Home/Daniel Larison/Republicans Didn’t Lose in 2006 and 2008 Because of Democracy Promotion and “Muslim Outreach”

Republicans Didn’t Lose in 2006 and 2008 Because of Democracy Promotion and “Muslim Outreach”

Andy McCarthy gives a bizarre spin to Republican losses in 2006 and 2008:

So unpopular was the second Bush term that it gave us, first, the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006, and then, in 2008, the Obama administration. The Republican establishment sloughed these electoral thumpings off to the country’s being “war weary.” But the country has never been war weary — when we are threatened, we want the threats dealt with decisively. What we are is Islam weary [bold mine-DL].

I dislike Bush’s “freedom agenda” and democracy promotion more than most, and they were among the major errors of Bush’s foreign policy, but these were obviously not the reasons Republicans lost the 2006 and 2008 elections. Neither were Bush’s minimal haphazard attempts at “outreach” to Muslims, which were in any case canceled out and rendered irrelevant by the abuses and outrages his administration committed against Muslims. The Iraq war was one of the main reasons for Republican losses in 2006, and exit polls bear this out, but it was the financial crisis and the recession that influenced most voters in the presidential election. Debates about our ongoing wars were an important factor earlier in the 2008 presidential cycle, but by the time of the general election they became lower priority issues for most 2008 voters. 2006 and 2008 did not see a mass exodus of independents from the Republican coalition because they were deeply offended by Bush’s supposed “softness” on Islam or because of his enthusiasm for exporting instability and illiberalism democracy around the world. They abandoned the Republicans because they were the party of a deeply unpopular President, who became so unpopular because of his incompetence and the costs of his biggest mistake, namely the Iraq war.

McCarthy is advancing a version of the “ungrateful Muslim” argument that some Republicans will employ from time to time to express their dissatisfaction with the results of the misguided Iraq war that they supported until the end. According to this argument, Muslims in a country that the U.S. has invaded and occupied for extended periods of time should show America the appropriate gratitude, and it is their “failure” to do so that has so exhausted the public’s patience with foreign military adventures rather than the wars themselves. McCarthy still defends support for the initial folly of invading Iraq, for example, and absurdly refers to it as a “coherent, completed anti-terrorist mission,” but then he complains that U.S.-led democracy promotion empowered Islamists. This is the anti-Islamist version of the liberal hawk’s excuse that he supported deposing Hussein but objected to how Bush did it, as if this somehow improved his support for a disastrous war.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment

Latest Articles