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Friday, 21 July 2006 04:48

What Dems Can Learn From Richard Nixon About Campaigning During a Stupid War

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The conflicts in Iraq and Vietnam have been increasingly compared for their growing similarities. Both are unnecessary failures leading to the deaths of thousands of Americans and innocent people, among other things.

History should have taught the Bush Administration something about what not to do. History can also help Democrats learn how to get the idiots out at election time. A BuzzFlash reader sent in this video clip of a campaign speech from 1968 in which Richard Nixon decries the Vietnam fiasco and urges the need for a change in Washington.

"Never has so much military and economic and diplomatic power been used so ineffectively," Nixon said, "and if after all of this time, and all of this sacrifice, and all of this support, there is still no end in sight, then I say the time has come for the American people to turn to new leadership not tied to the mistakes and policies of the past."

While the parties were reversed and Nixon's "secret plan" wasn't really much of a plan at all, the 1968 election proves that if the public is fed up enough with the way things are going, they will respond to a new direction. Despite Rovian rhetoric, sometimes it is better to change horses midstream during a crisis, especially if your horse is
actually a jackass. Of course, Democrats have already introduced two coherent, reasonable redeployment plans that seem much closer to that of our generals and the Iraqi government than Bush's.

While Bush won't be running again in 2008 (thank God), LBJ wasn't the nominee in '68; Hubert Humphrey was. Nevertheless, Nixon was able to ride a campaign based on foreign policy and change (a "complete house cleaning," as he said in the speech) to the White House. This is a good sign for congressional Democratic candidates that they can be successful with an anti-war agenda during the 2006 midterm elections.

Democrats didn't do much in 2004 with the same strategy, but remember that there had been about three years of rapid troop buildup in Vietnam (16,000 in 1965 to 537,000 in '68) before Nixon won. This luckily hasn't happened in Iraq, but we have been experiencing the same occurrence of the situation getting continuously worse on an almost daily basis.

We realize the irony of looking to Tricky Dick (Nixon, not Cheney) for political advice. But when it comes to getting rid of failed leaders who erroneously claim they can improve things with more of the same, it's certainly worth a look when there is so much at stake.