Does Fear Favor the Republicans?

George McGovern isn’t my very most favorite person, but he is quoted in Newsweek saying this:

Reached by NEWSWEEK on vacation, McGovern offered Democrats a warning. “For 50 years, [Republicans] used the fear of communism to beat Democrats,” he said. “I hope we don’t have 50 years of terrorism for them to do the same thing.”

The article, titled Campaign 2006: A Hawk Stays Aloft, is about a boost for Lieberman’s campaign because of the recent hijacking scare.

But simply admonishing people not to vote out of fear is not enough. If you vote for a candidate because his opponent doesn’t have a plan to deal with a major threat, then are you voting out of fear, or out of prudence? And that’s where I, as an independent, am not seeing what I would like to see out of the democrats thus far. What is the positive plan to make things better? I like what I read in the referenced article about Lamont planning to redeploy troops he would withdraw from Iraq, placing them elsewhere in the Middle East. That’s a good start.

But we need some other specifics. I know politicians are afraid of specifics. But we have choices to make about screening technology, profiling, or other approaches to airport security. We have choices to make about searches and seizures domestically and what is the appropriate legal strategy. I’m fairly sure from the rumblings that there are both Democrats and Republicans out there with a variety of ideas. Perhaps it is simply the media that is stuck at the simplest level, keeping its focus on the war in Iraq, yes or no.

I personally would oppose a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, but I think we need to set a realistic set of goals and a realistic strategy to attain them, and withdraw as soon as those goals are accomplished. The following statement, quoted from the same article, frightens me with its naivete:

“If you have Lamont Democrats who say, ‘Bring ’em home, turn away and it will all be over’ … the American people say, ‘You’re kidding yourself’ … The only way you walk away from war is as a victor,” said a senior administration official who asked for anonymity speaking about the politics of national security.

The problem is with definition. What is victory? If we intend to leave a country that is friendly to the United States, a full ally in the war on terror, has a stable government, and is prepared to stand up to neighbors such as Iran, then we are deluding ourselves. It’s not going to happen. We need realistic goals–and most of the realistic ones have already been accomplished–and then we need to move on. We don’t have unlimited resources.

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