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Tilting at Windmills

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March 7, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

DEMS IN DISARRAY....FILM AT 11!....Everybody seems to be complaining about today's Washington Post story suggesting that Democrats are in some disarray over how to fight this year's election. Here's an account of a meeting in January at which Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid spoke:

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, noting that the two leaders had talked about a variety of themes and ideas, asked for help. Could they reduce the message to just two or three core ideas that governors could echo in the states?

According to multiple accounts from those in the room, Reid said they had narrowed the list to six and proceeded to talk about them. Pelosi then offered her six not all the same as Reid's. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said later: "One of the other governors said 'What do you think?' and I said 'You know what I think? I don't think we have a message.' "

I don't quite get this. The issue for Dems isn't to have one message, or even two or three. It's to have something simple and compelling to tell voters. Newt Gingrich's Contract With America had ten points, after all, and it was famously successful anyway bacause all those points were short, easily understood, and compelling.

Now, God knows we don't need a repeat of Pelosi's 60-point (!) platform from 2004, but neither do we have to restrict ourselves to two or three. Half a dozen is fine. So is ten. It gives candidates in various parts of the country different things to focus on depending on what matters to their constituents.

So the real question is: how good were Reid and Pelosi's ideas? Unfortunately, the Post article doesn't give any clue about what they were. And in any case, later in the article the Post notes the real elephant in the room:

Perhaps the Democrats' greatest dilemma is how to respond to the Iraq war....Congressional Democrats have been split over the war since 2002, when many voted to authorize military action. The ground shifted last November when Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.), a leading Democratic voice on military matters, called for U.S. troops to be withdrawn as soon as possible. Two weeks later, Pelosi endorsed his stance.

Although Pelosi said she was not speaking for her caucus, some colleagues complained that she was handing Republicans a gift by enabling them to tag Democrats as soft on terrorism and forcing Democratic candidates to explain whether they agreed with their House leader.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure what can be done about this. The disagreement is real, and there's no way to force it to go away. Still, it would be nice to get some level of agreement on a broader national security platform anyway. That's been our biggest Achilles' heel for the past couple of election cycles.

Kevin Drum 12:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (120)

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Comments

I wonder if someone couldn't put together a list of ten ideas/values and call it something like a Contract for American Freedom or something similar. Put it on small plastic credit card sized cards and give them away for free.

Posted by: Chaz on March 7, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Well, this is the same traditional media outlet that uses headlines along the lines of "President Bush Approval Holding Strong" when the absolute measure of the approval level is 39%. I think that is the basis of the anger: the traditional media spins every Radical disagreement as "spirited discussion" and every Democratic disagreement as "party collapse" - even if the subjects are exactly the same.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 7, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Dimocrats...

nuff said...

cept maybe: Do they walk on all fours?

Posted by: koreyel on March 7, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Unless Dems get rid of the faction that thinks that only way to beat the Repubs in elections is to be Repub lite, the Democratic party can never be successful.

Posted by: lib on March 7, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

The issue isn't how many points you want to make per se, but how you articulate the message. The Contract for America was strong because it offered a pithy reference point to a number of short, easily understood platform points. If Democrats are only able to offer a similar number of disconnected or otherwise inchoate principles, they will come across as muddled - even if their points are just as on-target as the Contract's.

I would suggest that the Dems figure out how to categorize those points into a coherent and catchy bundle (e.g., "Strong X, Strong Y, and Strong Z", with sub-messages in each of those areas). That will ensure that people understand without allowing the party to be caricatured as overly wonky or passive.

Posted by: Geoff on March 7, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Tip O'Neill used to say that if the Democratic Party were in Europe, it would be ten different political parties.

That the Democrat's greatest strength - and their most grievous weakness.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 7, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

It's the GOP, stupid!

Iraq.
Corruption.
Katrina.
National security failures.
Massive Deficits.
Losing ground on research and development.
Shooting old men in the face and blaming the victim.

We can do better. Hell, who can't do better.

Posted by: gq on March 7, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

It's idiotic to think that since Republicans won apparently because of the 'Contract on America', the democrats should also engage in such mindless propaganda.

And why should the governors have to ask Pelosi what to say? Don't they know what they should?

Posted by: nut on March 7, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin quotes the Post:

... Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.), a leading Democratic voice on military matters, called for U.S. troops to be withdrawn [from Iraq] as soon as possible. Two weeks later, Pelosi endorsed his stance [...] some colleagues complained that she was handing Republicans a gift by enabling them to tag Democrats as soft on terrorism ...

Kevin then opines:

Unfortunately, I'm not sure what can be done about this.

Here's what can be done: tell the truth.

The war in Iraq has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with fighting terrorism, and it never did, and any one who says that it does is either lying or a dupe.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 7, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

The "Contract with America" wasn't particularly successful, but the underlying ideas were: government is too big, too meddlesome, and too inefficient; or, to put it more positively, the GOP was going to make the government accountable, taxes smaller, and regulations lighter. This, in turn, lay on top of decades of conservative philosophy that, for the Gingrich Republicans, more or less culminated in the fusionist theories of Frank Meyer. (The current trend of the GOP is more like Jaffa-lite than anything Meyer would have supported -- and conservative philosophy is, for all intents and purposes, dead: killed by political success.)

So, what is the underlying philosophy of the Democratic party? What is the philosophy of governance -- not boilerplate policy proposals -- that guide the Democrats' actions?

Posted by: WatchfulBabbler on March 7, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

You'd think the outlines of a national security platform would be pretty clear. The Dems aren't isolationist - they'd want to be actively pushing democracy and human rights around the world, by the traditional kinds of carrots and sticks - but not through invasion, unless there's an obvious, unquestionably-recognized-as-legit (e.g. Burma) government waiting to be installed.

There are risks in this - such as Islamic dictatorships succeeding secular dictatorships in the Muslim world. There'd be a debate about whether to accept those risks. I think we accept this one, and hope Islamic dictatorships create a desire for Western-style freedoms, once the memory of the Iraq invasion has faded.

Due to these risks, we need to become less oil-dependent and less borrowing-dependent. If we're dependent on the kindness of oil sheiks, it's hard to push them too hard on democracy. And with China and debt - we'd like our China policy to be determined by something other than our need to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars a year from them.

The other pillar is to be anti-proliferation. The more countries that have nukes, the more likely that somebody's going to fire a shot in anger.

We do of course want to keep the heat on the terrorists, but that's more a combination of protecting our ports, chemical plants, air cargo, etc., at home, while pursuing al-Qaeda and its offspring with intelligence operations and Special Forces abroad.

Iraq? Asking what the Dems would do about Iraq is like asking someone what they would do to rescue a house in mid-conflagration. It's time to figure out what difference we can realistically make, what that difference would be, and what it would likely cost in blood and treasure. Bush/GOP noising about 'victory' prevent that discussion from ever happening. The Dem answer on Iraq has to be, we'll do what we can when we're in power, but right now it's a challenge just to get an idea of what's salvageable.

Posted by: RT on March 7, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Well, let me beg to do some differing here.

Yes, Democrats need to seem organized, and to be espousing a "vision" for America. To whatever extent they can do that, and make sense while doing so, it's to the good.

But we should be upfront with ourselves anyway that the true driving issue of this election is the criminality, fraud, deceit, and utter incompetence the Republican Party has displayed during its long, wretched, diseased day in the sun. It would be a grievous mistake to assume that mainly Democrats should spend their resources pushing its "program", whatever that may be. This is the moment for a negative campaign from hell.

Let's be honest. This election, "vision" is window dressing -- we need it so that we don't look exclusively negative. But the big thing is that we implore the American public to throw the bums out.

They will oblige.

Posted by: frankly0 on March 7, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Dems are going to get their asses soundly kicked in Nov 04.

Sad but true.

I had been hoping, ever since Bush's ratings plunge began a year ago, that the Dems would stop being intimidated, and take up the reigns, stand up, fight for their beliefs, and defend their constituents.

But for the past 14 months, they continue to act (and vote) for the most part (with only a VERY few exceptions) as if they answer to the same lobbyists and donors that the republicans answer to.

They have refused to stand with Obama on the ethics and corruptions issues. They renewed the Patriot Act. And they don't seem to have any kind of strategy on the NSA Wiretapping issue - (which, by now, we can all plainly see, will be used to flush out one or more "leakers" - who will be branded as "disloyal" and Fox News is going to have a field day proclaiming how Dems are willing to sell out National Security for political gain.).

Posted by: Mammon on March 7, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Democratic leaders need to come to grips with the fact that supporting the Iraq war, no matter how subtly, represented a stunning lapse in judgment and was a real act of cowardice in the face of Republican bullying post 9/11. Every Democrat who knuckled under is tainted in the eyes of progressives, who make up a large portion of the party and a huge portion of the ideological message. The reason the party can't get its message straight on Iraq is that it sold out the interests of progressive constituents and is STILL trying to pretend it didn't.

Note to Democrats: stop trying to get elected by Republicans--it will be easier if you unequivocally represent the interests of Democrats. Take your medicine, run one of the tiny number of people who voted against the war, and get on with it.

Posted by: erica on March 7, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Unless Dems get rid of the faction that thinks that only way to beat the Repubs in elections is to be Repub lite, the Democratic party can never be successful.
Posted by: lib on March 7, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, that seems to be about 80% of their party, these days.

My worst fear is that the worst (most republican-like - the Liebermans) of the Democrats will be soundly re-elected, and they will feel so empowered, that they're going to take the opportunity to make as much money as say, Duke Cunningham made. And they'll be caught, and the cycle of corruption will continue.

Posted by: Mammon on March 7, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK


CHENEY: . . complain about real terrorists being spied on . .

Since the number of illegal wiretaps is reported to be in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, it seems to me if "real terrorists" were being targeted by them we would be hearing news reports of literally hundreds of them being sentenced every day for acts of terrorism. Maybe I'm following the wrong news. Is that what you're hearing from Rush or on Fox?


Posted by: jayarbee on March 7, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kulongoski is brain dead. How can a Governor running for re-election not be able to tell a Washington Post reporter what his party stands for?

How about "an effective and responsible government not beholden to corporate interests"?

gq's answer isn't bad either. I'd add some lines about medicare, social security, and corporate lobbyists.

Posted by: B on March 7, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney, go fuck yourself.

Posted by: Ace Franze on March 7, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Dems are going to get their asses soundly kicked in Nov 04.

Sad but true.

Also, Nov 00, that looks to be pretty disappointing, too, since we're predicting the past.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

I say point 1 is: Winning the War on Terror (capture bin laden, redeploy out of Iraq, focus on nuclear proliferation, crack down on terror groups in failed states, rebuild traditional alliances, less dependency on foreign oil, etc.)

Point 2: Securing America (fixing dept. homeland security, preparing for natural and manmade disasters, PORT SECURITY, chem plant security, nuke plant security, etc.)

We've got all this boilerplate. All we've got to say is, "let's not play the I told you so game, or get into who lied or misrepresented the facts. No one should have to apologize for believing the word of the President of the United States when he takes the country to war. What we need to do is focus on winning the war on terror, and here's how we do it..."

Posted by: theorajones on March 7, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Rove is a genius

from the viewpoint those who admire him, yes, i suppose he might look that way. worms are probably quite impressed by the stature of mice.

Posted by: cleek on March 7, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Dovetails so well with "treating terrorists as a law enforcement issue" too - Rove is a genius, I tell ya!

Well, the Republicans could never follow that kind of approach, of course, since they so clearly have nothing but contempt for American law and its enforcement.

That's the best you've got against the Democrats? They want to capture and try Osama bin Laden? Isn't that an improvement over the Republican plan to let him run free for four years and counting?

Posted by: Otto Man on March 7, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

What is ironic is seeing Ted Kulongoski complaining about the lack of a message. In his tenure as Governor of Oregon, he has generally been either missing-in-action or late-to-the-party whenever any substantial issue has presented itself. He looks to finds a parade and then jumps in front to "lead" it.

Posted by: OregonBob on March 7, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

don't you need a position/answer/point of view on ALL issues?

Posted by: daudder on March 7, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think that this sums things up nicely

Good thing that was just one URL, eh?

Posted by: craigie on March 7, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe this is worth a try:
"About Iraq, we can all see that it's a real mess, and there's no good way out.
But we know the President got into that mess.
And we know that the Republicans in Congress haven't provided any accountability along the way as he has done so.
And we know that a Democratic Congress would check and balance the president in the future, and hold him accountable, and insist on his basing decisions on fact not fantasy.
Vote for a Democratic Congress, an accountability Congress."

Posted by: Trying on March 7, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney gets dumber by the comment. amazing.

Posted by: cleek on March 7, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney gets dumber by the comment. amazing.

It really is. Dumber and smugger. A lethal combination, as we see in the White House every day.

Posted by: craigie on March 7, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

"So, there have been ZERO al Qaeda fighting in Iraq either - that's certainly news to me."

Typical of Charlie...sure al Qaeda is fighting in Iraq...AFTER we deposed Saddam and left a power vacuum they were only too happy to fill...but you keep telling yourself what a genius Rove is...as if Bush is looking better and better by the day...you're more of a delusional fuck than he is...

Posted by: An Interested Party on March 7, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK
It's the GOP, stupid! ... We can do better. Hell, who can't do better.

Posted by: gq on March 7, 2006 at 12:25 PM

Yes, because that worked so well in November '04.

Note to Democrats: stop trying to get elected by Republicans--it will be easier if you unequivocally represent the interests of Democrats.

Posted by: erica on March 7, 2006 at 12:40 PM

The problem is that there are more self-styled Republicans in America than Democrats nowadays. And definitely more Conservatives (mostly Republicans) than Progressive-Liberals (which is what some people claim to be the "Democratic wing of the Democratic party"). It's a pure numbers game; and BTW, if I were a Democratic demographer looking at the long-term future, I'd be worried about things like the Roe effect and the number of childless Democratic couples out there.

The Democratic Party will never get elected to anything in the forseeable future if it panders solely to the hard-core 60's era Liberals. The sooner you Liberals see that and allow your interests to be represented by a party that draws from a wider coalition, the sooner some of your policies have a chance of being adopted. Martyring your Party for not following the lead of 22% of the electorate is pointless, and will only lead to further time in the wilderness for you.

Posted by: J.C. on March 7, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

The nation is homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic and anti-intellectual. It's also prone to violence, whether necessary or for merely the cruel thrill of it (see: hunting, pro wrestling, cage fighting). The Democrats don't stand a chance trying to appeal to a thusly constituted electorate. No policy short of buying everyone a house, a car, a bass boat, a hooker and offering an unlimited bar tab is going to get sufficient numbers of Republicans to switch their votes.

Posted by: steve duncan on March 7, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Let me offer two examples (with links!) of how the Democrats fail America.

1. Two weeks after Katrina, Harry Reid supported amnesty for illegal aliens. But, not just any illegal aliens: those illegal aliens who were taking Gulf Coast rebuilding jobs that should have been done by American hurricane victims. A pro-American Democrat like JFK or FDR would never have done anything like that. JFK or FDR would have gotten American hurricane victims working to rebuild their city. JFK or FDR would not have supported citizens of other countries who were driving them out of work.

2. Tim Kaine of Virginia had this to say: "I don't believe immigration is one of the top issues in Virginia if you ask Virginians... It does matter to a number of people, but compared to jobs, education, health care, transportation, it's pretty far down." Figuring out what's wrong with that statement - and how it reveals how idiotic he and other Democratic leaders are - is left as an exercise.

Posted by: TLB on March 7, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK


CHENEY: How long did it take to catch the Unabomber - and just remember that the military could have done it quicker ; )

Sure they could -- especially with Bush and Rumsfeld at the helm. They'd just have wiretapped a few million people, rounded up a few hundred thousand of them, tortured a few thousand of them, killed a few hundred of them, declared a few dozen of them the Una-bomber's 2nd in command, and then held a phony tribunal for one of them, whom they'd have executed about a week before the actual Una-bomber was caught.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 7, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

er - '06, cmdicely - I meant '06.

Posted by: Mammon on March 7, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

"It's a pure numbers game; and BTW, if I were a Democratic demographer looking at the long-term future, I'd be worried about things like the Roe effect and the number of childless Democratic couples out there."

Hmm...I didn't realize that only Democrats had/have abortions...

Posted by: An Interested Party on March 7, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK
Cheney gets dumber by the comment. amazing.

Posted by: cleek on March 7, 2006 at 12:59 PM

It really is. Dumber and smugger. A lethal combination, as we see in the White House every day.

Posted by: craigie on March 7, 2006 at 1:01 PM

So, what's the Democratic alternative? A headline that reads:

RIED: IRAN DOESN'T FACE CONSEQUENCES

??

Sheesh.. no wonder the American people don't trust the Democratic Party on national security issues! :)

Posted by: J.C. on March 7, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

I just want to put one more sound-byte into the mix: the Republicans will say we're weak on terror NO MATTER WHAT WE DO. The Democratic Party is like battered wife who flinches even before her husband raises his fist. As many people have said before me, the only way to stop a bully is to stand up to him. Individual Democrats around the country are figuring that out; when the Beltway Dems figure it out, we will start taking our country back.

Posted by: qalice on March 7, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

I would argue the 2004 election had everything to do with disastification with the democrats and Clinton and very little to do with the Contract with America.

George Bush- solid like a rock, only dumber

Posted by: exhuming mccarthy on March 7, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe this will persuade Mr. Drum to deign to comment on the Dems' complicity in last week's "PATRIOT" Act renewal. Three out of four Democratic Senators went along. And as far as I've been able to tell there hasn't been a peep about it in any of the most prominent liberal blogs, websites, or magazines.

Here is where this card-carrying Democrat finally throws in the proverbial towel. After bankruptcy "reform", I vowed to never send a politician a campaign contribution. Now, on election day, my only decision is, which fringe third party do I vote for -- or should I just stay home? The Democratic Party has made a fool of me long enough.

You can gush about Hillary or Edwards or Obama or whatever telegenic hero-of-the-moment you want, but in the end, the Democratic Party is only capable of betraying what it claims are its "principles". Fuck them.

Posted by: sglover on March 7, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK
I would argue the 2004 election had everything to do with disastification with the democrats and Clinton and very little to do with the Contract with America.

There is something weird happening with election years on this thread.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK
Hmm...I didn't realize that only Democrats had/have abortions...

Posted by: An Interested Party on March 7, 2006 at 1:15 PM

They don't, but I think it's fairly safe to assume that there are more members of NOW that have abortions than than there are Christian Conservatives.

And the correlations between number-of-children and: left-wingness, John-Kerry-voting, secularism, and Democratic party membership are all well evidenced. Not to mention the birth-rate gap between Red and Blue counties in general. Go read some Mark Steyn if you want more commentary...

Posted by: J.C. on March 7, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Pelosi's problem is that she comes from multi-generations of government workers. Her culture knows nothing but working for government, and she sees all problems as being solved by a government check.

So, she campaigns on a simple theme, "Do you work for government yet?"

Defense is a non-issue in the coming campaign, it is all about pocket book issues. The question is will the voters be stupid enough to listen to the same old left/right rhetoric, "All things are solved with a government program"

The debate has rapidly become,"Is your government check bigger than mine?" and our trade deficit reflects that approach.

I haven't read the comments, but I know what I will read. Half of the comments are about gorwing this or that government program, and the other half are about growing this or that government program. One or two voices will cry out,"This does not make sense"

Posted by: Matt on March 7, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

I love a good discussion on how the Democrats can salvage their party. Please, carry on, it's been a hoot so far.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 7, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

JC, what's with the "hard-core 60's era liberals" thing? Belive it or not, the 1960's in the United States was not the only time in history during which people talked about the issues that progressives care about today. Republicans' constant references back to that time as liberalism's finest hour would be insulting if it didn't make them look like such history-deficient morons.

I'm talking about representing, almost 50 years later, the interests of progressives today. These are people who care about the environment, universal health care, fair trade, and peace through understanding and diplomacy, not the grudging cease-fires that are the product of invasion. And when it comes to religion, we think that our best chance of preserving God's creation comes in keeping the power of churches and the emotions of religious excess out of government. If you look around, you'll see that there are a lot more of us than you think. I'd even venture a guess that when you look at the situation in this light, there are more Democrats than Republicans. (And bear in mind that there are some "conservatives" who now vote Democrat.)

What I'm saying is that the Democratic party leaders are so busy trying to look and sound like Republicans that they end up ignoring the interests of these constituents.

Posted by: erica on March 7, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Five Point Plan:

1. The Democrats are the party of the small business person.
2. National healthcare.
3. Energy independence.
4. Election reform.
5. The Democrats = Progess.

Posted by: NJC on March 7, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

The theme should simply be centered on restoring Congress's constitutional role.

Since 2000, the Republican Congress has essentially abdicated its responsibilities and allowed the creation of an imperial presidency. They are a rubber stamp--allowing this president to initiate a war under false pretenses, run up outrageous deficits to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy and intentionally conduct illegal activities that are likely unconstitutional. This Congress has allowed this president to get away with it over and over again without legitimate congressional investigations or oversight.

They have also shown that their sole interest is in maintaining their own power through Congressional redistricting, changes in Congressional rulemaking and committee structure and corrupt lobbying.

Every crisis and scandal since 2000 should be seen through this narrative. Democrats can restore Congress so that it plays it constitutional role as a moderating force against this president.

Posted by: MPT on March 7, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Feh. This is just one of those recycled stories WaPo runs every now and then to reinforce a useful misperception.

Here's the right blogsphere equivalent.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on March 7, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, Erica, I was around in the 60's, and the moonbats today are mirror images of the moonbats then. Communist loving (Che was big then, too), anti-war, anti-Republican, and thinking that sitting down and singing Kumbya was going to solve all the trouble in the world.

There are only 2 real differences:
1) They had real demonstrations then instead of the pansy things you have now.
2) In the 60's it was radical, now it's just a tired old retread.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 7, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

The Contract with America, contrary to what seems to be the dominant mythology in the Los Angeles area, had only a modest impact on the 1994 elections. It was published too close to Election Day, and its points were mostly too arcane to make much of an impression on voters.

It was good for Republican morale to some extent; however, its main virtue was the road map it gave the new Republican majorities in Congress to follow -- after the election.

The main thing the Democrats need to learn from 1994 is to put up as many good candidates as they can find, even in districts that lean heavily Republican, and make sure they have enough money to sustain a credible campaign. The second thing -- and it is much less important -- is to put forward a dominant spokesman to fill the role Newt Gingrich played for Republicans in 1994. Harry Reid isn't it. Nancy Pelosi isn't it. Really, the best thing for the Democrats would be someone to step forward on his own, without waiting for consensus from the Congressional leadership, the governors, the interest groups and the political consultants. Waiting on consensus only makes you look like a wimp, and the perception of general wimpiness is one of the Democrats' biggest liabilities.

Posted by: Zathras on March 7, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

There isn't really a divide in the Democratic party over Iraq. There are a handful of morons in the Lieberman mode who believe Shrubby walks on water and therefore Iraq must be a good idea, but the core disagreement is between Dems who think we screwed up and need to get the hell out and Dems who think we screwed up and need to get the hell out but think it won't play well in Hicksville to say it out loud.

Posted by: libdevil on March 7, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

You know, come to think of it, even Walter Cronkite has come back to bask in the glory of the old days.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 7, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

They don't, but I think it's fairly safe to assume that there are more members of NOW that have abortions than than there are Christian Conservatives.

No, that's not a fair assumption at all. For one thing, members of NOW are far more likely to practice responsible birth control and so avoid abortions in the first place. For another, the number of abortions per capita in the South is far higher than that in the Northeast or West Coast.

Posted by: Stefan on March 7, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK
These are people who care about the environment, universal health care, fair trade, and peace through understanding and diplomacy, not the grudging cease-fires that are the product of invasion. And when it comes to religion, we think that our best chance of preserving God's creation comes in keeping the power of churches and the emotions of religious excess out of government. If you look around, you'll see that there are a lot more of us than you think. I'd even venture a guess that when you look at the situation in this light, there are more Democrats than Republicans. (And bear in mind that there are some "conservatives" who now vote Democrat.)

Posted by: erica on March 7, 2006 at 1:33 PM

I think we're coming from two different viewpoints here (obviously, heh...). As a California Republican, I: care about the environment, think fair trade is a good idea, and would prefer peace to war (when possible, obviously). Of those (about half your list) many were once considered solely Progressive ideas, but are now agreed to by pretty much every American. That's because we live in a Progressive, Western society. I don't identify those wither either side really, they simply consist of common sense. To the extent that the reason I don't (and the reason most Americans agree to those concepts) is because the Progressives of the Past have succeeded, Congratulations!. (Though I personally credit some of that to Gene Roddenberry :) )

The problem is those who take the views that are statistically more out of the main stream, and are punishing their party for not marginalizing itself by supporting them. "War is never an option" does not jibe with the majority of Americans. "Take 'Under God' out of the Pledge (and the Motto off our coins)" does not jibe with the vast majority of Americans. "Get the Cross off Mt. Soledad" (Google it) does not jibe with most San Diegans. "Captialism sucks, lets live in a Commune", "Islamic Fascism pales in comparison to the evil Corporations/Dick Cheney/Whitey/the NRA/etc...", does not yadda yadda yadda...

My point is not that Progressives have not had good things to say, nor that the Democratic Party is a Bad Thing. We need competing Parties in our 2-party system in order to keep things in check. Canada is a perfect example of what happens when all but one party stays out in the Wilderness too long.

My point is that by forcing the Dems to pander to a base (eg, DailyKos and my last Humanities professor at college) that is so VERY out of step with the majority of the electorate, you're doing yourself, your cause, your party, and your country a disservice. The "Big Tent" theory worked for us in the 90's (I was at the '96 GOP convention here in San Diego and saw it first hand), it will work for you too.

Find the things that most Democrats agree on, that define the core of your values, agree that those things will define the message of the party, and agree to disagree on the rest.

Posted by: J.C. on March 7, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Pelosi's problem is that she comes from multi-generations of government workers. Her culture knows nothing but working for government, and she sees all problems as being solved by a government check.

Unlike, say, grandson of a Senator and son of a President George W. Bush, who has lived a life unstained by public service.

Posted by: Stefan on March 7, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK
The theme should simply be centered on restoring Congress's constitutional role.

Posted by: MPT on March 7, 2006 at 1:38 PM

Funny you should say that... Many on the Right feel that one of the themes of the Republican party is/should be "restoring the Constitution's constitutional role" (i.e, Federalism, originalism, state's rights, Roe v. Wade being a bad ruling regardless of what you think about abortion).

Posted by: J.C. on March 7, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

I think what I'm going to do, since I'm so disgusted with Democrats these days, is I'm going to just vote for the greater of two evils.

The Republicans, even more so empowered, will become even more greedy, and steal more money, and take away more of our civil liberties. Then maybe my countrymen will wake the fuck up.

Hunter S Thompson was right. We really are just a nation of used-car salesmen.


Posted by: Mammon on March 7, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

thinking that sitting down and singing Kumbya was going to solve all the trouble in the world.

yawn. another wingnut makes it perfectly clear that what he's mad at is just a figment of his imagination.

pathetic.

Posted by: cleek on March 7, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

CN, thank you for once again using "moonbat," which is just one of the best words ever. I love it when you guys try to paint progressives as indulging in fantastical, irrational beliefs. It always reminds me how you all saw Weapons of Mass Destruction being created in hidden underground factories and moved around Iraq in hundreds of invisible trucks.

I laugh and laugh every time I remember that. Until I consider the thousands of bucks it's cost me and every American to indulge you in your little fantasy. Then I stop laughing. And when I consider that American kids and a lot of Iraqis have died for that fantasy, that really wipes the smile off my face.

Posted by: erica on March 7, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK
Unlike, say, grandson of a Senator and son of a President George W. Bush, who has lived a life unstained by public service.

Posted by: Stefan on March 7, 2006 at 2:01 PM

Speaking as someone who has never served in any branch of the military, but who has a sister in the Army and a brother-in-law in the Reserves, I would hesitate to condemn ANYONE who has been ANY of our armed forces as having "lived a life unstained by public service", regardless of the Draft, Mary Mapes, or his dad.

I've never served in any of our armed forces. Have you?

Posted by: J.C. on March 7, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

I belong to no organized party - I'm a Democrat.

Posted by: Will Rogers on March 7, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut wrote: Uh, Erica, I was around in the 60's, and the moonbats today are mirror images of the moonbats then.

You were no doubt the same stupid, ignorant liar then that you are now, living in the same mental world of one-dimensional "Ayn Rand for Dummies" cartoon comic book stereotypes that you live in now.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 7, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK
You were no doubt the same stupid, ignorant liar then that you are now, living in the same mental world of one-dimensional "Ayn Rand for Dummies" cartoon comic book stereotypes that you live in now.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 7, 2006 at 2:07 PM

Yes, because all conservatives are Ayn Rand groupies. -_-

Posted by: J.C. on March 7, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

With respect to the Iraq War, there is NO good course of action. That is what makes Bush's folly so unforgiveable. Whichever position is espoused has real and significant risks, so even if you take a position you believe to be the best of a bad lot you're going to get hammered because no one pays attention when you give a more elaborate answer that addresses the fact that another course of action has more problems. I think the Dems need to hammer on the culture of corruption, the incompetence of Bush and the need for real oversight. People may just realize that ANYTHING is an improvement over the status quo.

Posted by: Jim on March 7, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

cheney: So, there have been ZERO al Qaeda fighting in Iraq either - that's certainly news to me.

not zero....but...


bush...nov. 30th....2005

A clear strategy begins with a clear understanding of the enemy we face. The enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists.

The rejectionists are by far the largest group.

These are ordinary Iraqis, mostly Sunni Arabs, who miss the privileged status they had under the regime of Saddam Hussein. And they reject an Iraq in which they're no longer the dominant group.

...

The second group that makes up the enemy in Iraq is smaller but more determined. It contains former regime loyalists who held positions of power under Saddam Hussein, people who still harbor dreams of returning to power.

...

The third group is the smallest but the most lethal: the terrorists affiliated with or inspired by Al Qaida.

Posted by: thisspaceavailalbe on March 7, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Sure they could -- especially with Bush and Rumsfeld at the helm. They'd just have wiretapped a few million people, rounded up a few hundred thousand of them, tortured a few thousand of them, killed a few hundred of them, declared a few dozen of them the Una-bomber's 2nd in command, and then held a phony tribunal for one of them, whom they'd have executed about a week before the actual Una-bomber was caught.

Well sure, but you forgot about invading Montana and blowing most of it up. If you're not doing the "shock and awe" thing, you just aren't fighting terror.

Posted by: craigie on March 7, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking as someone who has never served in any branch of the military, but who has a sister in the Army and a brother-in-law in the Reserves, I would hesitate to condemn ANYONE who has been ANY of our armed forces as having "lived a life unstained by public service", regardless of the Draft, Mary Mapes, or his dad.

What the hell are you talking about? I was making fun of the notion that Bush is some sort of creature of free enterprise, when he's been the grandson of a Senator, son of a Representative/Vice President/President, and Texas Governor and President himself. Bush has spent at least half his life being fed off a public paycheck, so the notion that Nancy Pelosi is out of touch because her parents were government workers, while Bush is not similarly out of touch, is ludicrous.

Posted by: Stefan on March 7, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK
The problem is those who take the views that are statistically more out of the main stream

Er, this whole thing (and the whole "cut to the center to win" that establishment democrats have been failing with for quite some time) seems based on the idea that political views tend to be something like normally rather than something more like bimodally distributed.

I think that, while that might be true if you look at some kind of generic "left-right" mush, if you look at specific major issues, people's views are more likely clustered around two or more major positions, not one mushy middle position.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

now it's just a tired old retread.

Come to think of it, that's a great description of my whole act here.

Commies! Maoists! Lefties! Oh my!
What century am a living in?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 7, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK
What the hell are you talking about? I was making fun of the notion that Bush is some sort of creature of free enterprise...

Posted by: Stefan on March 7, 2006 at 2:17 PM

D'oh! Point taken; I misread the context on that.

Posted by: J.C. on March 7, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Mammon,

How is it that a person like you with a handle which means a false god and has an email address at a right wing think tank endorsed by Laura Schlessinger is here telling the democrats what to do?

Posted by: Tripp on March 7, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

1. Healthcare.
2. Ethical behaviour.
3. Responsible governmental finances.
4. Benefits for troops and their families.
5. A responsible, reasonable plan for withdrawal from Iraq.
6. Energy independence.
7. Educational radicalism.
8. Get out the vote drives.
9. Election fraud.
10. Constitutional principles of government.

Posted by: parrot on March 7, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

JC, If you are being honest about your beliefs, then I suspect that you are one of the people who might be more likely to vote Democrat if the Democrats could pull their message together around some core beliefs.

With regard to the Iraq war, the issue isn't that "war should never be an option," it's that in this case, war should not have been an option. Democrats failed to argue this very sensible point, leaving it to Anti-war activists to take up a cause that Democratic leadership ought to have been championing.

Posted by: erica on March 7, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

CN, thank you for once again using "moonbat," which is just one of the best words ever. I love it when you guys try to paint progressives as indulging in fantastical, irrational beliefs. It always reminds me how you all saw Weapons of Mass Destruction being created in hidden underground factories and moved around Iraq in hundreds of invisible trucks.

Well said. And getting called "moonbat" by "conspiracy nut" is practically a badge of honor. But I'd caution you (and everyone) from even responding to him. The guy's an asshole, totally ignorant, and never adds a thing to any discussion. He's best ignored.

Posted by: sglover on March 7, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK


J.C.: "War is never an option" does not jibe with the majority of Americans. "Take 'Under God' out of the Pledge (and the Motto off our coins)" does not jibe with the vast majority of Americans. "Get the Cross off Mt. Soledad" (Google it) does not jibe with most San Diegans. "Captialism sucks, lets live in a Commune", "Islamic Fascism pales in comparison to the evil Corporations/Dick Cheney/Whitey/the NRA/etc...", does not yadda yadda yadda...

Yadda yadda yadda, eh? You can say that again! And, no doubt, you will, just as condescendingly, just as falsely.

"War is never an option." Who, exactly, says this? Certainly, such a view is never espoused by any Democrat in the media; so the issue of it jibing with the majority of Americans is not relevant.

"Take 'Under God' out of the Pledge (and the Motto off our coins)." This is simply a made-up issue that Republicans ascribe to Democrats in order to appeal to whackos. Far from mattering whether it "jibes with the majority of Americans," it isn't an issue that virtually any American would base their vote on since there will be virtually no candidates calling for such a measure.

""Get the Cross off Mt. Soledad" (Google it) does not jibe with most San Diegans." So fucking what? When Kerry or Gore or Edwards or Clinton or Obama or any Democratic candidate makes that a plank in their platform, give us a heads-up, will you? Meanwhile, why don't you Google "idiot."

"Captialism sucks, lets live in a Commune", "Islamic Fascism pales in comparison to the evil Corporations/Dick Cheney/Whitey/the NRA/etc..." Good catch! So if Castro runs for president, you'd advise against voting for him?

Such drivel you type under the guise of being a "progressive" Republican offering advice to Democrats who want to unseat the goddam bought and paid for shills you voted for!


Posted by: jayarbee on March 7, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

OT, but why does John Negroponte hate America?

Let's Talk About Hard Work
by SusanG
Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 12:02:39 PM PDT

From Congressional Quarterly:

On many a workday lunchtime, the nominal boss of U.S. intelligence, John D. Negroponte, can be found at a private club in downtown Washington, getting a massage, taking a swim, and having lunch, followed by a good cigar and a perusal of the daily papers in the club's library.

"He spends three hours there [every] Monday through Friday," gripes a senior counterterrorism official, noting that the former ambassador has a security detail sitting outside all that time in chase cars. Others say they've seen the Director of National Intelligence at the University Club, a 100-year-old mansion-like redoubt of dark oak panels and high ceilings a few blocks from the White House, only "several" times a week.

How very ... uniquely un-American of our intelligence chief. Remember this remarkable exchange
between President Bush and a Nebraska "supporter" during his staged Social Security Loser Palooza Tour?

Woman: "That's good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute."

Bush: "You work three jobs?"

Woman: "Three jobs, yes."

Bush: "Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)"

Woman: "Not much. Not much."

This patriotic woman's three jobs are likely funding Negroponte's massages. Undoubtedly her work juggling is funding his necessary "down time." Makes you proud to be uniquely American, doesn't it?

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/3/7/14239/81696

Posted by: Jeff II on March 7, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Jay is one of the more passionate inhabitants of our tent.

Posted by: erica on March 7, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Commies! Maoists! Lefties! Oh my!

Once again c.n.'s amusing obsession with Communism surfaces.

Hey, we can't blame c.n. for being upset...he complains that even the Republican Party has a "lefty mindset."

Posted by: Gregory on March 7, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

he complains that even the Republican Party has a "lefty mindset."

Actually, he believe the Republican Party is socialist. That grip on reality just gets looser every day, doesn't it....

Posted by: Stefan on March 7, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

obl@isi.org is a rightwing think-tank?

It's a joke email dude.

obl stands for Osama bin Laden.
isi is the Pakistani Secret Service - the islamic radicals who basically funded and set up the Taliban, and used them as a proxy to launch an attack against the US; so that they could still be sold F-16's, and have Georgie visit and fellate them.

Posted by: Mammon on March 7, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Still another reason single health payer will be vastly more sellable today than in 1994: it HURTS the average voter much more today to pay for health care than it did in 1994 -- the employee insurance premiums and copays tend to be much greater (employee paid premiums for family plans have nearly doubled!).

They KNOW it's a problem, and that it's getting worse.

Posted by: frankly0 on March 7, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

the reduction of three-dimensional policy choices to rote talking points is one of the most damaging changes in politics in the last couple of decades. i don't need my candidates to have solutions figured out in advance of their election and i certainly don't need them spouting pseudo-solutions that are not the product of their own thinking but were created at dnc central. i want to vote for candidates who seem capable of crafting solutions, not just to the problems we're already aware of but the ones that will arise tomorrow unanticipated.
there's a certain belief among power-whores like the note and, apparently, the washington post, that the ability to get your members uniformly reciting the same trops is a sign of a party's strength; that is, they accept the propagandistic techniques of the republicans during the years since 1994 as being the goal of any sensible, vote-desiring political group. there certainly should be some broad agreement about what the problems that need addressing are but i think one thing the democrats need to point out is the gap between someone who can recite the designated slogans with a boyish appeal versus someone capable of thinking about problems, analyzing the situation and crafting and implementing policies addressing those problems. the dems should be thinking more about elevating the game than by playing by republican rules.

Posted by: dbreger on March 7, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

What seems like the most important sentence in the article was the smart suggestion by Sen. Carper that they come up with an overarching theme. How can the Dem leadership not see that they need to do this? It doesn't matter how many issues you deal with, it would seem imperative to have some cohesive theme to tie together the issues.

"Restoring Accountability" hits home. The Republicans seem to fancy themselves accountable to no one, esepcially us, the American people who pay their salaries.

An overarching theme such as restoring accountability:

1. To the American people (think republican secrecy.
2. To the Constitution
3. For public saftety (think Katrina)
4. For security (ports etc) and security judgements (Iraq intel)
5. to the environment (global warming)
6. to the laws and international treaties
7. for $$$$ spent. (think billions unaccounted for, deficits)
8. for social security endurance
9. Accountability for personal behavior (think Dick Cheney swilling his Chivas and hiding for 3 days)

Whatever the overarching theme, without one they're lost.

And regarding the awful "Together America
Can Do Better" slogan, What a turkey! Isn't the word "better" the comparative to the positive adjective "Good", as in good, better, best? There's an implication in this slogan that the current leadership is doing a "good job".

Posted by: Chrissy on March 7, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, my last comment was meant for another thread.

My apologies.

Posted by: frankly0 on March 7, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

The guy's an asshole, totally ignorant, and never adds a thing to any discussion.
Maybe you moonbats ought to try having a discussion, instead of patting each other on the back and having your groups cry sessions that no one understands you.

Democrats: We don't know why we can't win elections, aren't our views far enough left?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 7, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Restoring Accountability" hits home. The Republicans seem to fancy themselves accountable to no one, esepcially us, the American people who pay their salaries.

Hey, makes eminent sense to me. And what do the Dems do in practice? When Barney Frank, and later, Sen. Obama, made serious proposals for Congressional ethics reforms, did their colleagues rally 'round the clean government banner? Hell, no.

Boneheaded and corrupt Republicans have been dropping what should be political gifts into Democratic laps for years, now. There's just no excuse any more for Democratic failures.

Posted by: sglover on March 7, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut wrote: Maybe you moonbats ought to try having a discussion, instead of patting each other on the back and having your groups cry sessions that no one understands you.

You are a stupid, ignorant liar.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 7, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK
JC, If you are being honest about your beliefs, then I suspect that you are one of the people who might be more likely to vote Democrat if the Democrats could pull their message together around some core beliefs.

With regard to the Iraq war, the issue isn't that "war should never be an option," it's that in this case, war should not have been an option. Democrats failed to argue this very sensible point, leaving it to Anti-war activists to take up a cause that Democratic leadership ought to have been championing.

Posted by: erica on March 7, 2006 at 2:30 PM

It's possible, though I tend to doubt it. Looking at the two philosophies, I'm more prone to emergent and market-driven solutions to problems than top-down dictums, which I see as one of the largest differences right now between the two parties (well, the bases of the parties at least).

People harp on the lack of proven WMD issue with regards to Iraq, but I think the issue of going to war vs. not is broader than that. If 9/11 taught us anything (and I'M NOT TRYING TO LINK SADDAM TO 9/11 SO PLEASE DON'T ACCUSE ME OF IT, PEOPLE!) it's that a purely defensive reaction to external threats simply wasn't viable in today's day and age. Even if you search every railcar that arrives in a shipping port and institute national ID cards (which I'm against), there's no way to adequitely defend against rogue threats to US soil without fatally compromising our liberties. The kind of state we would need to keep our enemies totally at bay would mean a fascist state here at home. (Note: not the pseudo-fascist state people here claim that Bush has generated.) And remember, we have to succeed in defusing the threat 1000 out of 1000 times. They only have to succeed once.

The Bush Doctrine is that we have to deal with the hopelessness, lack of control and power, and misinformation, and theocratic wackos (you know, the ones rioting over cartoons right now) OVER THERE before they can get here. In the War on Terror (or Islamo-Fascism, or whatever), the only workable defense is a good offense. Trite, but true.

France, and most of the rest of the EU tried the "peace and understanding" policies of appeasement and look what it got them. Nothing! The Islamic Terrorists attacked anyway. Clearly, ineffective talkshops and "We Feel Your Pain"-isms (directed to the governments, not the people) do not work. As Europe ages and the radical younger Islamic populations take control of the society, this will become more and more evident. Their efforts to prevent the Iraq War will have no effect on the efforts of the Islamo-Fascists to destroy the liberal societies now in place.

As to Iraq particular, well (and take these reasons in whatever order you want):
a) MOST intelligence agencies (including many in the Middle East, and France's (!)) assumed or "knew" that Saddam had WMDs, and was therefore dangerous,
b) Saddam had defied a number of UN resolutions,
c) he had violated the terms of the ceasefire that had ended hostilities in '91,
d) he was a genocidal maniac who killed hundreds of thousands of his OWN people,
e) it was going to happen sooner or later, might as well do it on our terms,
f) look at a map of the middle east, Iraq makes perfect sense, after having toppled the Taliban, in terms of catalyzing political change in the middle east (the various democratic movements in 2005 helped vindicate this concept), it's smack in the middle of the problem and has served as a means of influencing the behavior of every state surrounding it,
g) it will also serve as a useful base from which to operate against Iran (which is bordered by Iraq and Afghanistan) and Syira, when/if the time comes,
h) we beared some responsibility for leaving the psychotic dictator in power after turning around in '91,
i) Saddam was already killing more people annually than would be likely to die as a result of a US invasion,
g) there's no such thing as a "wrong reason" to overthrow a tyrannical, genocidal, violent, oppressive dictator.

Now, we know some things now that we didn't know then, but in the context of an *active* involvement in international affairs and knowing what we did then, I disagree that "war should not have been an option." I applaud those who felt that the US could be (and is) a force for good change in the world, regardless of their political party.

Remember also that Pacifism is very different from "America-is-oppressive-and-bad-ism". A true pacifist I have no qualms with; they feel that all war is bad and I respect their opinion even if I disagree with them (and feel they are a distinct minority). IMHO, however, the left-wing progressive "60's liberals" etc... that are causing the problems in the Democratic party are not true anti-war pacifists, but more victims of the standard anti-american leftist tripe that's been around for ages.

In that way, perhaps you're right. :) In regards to the Iraq War, a true "60's Liberal" who belived in actual Pacifism and tried to get the DP to follow suit would garner more respect from me than what the current DailyKos-ian and MoveOn.org flank does.

Posted by: J.C. on March 7, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush Doctrine is that we have to deal with the hopelessness, lack of control and power, and misinformation, and theocratic wackos (you know, the ones rioting over cartoons right now) OVER THERE before they can get here. In the War on Terror (or Islamo-Fascism, or whatever), the only workable defense is a good offense. Trite, but true.

That always sounds good, but unfortunately it's hard to see it as anything but a post hoc rationalization for actions that have slipped out of the control of the instigators.

Look, this horse been beaten to death: If Bush was truly interested in fighting bin Ladenites on their turf instead of ours, Iraq was one of the very last places he'd open a military front. It's quite possible (actually, more than likely, I think) that the conflict will produce what many war sceptics warned against -- another anarchic state, this one a lot closer to the oilfields than Afghanistan ever was. Should that happen, Iraq will be the proverbial "force multiplier", but for the other guys, not us. So even by its own standards (according to you), the "Bush Doctrine" is very likely to be its own worst enemy.

For what it's worth, I think it's silly to even talk about a "Bush Doctrine". I think the dumb bastard wings it from week to week, with little thought given to what he wants to accomplish, or how to do it. That's plainly how the idiot approached the "planning" for the Iraq invasion.

Posted by: sglover on March 7, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK


We The People WILL Make Americans
FREE Again

We The People WILL Make Americans
PROSPEROUS Again

We The People WILL Make Americans
SECURE Again

We The People WILL Make America
DEMOCRATIC Again

We The People WILL Make America
AMERICA Again

You CAN Make It Happen -
VOTE FOR AMERICA

There is your slogan. Does it seem long? It's but a sound-bite. Give it priority over even the names of candidates, because we aren't selling a personality cult. In every brochure, on every bumper sticker, during every campaign appearance and every interview these words need to be said by every Democratic candidate, over and over and over again, until, by election day, "Vote for America" alone conjures up the entire litany and is synonymous with voting for Democrats.

Obviously, the values behind these words need to be deeply held by candidates in order for them to mean anything ultimately. In spelling them out, Democrats need to point emphatically to how Republicans have stolen America from Americans and given it to the non-persons who have no allegiance to this country, only to profit. Democrats must also explain clearly how they intend to restore it to its rightful owners, we the people. Some of the other suggestions upthread regarding issue framing will be helpful, as will Kevin's analysis in the next thread of prioritizing the goal of universal healthcare.

But for Democrats to be elected, voters need to be hit hard with solid promises. Afterward, they better damn well find a way to keep them, or we're back to being as fucked as we are now. Which is damn fucked. And since Dems aren't likely to listen to me, we're actually goddam fucked. Some more than others, of course, which will continue not to much bother those who aren't as much fucked. But fuck it. We can always start over when the dust settles.

Till then, though, it's worth a try: Vote For America


Posted by: jayarbee on March 7, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

because we aren't selling a personality cult
That's pretty evident from your last 2 presidential candidates. Having a personality would be a prerequisite for having a personality cult.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 7, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK


JAYARBEE: Some of the other suggestions upthread regarding issue framing will be helpful, as will Kevin's analysis in the next thread of prioritizing the goal of universal healthcare.

But not in ten years - Immediately. Post Haste. NOW!


Posted by: jayarbee on March 7, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

As to Iraq particular, well (and take these reasons in whatever order you want):

a) MOST intelligence agencies (including many in the Middle East, and France's (!)) assumed or "knew" that Saddam had WMDs, and was therefore dangerous,

By the time we had UN inspectors on the ground, though, it was apparent that Iraq did not, in fact, have such weapons, and we therefore invaded even though is was plain that the "reason" for our invasion was false.

b) Saddam had defied a number of UN resolutions,

So have we, so has Israel.

c) he had violated the terms of the ceasefire that had ended hostilities in '91,

So had we. The "no-fly zone" that we imposed over central Iraq, and the combat flights we flew to enforce it, was a violation of the cease-fire.

d) he was a genocidal maniac who killed hundreds of thousands of his OWN people,

Which we helped and supported him in doing during the 1980s under Reagan.

e) it was going to happen sooner or later, might as well do it on our terms,

It was not going to happen sooner or later. Since it had not happened for the previous twelve years, what was the sudden rush?

f) look at a map of the middle east, Iraq makes perfect sense, after having toppled the Taliban, in terms of catalyzing political change in the middle east (the various democratic movements in 2005 helped vindicate this concept), it's smack in the middle of the problem and has served as a means of influencing the behavior of every state surrounding it,

Or, on the other hand, Iraq was the worst possible place to go because of its central position, in that we have now created a failed Shiite theocracy/terrorist training ground right in the heart of the Middle East, where it can destabilize the entire region.

g) it will also serve as a useful base from which to operate against Iran (which is bordered by Iraq and Afghanistan) and Syira, when/if the time comes,

We already had bases in Qatar, Kuwait, etc. (remember, the bases we attacked Iraq from). Moreover, the fact that we are now in Iraq makes it impossible for us to invade Iran.

h) we beared some responsibility for leaving the psychotic dictator in power after turning around in '91,

That's very true.

i) Saddam was already killing more people annually than would be likely to die as a result of a US invasion,

No, that's false. While it's a propaganda staple of right-wing radio, that's just made-up. I'll find the stats later, but sheer common sense should tell you that more people are dying violently now in a country with an ongoing guerilla war/terrorist campaign than were dying when Iraq was at peace.

g) there's no such thing as a "wrong reason" to overthrow a tyrannical, genocidal, violent, oppressive dictator.

Great! Then let's invade North Korea, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Burma and Sudan. There's no reason not to!

Posted by: Stefan on March 7, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

France, and most of the rest of the EU tried the "peace and understanding" policies of appeasement and look what it got them. Nothing! The Islamic Terrorists attacked anyway. Clearly, ineffective talkshops and "We Feel Your Pain"-isms (directed to the governments, not the people) do not work.

I'm afraid this picture of France only exists in your head. France has generally been quite hard-line with its immigrant Muslim population. Moreover, the policy of its police and intelligence services towards Muslim/Arab terror groups has been nowhere near to "peace and understanding."

People not fed on a diet of right-wing radio would now that the French assimilationist model towards immigrants (i.e., immigrants are expected to subsume their original ethnic/religious/cultural identity into an ideal of "Frenchness") is far closer to the conservative model rather than the more liberal idea of multiculturalism.

Posted by: Stefan on March 7, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK


CONSPIRACY NUT: That's pretty evident from your last 2 presidential candidates. Having a personality would be a prerequisite for having a personality cult.

So true. Just as having a care for others is a prerequisite for serving people. Hence, the current mess.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 7, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

J.C. wrote: Remember also that Pacifism is very different from "America-is-oppressive-and-bad-ism".

Was it "oppressive and bad" when the Reagan administration and the first Bush administration supported Saddam Hussein financially and militarily, including when Ronald Reagan sent Donald Rumsfeld to Saddam's Iraq in 1983 as his personal envoy to assure Saddam that the US would not take any action against him for using chemical weapons "on his own people"?

Do you believe that no government (ie. presidential administration) of the United States has ever done anything anywhere in the world that could be regarded as "oppressive and bad"?

Do you believe that anyone who asserts that some action of some US administration was "oppressive and bad" is saying that "America is oppressive and bad"?

Do you believe that the Bush administration equals "America" and that to assert that some action, or pattern of actions, by the Bush administration is "oppressive and bad" is saying that "America is oppressive and bad" and is therefore anti-American?

In short, are you actually able to think, or are you only able to regurgitate Bush-bootlicking talking points?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 7, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

J.C. wrote: The Bush Doctrine is that we have to deal with the hopelessness, lack of control and power, and misinformation, and theocratic wackos ...

No, that's the bullshit line that the Bush administration puts out for gullible suckers.

The actual "Bush doctrine" is really the "Cheney/Rumsfeld doctrine" and is known as "Full Spectrum Dominance". It is very simple. It states that the USA will control the entire world through overwhelmingly unchallengeable military power. They've put it in writing, in so many words, more than once.

And specifically regarding the Middle East, the "Bush doctrine" is founded on the "Carter Doctrine" from the early 1970s, which states that the oil reserves of the Middle East are a strategic asset of the USA and the USA will use any means necessary, including military force, to maintain control of those oil reserves.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 7, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Saddam was already killing more people annually than would be likely to die as a result of a US invasion,

From Prof. Juan Cole:

But the reason for not having Saddam in power was that he had killed so many people. If not having him means that 8,000 people a year have to die, then what? And what if the number of people dying in Iraq is even higher? What if it is not 8,000 a year, as Jabr maintains, but more like 50,000? Jabr's figures are only for casualties of guerrilla actions. What about all the Iraqis who have died as a result of US bombing raids on civilian quarters of cities? What about all the murders that occur as part of political reprisals?

The Baath Party was in power for about 35 years. If it had killed 8000 civilians per year, that would be 280,000 persons. That is about what is alleged, though it is probably an exaggeration. (The deaths in the Iran-Iraq war cannot all be laid at Saddam's feet, since he began suing for peace in 1982, but was rebuffed by Khomeini, who insisted on dragging the war out until 1988 in hopes of taking Baghdad and putting the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in power there. Likewise, Mr. Rumsfeld's offer of support to Saddam and greenlighting of the use of chemical weapons prolonged the war).

In other words, Bayan Jabr's figures suggest that in US-dominated Iraq, people are dying so far at about the same rate as they did under Baath rule. (If he is underestimating the civilian casualties, then it is possible that many more are dying per year than under Saddam!) In any case, Saddam's killing sprees were largely over with by the late 1990s, so the rate of death in Iraq now is enormously greater than it was in, say, 2001.


Posted by: Stefan on March 7, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

How many were dying under the UN sanctions, Stefan? Posted by: Cheney

A lot fewer than are being killed now.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 7, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Restore competance and accountability to the United States government. Vote Democratic in 2006"

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 7, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still waiting for someone to tell me what John Kerry's message in the 2004 election was.

Posted by: Dennis R on March 7, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Cite please? Posted by: Cheney

Actually, death related to malnutrition is up as well, though it was declining prior to the invasion.

Oh! And BTW, Cheney, go fuck yourself.


Iraq: The Human Toll

David Cortright

Living conditions for the people of Iraq, already poor before the war, have deteriorated significantly since the US invasion. This is confirmed in a new report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Iraqi Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation. Based on a survey of 21,000 households conducted in 2004, the study shows that the Iraqi people are suffering widespread death and war-related injury, high rates of infant and child mortality, chronic malnutrition and illness among children, low rates of life expectancy and significant setbacks with regard to the role of women in society. (continues)

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20050801/cortright

http://www.usaid.gov/iraq/pdf/fs_iraq_health.pdf

http://www.iq.undp.org/ILCS/PDF/Tabulation%20Report%20-%20Englilsh.pdf

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3962969.stm

http://www.bluejayway.net/pdf/lancet_10-29-04_article_on_IRAQ_casualties.pdf

October 28, 2004

Iraqi Civilian Deaths Increase Dramatically After Invasion

Civilian deaths have risen dramatically in Iraq since the country was invaded in March 2003, according to a survey conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Columbia University School of Nursing and Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. The researchers found that the majority of deaths were attributed to violence, which were primarily the result of military actions by Coalition forces. Most of those killed by Coalition forces were women and children. However, the researchers stressed that they found no evidence of improper conduct by the Coalition soldiers. (continues)

http://www.jhsph.edu/publichealthnews/press_releases/PR_2004/Burnham_Iraq.html

Posted by: Jeff II on March 7, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie posting as "Cheney" wrote: But, then again, you are the bright bulb who thinks there have been ZERO al Qaeda fighting in Iraq either - no wonder we keep cleaning your clock on Election Day.

Like conspiracy nut, you are a stupid, ignorant liar. Which of you is the stupidest, the most ignorant, and the most dishonest?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 7, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK


CHENEY: You didn't see his salute at the Convention: "Reporting for Duty!"?

Yes, I did see that. And I see yours to Bush every day right here: "Victory, Hail!"


Posted by: jayarbee on March 7, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Dems should call for some sort of concrete withdrawl from Iraq, recognize the effort for the failure it is, say so in public, and take whatever political lumps that may be a part of this.

Posted by: Timothy Francis Sullivan on March 7, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

What Juan Cole did not mention is that the Baath party is still in power ... in Syria!!! Despite Koppel's claims it is less about oil and
is more about Israel. Before the Iraq incursion Israel's greatest threat was defined as a merger / joining of Syria and Iraq into an Arab super power intent on invading / attacking Israel.

Now, it is Iran's nukes.

Ted, why then do threats to Israel directly correspond to potential and already realized US military strikes?

What's the benefit to the US? Israel already has nukes not under IAEA monitoriing. Just as with India there are hydrogen / fusion weapons. So Israel might destroy the world's largest oil resources if threatened.

Sheesh. Democrats need to reread their John F,. Kennedy:

I ask you to stop and think for a moment what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in so many hands, in the hands of countries large and small, stable and unstable, responsible and irresponsible, scattered throughout the world. There would be no rest for anyone then, no stability, no real security, and no chance of effective disarmament. There would only be the increased chance of accidental war, and an increased necessity for the great powers to involve themselves in what otherwise would be local conflicts.

We have a great obligation, all four nuclear powers have a great obligation, to use whatever time remains to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, to persuade other countries not to test, transfer, acquire, possess, or produce such weapons.

Posted by: Piero on March 7, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still waiting for someone to tell me what John Kerry's message in the 2004 election was.
Well, Kerry voted for having a message before he voted against it.

Seriously though, Kerry's message was out there for everyone to see: I have no plan, but Bush sucks.

He was for fiscal discipline, but he wanted to spend more than the Repubs. He was against the Iraq war that he voted for. He thought terrorism was a law enforcement problem, but wanted to send 40,000 more troops to Iraq.

He could have debated himself and never reached a resolution.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 7, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie posting as "Cheney" wrote: Since I am not "Charlie" ...

That's a lie. You are a stupid, ignorant liar.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 7, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK


CONSPIRACY NUT: Kerry's message was out there for everyone to see: I have no plan, but Bush sucks.

Had he actually said that, he'd still have shown more clarity of vision than you're able to muster. You see, no plan is preferable to a thousand sucky plans. Bush is at about 999. One more and the picture will be complete: Bush sucks like no one before him and you suck like everyone behind him.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 7, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie posting as "Cheney" wrote: Prove it, Secular Animist.

Every comment you post here is proof that you are a stupid, ignorant liar.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 7, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

LOL - prove that I am "Charlie" and therefore this "stupid, ignorant liar".

He doesn't need to prove it, Charlie.

You prove it. Over & over again.

Posted by: obscure on March 7, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

You know what, I am so sick of hearing this "no plan" "disarray" garbage that in our county we have decided to come up with our own core message. We're not waiting on the DNC, we are going to start exporting. Democrats do have a core message and here it is:

National Healthcare
Integrity in the Legislative Halls
Energy Independence
Secure Borders
Fiscal Responsibility
Accountable Public Education

We've got a lot to be proud of. Let's quit muttering and playing to the RNC. We've got a core message, there it is.

Posted by: ELR on March 7, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Why is tweety haveing this big thing about picking the President in 2008 - and his panel is all Republicans?

Posted by: Neil' on March 7, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

Jay is one of the more passionate inhabitants of our tent.

Yes, very earnest (I think that was the old parlance). Though perhaps he doesn't yet realize just how earnest.

Cheney, still denying that you are Charlie aka Tom aka Dick aka Harry aka countless others?

Next time you shed your skin, ditch 'Charlie's' obsessions and rhetorical style if you want us to perceive you as a new entity.

Posted by: snicker-snack on March 7, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Neil pondered: Why is tweety haveing this big thing about picking the President in 2008 - and his panel is all Republicans?

Because the 2008 election will be stolen, just like the 2004 and 2000 elections, so it is a foregone conclusion that the Republican candidate will win.

There will never be another Democratic president. Having a Democratic candidate in the race is just for show, to preserve the illusion that there are still elections in the USA. Also, the media corporations need the simulation of an election so that the two parties will continue to spend millions of dollars on TV ads.

The Democrats know this, and they play along with it. That's their job.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 7, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK


SNICKER-SNACK: Though perhaps he doesn't yet realize just how earnest.

What are the consequences to being unaware of one's level of earnestness? Are they severe? Personally, I wouldn't dream of engaging in subversive talk.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 7, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK


SECULARANIMIST: There will never be another Democratic president.

Sure, there'll be another Democratic president . . . in name. Could be a good long while before there's another democratic president, though.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 7, 2006 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

You folks are missing it. Take the GOP's greatest strength and turn it into their downfall.
Here's your catchall slogan: NO MORE FEAR!!

No more fear of losing health coverage: Nationalized health care

No more fear of debt slavery: Restore full bankruptcy protections to middle class americans and hold credit agencies liable for extending credit to bad risks
No more fear of being trapped in poverty: Raise the minimum wage and put some muscle into enforcement; and LOWER THE PAYROLL TAX!!! (and pay for it by raising unearned income taxes to 1960's levels)

No more fear of terrorism/crime: Port security, restore funding cut from law enforcement, prosecute corperate crime (zero tolerance and stiffer penalties)

No more fear of government: draconian enforcement of bans on conflict of interest in government agencies that regulate or do business with industry; restore and fully fund the effort to declassify government documents to enhance the transparency of government activity; establish and fully fund an independant ombudsman's office to evaluate the necessity of document classification (before any document may be certified as 'secret' )to restore citizens' ability to evaluate government programs and end self-serving concealment of government errors and outright criminal activity; get the IRS off the average citizen's back and fully fund it to go after genuine tax fraud; end the so-called 'war on drugs' reduce possession and consumption to misdemeanors, eliminate imprisonment for such violations (and include amnesty for current prisoners), and make drug rehabilitation part of national health care.

No more fear of the UN/foreign cooperation by concentrating on the citizens of countries rather than international corperations when considering treaties concerning trade and the environment.

No more fear of energy deprivation and pollution: all out investment in research and development of alternatives to fossil fuels and improved recycling effeciency; increase the scope and severity of penalties for polluting the environment so that executives AND investors feel the pain of victims of pollution.

No more fear of natural disasters and large scale terrorist attacks: establish a dedicated national disaster relief corps that is ready within 24 hours to go into a stricken area and support, assist, or relieve overwhelmed local first responders that is independant of the military and thus not subject to manpower losses in wartime.

Americans are tired of GOP scare tactics.

NO MORE FEAR is a winner.

Posted by: joe on March 8, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Iraq has been, and will continue to be,an effective campaign tool against the Democrats, unless they adopt a strategy of succeeding in Iraq. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 8, 2006 at 4:01 AM | PERMALINK

Perfect!

Liberals seek $60B in cuts to defense
By Josephine Hearn

In its latest move to draw attention to liberal ideas, the Congressional Progressive Caucus will introduce a plan today to divert $60 billion in defense spending to humanitarian assistance, social programs, energy conservation, homeland security and deficit reduction.

Posted by: rdw on March 8, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

NO MORE FEAR is a winner.

Posted by: joe on March 8, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

And how are you paying for all this?

The usual 'tax the rich' shtick?

Posted by: McA on March 8, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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