As I sat watching the latest Republican presidential debate in my living room last week, I was certain I had heard the arguments being made by the leading Republican candidates on Iraq before. Then it dawned on me; I had heard almost exactly the same words three years ago. Those same arguments had come out of the mouths of John Kerry, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton during the 2004 election campaign.
My memory turned out to be correct as I reread the transcripts of the 2004 election debates. John Kerry and John Edwards made almost exactly the same arguments being made by Giuliani, Romney and McCain during the Presidential debates this year: The war needs to continue, we support the "mission" of promoting "democracy" in Iraq, Bush has mismanaged the war, and all of the above claim to have a better plan to "win."
They all agree Bush has "mismanaged" the war…
"We did, however, not do a great job after we knocked down Saddam Hussein and won the war to take him down and his military." ~ Mitt Romney June 5, 2007
"We’re not going to suggest to them that things are going well in Iraq or anyplace else when, in fact, they’re not." ~ John Edwards October 5, 2004
"This war was very badly mismanaged for a long time." ~ John McCain June 5, 2007
… but they all want to "succeed":
"We must succeed and give it a chance to succeed." ~ John McCain June 5, 2007
"I believe that we have to win this. The president and I have always agreed on that. And from the beginning, I did vote to give the authority, because I thought Saddam Hussein was a threat, and I did accept that intelligence. " ~ John Kerry Sept. 30, 2004
"It’s unthinkable that you would leave Saddam Hussein in charge of Iraq and be able to fight the war on terror…. And we have to be successful in Iraq." ~ Rudy Giuliani, June 5, 2007
As far as I’m concerned, John Kerry and John Edwards should sue Rudy McRomney for plagiarism.
The "leading" Republicans in polls (thus far) are three years behind the Democrats on Iraq policy, as far as I can see. But this was only an initial reaction to rereading the 2004 transcripts of what the leading Democrats said about Iraq. The Republicans may really not be developmentally delayed Democrats — "retarded Democrats," if you will — because it could simply be my pre-judgment.
I had to test the theory in as scientific a manner as possible.
So I gathered 18 quotes — nine each from the three leading Republican contenders this year and the leading Democrats in 2004 — and read them to callers on my radio talk show, Dangerous Talk, on WPEP in Southeastern New England. I asked callers to guess whether it was "Rudy McRomney 2007" or "Ed Kerry-Clinton 2004." For three correct answers in a row I offered a pair of free movie tickets as a prize. Since each quote was a 50-50 shot on a pure guess, there was at least a one in six chance that the caller would walk away with the tickets.
I figured that if my thesis was correct — and callers couldn’t tell the difference between Democrats three years ago and the Republican contenders today — I had a 50-50 chance of pocketing the tickets for myself. But my calculations may have been wrong; I’ve never been much of a numbers person.
And I ran out of quotes before any of the callers answered three in a row correctly. Nobody could tell the difference between the Republicans today and the Democrats three years ago.
And most importantly for me, the movie tickets remain in my hands.
One of my regular callers — a reliable defender of the Bush Iraq policy — refused to play the game on the grounds that the quotes were "taken out of context." But when I repeatedly pressed him to explain one tangible difference in the policies offered between the Rudy McRomney today and the leading Democrats in 2004, his only response was to change the subject repeatedly.
Some Republican loyalists might point out that Ron Paul, the lone Republican presidential candidate who has opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, has an Iraq position almost identical to some of the leading Democrats these days. And that’s true, as far as it goes. But Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have changed their stances by following Ron Paul (and, hat tip to Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel and Barack Obama, who also opposed the war from the beginning), not because Ron Paul changed his position. Democrats can learn from reality, but not the retarded Democrats with an "R" in front of their name on the voting column.
It is the Democrats who are following Rep. Paul, and all of the other nine Republican candidates are following the Democrats. Even the Republican "leaders" (Romney, Giuliani and McCain) are followers. In fact, they are the most fervent followers of the Democratic policies three years ago.
Nobody is living in the past more than these three, and nobody is more energetically following a failed policy already rejected by the voters than Rudy McRomney.
That’s why I think a candidate like Ron Paul has a real chance to win the nomination, though I didn’t think so just two months ago. He’s the only leader in the Republican Party, and he’s been leading on an issue that is going to get much more unpopular for Rudy McRomney as the primaries approach.
Now I’ve got to end this column. I have a movie date with my wife, Mrs. Dangerous, on some free tickets I scored.
Thomas R. Eddlem [send him mail] is a conservative radio talk show host on WPEP-AM1570 in Massachusetts and Legislative Action Director for RightSourceOnline.com. He writes for LewRockwell.com, Pro Libertate and Antiwar.com.