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March 14, 2004

Bush Lackeys Defeated

By Byron LaMasters

Very Good news from Spain. CNN reports:

With more than 90 percent of the vote counted, the Socialist Workers Party is on track to win 164 seats in the country's 350-seat parliament, just shy of an absolute majority.

The ruling conservative Popular Party is tipped to win 148 seats.

The Socialists so far have won 43.01 percent of the total vote, ending eight years of conservative rule.

The Socialist Party's leader José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has appeared live on Spanish television to claim victory, saying his party was now in a position to form government.

Zapatero vowed that fighting terrorism would be his first priority as he sets about creating a government of change "that will work for peace."

"Today, the Spanish people have spoken, and they said they want a government of change," he said.

After a minute of silence to remember Thursday's bombing victims, Zapatero expressed thanks "to all the governments and countries that have been with us in our pain."

Zapatero congratulated Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy as "a very good rival," and said he had called him and pledged "to cooperate in the matters of state."

Cuurrent Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar had anointed Rajoy as his successor, but Spain's people had other ideas.


Turnout was high at 76 percent with voters seeming to express anger with the government, accusing it of provoking the Madrid attacks by supporting the U.S.-led war in Iraq, which most Spaniards opposed.

Very good news. No, the socialists aren't crazy communists who will destroy America. Rather, they're pragmatic liberals who will work with our country for peace across the planet. Aznar sucked up to President Bush, and even in a time of terrorism, the Spanish voters sent Aznar and the conservatives a message. It's a good day for Spain and a good day for the world.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at March 14, 2004 05:42 PM | TrackBack


The outgoing Aznar government first attempted to pin the blame for Thursday's terror attacks in Madrid on the Basque separatist group ETA.
ETA has been around since the Franco era, and their previous attacks made them believable suspects. But even as evidence began to build that the bombings were the work of al-Qaeda, the government continued to play down that possibility. It became widely believed that the ruling Popular Party (PP) was was attempting to manipulate information about the terror bombings so as to not remind voters of the highly unpopular involvement of the Spanish military in Iraq. A major news event with Middle East connections, especially one involving massive carnage in the nation's capital, obviously puts the Iraq question back on Spain's front burner.

Ultimately, it wasn't so much Iraq, as it was the voters' perception that PP leaders were attempting to distort Spain's 9/11 for their own benefit, that brought the Socialist Party (PSOE) back to power.
I occasionally wonder what effect another major terror attack on the US (heaven forbid!) would have on our own electoral process. Spain may have provided us with some insight.

Here is a treat for you hardcore political junkies.
This is a link to detailed Spanish election returns provided by one of Spain's better newspapers, El País.

The PSOE still needs another 12 seats for a majority. There's a large number of potential coalition partners to choose from. In addition to the former Communists (IU), there are regional parties from Catalonia (CiU), (ERC); the Basque country (EAJ-PNV), (EA); Aragon (CHA); Navarre (Na-Bai); the Canary Islands (CC); and Galicia (BNG).

Posted by: Tim Z at March 14, 2004 09:51 PM

Frankly, the PSOE has been in a strong political position regardless. They hadn't won in x number of years - it was simply their "time" to return to power.

One wonders, of course, when exactly the Tories time will be in Britain, although given that their leaders seem to disprove the theory of evolution (Thatcher --> Major --> Hague --> Ian Duncan Smith --> ?), it might be a while.

And the thing is, the Popular Party, being in power as long as they have, couldn't pin the blame on anybody else (the way the GOP could "blame Clinton" for any slip up).

Posted by: Jim D at March 14, 2004 10:18 PM

Just so I'm getting this straight:
1)You guys are happy that a government lost to a coalition that will include Communists, a fact the author of the post downplayed.
2)By saying, "Bush lackeys are defeated" and that this was a result of the terrorist attacks, you're suggesting that terrorism works.
3) Plenty of non 'Bush lackeys' have been attacked by Al-Qaeda, which referred to Spain as 'Al-Andalus' (i.e. occupied territory since 1492) long before Mr. Aznar sent Spanish troops to Iraq.
4) One more thing, why does Al-Qaeda give a crap about the Spanish going into Iraq after Saddam was toppled? I thought that they hated Saddam...

I swear your blame Bush for everything mentality leads to such ridiculousness in foreign affairs. I don't recall opponents of President Clinton slamming foreign governments as 'Clinton lackeys', not even during the Kosovo war which failed to win a UN resolution AND a Congressional vote (did not pass in the House).

My prediction is that this Socialist government, like the socialist government in Britain, will pull a Blair and be hated by its Communist, Popular Front-style appeasement faction in a few months.

Posted by: TX Pundit at March 15, 2004 08:16 AM

It's a good day for Spain and a good day for the world.

Hmmm I'd have to say it was only a good day for terrorists.

Posted by: wyocwby at March 15, 2004 08:58 AM

How is it a good day, no matter WHAT your beliefs about the war, when a terrorist action on the eve of an election threw the election?

I can think of NOTHING more corrosive of democracy.

Posted by: Blue at March 15, 2004 10:04 AM

Iraq was a distraction. Period.

If the US (and Spain) had made a full effort to defeat al-Qaeda, maybe this attack would never have happened. The Spanish people realize the Iraq war was just a distraction and made them no safer. This vote was apparently a referendum on the war.

If al-Qaeda attacks NYC tomorrow, how will we react? That the terrorists won? Or that Bush's strategy has failed us? Simply deciding to change leadership midstream in no way means that you have thrown in the towel, just that you think a new strategy is warranted, when obviously the old one isn't working.

Posted by: Jason Young at March 15, 2004 10:09 AM

Obviously, you are going to take a few hits your comments supporting the majority of Spanish voters....just keep in mind that the wing nuts in this country tend not to be too concerned about majority rule. They also tend to gloss over what really happened in Spain. There was initially strong and perhaps majority opposition to sending Spanish troops to Iraq, even though the number of troops was minimal. Then there was the attempt to "fool" Spaniards as to the perpetrators of the Madrid bombings. As if one group of terrorists is better than another! But at the bottom, there was the demonstrated fact that the Anzar government was unable to prevent a horrible terroristic attack; it failed to protect the people of Spain. That failure in itself is sufficient grounds to vote the bastards out of office. (American voters may soon come to realize that the same attitude should motivate them.) The Anzar government went hunting for al Quaeda in Iraq, rather than in Spain, itself. Keep that in mind next time you read or hear about the underfunding of Homeland Security programs....

Posted by: george at March 15, 2004 10:10 AM

TxPundit, wyocwby, Blue: I choose not to jump to conclusions about a victory for terrorists, It might simply mean that the Spanish people didn't believe in their government any longer. More in my post here.

Posted by: Alan W at March 15, 2004 10:19 AM

Look, Alan, the facts are simple:

1) The PP was headed to electoral victory

2) AQ launches a terrorist attack

3) The expected result changed.

That's NOT a victory for democracy. That is a victory for those who would influence elections through violence.

Posted by: Blue at March 15, 2004 10:22 AM

1)You guys are happy that a government lost to a coalition that will include Communists, a fact the author of the post downplayed.

The coalition may include former Communists. The most likely coalition partners are still the small regional parties. The PSOE needs only 12 more seats to govern.
Your red baiting betrays an ignorance of Spanish politics. In the post-Franco mid 1970s, the old Spanish Communist Party was the most liberal in Western Europe. Like the Italian former Communists, who served in a government coalition without Italy being turned into one big collective farm in the mid 1990s, they changed their name and dumped most of the Marxist crap in the 1980s.

2) ...this was a result of the terrorist attacks, you're suggesting that terrorism works.

If you actually bothered to read my previous post, you would understand that the PP lost because it attemped to spin a terror attack to help its electoral chances. BTW, who does THAT remind people of?
Anyway, Spanish voters saw through this attempt to exploit a national tragedy and tossed the varmints out of office. I hope US voters react the same way in November.

3) Plenty of non 'Bush lackeys' have been attacked by Al-Qaeda

Aznar was a wildly enthusiastic backer of Bush policies who went beyond mere declarations of support.
Sure, other leaders have been attacked by al-Qaeda, but at least they weren't stupid enough to get sucked into Iraq in such a high visibility way.
In spite of their best efforts, the administration and its neocon cheerleaders have yet to provide solid evidence linking Iraq to 9/11.
BTW, where's Osama? He wasn't sharing a spider hole with Saddam.

4)... I thought that they hated Saddam...

In case you didn't notice, Saddam is gone due to "régime change". Al-Qaeda and its allies have flocked to Iraq since the Flightsuit-in-Chief declared, "mission accomplished" in May.
Al-Qaeda is now positioning itself as resistors to American invaders in Iraq. If al-Qaeda has something to thank Bush for, it's grateful for him getting rid of their ideological rival (Saddam) and making it easier to attract new recruits for their own cause.

Criticize Bill Clinton all you like. But he liberated Kosovo and Bosnia with no American loss of life.
So far, 564 Americans have died in the Bush/Cheney/Rove Iraq adventure. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think George W. Bush has attended the funeral of one service member killed in Iraq. On the other hand, he never has any trouble finding the time to attend GOP fundraisers.

My prediction is that this Socialist government, like the socialist government in Britain, will pull a Blair and be hated by its Communist, Popular Front-style appeasement faction in a few months.

Prime Minister Felipe González, a member of the PSOE, held office from 1982 to 1996. In 1986 he got Spanish voters to approve membership in NATO at a time when neutralism and anti-Reagan sentiment was very strong in Spain.
On that basis, anybody who expects a weak lefty Spanish government to collapse in a few months, will probably be disappointed.

Posted by: Tim Z at March 15, 2004 10:35 AM

It becomes more obvious by the day that children run BOR.

Posted by: Larry Eustachy at March 15, 2004 11:08 AM

If you take it as a "fact" that the PP was headed towards electoral victory, how do you ignore the fact that the majority of the people in Spain were opposed to the Iraq war in the first place? By sending Spanish troops as part of the coalition, Aznar really defied the will of his people. Perhaps the poll numbers were running in his favor prior to the train bombings, but the attack jolted many people from a sense of complacency regarding the actions of their leader.

Posted by: Alan W at March 15, 2004 12:08 PM

The polls indeed indicated a return to power by the PP, albeit with a reduced majority.
This, for example, is what the BBC said in a profile of PP leader Mariano Rajoy last Thursday:
Given the significant lead Mr Aznar's Popular Party (PP) enjoys in the polls, he appears almost certain to get the top job after the 14 March poll.


Posted by: Tim Z at March 15, 2004 12:53 PM

The UN Security Council took a vote after five minutes and condemned ETA for the attack. So the Security Council agreed initially with Aznar's assessment, a fact buried in the reports on the election.

There has been previous evidence that ETA sought cooperation with Islamist leaders...I know you can't imagine that, since secular Marxists and jihadists must always be rivals in your book, but the Voice of America was reporting on it back in 1996. That fact will probably go down the same memory hole as the Clinton Administration's claims that Iraqis were helping Al-Qaeda make chemical weapons in Sudan in 1998 when Clinton ordered the bombing of that pharmaceutical plant. Clinton's people said it at the time.

Then there's the utter contradiction between mocking any claims concerning Zarqawi in February 2003, buying into Franco-German spin that he was NOT Al-Qaeda, and now damning the Bush Administration for supposedly not killing him as a member of Al-Qaeda at that time. Tim, the Dem Underground and the trolls who were cheering the fact that it took a few broken eggs to get a 'Bush lackey' out deny all of these things, and are as Orwellian if not more so than the Administration they hate.

As for simply taking a new 'smarter' approach, the Spanish PM has said he is going to draw closer to the 'hardcore' of Europe, i.e. France and Germany and then he added Britain as a throwaway reference. I do want to give him the benefit of the doubt, and I will continue to do what I can to support our real allies (i.e. Poland) and not insult them like Senator Kerry did and continues to do.

The fact remains you guys are hailing the change in governments that is at least, if not definitely influenced by terror. You are sending the message that terrorism works. The new Prime Minister is effectively putting Italy, Australia and other governments into the crosshairs, because Al-Qaeda thinks that they'll fold too. And if Al-Qaeda didn't give a rat's ass for Saddam, why are they so pissed about Iraq anyway? You still haven't answered the question, or dealt with Bin Laden's statements about Spain (and don't forget Sicily or all the way up to Vienna while your at it) are historiclly Islamic territory which will be 'liberated' from the 'crusaders'. If you pretend he didn't say that you're sticking your head in the sand.

Posted by: TX Pundit at March 15, 2004 04:37 PM

Again, Bin Laden referred to Spain as 'Al-Andalus' (i.e. Islamic territory occupied since 1492) long before Aznar sent troops to Iraq. Turkey opposed the Iraq war, but has still been hit several times. The Dem Underground blames the U.S. courting Turkish support for us supposedly sparing Zarqawi and not sending in Kurdish pashmerga to kill him (though doubtless if we had done so they would have cited it as further evidence of evil Bush's warmongering, and scoffed at suggestions that Zarqawi was Al-Qaeda operating in Saddam Hussein's Iraq).

But the Turks support Israel you say...what about Malaysia? When did they join with the infidels and crusaders so that they had it coming? Bali against Australians and Indonesians? The Aussies invaded East Timor...ah but Chomsky and co. have been damning the West turning a blind eye to Indonesian control of East Timor for decades. We finally did something about it with the Aussies. Oops! Germans murdered at a synagogue in Tunisia? How about the attacks in Saudi Arabia?

I would imagine Italy and perhaps Austria all the way up to Vienna would be next in the historic grievance crosshairs.

At some point lame explanations for politicians allegedly putting their countries in the crosshairs of these fanatics fail, and you realize that they are going to keep killing us regardless until we die, leave, or convert.

To paraphrase Mr. Prodi, if using force against terrorism is not the answer, what is? The Al-Qaeda network members are the wealthiest, and oftentimes most educated members of their societies. Saying that terrorism is a consequence of poverty or historic imperialism just doesn't work. As one acquaintence of mine put it, America isn't worried about Nicaraguan or Chilean terrorists blowing themselves up...

Posted by: TX Pundit at March 15, 2004 04:49 PM

For everyone saying that terrorists won - did terrorists win when we removed troops from Saudi Arabia?

I think this issue is more complicated than win/lose, black/white. But that is how the GOP has framed every issue lately, so it's not surprising to see it again now.

Posted by: Jason Young at March 15, 2004 09:18 PM

I haven't had a chance to respond to some of the comments here. I stand by my post. I would claim that the security of Spain was compromised by it's particiapation in the war in Iraq. Spain had no national security interest in participating in the Iraq war, and I would argue that Spain made itself less secure by its participation. And the voters did what voters in democracies do. They decided to throw out the party that had put their country at risk to terrorist attacks. Spain will be pulling out of Iraq, and it's probably in their national security interest to do so.

Posted by: Byron L at March 15, 2004 11:12 PM

The greater issue is not whether Spain was made a more dangerous place as a result of the Iraqi invasion. The entire world was made more dangerous. Saddam was an evil SOB, but for over a decade, his evil had been perpetrated within his borders, not outside them. He had NO links to terrorism. Containment had worked. As Republican James Baker recently said at a public forum at SMU in Dallas, Texas, one silver lining of autocratic regimes is that they provide stability and predictability. (As far as arguments that we "took out a bad guy and that's reason enough," if you can accept that argument with a straight face, we would be sending our young men and women to die in waves by invading some country every week.)

Next, we invade Iraq, destablize the region and create a environment in which terrorists can flourish. Al-Queda was not in Iraq before, but they certainly are now. The invasion made the entire world a MORE dangerous place.

So the issue is not whether Spain should "capitulate" and "not offend" terrorists to prevent it from being a target. ANY AND EVERY nation is a target, made more likely so by an irresponsible and not-well-thought-out invasion. Therefore the people of ANY AND EVERY nation should realize that the Iraqi invasion did more harm than good and not support its leaders who supported such a policy. At least the people in Spain (& USA, rest of Europe, etc.) live in a democracy and can voice their views with ballots and not bullets.

The terrorists did not "win" with the regime change. On the contrary, the terrorists "won" when the old regime supporting creating a power vacuum in Iraq created fertile ground for Al-Queda to thrive. If enough nations change (through democratic means) their regimes to ones that will support other policies, then the terrorists will be the big losers.

(The Right still ignores that the US' prior regime had an outstanding record on anti-terrorism thwarting he following: a dozen + simulataneous plane explosions over the pacific, the assassination attempt on the Pope in the Philipines, an explosion at LAX, an explosion at the Seatle Space Needle, an explosion of major bridges and tunnels in NYC - all because Clinton emphasized anti-terrorism after the first World Trade Center explosion. Yes, the African Embassy & USS Cole incidents slipped through, but a pretty good track record nonetheless. Then Bush comes in, and all but scraps anti-terrorism initiatives in favor of missle-defense. Morale of the story: terrorists are going to be there, but who is in power in "Civilized" Nations makes a big difference in whether the terrorists will have any success. I will take Clinton's track record over Bush's any day of the week.)

Posted by: WhoMe? at March 16, 2004 08:45 AM

Just in case you needed more evidence that Al-Qaeda's goal was to split the Western alliance, to pick off an American ally, see the link above. Al-Qaeda had been planning the attacks in Madrid since last December. And you're hailing their success at deposing a 'puppet government'. There it is. Terrorism has succeeded spectacularly. The real killers aren't Al-Qaeda but evil Bush/Blair/Aznar, according to these idiots holding signs. Nevermind that Bin Laden declared Spain 'Al-Andalus' i.e. occupied territory since 1492 shortly after 9/11. But you guys can't seem to take anyone at their word when they say that they want to kill you because you're infidels, can you?

I have never seen any proof that resources were consciously diverted from anti-terrorism to missile defense. This is simply a Dem talking point. Any evidence?

The planning for the September 11th attacks started in 1996. And you guys have never bothered to deal with the fact, in spite of constantly pointing out that Saudis were the hijackers on 9/11, that Ramzi Yousef and his coconspirators for the first WTC attack were Iraqis, that Ramzi Yousef's uncle was an Iraqi intelligence officer. Iraq had NOTHING to do with terrorism? Tell that to the mothers of the Israelis blown up by suicide bombers whose families were paid $25,000. And that's just the terrorist sponsorship that Saddam BRAGGED ABOUT OPENLY, before we get into the question of how long Zarqawi and his Al-Qaeda men have been in Iraq. You said that there were no Al-Qaeda in Iraq until after we toppled Saddam. That's contradicted by your pals at Dem Underground, who point out that we supposedly could have taken out Zarqawi in the fall of 2002 when he was in Iraq, traveling quite easily back and forth between Saddam's zone and Kurdistan. That was after Zarqawi was treated at a hospital for Baath Party members following his being wounded in Afghanistan. Back when Powell said that anonymous French and German sources said that he wasn't Al-Qaeda. Now MSNBC runs an article damning the Bush Administration for not killing him before then as a dangerous Al-Qaeda operative. Which is it/was it? Of course had Bush acted at the time that would have been seen as more proof of Bush's incessesant warmongering, so it's a classic case of damned if you do, damned if you don't. Zarqawi was/is Al-Qaeda, he had been in Iraq for months before the war, receiving favors (being harbored) by the Baathists. Get your heads out...

Posted by: TX Pundit at March 16, 2004 09:08 AM

Ultimately the proof is in the pudding. If invading Iraq was such a decisive blow to terrorism, then why do the attacks still occur day after day after day. Why are our soldiers picked off by sabotages on average more than one a day?

Why? - because the invasion made the world a more dangerous place. We stirred up a hornet's nest and had ZERO plans to deal with the aftermath. Our nation's chickenhawks naively thought that the Iraqi people would embrace us as liberators - we know that was not the case (In fact, I suspect the architects of the war never were so naive, but rather did not give a damn about the aftermath as long as George got even with Daddy's would-be-assassain, and Halliburton got rich)

The Spanish people did NOT vote to endorse terrorism, but rather they issued a resounding vote of no confidence to the cowboy mentality of their leaders. We are likely to have the same result here in November as long as George does get away with his weapons of mass distraction (amending the constitution, trip to Mars, anything to keep the focus off of what is important)

Posted by: WhoMe? at March 16, 2004 11:31 PM

So when the black robes stole the presidency from a popularly elected candidate, did the terrorists win?

Dumbya/Cheaty '04

Posted by: AC at March 17, 2004 02:35 PM
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