Why Voting for Dems Is Required:
By Bernard Weiner, Co-Editor
The Crisis Papers
October 31, 2006
OK, let's try to parse this one out. At his press conference last week,
Bush hinted at a new flexibility on Iraq, at least with regard to tactics,
but announced no new policies; in short, he merely changed the window
dressing -- emerging with what E. J. Dionne and others accurately call
"stay-the-course lite." So what was really going on?
I see several subtextual agendas in Bush's recent public pronouncements
First, Bush needed to give the impression, pre-election, that his hugely
unpopular Iraq policy might possibly be changing in the immediate future.
In other words, a snow job for still-reachable conservative Republicans
who might want to vote for GOP candidates if only Bush would shift his
direction with regard to Iraq.
Short sum-up: Bush isn't shifting. Check out these quotes from that press
conference: "Our goals are unchanging. ... Absolutely, we're winning...and
we will win, unless we leave before the job is done. ... We have a plan
for victory." In short, there will be no real policy shift pre-election
and probably not any major shift after November 7 either. Those permanent
military bases are there for a reason.
WHO "LOST" IRAQ AND WHO WILL BE BLAMED?
Second, in the likelihood that Iraq totally degenerates and America has to
depart quickly, Bush is preparing the 2008 ground for the "who-lost-Iraq?"
blame game. It isn't, can't be, the Bush Administration, since their
policy, they would have us all believe, is the correct one. So it must be
someone else's fault. Here are some likely scapegoats:
The Iraqis. The Maliki government, for good reason, senses that
it's being set up to take the fall. The Bush Administration reasoning will
be: Well, we gave them the benchmarks and they couldn't meet them, so it's
their fault. There will be no admission that the American benchmarks are
based on a flawed grasp of what's really happening on the ground in Iraq.
If Maliki gets too far out of line, or continues to prove his
ineffectiveness, the CheneyBush Administration could well encourage a
military coup to topple him, reminiscent of how the U.S. treated its South
Vietnamese government allies in the 1960s and early-'70s. (Bush said of
Maliki last week: "We're with him, so long as he continues to make tough
decisions," i.e., continues to make decisions in line with U.S. policy.)
When client governments fail to do the U.S. bidding or are unable to do
so, the usual practice is to install a more amenable puppet into place. If
nothing works and you have to exit the country, you've got one of your
handy scapegoats already on the chopping block.
The American People. Another dastardly group that can be blamed for
"losing Iraq" is the Democratic Party and, in a broader sense, the
American people. The media will be included in this category of
scapegoats, since they dared to report bad news of what was happening on
the ground in Iraq. Both the Democrats and the media had the temerity to
ask embarrassing questions about the wreck that is Bush's war policy,
therefore -- and here comes the spin -- they "didn't support the troops"
and thus undercut civilian support for the "war on terrorism." In short,
"unpatriotic" elements helped the U.S. "lose" Iraq (as if we ever "owned"
it) and thus made America less secure. It's "who lost China?" all over
The Military. Another scapegoat being groomed for a starring role:
the U.S. military. Bush and Rumsfeld claim they always defer to the
generals on the ground, though in private they make sure to punish any
military officers who venture beyond BushCheneyRumsfeld policy. So it will
be "the generals" who got the strategy all wrong, never the occupants of
the White House who gave them their marching orders and set the simplistic
parameters under which they were forced to work.
In other news:
IRAN WAITING IN THE WINGS
Unless some extraordinary surprise occurs in the days remaining before the
November 7 balloting, it seems that the U.S. will not be bombing Iran's
fledgling nuclear-research labs. There are no firm indications of such an
But such action might well take place between the election and when the
new Congress is sworn-in in late-January of 2007. If the GOP manages to
hang on to power in the House and/or Senate, CheneyBush may decide that
have a new "mandate," and thus have more free rein to attack Iran.
If the Democrats humiliate the rightwing Republicans and take over the
House and/or the Senate, CheneyBush may decide to attack Iran both for
geopolitical reasons, to be sure, but also because such a war would
definitely divert public attention away from the election results and, the
Administration hopes, would help rally the public around the
"commander-in-chief" for the final two years of his tenure. (Meanwhile,
word leaked from Iran last week that it recently doubled its
uranium-processing capacity, which remains miniscule at the moment; the
best estimate is that even if the Iranians are seeking to develop nuclear
weapons, they're 10 years out.)
It would seem unlikely that Bush&Co. would be lunatic enough to actually
invade Iran with ground troops to secure that country's huge oil fields;
the U.S. hasn't the troop strength or political support back home or
internationally to do so, and would risk getting bogged down in yet
another Middle East quagmire, battling a huge native resistance. (However,
the same thing could have been said about the insanity of invading Iraq,
and these reckless ideologues did it anyway. This time, CheneyBush also
have to worry about the U.S. being seen as an "international threat to
peace," and be forced to endure retaliation of one sort or another.)
The Administration's neo-conservatives, forever lodged in fantasy, have
said they believe a "shock & awe"-type attack from the air, perhaps using
nuclear bunker-buster bombs, will convince the rulers of Iran to bow to
the will of the Americans. Such thinking didn't work in Iraq, but they
still seem to believe it will work in Iran.
NEO-CON FANTASISTS STILL ACTIVE
Many of the Bush neo-cons truly believe that "the Iranian resistance" will
rise up when the U.S. attacks and will overthrow the hard-line theocratic
mullahs who rule their country, and help the U.S. install a more flexible
government. Not bloody likely; Iranians of whatever political stripe no
doubt would react the same way Americans would if the U.S. were to be
attacked by outside forces: they would rally around their leaders, however
much they dislike and distrust them.
In any event, the U.S. is actively engaged at the United Nations in trying
to strangle Iran's rulers economically, with sanctions, while it tries to
pass Security Council resolutions that, as in the case with Iraq three
years ago, might provide a fig-leaf causus belli for some sort of U.S.
During all this, of course, the CheneyBush Administration is adamantly
opposed to face-to-face negotiations with Iran's rulers -- even while it
seems to be moving slowly toward possibly doing so with North Korea, which
actually has an up-and-running nuclear weapons program.
In short, the Bush White House's foreign policy toward Iran is an ad hoc
work-in-progress, with no clear diplomatic strategy for dealing with the
over-arching issue of nuclear proliferation by nation-states who stand in
opposition to U.S. policies in the world. The U.S. is left with little
more it can do other than threaten and bluster and occasionally drop bombs
on those weak nations who can't do much harm to America.
This may explain why so many smaller nations want to possess nuclear
weapons; those that have such weapons are treated with much more caution
and respect -- e.g., North Korea -- than those that haven't yet joined the
nuclear club, for example Iran.
STEALING AN ELECTION
Let us imagine that the Republicans can manage a way to steal the election
on November 7. How would Karl Rove and his minions have pulled it off?
Rove may well understand that a Democratic landslide is going to be so
overwhelming as to preclude any significant fiddling with the
election-night numbers in most states. In enough tight races, however,
friendly computer geeks can adjust certain numbers here and there and
emerge with key district victories that wind up (surprise!) going to the
In other key districts, GOP victory can be achieved through massive voter
suppression: Purging hundreds of thousands of likely Democratic voters,
mainly minorities, from the voting rolls under one ruse or another.
Delivering voting machines that don't work, or whose software is
programmed not to work correctly, to largely-minority Democratic
precincts; as I write this, in early-voting in Florida and Missouri,
e-voting machines are turning Democratic votes into Republican ones. GOP
lawyers standing outside the precincts loudly challenging the right to
vote of certain individuals, usually the poor and minorities. Engineering
long lines that force voters in those areas to stand for hours, with many
feeling they have to leave to go to work. Presenting "provisional ballots"
to those who were lopped off the rolls but who demand to vote, but those
ballots are then never counted. Rumors and flyers warning that anyone with
unpaid parking or traffic tickets or child-support payments, or without
naturalization documents, will not be permitted to vote and might even be
arrested. And so on. All of these tactics, and more, were used effectively
in the 2004 election in a number of states.
In the November 7th election in precincts where the voting machines do not
provide a way for the ballots to be verified by the voter, with a receipt
number that can be checked later, the GOP can pick up a seat here, a seat
there. Rove&Co. may not be able to hold back the tidal wave of
anti-Republican voting across the country, but using all the many
dirty-trick resources at their command -- and with little oversight by
Democratic lawyers and election officials -- they could potentially steal
enough seats in the House to remain in power, or figure they can at least
maintain their ideological control of the Congress if the Republicans lose
the outright majority by allying themselves with conservative Democrats.
One more scheme that might well be employed: the GOP could challenge the
election results in enough tight Congressional races to keep Democratic
victors from being sworn in (that may be why they've raised the issue of a
Venezuelan company that owns 17% of the U.S. voting machines); those races
would then be decided by the existing Congress, which the Republicans
still would control.
PAUSE BEFORE ORDERING THE BUBBLY
In short, if Democrats are ordering the champagne for November 7th
post-election celebrations, they'd better exercise some caution. Rove,
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the whole crew down in the White House bunker
are not going to go easily into that dark night of defeat and humiliation.
They sought power, they clawed and cheated their way into power, they are
enjoying the fruits of exercising their power, they eviscerated the
Constitution in establishing their power, they want more power, and they
aren't going to simply issue a civil smile and concede defeat. They will
do anything, ANYTHING, to ensure that they remain in control -- if for no
other reason than to try to keep themselves out of the federal slammer.
The lesson here is that the American citizenry cannot permit itself once
again to be rolled over on Election Day. There should be massive and
well-organized exit-polling; there should be Democratic attorneys
stationed at each and every likely voting precinct and tabulation center
where problems could be anticipated; there should be legal observers (one
would hope with some computer smarts) observing the chain of custody of
ballots and e-voting computer chips and how the ballots are tabulated,
suing if necessary to gain access to the source codes.
Are any of these things being done? I don't think so, at least not on the
massive scale it would take to make those manipulating the voting and
vote-counting think twice about what they're doing. And so, on November 8,
the opposition to CheneyBush may wake up to an ongoing nightmare of
I am convinced that if the election is honest, with votes honestly
tabulated, the CheneyBush Administration will be dealt a serious loss on
November 7. But that is a mighty big "if," given the history of how Rove
and his supporting cast have behaved during the elections of the past six
Let's be highly cautious optimists, making sure to vote and getting our
voters to the polls, standing around (dressed in Democrat blue) outside
the voting venues, making sure we pay attention to how our votes are being
registered and tabulated, making noise when something seems fishy, and so
on. Finally, we all have to be prepared to go into the streets and
massively march in opposition if and when it's apparent that the election
has been stolen yet again.
This election is our best chance to begin to turn America around, and back
into the light of its better self. Let's not blow it by letting our hope
blind us to the more nefarious realities on the ground.
Copyright 2006 by Bernard Weiner
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has
taught at universities in California and Washington, worked as a
writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The
Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org). To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org