REPUBLICANS AND THEIR SLOGANS….Atrios wonders if I was being coy when I asked pro-war hawks to explain what they mean when they say we need to do “whatever it takes” to win in Iraq. Answer: sort of. Mostly, though, I was trying to make the point that although Democrats get routinely skewered for “not having a plan,” neither do Republicans. But nobody ever calls them on it.

Take Fred Hiatt’s apparent attempt to mimic the slashing prose style of the late lamented Ben Domenech in the Washington Post today. Writing about “Real Security,” the recently released Democratic national security plan, he starts out like this:

You can look at the Democrats’ national security plan, released last week, as simply a political shield, akin to the upgraded body armor they promise for U.S. troops.

….”Real Security”….is an amulet for 2006 candidates: You see? We have a plan. We Democrats will buy more weaponry than the Bush administration, sign up more troops, give more to veterans, inspect more shipping containers.

I guess that’s what passes for cute these days, and it takes three paragraphs of this snide drollery before Hiatt confesses that there is another way to look at the document, namely as a serious policy statement. But he’s no happier with that perspective:

President Bush believes that the United States “is in the early years of a long struggle”….the United States must first and foremost offer better values, promoting democracy and opposing tyranny. It must be ready to take the fight to the enemy….must seek to ease the poverty that breeds hopelessness.

This is a mug’s game. Hiatt is unhappy that the Democratic plan actually focuses on achievable goals instead of slogans like these, despite the fact that he all but admits that these slogans are pretty empty in Republican hands. But if it were the other way around, he’d complain that the plan lacked details to back up its fancy words.

But why give Republicans a free pass? Where’s their plan? What I’ve seen is a National Security Strategy that’s full of windy phrases that plainly don’t match the administration’s actual intentions, and a Quadrennial Defense Review that pretends to be concerned with terrorism but devotes virtually all of its real resources to the same old platforms designed to fight the same old Cold War enemies. Why is that considered “serious”?

It’s time to end the double standard. President Bush gives stirring speeches, but his actions indicate rather plainly that his administration isn’t really driven by concern for democracy, global poverty, nuclear nonproliferation, port security, foreign oil dependence, or public diplomacy. As for Iraq, it’s obvious he doesn’t have a clue what to do.

So aside from slogans, what’s the Republican plan? Guys like Hiatt ought to be asking.

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