Blaming Bush for North Korea: Will it work politically?

Based on comments by various Democrats and Democratic media, a current talking point appears to be that the North Korean crisis is Bush’s fault. E.g., Edwards blames ‘enormous crisis’ in North Korea on Bush

Bush has been criticized for several failings:[ol][li]His inclusion of NK in the “Axis of Evil” pissed them off.[]He has focused too much on Iraq, when NK was always the bigger danger.[]There is no crisis. South Korea understands that peaceful negotiations can succeed. []He has under-stated the NK crisis in order to maintain public attention on invading Iraq.[]He hasn’t built up a military capable of dealing with NK.He has been too militaristic, goading NK into building up their own armaments.[/ol]The question for debate is: [/li]
Will Bush’s opponents will succeed in getting the public to believe that the problems of NK should be blamed on Bush?

I say these rhetorical attacks will fail, because:[ol][] The accusations are bogus. NK is a long-standing problem.[]In particular, there’s nothing really new about NK developing nukes. The new aspect is that we are no longer in denial.[]The accusations are inconsistent.[]A single attack message might be effective even if false, but there are two many different accusations here.[/ol]

I don’t BLAME the situation on Bush… plainly, they were a threat, even during the Clinton administration, and before…

…although I don’t think Bush is taking them seriously enough. Perhaps after a Korean nuke, smuggled in by crazed Muslims, detonates in downtown Washington, D.C…

I agree. The Dems have tried to pin a lot of shit on GWB, including a sluggish economy, the 9/11 attacks, the Enron collapse, and on and on. None of it has stuck, and the NK shit probably won’t stick either.

The Dems seem to be imploding. Their one-time point man, Daschle, has faded – and rightfully so – to insignificance. They lost control of the Senate and saw their minority status in the House worsen in the mid-term elections. Their best candidate for president in 2004 – the pitiful Al Gore – has decided he won’t even run. At least one recent poll shows that the American people prefer the Republicans in both foreign affairs AND the domestic economy. (!!!) And it doesn’t help that much of the shit they’re slinging at GWB seems to be sticking better to Bill Clinton, who was the man in charge when every one of these issues developed.

December, your OP seems to conclude that criticizing the Bush admin’s policy re NK is posturing and entirely a strategy of the GOP’s opponents. Do you honestly maintain there isn’t room for reasonable criticism, especially regarding such a serious issue?

Criticism #2 seems especially well-taken. Even folks inside the Bush administration have quietly suggestion this. Does this make them partisans intents on vilifying Mr. Bush, or people who are honestly concerned about a serious situation?

I’m not so sure: The more one pays attention to NK, the more they grandstand. They’re like a spoiled child that insists everyone look at them. He may (by design or accident) have the right way of dealing with them: ignore them until they act like big boys.

“His inclusion of NK in the “Axis of Evil” pissed them off.”

Well, yes, I rather imagine it did. Does seem to be a somewhat provocative statement. Followed by being quoted on 60 Minutes, stating his visceral hatred of Kim Jong-Il. Sort of thing puts people off, don’t you think? Heck, it might even give them the impression that they were under some sort of threat. People are funny that way, you tell them they’re evil and you hate thier guts, they get all apprehensive.

“He has focused too much on Iraq, when NK was always the bigger danger.”

Personally, I don’t regard either as that much of a threat, so a comparison is somewhat moot, like a deranged chihuahua and a three legged rottweiller. But I hasten to point out the GeeDubya had information regarding NK’s nuke status, but witheld it while the Iraq Resolution was before Congress. Didn’t want to confuse the poor addled dears, sidetrack them with other urgencies. First things first, and all that.

“There is no crisis. South Korea understands that peaceful negotiations can succeed.”

Perhaps so. As the alternatives range from the “bad” right through “disastrous” and all the way to “horrendous”, I rather imagine such “peaceful negotiations” might well be worth considering. You disagree?

“He has under-stated the NK crisis in order to maintain public attention on invading Iraq.”

Actually, as noted above, on that occassion he didn’t mention it at all. Being a politician, I think it fair to suggest his motives were political. You say “maintaining attention”, I say “duping”. A matter of inference, I suppose.

“He hasn’t built up a military capable of dealing with NK.”

Of course he didn’t, didn’t need to. The SK Army, the “Tigers” are legendary for toughness and ferocity. One on one, they are a good match for the Chiricaua Apaches. They are well armed, well trained. Backed by American air power, not to mention American thermo-nuclear arms, they are likely quite capable of taking care of themselves. Recent elections and statements would indicate that they are trying to relay this message: “Butt out, big nose!”

“He has been too militaristic, goading NK into building up their own armaments.”

Well, gee, december, I don’t know. You figure such statements as above might give someone the impression that they were under some threat? Well, yes, I imagine they very well might. “You’re evil, and I hate your guts.” Not the prelude to peaceful negotiations and a cordial, but frank, exchange of views.

To address your OP directly: Will it work? Which I rephrase: Will he get away with it?

If he has correctly estimated the cupidity of the American people, yes, it will. We are an emotional people, when the drums start to pound we rally round our leader, the threat of war never fails to boost solidarity with the Admin, regardless of what political stripe. The Pubbies know this, and made no bones about thier naked and blatant appeal to such.

Will it work? Not with me. How about you?

Of course the democrats slanderous accusations will fail. With Truth, Justice and Moral Certainty on the side of the President, how could the voting public possibly turn against him ? :wink:

The OP seems to be asking about the effectiveness of nakedly political tactics, but with some apprehension that they may actually work. That may be right.

Consider that the status had been quo for decades, in which there was serious tension but no major incidents that couldn’t be tamped back down. That’s what passes for peace in much of the world, and it’s as good as it often gets. During that time, the South grew prosperous and militarily strong. That’s the basic information most people have.

But the only thing that has really changed has been Bush’s cowboying. He has already developed a reputation for that even among those who like him. The result in Korea of that can only be a worsening of the situation. That won’t be a hard point to get across, either, especially when the body bags start arriving - that makes a very effective TV image, ya know.

Bush’s Korea “strategy” alone won’t change many minds, but it will be clear that the accumulation of acts that make the world more dangerous and less prosperous can’t all be laid at Osama’s feet, especially when his continued existence is remembered.

Yes, politically it will hurt Bush, but only as part of an accumulation of evidence.

Anyone else notice how long it took december to work up just the right spin on this ? I suspect he may be having secret misgivings of his own in re Bush’s Korean ‘policy’.

Right, I would think not at this time. Later, possibly.

What serious criticism is available to the Democrats? They can’t blame Bush for the flawed Clinton/Carter agreement, which allowed NK to develop nuclear capability. They can criticize Bush’s words as being not harsh enough or too harsh, but a comment on verbiage isn’t serious criticism.

Serious criticism requires the recomendation of alternative policy. They can’t recommend less military action, since Bush hasn’t taken any. They could recommend more military action, but that’s not the Democrats’ style. The only actions Bush has taken are to discontinue the oil shipments, which were the bribe for NK not to develop nukes, and to seek regional consensus. Those actions seem pretty unassailable.

So, I don’t see a serious criticism that’s available at the present time. If the NK situation gets worse, then today’s vague criticism may be a useful groundwork at blaming Bush at that time. I guess I agree with ElvisL1ves on this point. OTOH, I didn’t like this comment at all:

This sounds like a joke, but it’s not the least bit funny. See

Even within the administration, apparently:
“‘We will be facing considerable skepticism on the question of how we can justify confrontation with Saddam when he is letting inspectors into the country, and a diplomatic solution with Kim when he’s just thrown them out,” one senior diplomat acknowledged today. **“And we’re working on the answer.’”

december, you would do well to explain your view of how Hiroshima relates to North Korea.

Just so I’m on the same page with the OP, could someone produce a few examples of ‘democratic’ vs. ‘republican’ media so I can determine whether the OP’s implication that the only press criticism of Bush re: North Korea is politically motivated holds any water? Thanks in advance.

Take a look at Elvis’s cite two posts above yours, from the N Y Times, a Democratic newspaper. It’s not a perfect example, because it doesn’t specifically criticize any Bush action. Still, I find it slanted toward the pessimistic – focusing on why Bush may not succeed. E.g., such comments as

So an outlet that disagrees with, or even worries about, Bush’s “doctrine” must be Democratic, and one that cheerleads for him is Republican? Thanks for clearing that up. Welcome to the black and white world of december, where all thought can be replaced with partisan labels.

Now, how about that Hiroshima explanation?

Demcember’s first list does not include what I’ve always thought was the main complaint, as it is pretty much all Bush has done in regards to NK since he was elected:

  1. break off talks.

To be fair, I don’t think ‘hiding’ the resumption of the nuclear program is a valid criticism, as Clinton and Congress were very aware of the strong possibility it was humming along before Bush was elected. I don’t think anyone was really surprised when NK 'fessed up - more at the timing.

However, I think the act of walking away from the table is something the President is vunerable to, as Edwards pointed out, if the situation degenerates further.

But it was the best you could come up with in your ongoing litany of “Horrors! The Democrats are politicians! No Republican has ever played politics with a decsion by a Demcratic president!”

Ok, so far, in support of the OP we’ve got an article about Edwards, who it turns out is a Democrat running for president and who we can therefore expect to engage in some partisan sniping, and a New York Times article which the OP himself concedes does not provide a “perfect example” of the OP’s thesis. Not much to go on there. I’ve certainly heard some of the OP’s six points of criticism mentioned here and there (mostly on this message board), but I’m still in the dark as to how this supports the idea that criticism of Bush (really, of the administration) over North Korea must be motivated only by partisan concerns.

Well, guess I’ll have a bash at answering the OP’s question anyway. Of the six points of criticism mentioned by the OP, I personally feel that One, Four and Six have some degree of validity. I’m quite sure the “Axis of Evil” speech did piss off the NK leadership, that there was some degree of administration understatement of the developing situation to avoid taking the focus off Iraq, and that the administration has been overly militaristic in its response.

So to answer the question, if partisan critics wish to hang this particular albatross around Bush’s neck, and we assume that “the public” thinks the way I do (HA!), by going after the points listed above, there is some chance that “the public” would listen.

december: *Bush has been criticized for several failings: […]

5.He hasn’t built up a military capable of dealing with NK.*

El_Kabong: […] could someone produce a few examples of ‘democratic’ vs. ‘republican’ media so I can determine whether the OP’s implication that the only press criticism of Bush re: North Korea is politically motivated holds any water?

It doesn’t. The conservative Weekly Standard, for example, published an article in November criticizing the Administration precisely on the OP’s point 5:

Democratic (i.e. liberal) media:
NY Times
LA Times
Washington Post
Boston Globe
Miami Herald
Chicago Sun
USA Today
Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Cincinnati Enquirer/Post (OH)
Cleveland Plain Dealer (OH)
Toledo Blade (OH)
Mansfield News/Journal (OH) (Gettin’ close to home here…)
CNN/Headline News
Showtime/The Movie Channel
U.S. News & World Report
And we can throw in every major Hollywood studio, advice sisters Dear Abby and Ann Landers, and every women’s magazine (LHJ, Cosmo, etc.) of note.

Republican (i.e. conservative) media:
Washington Times
Rush Limbaugh
Dr. Laura
Lots of AM talk-show hosts
Paul Harvey

Tried to hit the high spots. Seems a bit lopsided, eh?