The Moose reiterates his belief that the really important divisions will be between Republicans.
The debate over the direction of the Democratic Party is interesting but not the significant one underway right now. Republican bickering began almost immediately after election day. Specter, the intelligence bill, and now Rumsfeld. It is a harbinger of possible future rough times for the elephant.
Currently, the dissension centers on the fate of Secretary Rumsfeld. This is not fundamentally a personnel issue but rather a substitute for a debate on the mess that Iraq has become. Rummy is rightly a fall guy, but he is the target of animosity only because the G.O.P. can't blame the guy who is actually responsible, the President. Rumsfeld is useful for the President because he deflects attention as a lightening rod for a failed policy authored by the Commander in Chief.
The Moose has long worried that the big winners coming out of the war will be the Mullahs in Teheran. There is a faint hope among some that our Shiites are fundamentally distinct from Iran's Shiites. David Ignatius in today's Washington Post shares the Moose's concern,
"But future historians will wonder how it happened that the United States came halfway around the world, suffered more than 1,200 dead and spent $200 billion to help install an Iraqi government whose key leaders were trained in Iran. Our Iraq policy may be full of good intentions, but in terms of strategy, it is a riderless horse."
Well, this wouldn't be the first time the second term of a Republican President was marred by a mess involving Iran!
Social Security also promises to become a divisive issue for the Republicans. Fred Barnes reports in the Weekly Standard,
"Democrats are a problem. On modernizing Social Security, most of them are reactionary liberals, committed to preserving an antiquated system. But at the moment, Republicans are an even bigger problem for the White House. For a reform measure to win approval in Congress, Republicans must be united. True, the conventional wisdom in Washington is that entitlement reform requires bipartisanship. With only a handful of Democrats likely to sign on, however, that won't happen. So that leaves the matter with Republicans, and they are anything but together.
They're divided on the two biggest reform issues: how big a chunk should be carved out of payroll taxes for individual investment accounts and whether the growth of Social Security benefits should be curtailed."
Interestingly, Barnes also reports,
There's a third camp, those who would do nothing on Social Security because insolvency won't be a threat for a decade or more. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has privately questioned whether it makes sense to tackle Social Security now. After all, Republicans worked for years to gain control of Congress. Why jeopardize that by provoking a fight over Social Security?"
Add to this list a fourth group of Republicans who are worried about adding a couple of trillion dollars more to the deficit.
Along with internal dissension, the Republicans are also afflicted with hubris and delusion. Hubris was evident in the DeLay rule change and the Kerik affair. Delusion was on full display at the "Medals for the Incompetent" ceremony this week at the White House. Even North Korea's Dear Leader Kim Jong II probably would be embarrassed to preside over such an obscenely self-congratulatory event.
Later in the week, the President held an "economic summit" that would be worthy of one of those "forums" in Stalinist Russia in the '30's where apparatchiks praised the Great Leader's five year plans for industrialization and bringing electricity to the countryside. What's next, our Great Leader W. staging a mass swim on the Potomac in January like Mao did on the Yangtze during the cultural revolution?
Perhaps, it will be one of the inaugural events.
The Moose is not pollyannaish about a coming G.O.P. crack-up. Rather, he just wants to remind the donkey that he is not the only one with tsouris. The objective in the next year is for the Democrats to help heighten the contradictions within the Republican Party. For instance, seize the fallen standards of fiscal responsibility and military preparedness. Rising deficits and inadequately equipped troops cry out for a conservative party!
Maybe it can be the Democrats!