Bloggers see the primary victory of Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee as a bellwether of bad news for the White House. They also lament a new military report on the "lost" status of Anbar province in Iraq and welcome a summit on Borat.
GOP chafing:Moderate Republican incumbent Lincoln Chafee defeated his more conservative challenger Steve Laffey in the Rhode Island Senate primary Tuesday, 54 percent to 46 percent. Chafee has been a strong critic of the Bush administration. (He voted against the Iraq war, opposes Bush's tax cuts, and nearly scuppered John Bolton's ambassadorship to the United Nations.) The New York Times called it a setback for Democrats, but bloggers see this as a defeat for President Bush.
Rob Huddleston at VOLuntarilyConservative supported Laffey and is none too pleased with the primary outcome: "[A]ny conservative who ever gives a dime from this point on to the Republican National Committee is a traitor to the very ideology that makes him or her a conservative," Huddleston writes. "The White House, Elizabeth Dole, the NRSC - they all should pay for specifically targeting what they believed to be a conservative challenge to a man who proudly refused to support the War on Terror or the Bush tax cuts." Brenarlo at the righty Say Anything is more pragmatic: "If Republicans were in a better political position this year, I would flat out hope that Chafee would lose the primary because … he's no friend of conservatives. But, considering the historical hurdle that the GOP will have to overcome this year, it may be best for Chafee to keep his seat, for only one reason ... because it will help mightily in keeping the power in the Senate committees."
Liberal Steve Clemons at the Washington Note is much happier Laffey was defeated: "This Chafee victory is also a potential sign that Republicans who 'look like Bush' are in trouble -- and that Republicans who are pragmatists and not ideologues may be on the comeback. This, in the mid to long run, is very healthy for the country." Kevin at Lean Left also cheers Chafee, up until the general election, anyway: "It is a good sign that even in the GOP primary, with the most active and conservative voters, that standing up to Bush, that holding the office of the Presidency accountable for its choices and mistakes, is not enough to sink a politician. I will be rooting for the Democrat to win the seat, of course, but it is heartening to see the message of accountability still carries weight."
Anbar gone: According to a recent military report filed by the chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps, Iraq's western province of Anbar is lost politically because of a lack of central government and the predominance of al-Qaida.
Military analyst Brian J. Dunn at The Dignified Rant isn't raising the white flag just yet, but his worst-case scenario is grim: "Short of killing every third military age man out there we won't be able to subdue the enemy in Anbar. All we can do is hold the line and buy time while the Iraqi government builds the capability to move into Anbar in force to subdue the enemy. The Iraqis will have more street smarts in identifying bad guys without guns in their hands. And the Iraqis will be able to make deals with the local tribal leaders (as some tribes have done already). More ominously, if the Sunnis won't deal, the Iraqi government will be able to kill every third man of military age in the province if that is what it takes to end the terrorism."
Honza P. at righty Pro's & Con's worries that the emphasis placed on counterterrorism in Iraq's capital has contributed to the chaos in Anbar: "Showering resources on Baghdad means denuding the ground holding ability of the U.S. military and it's allies in the huge but sparsely populated Anbar province. We can still raid and disrupt, but increasingly we cannot hold large areas out there without more troops. … As the officer in the article says, cleaning up that place will be a job for the Iraqis."
Conservative Herschel Smith at The Captain's Journal wants more Marines in Anbar and finds any talk of a political situation in the province hopelessly premature: "To refer to politics in al Anbar is to refer to something that doesn't currently exist. The brass in Iraq, by diminishing force projection in al Anbar in order to let 'reconstruction win the hearts and minds of the people,' are deferring to a phantom. The very people whose hearts and minds we want to win are being protected by the enemy who destroys their political institutions and prevents reconstruction."
Read more about the decline of Anbar.
Is not nice: The president of Kazahkstan plans to talk to President Bush about an unusual problem: He finds Sacha Baron Cohen's character Borat—whose first feature film was a hit at the Toronto Film Festival—a horrifying caricature of Kazakh manhood, and wants to improve the ex-Soviet satellite's image in the United States.
What image would that be? asks legal blogger Ann Althouse: "Few Americans thought much at all about Kazakhstan before Borat, so he had the opportunity to become the entire reputation of the country as far as we were concerned. But, strangely, that might be to the good, even though Kazakhstan is pissed. The reason is that we know Borat is a joke and we love him. Kazakhstan gets name recognition and reflected love. We hear all sorts of ridiculous lies, we know they are lies, and we kind of love Kazakhstan."
D.C. snarksheet Wonkette writes:"[I]n terms of decaying industrial cities, a dictator-like president, an abysmal 'human rights' record and widespread poverty, Kazakhstan retains plenty of rural USSR charm. Still, they complain about Borat's folk tales of torturing gypsies, murdering Jews and keeping wives in cages."
Read more about the Borat talks.