Tuesday, October 31, 2006

For those who have never heard of it, the Battle of Paeschendale was one of the worst incidents of mass-slaughter on the Western Front in the First World War. I recall it for no particular reason other than it seems to have a political counterpart in the upcoming mid-term elections.

Prior to the Battle of Paeschendale, British generals were convinced that the solution to the bloody stalemate of the Western Front was simple obstinancy; all they had to do was to persevere, act with a little dash and verve, and the German defenses would crack, and in would flow the British Army, like a swarm of ants. The War would be over, the British would be victorious, God Save the King! Of course, it didn't work out that way.

Paeschendale was a mass slaughter. One of the worst in the annals of warfare.

I bring this up for a simple reason; the "generals" in charge of what nowadays passes for the Republican party are of similar mindset to the Generals at Paeschendale; They can brazen this one out. All they have to do is hang tough and the democratic lines will crack, and the advancing Republican hoarde will swarm in like ants, the war will be over, God be Praised! Toughen it out is a common theme running through Republican rhetoric these days; we must "stay the course" on Iraq. We must continue to maintain the status-quo in most areas of American life -- against terrorists on the one hand, in favor of tax cuts, on the other.

Like the Generals at Paeschendale, the Republicans also have a recent history of failure; there has not been a single, republican/conservative ideal advanced or adhered to in the last six years, of any consequence. And just like those British Generals, our republican leaders will continue to advance blindly, stubbornly, unable to learn form the past, unwilling to think of the future, determined to spin out an endless "NOW" --- and the slaughter will be great, because the British could not find an adequate solution to the problems of trench warfare and os repeated the same old tried-and-failed tactics, because there was no viable alternative to hand or within their imaginations. And that is exactly what Republicans are asking for at the polls this fall; an endless present, in which they maintain control of the visible mechanisms of government simply for the lack of a viable alternative. The fact that they have a history of failure behind them (Katrina, spending cap busting, Budget busting, lack of entitlement reform despite control of both houses of Congress, just to start), does not cause them to question their tactics; they simply continue them, like the Generals, for lack of a viable alternative or imagination.

At this point, the only real reason to vote republican is because the alternative makes one too sick to contemplate. And if that's all we have to vote for, them why bother? I'm not concerned about the specter of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, or Harry Reid as Senate Majority leader, because neither one of them actually matters; such concerns about who does what job or advances what agenda mean nothing to the man in the street --- they only mean something to political junkies and ideologues. What I'm concerned with is having a reason to get off my behind in a week and pull the lever for somebody. Give me something other than "more of the same" or "the other side is worse".

The truth of the matter is that neither Pelosi or Reid could hardly do a worse job than their republican counterparts, Hastert and Frist. Considering just how bad the current crop of politicos has been, the bar has been set comically low in terms of success. Both of them (Frist/Hastert) can point to an unblemished record of delay, plunder, surrender, ineptitude, alleged criminality amongst their caucus, and shameless pandering. The twin-headed monster of Reid/Pelosi, frankly, hardly frightens me at all, because at heart I know that they couldn't even be as competent in being incompetent as the Hastert/Frist combination has been. They (Reid/Pelosi) certainly couldn't be any better and they most definitely couldn't be any worse. Given the fact that the democratic party has splintered to an even greater extent than the republican party, I can safely predict that even with democratic control of both Houses of Congress, even less will get done. There are simply too many competing voices for the democrats to hammer out a coherent policy on anything, let alone concerted action.

Even with the bar set so low, Pelosi/Reid will, with as much certainty as one can muster with regards to this kind of prediction, more than likely accomplish far less than the Frist/Hastert monstrosity. A congress which does nothing of consequence is typically good for the American public.

But, true to form, our republican generals will trot out the old, tried-and-true tactics in a desperate effort to stave off defeat; a vote for a democrat is a vote for terrorists, for drug dealers, for abortionists, for illegal aliens, for surrender in Iraq, and sets the stage of a president Hillary Clinton (who scares me even less than the Pelosi/Reid Beast). Like the Generals at Paeschendale, they continue to believe that one last, bull-headed push will break the lines and bring victory; resorting to this kind of strategy is the same as sending young men "over the top" into the teeth of machine gun fire and artillery, unprotected.

Fear and maintaining the status-quo are not reasons to vote for anyone. As republicans, we must resign ourselves to the fact that we will probably get creamed in a week's time and that we have a long laundry list of failures to point to in order to figure out why. The republican party will lose not because of Iraq, or the Patriot Act, or Gay Marriage, or any of the other distraction issues either party advances in order to obscure the real going's-on; it will have failed because it promised to reign in federal spending and instead plundered the treasury. It promised to reform runaway entitlement programs and not only caved on Social Security, but added another $100 billion program to Medicare to pay for prescription drugs for people who can already afford them. It's failed because it stands on principles and then consorts with Jack Abramoff and his ilk and defends Tom DeLay. It deserves to lose because it cannot muster enough gumption to do anything that would advance republican/conservative ideals, but somehow can muster enough to pass a joint resolution in the middle of the night on behalf of a brain-dead woman in Florida, trampling all over the ccncept of marital rights and privleges along the way (how Conservative of them was that?).

Let the slaughter begin.

Paeschendale, however, did have a silver lining. It was one of those events that makes human beings scratch their heads and ask "why?". In the years after Paeschendale, generals and military theorists and strategists studied, dissected and investigated every aspect of the Battle of Paeschendale and the lessons learned can be said to have saved lives in the Second Wrold War, as perverse as that sounds. New tactics and new weapons evolved to prevent or mitigate the effects of modern weapons on the battlefield. New leaders emerged determined not to repeat the idocy of the past. The republican party must do the same.; it must find new leaders, evolve new tactics and produce new weapons, if it is to save itself from bloody slaughter.

That is exactly what the republican party must do now in the aftermath of it's own potential Paeschendale.

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