Jonah Goldberg

I'd trade a Bush defeat for an Iraq victory any day.

I say this because not a day goes by without me receiving a barrage of e-mail from readers asserting that I'm - just like everyone else on the right - allowing my "partisanship" for Bush to color my views on the war, the media, my dog, my reason to live, whatever.

The truth is more like the other way around: Right now, I support Bush because I am such a partisan for winning in Iraq.

Of course, I would support Bush over Kerry even if we weren't at war, because Bush is the more conservative candidate and I'm not on crack. But if it weren't for the war, I wouldn't think it was nearly as important that Bush got reelected.

While he's been good on judges, tax cuts and a few other issues, there's a great deal to Bush's "big government conservatism" that should bother conservatives and traditional Republicans. But the stakes in Iraq are so great for America and the world that I would gladly trade a Kerry presidency for a stable and decent Iraq moving toward democracy.

In fairness, not all Republicans agree with me. It seems that some Republicans are sticking with the war because they're sticking with Bush.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Trust in a leader is often the decisive factor in support for bold and risky actions, like war. FDR secured the New Deal not so much because it was such a good idea but because people trusted FDR. Indeed, FDR and Woodrow Wilson both swore they would keep America out of war, but voters trusted them when they changed their mind.

Also, many conservative war supporters believe, fair or not, that a Kerry presidency would be a disaster for the war on terror. So even if Bush hasn't done everything right, we still think Bush's victory is essential to America's victory.

But if it's hard to disaggregate the motives of Bush's supporters, it's fairly easy to identify the competing motives of Bush's detractors.

Every day, it seems like more and more Democrats think it would be worth losing in Iraq if it meant winning the White House. Valuing partisan advantage more than foreign policy was obviously the motivation behind John Kerry's vote against the $87 billion for Iraqi reconstruction.

Remember, a mere month before the vote, Kerry was asked if he would vote against the appropriation. He told CBS' "Face the Nation" "I don't think any United States senator is going abandon our troops and recklessly leave Iraq to whatever follows as a result of simply cutting and running. That's irresponsible. ... I don't think anyone in Congress is going to not give our troops ammunition, not give our troops the ability to be able to defend themselves."


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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