Tuesday, June 21, 2005

TOWARD THE END of his long diatribe calling for the Senate to censure Dick Durbin, Hugh Hewitt invoked "the American people" to prove his point that Durbin has no support outside of a few "hard-left" extremists.

The American electorate does not believe the conditions at Guantanamo are "torture." They do not agree that the criminal conduct of Abu Ghraib is illustrative of the American military. They do not worry that we are being overly inclusive about the population at Gitmo. They do not believe that any part of what America been about since September 11 is in any way connected with the Nazis, the Stalinists, or Pol Pot.

They are disgusted over this slander of the military, and they deserve a vote on whether Senator Durbin's argument deserves anything except complete and quick condemnation by responsible members of both parties intent on supporting the war, the military, and the country's defense.
Durbin stands with the Michael Moore left, the Howard Dean attack-America-first caucus, and the international chorus that assigns the responsibility for the jihadists to American overreach in the world.

The election of 2004 might have been the occasion when the Democratic leadership took account of where American public opinion stands on this war. That leadership rejected the results of November because those results rejected them. In response they have upped the rhetoric, intent on a replay of the anti-war movement and rhetoric of the late '60s and early '70s, hopeful of converting Bush to Nixon, and of driving American power back to its own shores. The tactic of demonizing the American military worked then, so it is being replayed now. If this rhetoric is not checked, it is only a matter of time until we have a new John Kerry discussing the "Genghis Khan" tactics of the American military operating in the Middle East.

Durbin's slander was simply a rhetorical bridge too far, but for both the man and his party there are no regrets and no apology. Not one senior Democrat has condemned Durbin's statement. Not one Democratic senator has asked for a caucus meeting.

The difference between 2005 and the Vietnam era, however, lies in the public's appreciation of its soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, founded in no small part on the public's recognition that the consequences of a collapse of American will in the new millennium will not be millions dead in Europe or Asia, but more Americans dead in America.

There is no doubt that America's soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are appreciated. But Hewitt's implication that most Americans continue to support the war is clearly false.

Thirty-nine percent of Americans, mostly Republicans, now say they favor the war in Iraq, down from a high of 72% in April 2003, the day after the statue of Saddam was pulled down in Baghdad.

Pres. Bush's overall job approval rating is now only 47 percent; it hasn't broken 50 percent for three months.

Hewitt overreaches badly when he presumptuously declares that the entire American electorate shares his lack of concern about the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo. To date, 450,978 Americans have signed the letter to Pres. Bush demanding an explanation for the Downing Street minutes; and 558 bloggers have joined the Big Brass Alliance. And although public anger at the possibility that Bush lied about his intention to go to war and his reasons for going to war does not necessarily imply anger about Guantanamo, the same poll showed that only 52 percent of Americans approve of the Bush administration's treatment of detainees there. That is a majority, but only a scant majority, and certainly nothing like the entire American electorate. Over a third of Americans polled -- 37 percent -- disapprove of the administration's Guantanamo policies; which leaves 11 percent of Americans undecided.

This is a lot of Americans who don't go with the program Hugh Hewitt and other right-wingers have written for them. The Michael Moore left must be bigger than any of us thought.

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