performing pastel-colored poodle,
in a clown and poodle show
Ari Berman in The Nation takes a look at the Dems, embroiled in their running soap opera of duck and cover. Hide from it all but be The Alternative --also known as The Candidate:
Iraq returned as a central theme in George W. Bush's State of the Union address this year. With the war on the minds of many members of the public and with the 2006 midterm elections approaching, it seemed natural that the opposition party would forcefully challenge the President's policy.
Instead, the Democrats ducked and covered. Virginia Governor Tim Kaine devoted a mere three sentences to the Iraq War in his official Democratic response to Bush.
Representative Rahm Emanuel, a leading party strategist, didn't even mention Iraq when asked on television what his party would do differently from the Republicans--a hint of how the Democrats have downplayed the issue internally.
On the advice of top party consultants...
[there we go again! If they had any decency, or could close their greasy palms, they'd leave the country, FOR SHAME!],
the Democrats in the run-up to the 2006 midterm vote are either ignoring Iraq and shifting to domestic issues (the strategy in the 2002 midterm elections) or supporting the war while criticizing Bush's handling of it (the strategy in the 2004 presidential election).
Three years into the conflict most Democrats can finally offer a cogent critique of how the Bush Administration misled the American people and mismanaged the Iraqi occupation, but they're unwilling or unable to suggest clearly how the United States should extricate itself from that mess.
Count on the Dems to catch the drift, and depart, vacate any idea of leadership. Remembering that Murtha stepped forward FIVE months ago, read it and weep:
For a moment on November 17, when Representative Jack Murtha boldly called on Bush to bring the troops home, the Democrats seemed to have found such a voice--and with it an opportunity to shift the debate to how to exit Iraq, not whether to stay.
Sure, plans to redeploy US troops within a year or two, sponsored by Russ Feingold in the Senate, the Out of Iraq Caucus in the House and the Center for American Progress (CAP), were already on the table.
But none brought with it the standing and sense of urgency of Murtha, who previously had been known on Capitol Hill as the dean of the defense hawks.
Well, do you think that Pelosi and Reid and others are, you know, hampering a strong anti-Iraq War coalition from forming within congress ?
Progressives/left/liberal need to break away. there is no place for them in the party.
A Washington Post survey of eight prominent foreign policy advisers found that only one, former Carter Administration National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, proposed a clear plan for how to get out.
The resulting headlines--DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKERS SPLINTER ON IRAQ, DEMOCRATS FIND IRAQ ALTERNATIVE IS ELUSIVE, DEMOCRATS FEAR BACKLASH AT POLLS FOR ANTIWAR REMARKS--reflected the disarray.
As prominent Democrats shied away from the fight, Bush went on the offensive with a series of Iraq speeches, allowing Republicans to caricature Murtha's plan as "cut and run."
Pollster Mark Penn [Penn is Hillpac's pollster] and Democratic Leadership Council founder Al From warned that foes of the war "could be playing with political dynamite" and needed to be "extremely careful."
These Democrats seemed transfixed by the ghost of George McGovern, instead of reacting to the mounting unease with Bush's policies. [...]
Democrats in Congress subsequently went mute on the war.
By mid-February even Pelosi was reassuring nervous party strategists that there would be no specific talk of Iraq when the Democrats unveiled their own version of the GOP's Contract With America later this year.
The bulk of Democratic strategists approved of the no-details-on-Iraq approach.
Do nothings. Newly born. Born again. The No Details New Democrats, Republicrats, Demlicans, Trojan Horses, Republican-Lite... we all know the drill.
And here is a tidy quote from Steve Elmendorf:
"You can't hope the Democrats will ever have a unified message, other than a unified critique of how Bush mishandled the war," says Steve Elmendorf,
a former chief of staff to Representative Dick Gephardt and senior adviser to the Kerry campaign who's helping plan the Democratic agenda for '06.
"The point of an agenda is to be unified, and the party clearly won't be." Nor is it realistic to expect they should be, says longtime political adviser Paul Begala:
"I don't think a Congressional candidate ought to presume to be able to solve unsolvable problems."
Let us be clear, the issue is not, any longer, voting for the war. More than half the Democrats in the senate voted FOR IWR, and few have recanted, much less apologised to the American people. Let's get real here, they have provided, already, the heavy lifting to get us there, and keep us there. They now plan to continue with the proven themes.
The issue is a measured plan to withdraw, semi-withdraw -- oh, troops at the ready in the friendly circle of friends we have, Doha Qatar, UAE, Jordan Israel others... We are in the bag for ''war in the region''. We are readiness at the ready!, there to put down palace coups or internal armed insurrection. We stand ready! Our sphere of influence is across 27 countries in the broader region, from the 'Stans westward. As the Iraq invasion took place we "greatly expanded our footprint in the Horn of Africa".
That is all this is about: Sign on to a plan for measured withdrawal.
Understand this: The party will split, whether it cuts the damned baby in half or not, because it, Biz Wing, War Wing, supports war forever, permanent bases forever. They voted for it. And for Negroponte too, 98/2. And they voted for him when Clinton made him Ambassador to the Phillipines. Let's get real.
The short version: The party supports George Bush. Oh they flail around, they rail, they bitch, they moan... but when the cow chips are down? -- crickets -- His poll numbers are down? Cue the crickets.
Those who see it otherwise, see issues of morality and pragmatism in a responsive approach:
It may be impossible to assume that discussion of the war can wait until after November, given the recent events on the ground. If most Democratic strategists have continued to counsel caution on Iraq, a few do not--for moral and pragmatic reasons.
"I think the Democrats are afraid of the issue, but I don't think they should be," says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. Lake had previously fallen into the camp of consultants who advised Democrats to ignore the war and pivot to domestic issues.
Now she says that approach is no longer possible, and that Democrats must talk about a plan to bring troops home. "Iraq is the essential factor in the voters' landscape," Lake says, the number-one issue feeding distrust of the President and a desire for change.
And Brzezinski, NSA under Carter:
"The tone, unfortunately for the Democratic majority, has been set by the two Clintons," says Brzezinski, a longstanding hawk and vocal critic of the Iraq War, "who have decided that Senator Clinton's chances would be improved if she can manage to appear as a kind of quasi-Margaret Thatcher, and therefore she's been loath to come out with a decisive, strong, unambiguous criticism of the war, with some straightforward recommendations as to what ought to be done. And I'm afraid that has contaminated the attitude of the other Democratic political leaders." [...]
"Prolonging the war is damaging us in every respect," says Brzezinski.
"The costs are quite extensive and if you add the economic costs [$1 trillion] and the costs in blood [roughly 20,000 US casualties], staying the course is not a very attractive solution or definition of victory.
And I think Democrats could make that case intelligently and forcefully."
Berman closes on some notes of hope, but I am very sorry: I say, think back. Did they ever get it, in recent memory? '00?... and '02? Grab a hankie and think back to '04? Kerry at the Grand Canyon? He'd vote for it again! It did not mean war...
Last year? What did they "get" last year? We got primary fields cleared, for the likes of Casey, just ONE example.... Who is pro-war, pro-life, supports defense of the fetus from conception (that heralds criminalisation for drs and women, let's get real) and would vote for ... Alito.
A gift quote, well timed for the administration and the speeches, that Casey and Rendell gave to Bush. Bush, three times, quoted Rendell's support for Alito, identified him each time as a Democratic governor, naming him. It is called "supporting Bush".
I say it makes Rendell and Casey what Bush called "discerning Democrats" who should join with Zell and vote for Bush. I rather suspect Casey did. Rendell may very well have.
Let's get real. They divvy up power.
Caste your eyes back up to the quote from Brzezinski, about the Clintons:
"The tone, unfortunately for the Democratic majority, has been set by the two Clintons, who have decided that Senator Clinton's chances would be improved if she can manage to appear as a kind of quasi-Margaret Thatcher, and therefore she's been loath to come out with a decisive, strong, unambiguous criticism of the war, with some straightforward recommendations as to what ought to be done.
And I'm afraid that has contaminated the attitude of the other Democratic political leaders."
Vote for us, we're poodles! About where it is.
Progressives need to pull away. There is no place for them in the party.