I never thought I'd link to William F. Buckley except derisively. While his most recent National Review column is sadly disorganized (I say sadly because whatever else one thinks of Buckley, he used to be a very fine writer), the parts of it that are clear make his analysis of the war in Iraq and its effect on the Republican Party very plain:
The political problem of the Bush administration is grave, possibly beyond the point of rescue.
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But beyond affirming executive supremacy in matters of war, what is George Bush going to do? It is simply untrue that we are making decisive progress in Iraq.
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How can the Republican party, headed by a president determined on a war he can’t see an end to, attract the support of a majority of the voters?
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There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican party will survive this dilemma.
Wow. I wouldn't go that far. The Democrats survived the Civil War. The Republicans survived Watergate. This too shall pass, though unfortunately not before many, many American and Iraqi lives are lost. It's significant, though, that the intellectual grandfather of the modern conservative movement is speaking this way. It's also significant that Drudge linked to it, presumably to be read as a wake-up call to the party faithful.
While Buckley sounds the alarm, Michael Finnegan supplies a more detailed analysis:
President Bush's unpopularity and a string of political setbacks have created a toxic climate for the Republican Party as it struggles to raise money and recruit candidates for its drive to retake control of Congress.
Some of the GOP's top choices to run for the House next year have declined, citing what Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., called a "poisonous" environment. And Republicans' fundraising edge, an important advantage over the past five years, has dwindled.
With the GOP in disarray, liberals have an opportunity that may not come again for a generation: the opportunity to lead the country and to make real changes in the way we supply and pay for health are, the way we produce and consume energy, the way we educate our children, the way we care for the environment, the way we grow our economy, and the way we relate to other countries.
But before we start passing out the sheet music to Happy Days Are Here Again, we ought to seriously consider the fate of Lyndon Johnson. Johnson presided over the country around the time of the last seismic shift in American political attitudes, at a time when the country was ready to cast off the Eisenhower conservatism of the fifties and make profound changes in the way we addressed racial issues and the way we dealt with the poor. But while Johnson's was a Presidency of great achievements, it was also a Presidency ruined by his conduct of the war he inherited from his predecessor.
Johnson failed to extricate us from the jungles of Vietnam for reasons that are still offered today with respect to our presence in the cities and towns of Iraq. Johnson was determined not to go down in history as a President who lost a war. He was afraid of appearing weak before our overseas adversaries and his political opponents at home. He was ultimately undone by the war, and with that came the undoing of the last, best chance for liberal reform the U.S. has seen until now.
That is why it is critical to the progressive movement that if we manage to elect a Democrat President in 2008, he or she must end our involvement in Iraq quickly and decisively. This is the liberal corollary to Buckley's column. "Redeploying" our troops, or leaving a "residual force" out of fear of being the President who "lost" Iraq will make it likely that he or she will suffer Johnson's fate--and take the progressive movement down too.