters from California to Tennessee can't possibly compensate for the hit it must be taking with angry customers. ... 10:39 P.M.
Hole in the oil spot: There's one thing I don't understand about the growing support for an "oil spot" strategy--which would have the U.S. military in Iraq "focus less on trying to secure the whole country and more on shoring up protection of major population centers." That might make great sense if all we were trying to do was pacify Iraq. But how does it make sense if there are terrorists running around the Iraqi hinterlands using them as a base from which they can attack lots of other countries, including possibly our own? Are we supposed to cede Zarqawi the territory outside the "major population centers"? ... 9:58 P.M.
I want to read Joe Nocera's article on TimesSelect but it's on TimesSelect! ... Update: It's free here. Nocera's instinct--that even what we'd consider healthy Internet revenue streams aren't nearly enough to sustain newspaper reporting as currently practiced--seems right. ... He somehow left out the Pinch-isn't-up-to-the-job angle I suggested. ... 1:33 A.M.
Photograph of Judith Miller on the Slate home page by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.