There are certain arguments that partisans repeat as if they are holy and certain -- until the arguments are no longer convenient. Here are some bromides and political arguments that were broadly used in the last few years, but now have outlived their usefulness, so you probably won't hear them much in 2007:
The Pottery Barn Rule: You broke it, you own it. There was a time you couldn't go a day without hearing an Iraq war opponent invoke former Secretary of State Colin Powell's famous warning about sending U.S. troops into Iraq. Apparently, these folks never really believed in the rule, because they now want America to disown an Iraq mired in chaos.
Impeachment is an attempt to overturn a popular election. The left used that argument repeatedly when the GOP House impeached President Bill Clinton. Funny, you don't hear the left making that argument when Democrats call for the House to start impeachment proceedings against President Bush.
Presidential wannabes should have military experience. Bush's National Guard duty as a pilot was not enough for Democrats, who cited Sen. John Kerry's combat medals as a reason to elect him president. Alas, combat experience didn't cinch the election for Kerry in 2004. Now, with Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama likely to run in 2008 and former Sen. John Edwards' hat already in the ring -- not to mention the strong potential that a Vietnam War hero, Sen. John McCain, will head the 2008 GOP ticket -- the military experience and hero status that was supposed to put Kerry in the Oval Office won't be so vital for presidential candidates any more.
The president should be more skeptical of U.S. intelligence on Iraq. Forget former CIA chief George Tenet's assurance that it was a "slam dunk" Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Bush was supposed to not believe that finding of U.S. intelligence on Iraq. But now, when U.S. intelligence estimates suggest that Iraq is unwinnable, editorial boards across the country assume the intelligence must be accurate.
Washington's deficit spending is unconscionable. This year, Republicans will want to maintain the Bush tax cuts and Democrats will be enjoying their return to power. In 2007, many 2006 deficit hawks from both parties will go wobbly.
Americans need to sacrifice and cut back on their energy use to fight global warming. Global warming remains an article of faith, but you can say bye-bye to the notion that fighting global warming will require good citizens to cut back. GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sees no problem with owning four Hummers and tooling around in a private jet -- while he orders the state to reduce its output of greenhouse gases.
Former veep Al Gore, who once wrote that fighting global warming would require "sacrifice, struggle and a wrenching transformation of society," now tells gullible moviegoers that fighting global warming will be good for the economy and create jobs.
Bush hasn't asked Americans to sacrifice because of the war in Iraq. Most of the folks I see making this argument aren't sacrificing anything to further the war effort, either -- they're just using the war to bolster their support for higher taxes on the rich. And they want the need for sacrifice to turn Americans against the war. Now that polls show that Americans don't support the war, the pro-sacrifice crowd will ditch the phony sacrifice argument.
Happy New Year.
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