Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lurching left?

I was happy to learn that Joe Lieberman lost the Connecticut Democratic primary, and that Democratic leaders are closing ranks around the victor, Ned Lamont. It wasn't just that Lieberman supported the Iraq war--he also contributed to a climate in which dissent was deemed to be disloyal, and in which opposition to fighting in Iraq was tantamount to opposition to fighting anywhere. I also grew tired of his moral preening, his self-righteousness which is so prominently on display in his stubborn bid to run as an independent.

And yet I also share Jacob Weisberg's concerns that Lieberman's loss is a signal that the Democratic Party is taking a sharp left turn on national security:

The problem for the Democrats is that the anti-Lieberman insurgents go far beyond simply opposing Bush's faulty rationale for the war, his dishonest argumentation for it, and his incompetent execution of it. Many of them appear not to take the wider, global battle against Islamic fanaticism seriously. They see Iraq purely as a symptom of a cynical and politicized right-wing response to Sept. 11, as opposed to a tragic misstep in a bigger conflict. Substantively, this view indicates a fundamental misapprehension of the problem of terrorism. Politically, it points the way to perpetual Democratic defeat. ...

The party's Vietnam-era drift away from issues of security and defense—and its association with a radical left hostile to the military and neutral in the fight between liberalism and communism—helped push a lot of Americans who didn't much like the Vietnam War into the arms of Richard Nixon.

Well, OK, so I too happen to see Iraq as a symptom of a cynical and polticized response to Sept. 11. But I also think it's a big problem that Democrats is continue to lack a coherent national security strategy, and that too many of their standard-bearers seem overly reluctant to exercise American military power under any circumstances. One of the reasons John Kerry lost to George W. Bush is that many Americans decided they'd rather have a president too quick to use force than one who is too slow. Until Democrats erase that perception, it may be quite some time before Americans trust them with the presidency, Iraq or no Iraq.

14 Comments:

Blogger Sean McDaniel said...

you couldn't be more correct about the lack of a national security strategy...but that's only part of the issue...they really lack a coherent strategy about most major issues. they only united front they put out there is the anti-bush stance...and you don't defeat the champ without putting up some offense.

8:22 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

Well, yeah. It's hard to say what Democrats believe in these days. But I don't think domestic issues hurt them as much as foreign policy.

8:29 PM

 
Blogger Sean McDaniel said...

honestly, i can't think of many well-formed domestic policies either...what's their stance on immigration...gay marriage...health care...jobs...? seriously, it's a party that only reacts to republican mistakes.

10:03 AM

 
Blogger fester said...

Sean --- immigration, the dominant Democratic policy is expressed in the McCain-Kennedy bill --- tougher security with the recognition that we have made the political/economic decision to allow 13 million people into this country over the past two decades for economic reasons and that the overwhelming majority have worked hard for themselves and their families and bought into the American dream should not be punished for responding to tacit and real incentives to migrate to the US.

Healthcare --- universal healthcare is the long term goal, expanding access to healthcare, reducing transaction costs and creating more rational structures of management are the interim goals ( note on Medicare-D, the Dem position is to allow Medicare-D to use its buying power to negoatitate)

Jobs --- those would be nice

3:58 PM

 
Blogger Sean McDaniel said...

immigration maybe...health care...you're kidding...when clinton proposed it, the idea died...and the democrats controlled the congress, until the idea of gay couples in the military with universal health care scared so many people that the republicans took over in 1994.

(seriously, wouldn't you want fat, flabby newt gingrich in a foxhole with you instead of that delicious young thing in the camo tights with the tight abs and butt?)

sure the democrats come up with an idea or two...but they're such a divisive party these days that their in-fighting destroys any chance for those ideas to get any traction...why is it that they let leiberman out there to die...but don't put forth a strong anti-war front?

my feeling is that they used him as a scapegoat...if he won, then the rest of them would have applauded and taken a similar approach...but now that he lost, they might start to voice more anti-war opinions (maybe)...well, they might have until they woke up to thursday morning's news.

they're spineless...look at kerry's views on the war when he ran...or gay marriage...or just about anything.

and yet, every election i vote for democrats...because i loathe the republican brand of unity and resolve.

10:02 AM

 
Blogger Amos_thePokerCat said...

I guess everybody on the left, and those that are not much of a liberal, missed Peter Beinart's Pander and Run column in the WaPo from a couple of weeks ago. First and last paragraphs have all the money quotes as usual.

After years of struggling to define their own approach to post-Sept. 11 foreign policy, Democrats seem finally to have hit on one. It's called pandering. In those rare cases when George W. Bush shows genuine sensitivity to America's allies and propounds a broader, more enlightened view of the national interest, Democrats will make him pay. It's jingoism with a liberal face.

...

Privately, some Democrats, while admitting that they haven't exactly been taking the high road, say they have no choice, that in a competition with Karl Rove, nice guys finish last. But even politically, that's probably wrong. The Democratic Party's single biggest foreign policy liability is not that Americans think Democrats are soft. It is that Americans think Democrats stand for nothing, that they have no principles beyond political expedience. And given the party's behavior over the past several months, it is not hard to understand why."



Of course, this is a big problem for Hilary. Willie's magic endorsement didn't work for Lieberman. I look forward to Lieberman winning in the fall. So, if he wins will it still be self-righteous?

... he also contributed to a climate in which dissent was deemed to be disloyal, ...

As always, it seems, I see things completely opposite. Lieberman was a courageous voice in a party where 90% agreement is not enough for the ideologically pure hard core.

Sean, Fester is right. (Boy, doesn't that sound odd.) You asked what the position was on a list of issues, and Fester answered. The Dems do have an identifiable position on those issues. Now, they may not be popular, that is a different question.

That ends this episode of quixotic commenting. Sean will now respond with a 1000 word rant.

10:54 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I did see Beinart's column, and I agree with much of what he says. I referenced some of his previous work on this blog.

There are "ideologically pure hard core" factions in both my parties, my friend. Ask Arlen Specter. Then again, you're not going to get much of an argument for me that the Democrats have been self-defeating in demanding that all their candidates be able to check every box. I got into some pretty heated online shouting matches several months ago when a few lefties said they might sit on their hands this fall if Bob Casey was the Democratic nominee for Senate. I suspect some of them--not at all--are doing just that.

I will say this about Lieberman--at least he really believed that invading Iraq was the right thing to do, as opposed to all those other Democratic senators who just didn't have that guts to stand up to the president and risk being labeled soft on terrorism.

I happen to believe that now his ego is getting the best of him. It might have been wiser--and given the spread of votes, it might have saved him the nomination--had he not told Democratic voters ahead of time that he planned to thumb his nose at them and run as an independent.

8:46 PM

 
Blogger Sean McDaniel said...

Amos...no 1000 words.

I basically said the same thing as the WaPo columnist...the Dems stand for nothing...or at least very little...Even the immigration and health care issues are in reaction to Bush's policies. They wear me out with their "we don't agree" stance but never offering solid alternatives.

Leiberman got the bum's rush here. I don't agree with his views on Iraq. Israel is another matter. Damn, we've killed (or "enabled" the deaths) 30,000 -plus in Iraq and there's no proof of Saddam ever playing a part in sending a rocket into Buffalo, NY, or any other part of the US.

But the Israelis regularly endure attacks from Hezzbollah...and a lot of Americans will tell you that Israel is overreacting. I can only imagine how people might feel in this country if some terrorist group whose avowed purpose is America's extinction was lobbing rockets over the border from Canada into Seattle or from Mexico into Houston. How long would America turn the other cheek before the majority of the citizens called for some "excessive" action?

The Dems are chickenshit. And, yes, I vote for them...because the Republicans' righteousness scares the hell out of me...especially as a non-believer who's destined to become worm dirt...whether I fight in a war or hide from the world.

As for Lieberman running as an indy...why not? We still have that thing called freedom of choice in this country...no matter how self-righteous the move might be. Give the guy credit for putting his ass and ego on the line in November.

Word count: 257

11:18 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

From the Sunday New York Times magazine, comparing the Reagan Revolution that began in the 1970s with what's happening in today's Democratic Party (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/11/magazine/20wwln_lede.html):

"But there is at least one crucial difference between insurgents of the 1970's and today. When Bell ran for the Senate in 1978, he was so obsessed with his plan to slash taxes that he went to the extraordinary length of bringing in Arthur Laffer, the renowned conservative economist, to draw his famous Laffer Curve at a news conference in Trenton. By contrast, Lamont's signature proposal as a primary candidate - and the only one anyone cared to hear, really - seemed to be the hard-to-dispute notion that he is not, in fact, Joe Lieberman. He offered platitudes about universal health care and good jobs and about bringing the troops home but nothing that might define him as anything other than what he is: an acceptable alternative."

12:01 PM

 
Blogger Dead Tree Eats Poop said...

Part of the problem, JP, is that the Lamont insurgency is directed, most cynically, by organizations outside the party.

Moveon.org has given Lamont not only much of his "netsroot" cachet, but not a little organizational heft, which he needed when going against a union movement overwhelmingly pro-Lieberman.

The boost atypical organizers such as Moveon.org, Michael Moore and the anti-war movement gave Lamont was just enough to edge Lieberman. It helped that the voters they needed to reach -- affluent, college educated, urban -- tended to spend a lot of time on computers, something many of Lieberman's traditional Dem supporters do not do.

When slicing the data, one of the oddest traits I came across was the belief among these NYC suburbanites that merit should always trump what we entitled sorts call "legacies."

Lamont is perhaps the most "entitled" legacy in the history of CT politics, and that's saying something! That the grandson of the founder of Morgan Stanley can reposition himself as some sort of "cable entrepreneur" is laughable.

Lieberman was the son of a liquor store owner! Lamont waas born to money, was provided a lot of capital on easy terms (see Bush, George W. and various oil schemes), and Moveon.org made him look like a character in Up from Slavery.

Amazing.

I thought Lieberman's WSJ op-ed was ill-conceived, and I read it in Ramadi! But his polly-annish view of the war really is shared by the majority in Congress, including many Dems who conveniently reside in less contentious districts.

As a whole, Congress has failed in its oversight responsibility, both GOP and Democrat members. Had the war been prosecuted with some level of competence, this wouldn't have been so dire an issue, but this administration has failed to manage even that.

What disappointing, to me, is that my erstwhile party has surrendered its foreign policy dictates to organizations and personalities that are fundamentally WORSE at this sort of thing than the Bush adminstration.

The party will never appeal to mainstream voters with a pacifistic Michael Moore as its standard bearer. For all the gloating now in Bridgeport, the best thing that could happen to the party is for Lieberman to whip Lamont in the runoff.

If this party's tent no longer is big enough to hold the DLC, then it shouldn't exist. We have come to a point wherein we must decide whether to purge men like Lieberman or organizations such as Moveon.org.

I know where my vote would go.

12:28 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

Welcome back Carl.

5:27 PM

 
Blogger Dead Tree Eats Poop said...

?

I'm not 'Carl.'

6:43 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I suppose I was mistaken.

8:57 PM

 
Blogger Dead Tree Eats Poop said...

In reality, I'm John Bolton.

10:04 AM

 

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