“The Republican strategy could play well among those persuaded by the administration’s implicit claims that the invasion of Iraq was essentially a retaliatory measure for Sept. 11 and that attacking Saddam Hussein was simply another way of attacking Osama bin Laden.
Although unsupported by the facts – Bush himself has acknowledged that there is no evidence linking Iraq to Sept. 11 – this argument casts the war not as a subject for pragmatic discussion but rather as a moral test. The Germans and French failed this test, those advocates say, essentially deserting under fire.
The spectacle of the lone sheriff facing down the bad guys while the cowardly townspeople tremble in the background, crystalized in the classic film High Noon (1952), has deep resonance for the American electorate. Casting Bush as the rugged individualist taking on terrorists might well appeal to voters more than any Democratic insistence that the terrorist threat can be confronted and turned back only with the aid of old alliances and established institutions.
If the Republicans pursue an ideological campaign and win, the world will change in highly combustible ways.
It is one thing for an American administration to depart from traditional policies under stress and for a limited time, but it would be quite another for a president to win election with a mandate to make that departure permanent.”