Friday, March 18, 2011


In the worst days of the Iraq War, when Republicans were making great sport of questioning war critics' patriotism, I added a 1999 story from Slate to my blogroll: "Yankee Go Home: Who's Leading the Anti-War Movement? Congressional Republicans." In 1999, the U.S. government (under Bill Clinton) and NATO were at war in the Balkans, and Republicans -- usually a bellicose lot -- had suddenly turned anti-war. Trent Lott, for instance, warned of a "quagmire" and sought compromise with Slobodan Milosevic ("I think something can be worked out").

Now, Republicans hated Bill Clinton, but they despise Barack Obama. And America was flush in 1999, but now we're broke -- and Republicans really, really care about excessive government spending, right? So they should be really dubious about impending U.S. involvement in a military campaign against Libya -- right?

Forget it. All you need to know is that this week Haley Barbour suggested possibly reducing troop levels in Afghanistan and looking to the Pentagon for budget savings -- and (despite Joe Klein's prediction that other Republicans would soon follow suit) he was immediately attacked by Bill Kristol and Tim Pawlenty. The Wall Street Journal says "GOP Contenders Split on Military Cuts," but if you read the story, you see that the only "contenders" who support cuts are Ron Paul, Barbour, and another guy who's despised by too many hardcore Republicans to ever be the nominee, Mitch Daniels. And as for the rank-and-file, we're told:

A poll taken by the Pew Research Center earlier this year showed that only 18% of self-identified Republicans want to cut defense spending, while 41% would like to increase it.

So here's a chance to attack the hated Obama and recommend some genuine spending cuts -- and nearly all Republican politicians are passing it up. I know, I know -- D.C. "deficit hawks" think all wars are free. But it's more than that. They seem to need to call Obama an America-hater almost more than they felt they needed to say the same thing about Clinton the draft-dodger, so either they call him "weak" or, when he rattles sabers, they say nothing. They just can't bring themselves to move to his left. And, of course, Qaddafi is a dirty filthy Muslim, as are the folks we're fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq (so are the folks we're fighting for, but never mind), and of course they feel the need to sustain that line of hatred.

So, no, they're not going to criticize this. Unless it becomes a quagmire -- then it'll be because Obama has us fighting "with one hand tied behind our backs."


UPDATE: Whoops! Sorry, there's one Republican who doesn't approve of the no-fly zone in Libya and who criticizes it in budget terms: Richard Lugar. But he's already been damned as one of the worst RINOs, so he really doesn't count.

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