The economy is the new Iraq

Ben Smith notes a possible resemblance between the way Republicans are approaching the stimulus and the way Democrats were accused of approaching the war in Iraq.

One of John McCain's and other Republicans' harshest charges against Democrats during the debate over Iraq policy was that they were rooting for American defeat, and hoping to profit politically from the U.S. failure.


With the House Republican vote against the stimulus, Democrats are beginning to make a similar argument: That Republicans are politically invested in economic failure.
This is obviously the gist of my argument below. I think the comparison to the accusation against the Democrats is invalid for a couple of reasons.

1) While rooting for a prolonged recession (at least until after the mid-term elections) is not what one would call admirable, it's not nearly as bad as hoping for the deaths of America troops. Maybe I'm horribly cynical, but I'm pretty comfortable accusing the GOP of the former. I would never accuse the GOP of the latter, which is what they accused the Democrats of.

2) The Democrats had no need to root for American defeat in Iraq, because that issue had receded significantly in the minds of American voters. From the ABC News exit polling:

Which ONE of these five issues is the most important facing the country? (8,585 Respondents)

Energy policy (7%)

The war in Iraq (10%)

The economy (63%)

Terrorism (9%)

Health care (9%)

The economy was obviously much, much more important to people when they went to the polls last November, and the Democrats had no need to demagogue on the issue. The GOP, on the other hand, have nothing else to go on right now. The Democrats were in a position of strength going into the elections, whereas the GOP's power right now is limited to simple obstruction. The only possible way they can improve their standing in the near future is for Obama to fail.

3) President Bush was directly responsible for the war in Iraq. He asked for it, and sold it to the American people with spurious assertions about weapons of mass destruction. (We all know how that panned out.) For a variety of reasons, many Democrats supported him. While this was certainly an issue in the last election, I would argue that it made more of a difference in the primary race between Clinton and Obama than it did in the general. On the other hand, Obama is not responsible for the disaster that is our current economic crisis, and hoping that the stimulus fails is the only way to pin it on him. It would allow the GOP to float the meme that it's Obama's recession, instead of (infinitely more accurately) Bush's.

I can see how people would view the two issues, and the political ramifications of failure in each case, but I think the comparison is facile.

Update: I forgot to mention that Limbaugh, he whose ring the GOP must kiss these days, has openly hoped for Obama to fail. Eric Martin has a great post all about the strangle-hold Rush has on the Republican Party.


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  3. Well, that looks more punitive than it's meant to. The comments were on the wrong thread, is all!