TO: Barak Obama
RE: How You Could lose the Election
The conventional wisdom is that you will be the Democratic nominee. And the conventional wisdom is that the Democrats will have many advantages in November:
Americans are tired of Bush;
Americans are tired of this awful war in Iraq;
Americans are tired of other Bush disasters, like the response to Katrina;
Americans are tired of all those tax breaks and other gifts that have been given to the wealthy;
Americans are tired of all those nasty things Bush has done to the environment.
You are a far better candidate than McCain.
Most of the issues help the Democrats—especially health care and the environment.
The Democrats have more money.
They even have Oprah.
The economy is headed South faster than a goose with dysentery.
Winning the election in November should be a cakewalk, right?
The Republicans still have fear. And, as long as the Democrats allow them to, the Republicans have “the surge” and all the political benefits it produces.
Because you and Senator Clinton have allowed the phrase “the surge is working” to roam around the political landscape almost completely uncontested.
This has allowed McCain and others to make a variety of illogical arguments about the war in Iraq. I’ll get to those in a moment—but first the surge.
Baghdad and other cities in Iraq are more secure.
McCain would have you think this is because more US troops are in Iraq. That is only part of the reason violence has subsided. Much of decrease in violence is because the Shiites and the Sunni’s have decided to take a time out.
The Mahdi Army—made up mostly of Shiites—is maintaining a cease-fire.
The Sunni’s have severely reduced their violent ways. For the short term, they’ve seen the benefits of not attacking other Sunni’s. They also have decided to take weapons and money from the US. This way, when it is time to fight, they will have bullets and plenty of buckaroos. This has sometimes been called the Sunni Awakening. A more accurate representation might be, “arming for a civil war.”
Because comments about the surge working have been largely uncontested, because the overall situation in Iraq is complicated, because the reporting by the media has been so poor, and because on this issue the Democrats have acted like their old, incompetent selves, many Americans think that Iraq is on the mend.
This is nonsense.
Democrats have to explain how bad things are in Iraq.
Only on the military front are things noticeably better:
Sunni and Shiites still hate each other.
Homes in Baghdad get power around twelve hours a day—six less than under Saddam.
Oil production has not yet returned to pre-invasion levels.
Elections that were to take place in October have been cancelled. This shouts that Iraqi sovereignty remains a dream.
Political progress in Iraq is tinier than a freckle on a midget.
Corruption and incompetence run rampant throughout the Iraqi government.
Many US efforts in Iraq remain pathetic. For example, a large chunk of weaponry was supposed to be headed to the Iraq security forces: 110,000 AK-47s, 80,000 pistols, 135,000 units of body armor and 115,000 helmets—that’s right, enough equipment to make even a dumb white racist feel comfortable while taking a stroll through Watts—all of it, has been lost.
And there’s more bad news:
The Madhi Army—that’s the Shiite’s—their cease fire is about as durable as wet dollar bills.
The Sunni Awakening is being held together by substances that have the tensile strength of chewing gum.
You don’t have to be a strategic genius to know it is better to attack a weak position than a strong one. The great military strategist, Sun Tzu said as much, “In war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.”
The idea that the surge is working is a strong one.
You and other Democrats have to debilitate this idea.
Republicans have made all kinds of political hay while the sun hasn’t been shining because they have been able to separate the surge from the overall health of Iraq.
You and other Democrats have to expand the overall definition of the surge to include essential services and political progress. The US could be in Iraq for a hundred years. But unless there is progress on essential services, unless the Iraqi government gets its act together, the US forces are little more than security guards at a rock concert.
The more you and the Democrats let the idea that the “surge is working” go uncontested, the longer Bush Administration’s concept of the surge remains credible.
As long as it remains credible, for McCain and the Republicans, the surge creates a giant platform.
McCain argues that since the surge is working, the US should remain in Iraq. McCain argues that since the surge is working, the US can win the war in Iraq.
McCain hopes assertions like these will add credibility and gravitas to his “no surrender” rhetoric.
Your abilities to tap into huge reservoirs of emotion have been essential to your electoral successes. You are such an amazingly good communicator that you have been able to use concepts like “hope” and “change” to inspire people.
Most politicians use fear.
If comments about the surge are allowed to go unchallenged, fear of America losing the war Iraq may rise.
Many politicians will be reminded how, way back in 1972, the McGovern Democrats managed to lose an election and to immolate the Democratic Party’s national security credentials. The party still suffers huge issues regarding national security.
Polls suggest that the war in Iraq is not at the top of the list of voters’ concerns. But unless you change your tactics, it will be.
You have shown that emotion trumps the logical constructs Senator Clinton has been trying to create. But you’re brand of emotion—hope and opportunity—is very vulnerable.
McCain is intending to wave a huge flag. It’ll look like an American flag. But it’ll have fear written all over it: Fear of losing the war in Iraq. Fear of change. Fear that voting for you will lead to catastrophe.
McCain will try to plant that flag of fear smack dab the middle of the idea that the surge is working.
The Democrats should be saying things like, “Looking at Iraq only from a military point of view is what got us into this mess to begin with.”
Democrats have to link the surge with all the problems in Iraq.
You’re a smart guy. You know that hope and opportunity trump logic.
But do not forget this: fear trumps hope and opportunity.