Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Rosie, David, and Wolf: Why Don't They Want Us to Win?

After failing to gain traction with its "a vote for Democrats is a vote for Osama" ad campaign, the Republicans' message machine has adopted an even more irrational strategy: Go after the talk show hosts!

That's right. Painting Jim Webb as a pornographer, Harold Ford as a playah, and Michael J. Fox as a Parkinson's poseur fizzled.

So now it's Wolf Blitzer, David Letterman, and Rosie O'Donnell and the rest of The View crew in the crosshairs, being sleazed as part of the Hate America First Coalition.

"Do you want the United States to win in Iraq?" thundered Bill O'Reilly to David Letterman. "Do you right now? Do you want the United States to win?"

He had the same question for Rosie, Joy Behar, and Barbara Walters: "Do you want America to win in Iraq?" When a yes or no answer wasn't immediately forthcoming, O'Reilly leapt to the conclusion: "So you don't want America to win in Iraq..."

And it isn't just O'Reilly. GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter also played the guilt-by-insinuation card, asking Wolf Blitzer: "Does CNN want America to win this thing? You can't be on both sides of the war."

If he'd had time for a follow up, Hunter no doubt would have asked, "And have you stopped beating your wife?"

Clearly indicating that the Vice President's residence had also gotten the kill-the-messenger-memo, Lynne Cheney took time out from denying her past endeavors as a salacious scribe to pose the same loaded query to Blitzer: "Do you want us to win?"

For the record, Blitzer replied: "The answer, of course, is we want the United States to win. We are Americans. There's no doubt about that." But it didn't really matter; the sleazy implication had already been slung, the subconscious connection made: these TV folk must not want us to win! Just like the Democrats.

That's clearly the lizard brain synapse Karl Rove is hoping to activate. Stumping in Georgia yesterday, President Bush connected the dots: "The Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: the terrorists win and America loses."

There you have it: pull the lever for anyone with a (D) next to their name and it's as good as handing the Stanley Cup, the Super Bowl trophy, the Masters green jacket, and the keys to Baghdad to al Qaeda.

Can you think of anything more absurd than that? Other than accusing Michael J. Fox of faking his symptoms or trying to score political points by implying that Joy Behar is an al Qaeda appeaser.

Indeed, it was actually Behar who provided the most cogent response to the "Do you want America to win?" nonsense -- one that all Democratic candidates should pick up -- when she turned the tables on O'Reilly and asked: "What does it mean to win?"

That should be the defining question of the next 7 days.

Let's just stipulate that everyone in America not in a straight jacket or part of a terrorist sleeper cell wants America to "win" -- and center the debate on what, exactly, the president and the GOP mean by victory.

And please, Mr. President, don't give us the usual bromides about stable democracy or Iraq security forces standing up so we can stand down. It's become all-to-clear that those are benchmarks that won't be met in the foreseeable future.

On Monday Bush said, "The Democrat goal is to get out of Iraq. The Republican goal is to win in Iraq."

Hmm, I know what Democrats reaching their supposed goal would look like -- but can't say the same for the Republican goal.

What does it mean to win? Republicans clearly don't have an answer. That's why they are throwing the trash-the-media Hail Mary. And why the rest of us should keep demanding an answer to the question of what winning is.