Amid a mounting campaign in Congress to limit Bush’s military options, conservatives led by talk show host Hugh Hewitt have created an advocacy group designed to counter the anti-war And its first round of targets will be the 17 GOP lawmakers who voted for last week’s Democratic resolution in the House opposing the troop increases. ~The Politico

Even though his “pledge” drive did not manage to intimidate the seven Senators that his earlier effort at inducing GOP political suicide tried to do (except for Specter, all of these had been targeted by Hewitt for “encouraging the enemy”), Hewitt pushes ahead to try whittle down that unseemly 202 number of GOP House members to a much more manageable 185.  Earth to Hewitt: pushing primary challengers against your own incumbents (especially weak incumbents in swing states) in a presidential election year that seems perfectly set up for the Democrats is a recipe for electoral disaster for your side.  In political duels, you do not shoot your own second and expect to win.  Hewitt here demonstrates all of the political judgement of the Netroots without possessing any of their subtlety.   

Besides being absurd for its obsessive devotion to the administration line on Iraq, this zeal for the “surge” invests this one plan with an importance that is frankly unfair to Gen. Petraeus and the soldiers being asked to carry it out.  This ought to trouble someone like Hewitt, who seems to take the words of Gen. Petraeus as divinely inspired.  At best, the surge cannot begin to achieve anything like the “victory” being associated with it by the radio demagogue.  It might marginally improve the situation and buy more time, but it simply will not provide the kind of results that its ignorant boosters are implicitly promising everytime they talk about Victory. 

Hewitt gives the impression that support for this plan is the litmus test for whether someone wants “victory,” but every one of the Republican opponents of the surge in the Senate and most of the Republican House opponents all want victory and all remain depressingly pro-war.  He is effectively helping to split off his own political allies and force them into opposition to the administration’s management of the war over disagreements about tactical deployments.  He is helping to hasten a complete loss of confidence in Mr. Bush’s leadership among many Republicans by reflexively endorsing whatever bad idea Mr. Bush happens to like and making agreement with that bad idea an absolute requirement of party discipline.  Mr. Bush has had four years of reflexive, unswerving deference and loyalty from the members in Congress; it has actually been disgusting and appalling.  The idea that they cannot now strive to put some distance between themselves and the administration after the powerful electoral shellacking they just took is preposterous. 

The Hewittian mantra, “victory is more important than party” only makes sense if you actually think that the path to victory is assured and that you are culling people from your party who are obviously against whatever you think victory is.  If you are wrong about any one of these things (and I assume Hewitt is wrong about all of them), you will simply be helping to do the Democrats’ work for them and thus ensure that those you regard as being “anti-victory” will triumph in spectacular fashion.  If you regard the Democrats as poorly as Hewitt obviously does, this is not simply a mistake, but borders on the irrationally self-destructive.  It is all the more irrational when you consider that the majority of the country now opposes the war–Hewitt is making it a matter of party loyalty to actively ignore what the majority of Americans thinks about Iraq.  Given his track record of impotence in influencing elections, he will probably not do much actual damage to the GOP, but merely in the attempt he reveals himself and his allies in this weird purge (remember when the jingoes complained in such outraged voices about how the Netroots folks were “purging” Lieberman?) to be ignorant of their own best political interests and oblivious to the realities of the politics of this war.  Worse still, they are proud to be oblivious to these realities, because they think it proves they have conviction.  It doesn’t.  It just proves that they will blindly follow Mr. Bush no matter how much damage he does to this country, the military or their party.  It is pathetic, but I must confess deriving a certain entertainment of watching these awful people charging off the edge of a cliff.