I alerted regular Duck readers to the coming deluge of reputation rhetoric as the Bush administration and the RNC attempt to frame the upcoming midterm elections as a choice between ‘appeasers’ and ‘resolved warriors’. That deluge has officially begun. On Tuesday I discussed Secretary Rumsfeld’s latest incoherent drivel speech. This morning’s Washington Post reports on the increase of henny-penny arguments to come:

“President Bush and his surrogates are launching a new campaign intended to rebuild support for the war in Iraq by accusing the opposition of aiming to appease terrorists and cut off funding for troops on the battlefield, charges that many Democrats say distort their stated positions.”

Not surprisingly, when pressed for actual evidence to support the outlandish claim that Democrats and war critics “claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone” the White House offered nothing, except the disingenuous notion that their claims are “logical interpretations of the most common Democratic position favoring a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq”. A time table you say, sort of like the one many Republicans now call for and that the military has outlined for itself? Surely we all know that responsible planning is always synonymous with cowardice and appeasement. A plan is certainly not something this administration would be caught dead with.

And what about RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman’s claim that “al-Qaeda leaders and other Islamic radicals have said they want to drive Americans out of Iraq and use it as a base. We ought to not ignore when they say they’re going to do that.” Yes, Ken is right. We ought not to forget that. We also should remember that there was zero probability that Iraq could possibly serve as a new base of operations for the beleaguered terrorist organization before the administration decided to launch a faith-based military campaign in the country. If there is a risk of Iraq becoming the new Afghanistan we have the administration to thank for that.

Additionally it pays to remind ourselves that we are not fighting Islamic-fascism in Iraq but essentially an insurgency made up primarily of indigenous combatants:

Estimated size of the Insurgency: 20,000
Estimated number of foreign fighters in the Insurgency: 2,000
Percentage of ‘jihadis’: 10%

More over, they are not interested in establishing a new caliphate but rather controlling the levers of governmental power, as in most civil conflicts where a power vacuum exists.

Since the administration and the RNC are only interested in winning elections–rather than serious governing–you can expect this cacophony of reputational rhetoric to continue. The sky will apparently fall until November 7th.

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