SPIN CONTROL

Dick Morris, a man with the dubious distinction of having worked for both Bill Clinton and Trent Lott, thinks the Bush Administration is losing the spin game with regards to the Middle East:

The administration bears much of the blame for its inept job of presenting the good news that abounds on every side in the aftermath of the Iraq War.

Peace is breaking out all over in the Middle East. Is there anyone who doubts that Israel and the most extreme of Palestinian factions have agreed to a cease fire because, and only because, of a chain of events set in motion by our invasion of Iraq?

Does anyone believe that Israel would take risks for peace if the United States did not have 150,000 troops in Iraq? Can anyone seriously maintain that Hamas, Hezbollah, and Fatah would have agreed to a cease-fire if the United States did not have a robust military presence next door and if our invasion had not dried up their funding from other nations?

This is interesting but, of course, it’s hard to make the case that peace is breaking out all over the Middle East when Palestinian terrorists keep blowing up Israeli civilians and when our own troops keep getting killed in drive-bys.

Morris is likely right on this score, though:

Bush will never win another term based on his domestic policy record. Even if the economy recovers in ̢۪04, it will be a while before the good vibes filter down to the average voter. His accomplishments in education and in reducing taxes are not sufficient to anchor a case for a second term in an increasingly Democratic nation, driven by the inexorable changes in demographics. His positions on the environment, campaign finance reform, and, despite a deathbed conversion, on healthcare, are not echoed by a majority of Americans.

Bush needs to be seen — correctly — as the innovative and bold foreign policy leader that he is. He needs to get out and make the case, or surrender the field to those who keep pecking away with doubts, misgivings, and fears.

So far, though, none of the Democrats who could plausibly challenge Bush on the foreign policy front are gaining any traction among their own nominating electorate. Bush might win the foreign policy debate by default.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Timmer says:

    Yes, our troops are being killed by drive bys. Our troops are being killed in about the same numbers as many folks in the inner city in the U.S.. How many people were killed in NYC, Chicago, Philly or LA yesterday?

    Do I hate to see soldiers killed? Of course I do. Do I think that it’s weird or extraordinary? Not a bit.

    What amazes me is the number of soldiers and marines NOT killed during the major phase of the war and that MORE of our guys aren’t being killed every day.

    Along with that, I can’t believe that after only 3 1/2 months, some folks are whining about how Iraq hasn’t stabalized yet.

    Don’t get me wrong, we in the US Military are good, we’re just not THAT good.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Timmer: No question about that. I wish we’d do a better job of force protection, but it’s a tough balancing act, since there are those who think we ought to emulate the Brits and have our boys put away the helmets and flak vests in favor of berets and garrison mode clothing.

    My only point is that it’s therefore unfair to criticize the Administration for not getting the word out about how great things are over there.

  3. Green Boy says:

    “So far, though, none of the Democrats who could plausibly challenge Bush on the foreign policy front are gaining any traction among their own nominating electorate. Bush might win the foreign policy debate by default.”

    Bit early to be calling the election for Bush, you think? The trends ‘abroad’ don’t bode well for America’s interests, to whit; the guerrilla war grinds on, looting and lawless continue in Iraq, the Turkish government has special ops forces meddling in Kurdistan, North Korea is busily working on making nuclear weapons for it’s long-range missiles, and Israel and the Palestinian Authority haven’t quite started their engines to set-off on the road map.

    Now I tend to be a bit of a pessimist – think it’s less about the Democrats putting forth a plausible foreign policy candidate and more about American hoping that more bad things don’t happen, to whit: a large, lethal and cinematic strike on U.S. troops (downed helicopter, SAM strike on troop carrier, truck bomb on barracks); Governing Council of Iraq falling apart over Kurdistan regional autonomy or role of Sharia in government issues; North Korea and/or Iran announce and demonstrate nuclear capability; in short lots of bad stuff can and probably will happen over the next several months.

    The Bush spin-machine appears to be winding down, and even least-common-denominator rags like Newspeak are begging to criticize the Prez and write puff-piece articles about the Democratic candidates (see the Dean piece in this week’s issue). It would be hard to appear a strong foreign policy leader if the bad trends go even worse.