"FIRST YOU DIDN'T WANT ME TO GET THE PONY, NOW YOU WANT ME TO TAKE IT BACK, MAKE UP YOUR MIND!" Via Yglesias, we see that "liberal hawks" (at least as defined as liberals who think that replacing a bad dictatorship that posed no security threat to the United States with an Islamist quasi-state was a great idea) are as capable of being pathetic Bush dead-enders as any conservative. Michael O'Hanlon:

But it would still be counterintuitive for the president's critics to prevent him from carrying out the very policy they have collectively recommended.

Jeffrey Herf:

Now that Bush wants to send more troops to fight with a different strategy, this chorus of critics rejects the policy. It is irritating and depressing to see the uniformity with which Democrats reject or even fail to recognize the new thinking in the military and the new thinking that is reflected in Bush's proposals even when at last the President agrees with the criticisms of some of his critics.

This is so childishly obvious I can't believe it needed to be pointed out even once, but to put it in concise terms:

  • It is entirely possible in both principle and practice for a political leader to switch from one bad policy to another bad policy. Criticizing the first bad policy does not require one to support the second bad policy.
  • In more specific terms, supporting a very large troop presence in 2003 does not logically compel someone to support a relatively minor and temporary troop increase in 2007. Indeed, it's quite the opposite; the underpinnings of the former argument make quite clear that the latter strategy will not work. It should also be noted that it is a waste of everyone's time to discuss whether a much larger escalation would work (aside from the fact that it probably wouldn't), because 1.) the necessary troops don't exist, and 2.) Bush isn't going to support such a thing anyway.

In fairness, Herf does provide us with some comic relief:

If the Democratic party's national leadership continues in its opposition to the strategy Bush has just announced, and if, against expectations, that strategy is successful, Democrats may look forward to another decade or more of losing Presidential elections.

Absolutely. And what if the movie scripted by Jenny McCarthy had gone on to make more than the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings movies combined? Boy, would the executives who passed on it look stupid! Clearly, the company that financed it did the right thing.

Seriously, what's wrong with these people? Somebody needs to convene the remaining "liberal" supporters of the war and explain the concept of sunk costs.

--Scott Lemieux

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