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Tilting at Windmills

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February 8, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

MISCELLANY....Matt Y. tries to break through the lefty blogosphere cocoon:

I keep encountering people whose view of the [Democratic primary] race seems to be shaped by the assumption that it's not possible that good-faith disagreements exist about national security issues among Democrats. That, in essence, all Democrats have very lefty ideas about this stuff and all deviations from an ideal plane of leftiness are explained by political cowardice. I'm not really sure what evidence anyone would find convincing on this score, but perhaps part of the value of having an inside-the-beltway corrupt Villager on your list of blogs-I-read is that I can tell you that in my experience this is false. There are lots of strongly partisan Democrats who very much think Bush has taken the country in the wrong direction but who vigorously disagree among themselves about what national security policy ought to look like.

This is absolutely true. The bulk of the Democratic Party — not to mention the bulk of the country — is simply not as uniformly noninterventionist as the lefty blogosphere often seems to think it is. I think the blogosphere has probably had some impact in moving this debate in a good direction, but it's still only moved a few inches.

Relatedly, Matt also offers up a list of issues he wishes Democrats would address. It mostly looks like a bunch of landmines to me, though. Overall, it's a list of issues that I'll bet most Democrats want to avoid at all costs.

UPDATE: Here's another list that's mostly landmines. And a friend emails to comment about Dems being afraid to talk about guns.

Sheesh. At least all this stuff is being posted on Friday afternoon when no one is reading.

Kevin Drum 2:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (68)

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Comments

Democrats just need to have a platform of "Ponies for Everyone!!" and all will be well.

Posted by: steve duncan on February 8, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you are right, but the flip side is also true-- there are a lot of Hillary supporters who are against the war and assume that she must be too and only voted the way she did for political reasons. They can't accept that there are still plenty of liberals who have very hawkish, imperialistic (in my mindset) views about US military "leadership" in the world and that many of those people supported Iraq on the merits, not simply because they didn't want to look weak on terrorism.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on February 8, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Ahh yes. Kevin taking anecdotal evidence and elevating it to "absolute truth" as sole proof of a position he favors.

And what exactly is the"lefty blogosphere," aside from one of Big-Media Matty's numerous generalizations?

Posted by: dick tuck on February 8, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

The bulk of the Democratic Party — not to mention the bulk of the country — is simply not as uniformly noninterventionist as the lefty blogosphere often seems to think it is.

I disagree. I think the divergence of opinions regarding military intervention have to do with the Iraqi and Afghan involvements and how to continue and end them. Those are "involvements" that we are inheriting from other people's failed judgement and misplaced vengeance. I still think the idea of intervening in future situations is still quite unpopular. Americans just have differing opinions about "doing the right thing" regarding the current interventions.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 8, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Sez Matt who is as politically correct and demonizing of others as they come....

Posted by: jerry on February 8, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin isn't exactly a shining light either. Kevin you are way too quick to dismiss as insignificant and nutty points of view that many democrats have.

Posted by: jerry on February 8, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on February 8, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, please don't throw firecrackers like "uniformly noninterventionist" into the discussion if you don't have to. I am perfectly content to wait until after the primary and after the victory of a fair election over Republican politics before we turn on one another to decide just how noninterventionist we want to be.

John McCain is running ads touting his brave reservations about the conduct of our intervention in Iraq. Democrats don't have to say "Me too." Can't we please agree that it was wrong to intervene when we did and where we did? Just to get us through 2008.

Posted by: Boolaboola on February 8, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose I'm part of the 'lefty blogosphere', as a reader and commenter if not an actual blogger. "Noninterventionist" is a big, vague word. Opposing the Iraq war doesn't make one an isolationist or a pacifist, it means a whole bunch of us recognized there was at least as much evidence that Saddam didn't have WMDs as that he did, that the evidence was clearly against his having nukes, and that he wasn't a threat to the United States in any case. Most importantly, we saw that there was no connetion between Saddam and 9/11, which was the emotional argument that sold the vast majority of this country on Bush's invasion. Then there was the whole thing about the AUMF being unconstitutional. Small point, that.
To quote some random guy whose name escapes me, I'm not against all wars, just dumb wars. This was a dumb war.
Also, and at least as importantly, we recognized that the idea that the choice, in 2002-03, was between "doing nothing" and signing on 100% with Bush and Cheney was a false choice, no matter how often that false choice was presented by every one from John :McCain to Kevin Drum (see Atrios' trip down memory lane this a.m. if you wonder what I'm referring to).

Posted by: Jim on February 8, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

When it comes to national security, known as wealth transfers to the defense care industry to me, most Democrats are Murtha@#$%&!'s. I am unfamiliar with any Democrats who are leftists and want to destroy the national security state the US has become. Leftists who understand the major underlying problem with America is its national security policies are not Democrats.

Posted by: Brojo on February 8, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

The question for grown-ups is, "Do liberals want to see the US defeated in Iraq?"

No.That's why we tried to get the Idiot Princeling to listen to Eric Shinseki and Hans Blix in 2002, instead of Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld.

Posted by: Jim on February 8, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

The bulk of the Democratic Party — not to mention the bulk of the country — is simply not as uniformly noninterventionist as the lefty blogosphere often seems to think it is.

Yes, but the nation's appetite for foreign intervention is lower than it was five years ago today.

Likewise, the willingness of Democrats to support foreign intervention is likely to go up as soon as we have
1. a president who isn't an idiot
2. a president who isn't lying to us about foreign intervention.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on February 8, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

The last time the Democratic Party and the country as a whole trusted that this "good-faith disagreements" would be OK a bunch of crazy people (who all swore they were non-interventionists, sober and serious) got 5000 American servicemen and more than a million civilians butchered in the sand.

You'll excuse us if we are a little, how do you say, slow to trust.

And given the embarrassing, flaccid performance of the Democratic Congressional delegation this decade I'm sure you can see why the more "liberal" elements of the part are hesitant to leave matters to Broderian centrists, Chuck Shumer(sp?) and the "let's argue about the kind of war we'll be having with Iran and how we'll be selling our future to the Chinese to pay for it" sector of the commentariat.

Posted by: Walter on February 8, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think this is the wrong topic for discussion.

We should instead be discussing if it makes any sense to support the Democrats, for they seem to be congenitally incapable of speaking up for, much less advance, the liberal positions, even when they are in power, as so vividly illustrated by the Dems in the congress during the last year. Here of course I am discounting the campaign speeches of both Clinton and Obama, as we have heard all that before.

I will never vote for a Republican. But it's becoming harder and harder to be enthused by the Democrats.

Posted by: gregor on February 8, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

I have one major fear about the new president, even if it is a Democrat, that they will try and win in Iraq. We know McCain will try to win in Iraq, and I fear Barack will too. If somehow the Iraqis could be pacified, the US intalled a functioning government and the oil begins to flow, that would make the president who would accomplish these things a great national hero. The temptation to use American power will be great even for Hillary. Not only would such a victory ensure historical greatness, it would ensure reelection, something all politicians can agree is a worthwhile goal.

Political Animal is not part of the lefty blogosphere, nor is any blog from The Atlantic.

Posted by: Brojo on February 8, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

IR is divided more cleanly than "noninterventionist" vs. "interventionist". Sadly, our politics dictate that we have to have binary opposites to chose from. There MAY be situations in which direct intervention is warrented in order to head off an iminent military threat. But supporting that idea doesn't make on "interventionist" it makes on a realist, or the term I prefer, a pragmatist.

No realist would have supported the Iraq war. Neither would have a liberal internationalist. I'd say most democrats fit into these two categories (in some combination) - even if they don't know it. But the bottom line is, the political debate about foreign policy is about what you would expect in a high school civics class. Democrats included.

For better or worse, politics doesn't make for nuanced distinctions.

Posted by: Nobcentral on February 8, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, if your support for foreign interventionism is is based on the idea that the administration is telling us the truth about its reasons for intervention, you should tread carefully. I think it's pretty likely you will be proven wrong -- over and over and over again.

Posted by: Tom Betz on February 8, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Being strongly opposed to the Iraq war does not make one non-interventionist. Conflating these two plays into the Republican strategy of painting Dems as weak on national security.

The opposition to Clinton I see on the left isn't her interventionism. It's her willingness to make a politically expedient move on an issue of such magnitude and ramifications.

Not the behavior of a leader.

PS If the AUMF vote was something Clinton actually thought was a good idea (not just politically expedient), that seems even worse.

Posted by: skip on February 8, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo - I don't see how you can think that Obama would try to "win" in Iraq unless you just think he's a bold faced liar. Fair enough if you do, but you should know that he's been campaigning relentlessly on the Iraq war for about a year now and is the only remaining candidate to commit to being out within a year.

Posted by: Nobcentral on February 8, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

The opposition to Clinton I see on the left isn't her interventionism. It's her willingness to make a politically expedient move on an issue of such magnitude and ramifications.

Not the behavior of a leader.

PS If the AUMF vote was something Clinton actually thought was a good idea (not just politically expedient), that seems even worse.


Posted by: skip on February 8, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

This is spot on.

Posted by: Nobcentral on February 8, 2008 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Stop equating opposition to the Iraq war with non-interventionism. Since 2003, I've seen much debate on whether invading Iraq was a good idea, and whether invading Iran would be a good idea. I've seen absolutely no debate on whether interventionism generally is a good idea.

Posted by: Amitava Mazumdar on February 8, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Ahem. Kevin, Atrios has this on his front page right now. If you think the blogosphere has probably had some impact in moving this debate in a "good" direction, is that your "today's idea of a good direction" or yesteryears?

Kevin Drum, February 2003:

"If your opposition to war is based on the idea that Saddam does indeed possess illegal weapons but it's best to leave him alone anyway, well and good. But if it's based on the idea that the administration is lying and none of this stuff exists, you should tread carefully. I think it's pretty likely you will be proven wrong shortly."

Posted by: anonymous on February 8, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

I saw that on Atrios's site as well. Pretty strong and damning words. And by that I mean the "it's best to leave him alone anyway" false dichotomy proposed by KD in his post way back when. It was never a choice between intervention and "leaving him alone". Unless you think "leaving him alone" means sanctions and routine air strikes.

But most were wrong at the time. I mean, we weren't exactly used to a president actively lying to us on national security issues, now were we? Of course, there were people who spoke out against the war, and there was a strong argument NOT to go to war even with the risk of WMD proliferation, but like I said, FP debates are always about micro-specifics and never about strategy. You can't really blame KD for not having a proper FP education when their is national dearth of FP debate, education, and understanding.

(Although he really should have known better...)

Posted by: Nobcentral on February 8, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Those are reasonable points that Matt brings up. Only political pussies would seek to avoid such "landmines ... at all costs."

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 8, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK
…. there are still plenty of liberals who have very hawkish, imperialistic…. Dilan Esper at 3:06 PM
Was Kosovo a worthwhile intervention? Would Dafur be, would Rwanda have been?
…. it's becoming harder and harder to be enthused by the Democrats. gregor at 3:49 PM
Republicans purged most moderates from their party by running candidates to the right of those they wished to chastise.
….her willingness to make a politically expedient move….skip at 3:53 PM Nobcentral at 3:57 PM
It's a good thing certain votes supporting the war were previously condemned

…In video obtained by ABC News of a Winnetka, Ill., Democratic event from Sunday, Nov. 16, 2003, then-state senator Obama told a cheering crowd that it was wrong to vote to fund the war.
"Just this week, when I was asked, would I have voted for the $87 billion dollars, I said 'No,'" Obama said to applause as he referred to a bill to fund troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I said no unequivocally because, at a certain point, we have to say 'No' to George Bush," Obama said. "If we keep on getting steamrolled, we are not going to stand a chance." …

Posted by: Mike on February 8, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Relatedly, Matt also offers up a list of issues he wishes Democrats would address. It mostly looks like a bunch of landmines to me, though. Overall, it's a list of issues that I'll bet most Democrats want to avoid at all costs.

The way he phrases a lot of these makes them sound like false dilemmas- the kind of question a Tim Russert tries to skewer people on. Why are intellectual types so fond of phrasing issues/questions (apparently unintentionally- not Russert, though; and I'm also not calling him an intellectual) that way?

Agree that they're landmines. They seems more like what a guy like Matt would really like to see brought up in a debate just to watch the candidates' do some real work thinking on the fly.

Posted by: Swan on February 8, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Was Kosovo a worthwhile intervention? Would Dafur be, would Rwanda have been?

Mike, your rhetorical questions prove my point, which is that there are still lots of liberal hawks out there. A lot of Hillary voters are assuming that she is not one of them and just voted cynically in 2002, but there is no evidence to support that assumption.

To answer your off-topic questions, however:

1. I didn't support Kosovo. But I may have been wrong, as it turned out OK, and that is to Clinton's great credit as he resisted calls from McCain and others to foul it up with ground troops.
2. Darfur and Rwanda would have been and would be absolutely awful ideas. We are not the genocide police and shouldn't be. If the UN can do something multilateral, we can be involved in that, but if not, US interventions of those sorts are very bad for several reasons: (a) they put us on one side or the other of sectarian conflicts, (b) the foment hatred of the US, (c) they create expectations that we intervene in additional conflicts, (d) they tie down our troops and make our own defense more difficult, (e) they don't involve any vital US interests, and (f) they can lead to terrorist blowback.

A nice example of why you don't want to do these things is Somalia-- we ended up on one side of a sectarian conflict, we increased hatred of the US around the world, we created unreasonable expectations, we lost troops and credibility, it really didn't help our security situation to be in there, and it empowered Al Qaeda.

So yeah, I'm able to be hard-hearted about genocide. We have lots of tools to try to stop it, but unilateral intervention should not be one of them.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on February 8, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Had the US intervened and saved the Bosnian Moslems, whether unilaterally or with NATO, that might have been a good argument for intervention. Of course, how the intervention would be done would also be a part of the equation. The intervention to save Kosovo with indiscriminate bombing of Belgrade was not the best way to use American power, but it was poltically safe and fortunately seemed to work. Why did not W. Clinton save the Bosnians? I believe the reasoning was saving these defenseless civilians' lives had no strategic or political value.

Most US military interventions are imperialist, and there is no way to safeguard against an insane president from using the immense power of the US military for corrupt ends. Whether or not Americans have learned political opposition to war mongering is powerless, I have. The US would be better off abandoning our interventionist policies, it does not mask our imperialism and it is hardly ever used to actually bring justice or save any people.

I will not consider Barack a bold faced liar until he is president and attempting to use American power to win in Iraq, which could be an irrational fear or clear thinking. The temptation to solve the riddle of the sphinx will be great. I will want him tried for war crimes just like I want W. Bush tried for war crimes. I will want Hillary tried for war crimes, too, if she attempts to pacify Iraq with military force.

Posted by: Brojo on February 8, 2008 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Dilan Esper wrote:

Kevin, you are right, but the flip side is also true-- there are a lot of Hillary supporters who are against the war and assume that she must be too and only voted the way she did for political reasons. They can't accept that there are still plenty of liberals who have very hawkish, imperialistic (in my mindset) views about US military "leadership" in the world and that many of those people supported Iraq on the merits, not simply because they didn't want to look weak on terrorism.

I'm sure this commenter wants us to take this however we want so long as it makes Hillary look bad in our eyes, but I invite you all to just think about what an accusation like this might mean, if it did mean anything. After all, it's not exactly a bad thing if Saddam Hussein isn't in charge of a country, and I'm sure Hillary Clinton realizes that the war in Iraq has been a total disaster, that the Republicans have totally dropped the ball ever since Saddam was deposed-- basically weakening a lot of the best efforts and accomplishments of our military over there, and that a lot of that failure has to do with Republican cronyism and greed. I'm sure Hillary realizes that even if she brought us to war as well (I doubt it somehow-- it's probably hard to find weapons that aren't there unless you have Dick Cheney breathing down CIA commanders' necks with demands about finding weapons that are all too easy for a subordinate to misinterpret) it would have to be an amazing fumble for her to run it as badly as Commander Schmuck George W. Bush did.

Posted by: Swan on February 8, 2008 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Swan:

The point I was making was pretty neutral. Obviously, for some people, Hillary got the Iraq War exactly right, i.e., those people believe it was a decent idea, horribly executed. I don't think that group of people are right on the merits, but I really wasn't condemning them or saying anything about them other than that they exist.

What I was talking about was another group of people, including many I have talked to, who SWEAR that Hillary really DIDN'T support the war, that she knew exactly how bad an idea it was, but voted for it for political reasons. And what I am saying is that THOSE people don't realize that there is still plenty of liberal hawkishness and liberal support for at least the idea of going to war with Iraq (I would agree with you that few liberals support its execution at this point). And that THOSE people may not realize that Hillary may in fact be in that group of liberal hawks.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on February 8, 2008 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

So yeah, I'm able to be hard-hearted about genocide. We have lots of tools to try to stop it, but unilateral intervention should not be one of them.

I think at this point, very few people, even nutty McCain, would be in favor of "unilateral intervention" unless national security was actually and directly at risk. The problem is, Bush, the neocons, the Liebermans and the McCains and, yes, the "liberal hawks" have distorted the idea of "national security" beyond all recognition.

It's too bad the Yglesias' and Drum's original posts are so vague and insubstantial (and, perhaps, motivated by personal pique about five year old arguments) because this is an important discussion that we should start having now, before Tim Russert et al start trying to promote the notion of McCain as dictator (in the Caesarian sense). One of the reasons I support Obama is I trust him to look to "other tools" and more innovative diplomacy than I do Clinton. In fact, Obama can use the Drumian/McCainian false dichotomy of 'invade or do nothing' to present his ideas about foreign policy.
And, again, McCain, it can't be said enough, is a blinkered, nutty militarist.

Posted by: Jim on February 8, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

So where's everybody's lists? We've beaten the Iraq war into the ground, lets look for some other topics. How about:

Revisiting the bankruptcy law fiasco from last year, as well as the greater issue of banks writing our laws for their benefit.

Should fine print arbitration agreements block consumer's access to the courts.

Should disabled people be required to hire lawyers to qualify for disability benefits, due to the bad faith rejection of most legitimate claims by the government.

Give us a list of potential Supreme Court appointments.

Posted by: loki the mischief maker on February 8, 2008 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Not to deprecate the importance of any part of the blogosphere, but part of the context for its views has to be the views of people who who actually get elected to public office.

In Congress, the consensus Democratic position opposes any spending cuts on anything, and all tax increases except for a few on people they think will vote mostly Republican. This is a clear contrast with the consensus Republican position, which is to oppose all tax increases on anything, and most spending cuts except for a few that impact people they think will vote mostly Democratic. On other issues of process and substance, the two parties are very close.

The two-and-one-half day Congressional workweek? Check. Run all legislation through the party leadership? Check. Direct trading of earmarked spending and tax loopholes for campaign contributions? What democracy is all about. Having committee and subcommittee chairmen buy their chairmanships? Yes. Oversight of the executive branch? Depends on whether the President is one of Ours or one of Theirs (and even one of Theirs doesn't get that much). The revolving door to K Street, not only for elected officials but even for staff, to ensure that public office remains a stepping stone to private fortune? A cow so sacred it comes with its own altar. Interest groups that give orders rather than make requests? Well, sure. But some of the interest groups giving orders to the Democrats are different from the ones giving orders to the Republicans. Which makes it OK!

I actually appreciate the willingness of some liberal bloggers to consider difficult policy issues with more or less open minds. They'd be making a big mistake if they thought that willingness was likely to translate into really worthwhile policy changes if the core of the legislative process -- Congress -- remains in the shape it is in now.

Posted by: Zathras on February 8, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

If it was not for the Republicans, I would not support any Democrat. I dislike Hillary for her votes, not just the AUMF. I dislike Barack for his votes to pay for the killing in Iraq. I dislike them both for defending Israel's military aggression. I distrust Barack just one thin, blond camel's pubic hair more than I distrust Hillary. And that's just on domestic policy. Regardless which of them becomes president, the Truman Doctrine will not be changed, and that is what really needs changing.

Posted by: Brojo on February 8, 2008 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK


I keep encountering people whose view of the [Democratic primary] race seems to be shaped by the assumption that it's not possible that good-faith disagreements exist about national security issues among Democrats. That, in essence, all Democrats have very lefty ideas about this stuff and all deviations from an ideal plane of leftiness are explained by political cowardice.

That's the standard trope of the Republican Noise Machine and its SCLM sycophants.

Posted by: Neil B. on February 8, 2008 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

We are not the genocide police and shouldn't be.

Nice to hear you're so eager to leave bloodthirsty genocidal warlords to their own devices. I guess if Kosovo, Darfur or Rwanda possessed a "vital U.S. interest" like, say, oil, then intervention would be a-okay with you.

I see the lessons of Nuremberg hasn't left much of an imprint on you.

Posted by: Ken on February 8, 2008 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

MY's list is very interesting. Part of why the candidates probably haven't said that much about those items is that much of what will be done concerning them depends entirely on the results of the general election. Some might call it pandering, I would call it leaving your options open, especially since it's only February.
That said, I would certainly approve of the following being adopted (in some form) by either or both candidates:
- Budget deficits. There is nothing inherently wrong with running a deficit depending on what the money is going for. Part of this problem will be taken care of with the disappearance of the Bush tax cuts. Another part will go with the drawdown from Bush's war in Iraq (a lot will depend on how much and how fast).
- Federal Reserve and the Judiciary. Much of the problem with these institutions has been the necessity of getting nominees past hostile, Republican-controlled Senates (some inexplicably bad Democratic leadership comes into play here, too). With a Democratic majority, the difficulties appointing center-left nominees should be greatly reduced, if they don't disappear altogether.
- I really don't see any problems for any Democratic president in the disavowal of a policy of unilateral, pre-emptive military actions to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Any country possessing nuclear weapons immediately places itself in the position of a hostage for its own good behavior in the use of those weapons. It shouldn't be difficult to explain that reasoning to the US public.
- Israel and root causes are linked together because so many Moslem countries have already linked them. Much of the anti-US feeling in the Moslem world is driven by corrupt governments providing a suppressed population an outlet via hatred of Israel (and by proxy, the US). There is no reason the US cannot firmly support Israel's right to exist while simultaneously pushing for democratic reforms in the Moslem countries. Whether we will like what those reforms bring is an entirely different matter.
- The War on Terror. Increased LEGAL police methods in collaboration with allies to prevent attacks by non-governmental organizations. Attacks by states are handled by the Defense Department. Should prevention efforts fail, the attitude of the administration should be one of calm confidence that the perpetrators will be caught. Diplomatic and economic pressure can be brought to bear on any country providing sanctuary to those responsible. Should those actions fail, we can invoke the UN Charter's Right of Self Defense prior to actually entering into hostilities (including an actual Declaration of War) with the country providing sanctuary (see Afghanistan).
- Health Care. I put this seperately because it will probably be the biggest problem facing an incoming Democratic administration. If it is only a matter of the simplest and most economical method, then an expansion of Medicare to cover the entire population would be best. The simplest method of paying for such a program would be to increase the Medicare tax rate, use the government's power to hold down costs and add a "Medicare surcharge" on interest income. If the program is phased in over 4-5 years, rebates could be offered to those who have to pay the increased taxes, but don't yet qualify for the services. Now, getting it past the various lobbies...

Posted by: Doug on February 8, 2008 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

The bulk of the country is simply not as uniformly interventionist as KD seems to think it is.

Posted by: Chino Blanco on February 8, 2008 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

That is a pretty good piece by Yglesias, who often ties himself up in his own thoughts. It is true that the Hillary and Obama generally avoid talking about many important issues and it is a shame someone as smart as Kevin dismissed such issues as landmines - we are talking about electing a president and we ought to hear what the candidates think about the most important issues.

But one aspect of the Yglesias piece is funny and shows how a liberal can get so tied up in his liberal thinking and friends that he accepts the ridiculous as true. In this case, he thinks Ginsburg and Breyer are moderate Supreme Court justices. Their rulings virtually always are on the liberal side. What more do they need to do in order for Yglesias to nudge them off moderate status?

Posted by: brian on February 8, 2008 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

Nice to hear you're so eager to leave bloodthirsty genocidal warlords to their own devices. I guess if Kosovo, Darfur or Rwanda possessed a "vital U.S. interest" like, say, oil, then intervention would be a-okay with you.

I see the lessons of Nuremberg hasn't left much of an imprint on you.

Ken:

So your position is that if we don't go around dropping bombs which murder civilians wherever there is genocide, then we are approving of it?!?

What I said was there are a range of tools to combat genocide, but yes, for all sorts of good reasons (including that it will empower terrorists who will attack OUR COUNTRY), we shouldn't unilaterally militarily intervene to stop genocide.

You are, with all due respect, part of the problem here. The fundamental problem with American foreign policy is the mindset that the only way that we can solve a problem is with military force, and that anyone who advocates other measures is "doing nothing" or worse in favor of the status quo.

That is the type of binary thinking that stuck us in Iraq. You are the one who has learned nothing from the past, not me.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on February 8, 2008 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

Dilan: What you may not realize is that a lot of liberal democrats do not perceive Hillary Clinton, the AUMF, and Iraq like you do. To you, the following equation is sacrosanct:

AUMF = Vote for War = Vote to Invade, Plunder and Occupy Iraq.

To some of us, that is bunk, you have rewritten history.

One example to give you pause. I was just in the Doctor's office, reading an old March 15, 2004 Issue of Time Magazine, Page 31. That's one year after the invasion of Iraq. President Bush is just hitting campaign trail now that it's clear who his opponent will be. Bush is quoted: “My opponent admits that Saddam Hussein was a threat. He just didn’t support my decision to remove saddam from power. Maybe he was hoping Saddam would lose the election in Iraq.”

Bush was at a fund raiser in downtown Los Angeles, described as his first opportunity to challenge Kerry directly.

Note the following: Bush was taking it for granted that Kerry had opposed the invasion and that everybody knew it. At that time, a vote in favor of the AUMF was not equated with a “vote for war” or a “vote to support the military invasion of Iraq”. That propaganda came later from Karl Rove and the republicans. They wanted the Democrats to share responsibility for the war, and share it equally.

Thus, this is a statement that Bush would not have made 6 months later, or today. Because shortly thereafter, they rolled out the propaganda line that a vote for the AUMF was a vote for war. The AUMF was no longer the result of negotiations between the Bush adminstration in which it was agreed to resume the UN process, get the inspectors back in, an only go to war if a UN resolution could be passed supporting such due to non-compliance by Saddam.

All that was changed. Bush double crossed everybody, even according the the British ambassador. But now you, and many democrats, have totally bought into the Rove's formulation. AUMF = Invasion and Occupation of Iraq.

Bullshit.

Posted by: little ole jim on February 8, 2008 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

Don't worry 'ol jim, there is less suckers out there than you think. The suckers are just more vocal, by design I might add you...

Posted by: elmo on February 8, 2008 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus, Kevin.

I think the blogosphere has probably had some impact in moving this debate in a good direction, but it's still only moved a few inches.

Do you think you deserve credit for a piece of that? I go back and forth, frankly.

It mostly looks like a bunch of landmines to me, though. Overall, it's a list of issues that I'll bet most Democrats want to avoid at all costs.

You know what you're doing here? You're *reinforcing* that mentality. You're advocating passivity and cowardice. Yes, I have a feeling that a lot of Democrats *do* want to avoid these issues. Frankly, its because many of them are spineless tools. Don't validate that.

Republican activists and successful Republican politicians do not avoid the issues that matter to them: they go after them aggressively. Learn from it.

Posted by: glasnost on February 8, 2008 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Yglesias is spot on with his "landmines". In a better world, we would be talking more about Clinton and Obama's policy positions and less about Hillary being "cold" or Barack being "charismatic". As nearly as I can tell, the GOP's only policy positions are "no new taxes" and "kill the Arabs".

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 8, 2008 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

AS LONG AS BUSH AND CHENEY ARE IN OFFICE, THE IRAQIS WILL SUFFER AND WE WILL PAY. Call Nancy Pelosi @1-202-225-0100 and DEMAND IMPEACHMENT. Why prolong the suffering for another year?

Posted by: Mike Meyer on February 8, 2008 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Can we all stop using the term "spot on" for awhile? I'm guilty of it and all, but it's starting to humiliate even me...

Posted by: elmo on February 8, 2008 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Ooooh, let's talk about guns! Freedom just isn't freedom unless you can carry an Uzi.

What on earth created such a malign, crackpot group such as the NRA? I don't want to hunt or kill or have a household arsenal, but I could understand a group of people that said, yes, I want to shoot, I want to have two or three rifles, I want to have a pistol in my bedside table, I want to have an antique gun or pistol because it's historic or purty or supremely well crafted.

But these people have BIZARRE notions about having Uzis, various machine guns, huge clips, 100s of guns, armor percing bullets, household arsenals, no tracking chips on guns, no waiting for guns, no checks of any kind, and they support EVERY SINGLE EXTREMIST FASCIST REACTIONARY IDEOLOGY. They've UNDERGIRDED the bizarre, extremist group that is the modern Republican party and have worked to make it what it is.

Posted by: Anon on February 9, 2008 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

lil ole jim:

I realize there are people who claim that voting for an AUTHORIZATION TO USE MILITARY FORCE didn't actually vote for war. I just don't take them very seriously.

In any event, I UTTERLY do not take it seriously when it comes to Hillary Clinton, because it wasn't a one-off deal. She continued to support the Iraq War, over and over again, through 2003, 2004, and 2005. (Her only complaint was that Bush wasn't fighting the war correctly.) So she doesn't get a pass on the meaning of the AUMF.

One more thing. Does anyone have ANY doubt that if the war had gone well, Hillary would be claiming that she really didn't support invasion, she wanted to get the inspectors in, she was outraged that Bush abused the authority and went to war, and that her position had turned out to be wrong. The answer to that question is proof, all by itself, that Hillary is being dishonest about her war vote.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on February 9, 2008 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

"…In video obtained by ABC News of a Winnetka, Ill., Democratic event from Sunday, Nov. 16, 2003, then-state senator Obama told a cheering crowd that it was wrong to vote to fund the war.
"Just this week, when I was asked, would I have voted for the $87 billion dollars, I said 'No,'" Obama said to applause as he referred to a bill to fund troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I said no unequivocally because, at a certain point, we have to say 'No' to George Bush," Obama said. "If we keep on getting steamrolled, we are not going to stand a chance." …" Posted by: Mike on February 8, 2008 at 4:52 PM

Interesting. I have read a lot of Obama supporters castigating HRC for her "support" of the Iraq war and how Obama was always against it and therefore could be trusted, but should be excused for voting for every financial support for the war bill since he came to office because he obviously was too principled to leave the troops hanging in the field. Yet according to Obama himself a vote for any funding bill for the Iraq war is wrong, and that GWB must be stood up to on this issue. Yet once he came to the Senate he did exactly what he condemned HRC for doing, supporting GWB's illegal war. So, I have to wonder, which Obama is running for President, the new politics more principled Obama he has been selling in this campaign and his supporters see, or the Obama that changes his public positions as his political needs dictates?

From the beginning of my critiques of Obama here at PA one of my central points was that the perception of Obama as the different kind of politician was only showing up in his speeches/rhetoric, his actions from what I could see did not match that rhetoric. This is yet another example, like when he ran for the US Senate and promised his constituents he wouldn’t run for President in his first term, exactly how many months after he came to the Senate did that last again? For a politician that claims to be beyond the old political paradigms of the past (things like negative campaigning for one thing, promising one thing to get elected and then doing the opposite once elected for another) and someone that practices a different kinder gentler less partisan better kind of politics where in his actions in this campaign has he actually showed them in action?

Where is his condemnation of the media when they unfairly attack his rival on clearly sexist grounds, for if he practices what he preaches he should call it out, shouldn't he? Even if you don't agree with that, what about the increasingly negative attacks incorporated in his speech aimed directly at HRC, if he is able to transcend the old politics to deal with the GOP AS HE KEEPS PROMISING why then is he unable to beat HRC, a Dem who will not use some of the nastier attacks that the GOP clearly will, by using this new way of practicing politics to defeat her in these primaries for the nomination? Remember, it doesn't matter what the Clintons did or did not do to answer this question, it is Obama who has made a central plank of his Presidential campaign that to vote for him is to vote for his new way in politics that he promises he will practice, yet where has he actually shown himself practicing it in this campaign? If he can't show it in action and that it works when running against a fellow Democrat then how can he be believed that he can and will be able to use it sucessfully against the GOP?

Too many people here who support Obama have never understood why I attack him and not HRC. It is because HRC for better/worse is not trying to pretend wholesale she is something she is not, unlike Obama, and therefore it is Obama who is the greater risk of costing the Dems the Presidency as a candidate because he has left all these massive contradictions between word and deed for the GOP and the MSM to use against him when they decide it is time to attack him, which both will do to him if he is the nominee. He has not protected himself against the charges of being a say anything do anything politician with these disparities, and this is why I think he is such a bad/risky choice even when one factors in the clear negatives HRC brings to the table. Hers at least have been broadcast for many years now by the GOP and other Clinton haters, there is very little that they can throw at her now that hasn't been heard already and discounted/disproven, Obama on the other hand lacks this AND carries the massive contradictions between his words and deed throughout this campaign (and I am solely talking about his actions on the national stage, what he did or did not do in Illinois is irrelevant, same as GWB's "proof" of being able to work with Dems based on his State government experience turned out to be a useless indicator of his actions once President) both about himself and about the way he practices politics.

The only reason he gets away with it is because there is that massive amount of Clinton hatred within the MSM, I truly believe that is significantly more responsible for their actions than any possibility that they have been genuinely converted to his cause by his speeches. Indeed, watching his campaign it is clear that part of their primary strategy relied on that happening. Time and again he has gotten away with misrepresenting both Clintons without being seriously called to account for it and his spin on them has become the narrative within the media. Sure some say that proves how good he is at manipulating the media, but is that really true, and even if it is that is not inherently a good thing for if he can do this so masterfully to the media how does anyone know he isn't doing the same to the voters? This is why I have stressed his lack of real vetting (and the Clintons have NOT been playing as hardball a game with him as people think/claim, indeed they have run the easiest campaign against him I have ever seen from either Clinton in all their combined national election campaigns) being a very dangerous vulnerability.

As for why he beats McCain in a matchup, could it have something to do with the fact he hasn't has any negative ads campaigns run against him since coming to national office let alone in this campaign? How much might those negatives be driven up by such a campaign? The answer is no one knows, but the potential is not inconsequential as the GOP have managed to do this successfully to everyone in the past quarter century except the Clintons (both Bill for President and Hillary for Senator), and even there they drove up the negatives and created long lasting false negative narratives about them but it wasn't enough in their cases to defeat them, and that was in no small part due to their willingness to fight back at every turn, something Obama denies himself by making his new post partisanship kind of politics platform/rhetoric a central them because to do so will corrode that and make him look to the average voter as exactly what he decried about HRC.

This is why I see him as so dangerous, and it is also a part of why I think a cult of personality has formed around him, because these things are all out there for anyone to see if they only look without preconceptions and actually compare in a disinterested manner the differences between his words/promises and his actions in the campaign, especially since 2008 began. Before then I wasn't sure about him, I thought he may well be what he advertises himself as, so I was willing to take a wait and see reaction and watch how he handled the primaries once they started, especially after his first loss, because how a politician acts after their first defeat tends to reveal their true natures far more accurately than in just about any other time. What I saw there was what prompted me to take the approach I have, and the way he manipulated the idea that it was the Clintons who first went to the race card instead of his campaign going into SC after his loss in NH was what turned me into such a skeptic about him. That doesn't change the fact that I still would take him over any GOPer, if only because the positions in the Plum book would be nice to go to those that actually believe in government and have some idea of how to govern/work in a competent manner, which is not what GWB has done to the detriment of all Americans for the long term.

I hope this helps get across why I as someone that is not a HRC partisan and is not emotionally invested in this primary can be so adamant in my concerns regarding Obama, it is because I see him as far easier to defeat in the fall, especially against McCain. He will look like a callow youth against McCain on foreign/military affairs, he is no better on economic policy which given McCain's own weaknesses there is a really bad card to be giving up, and McCain has his own strong reputation for character and integrity (whether anyone here thinks he still deserves it or not after the past 8 years it is clear that many in the public in the independents and even Dems voting base have that impression of him. Against all this all Obama has is his rhetorical skills (which are formidable in speeches, but until he learns to translate that better into debates and press conferences it is significantly less potent than many appear to believe it is as a political advantage of overwhelming force) and that is it.

His policies are centrist Dem in nature, his voting record in the Senate the same, so what else does he have to use? THAT is what makes him such a dangerous choice and why in this case I cannot see these rewards everyone that supports him is so convinced of makes it worth such a risk/gamble, but then they fail to see just how dangerously wide open he is to being turned into the very image of the say anything do anything politician he claims he isn't and decries. IF you think that can't happen to him, don't be so foolish. If Kerry's military record which never had one shred of evidence to show it was anything less than what he has always claimed about it (the combat, the earning of his Silver Star, etc) including via the Navy records, the fact his SS came from a now sitting GOP Senator when he was Sec of the Navy, and the on the record many comments/defences of Kerry by some who became SBVfT that he had earned every medal and done not just honourable but courageous and heroic service while in theater in Vietnam then Obama is at least as vulnerable to having his strength turned against him, and without that strength what has he got to use to recommend him as the best choice for President?

Yes, I know, another long anti-Obama screed from this nosy ignorant Canadian, but how about instead of simply saying I am wrong try showing WHY I am wrong, ok? I don't WANT to be correct about this, I would be far happier if I am wrong, but so far no one has presented hard evidence to show me why I am wrong that doesn't require leaps of faith. On things like this I learned very early in life not to take on trust what anyone says when it comes to power, especially those that cast themselves in a more moral/superior light than other politicians. I have been an accurate Cassandra too many times in the past not to have the sick feeling I am playing that role again here, both in terms of accurately predicting/seeing the future AND in not being believed about it until it is too late to do anything about it and then being castigated for daring to try and failing and being blamed for the disaster instead of the true source. Yet I still try, I must really be a bit of a masochist in this regard.

Posted by: Scotian on February 9, 2008 at 3:02 AM | PERMALINK

When you come to the correct conclusion that most Americans are, in fact, rank idiots, it's hard for the Democrats to do anything that is 1) rational and simultaneously 2) appealing to the lizard brains who decide our country's leadership.

That's the real issue.

America is starting its decline. Seriously. If you just look at our politics objectively, it's difficult to see how we can right this ship without some kind of cataclysm that forces the lizard brains to ponder that maybe it's not wise to choose leaders based on haircuts and / or anxiety about our core manliness (even amongst our women).

We can torture ourselves all we want as we try to assert "America is great" and then work backwards, trying hard to make it all fit, but in the dark of night, you have to finally admit that we just aren't great anymore. That America has basically been faltering for the last 35+ years and that other countries are leaving us in the dust.

To me, the canary in the coal mine is that we are not even close to having the most favorable infant mortality rate in the world. Think about that. We have the largest economy in the world, and the strongest military, but we can't keep our children alive. That is mega-f'ed, especially for a populous so paralyzed by the abortion issue.

We can delude ourselves all we want, but when our society is so f'ed up that we can't keep our babies from turning blue and falling face first dead, we are rotting from the center. And it will probably take a major collapse to wake us up.

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on February 9, 2008 at 3:21 AM | PERMALINK

Scotian:

Strive for brevity. No one reads your lengthy diatribes.

A friend

Posted by: Hodwik Flushingpout on February 9, 2008 at 6:48 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Aren't you hugely disturbed that the democratic party has gone this far into the primaries without really knowing how the candidates stand on these issues? What have been the democratic primary voters basing their votes on (looks, speaking abilities, gender, race)?

On the flipside, republicans have been examining this type of stuff for the past year and would not even think of voting for someone without knowing where they stand.

Posted by: Mark on February 9, 2008 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I did scan scotian's latest essay, and despite my ongoing annoyance at scotian's premise that Obama is a charismatic charlatan leading a zombie army into oblivion, he asks some fair questions.

scotian, you've admitted elsewhere that you haven't stepped foot in the US in years and that your conception of Team Obama is informed by blog commentary and the media. I'd suggest that the virulent and fanatical nature of the blogosphere is hardly representative of the electorate at large.

With regard to your outrage over Obama's inconsistency on Iraq war funding, you might want to consider the details.

On topic, both Hillary and Obama have boatloads of policy proposals on their websites, which does bring up MY's first item--the deficit. Rolling back the Bush tax cuts will only go so far toward paying for exactly one top agenda item: health care. Even if the occupation of Iraq ended tomorrow, the US is mired in Afghanistan, so no cuts in defense spending any time soon. How are Obama and Hillary going to pay for their early childhood development and family support initiatives, for example? If Obama wants to attract moderate Republicans, even if they can be persuaded that state intervention is critical at the level of what R's perceive as "personal responsibility", the first thing they'll want to know is: why should I pay for a nurse for some knocked-up, irresponsible teenager? I play by the rules; where's my nurse? Where's the nurse for my wife? What about my taxes?

Such programs may not actually cost very much relative to the budget overall, or the payoff in social stability and better-eduated children. But the right will be spinning wildly on stuff like this.

Obama proposes cutting back on pork, and eliminating corporate tax loopholes and government inefficiencies to replenish the budget. Hmm. Hillary doesn't even have a "fiscal responsibility" item in her Issues online. Hmm.

We are looking at an exodus to McCain if the candidates don't offer a compelling argument for the long-term moral and fiscal soundness of their social programs.

Posted by: Lucy on February 9, 2008 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Um, I should have written:

Rolling back the Bush tax cuts will only go so far toward paying for part of exactly one top agenda item: health care.

Posted by: Lucy on February 9, 2008 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

The bulk of the American population, like the bulk of the British population in the 19th century, is ignorant of and indifferent to the imperial exploits of the elites. They are not noninterventionist or interventionist; they are indifferent. They know next to nothing of America's far flung "interests", the military bases, American political intervention in countless countries or Israel- a special case settler colony the US more or less inherited from the British. Most Americans are concerned with bread and butter issues and it is this that gets them going. The elites have neglected these issues for so long, they were lining their own nests, that the people have stirred up the old populism, or even worse- socialism. From time to time they are required to supply sufficient nationalism to get a military campaign underway, but the enthusiasm soon declines and they return to their bread and butter issues.

Posted by: bellumregio on February 9, 2008 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

I frankly don't see what is wrong with either of those lists. A discussion on guns would be highly unwise right now, no point in giving the fighting factions of the GOP a common cause to rally around while they are still stabbing each other in the back.

Dems should not make the same mistake that the other side has of allowing the far extremes of their base to dictate policy that alienates the rest of the country.

Posted by: a on February 9, 2008 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Dilan writes:

In any event, I UTTERLY do not take it seriously when it comes to Hillary Clinton, because it wasn't a one-off deal. She continued to support the Iraq War, over and over again, through 2003, 2004, and 2005.

That's just another popular assertion that a lot of people glibly make without supporting it. If you want to get my attention, state specific votes, i.e., votes where Clinton voted one way and Obama another. Or, was Obama also "supporting the war"?

My perception is that neither supported the war at all, at any time. Voting for an appropriations bill does not mean you support the war. It was a lie about Kerry, and it would be a lie now about Clinton and Obama, a lie that McCain will almost surely tell.

In 2003, the conventional wisdom (and the correct wisdom, in my view) was that if ever a war belonged to anyone, Iraq belonged to George Bush and the Republicans. That's why George Bush made the explicit statement I quoted above.

Not long after Kerry was nominated, Mr. Rove and his minions mananged to change the conventional wisdom. Dilan has bought it hook, line and sinker.

Posted by: jim.rockett@mchsi.com on February 9, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

All Presidents are to the right when it comes to foreign policy. It's the one area where they most resemble each other.

America's standing in the world is very important to a lot of Americans. It's kinda lost on me because I can't for the life of me see what the ordinary citizen gets out of it - especially considering the cost. One thing is for sure, though, the imperial attitude is not going to change easily. All candidates will have to kowtow; the vested interests are too powerful for a mere presidential candidate to oppose. Hell, HRC is bending over backwards to look strong on national security and still she gets the shit beat out of her.

Obama is vulnerable on foreign policy, but the attacks won't start until they get HRC out of the way.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on February 9, 2008 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

It's unfortunate that both parties have been so successful at demonizing each other. Many will vote for any nominee of our party, because we've been convinced that the other party's policies would be disastrous.

Under those circumstances, it's wise for a candidate to take a few positions as possible. Taking a position won't help (or not much), but it will antagonize voters who disagree with that position.

Posted by: ex-liberal on February 9, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say the Dems should definitely talk about guns sometime.

But first, just for starters, let's pass universal healthcare, a carbon cap-and-trade with an auction for the permits, put some Justices on the Supreme Court who won't throw habeas and the Fourth Amendment out the window, and firmly establish Net neutrality in both law and custom.

Once we've done that, sure, let's talk guns. I've got some spare time in 2023.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 9, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

bellumreggio said: Most Americans are concerned with bread and butter issues and it is this that gets them going.

Last night "Now on PBS" had an interview with a low-income working couple and they were saying how angry they were because everything is getting more expensive, especially housing, while "the pay" is not going up -- if anything, it is going down. Then the narrator said that these people were going to vote Republican, again, because the abortion issue is important to them.

I think that's it in a nutshell: The Republicans concentrate their energy on pushing the wedge issues, and they are so successful at it that huge numbers of people vote not their economic interests but their fears and biases -- gay marriages, abortion, terrorism, etc. It's an age-old political recipe, and it still works.

Posted by: JS on February 9, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy:

First, I find it interesting that you said I asked some fair questions, yet you did not say which ones nor did you address any of them, instead you started with my having stated I have not been in the USA in some years and am gathering my views from the media and internet (You forgot to mention I have also repeatedly cited how the actual voter demographics have been coming in, but I guess those don't tell anyone anything about the electorate at all do they?) and therefore according to you of course I can't have a good perspective on what is really going on neatly giving you a way to dodge actually trying to answer my "fair questions". As to my "outrage" (which btw it was not outrage) it was pointing out that Obama has spoken from both sides of his mouth regarding funding this war from when he ran to become a Senator to what he did once he became Senator and how his supporters like yourself appear to not care while making it a central reason for opposing HRC despite this indicating that if he had been in the Senate he may well have voted for the AUMF when his vote would actually have mattered just as he has with all the funding bills.

I find it remarkable that you managed to speak out of both sides of your mouth by first complimenting for having some fair questions and then totally ignoring them and then deflecting to what you wanted to talk about instead and by implication make it seem that my supposed fair questions were not as important as yours. That is a less than honest debating tactic and does not show strength but weakness in those using it and their arguments. How about you try stating which ones of my questions were fair ones and then actually try answering them instead of working to discredit me personally which is the approach you took. I have not been to the USA in many years now because I don't trust the sanctity of the rule of law there, not because I dislike it and/or have a low opinion of the American people (although 2004 certainly damaged that good opinion I held).

You want me to argue policy with you when I have repeatedly stated that on a policy perspective both candidates are so close as to make no fundamental difference from my perspective, so I have concentrated on his contradictions between fundamental campaign themes and the reality of his actions, whether he is able to withstand the GOP firestorm whoever the candidate is will face, what are his potential weaknesses, etc. You appear to prefer to dodge these questions even while claiming at least some of them were fair, why is that? Could it be because you can't refute what I have been saying and therefore you have to shift the playing field onto something you think you can hold your own on? I'm sorry Lucy but the more I exchange comments with you the less I believe you are able to be an honest debater (something you have said about me already I might add) with me, especially after this last comment of yours, as there was nothing in my comment that dealt with policy issues yet that was where you went after validating I had fair questions, how honest is that on your part?

Sorry Lucy, but if anything your response makes me think that much more that you are so blinded by your partisanship that you will say/do anything to support your candidate regardless of the facts/reality, which is also not unusual in those so captivated by charismatic figures like Obama (and a pattern I have said I see in the candidate too and shown examples of such as that I oppose funding the war before I had to vote on it when then I did support funding the war position of Obama's from before and after being elected to the US Senate). You have more than a few times slammed me for daring to hold the opinions I do and for raising the questions I have without ever actually addressing the substance of those questions. Now, even when you say I have fair questions you refuse to identify them, answer them, and then shift the topic to an area totally disconnected from what I was talking about in this thread, indeed pretty much in all of them on this race.

Since you clearly have been reading my comments you knew I wasn't dealing with policy differences between the two candidates as that was not an area I was comfortable with my understanding of to do in detail while there were many others here who were so able, so I dealt with the aspects I do feel I have the best capabilities to address namely the kind of campaign he has run, his record in practicing what he preaches, and whether what he is selling is real or a mirage/phantasm. So the fact you shifted away like this only further underscores your inability to deal honestly with me and my questions even when you admit they are fair ones, which should say it all to someone not partisan reading both of our comments which of us is the actual dissembler and disingenuous one of the two of us. This is the last time I am bothering to respond to your takes on my comments because of this; there are limits to how much nonsense I will respond to before I decide enough is enough. Congratulations, you just crossed that threshold for me; at least nepata has tried to address the questions I have raised when responding to me, I may not agree with the answers I get from nepata but at least nepata is playing fair, unlike you.

Posted by: Scotian on February 9, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Holy overreaction, scotian, what a wild interpretation of my post. I do think you raised fair questions but to respond to each and every one of them would have meant thread hogging off-topic.

I thought you were so interested (I beg your pardon if you weren't "outraged"--but so it seemed to me) in Obama's record on the war, so I offered that link, which I thought might be an opening to dialogue. Rather, you've responded by accusing me of being mealy-mouthed and fanatical.

Sorry Lucy, but if anything your response makes me think that much more that you are so blinded by your partisanship that you will say/do anything to support your candidate regardless of the facts/reality, which is also not unusual in those so captivated by charismatic figures like Obama.

You have more than a few times slammed me for daring to hold the opinions I do and for raising the questions I have without ever actually addressing the substance of those questions.

Sure, I've slammed you for verbosity and for your insulting generalizations about Obama supporters. If you argue from the premise that we are all dishonorable, uncritical cultists, what's the incentive to respond to you in a spirit of generosity?

As for your posts, I mostly skip them, but I did scan the one above and thought I'd offer an olive branch. OK, so you rejected it; I'm fine with that.

Posted by: Lucy on February 9, 2008 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, you misunderstood my remarks under the WaPo link to be directed at you; they weren't.

Posted by: Lucy on February 9, 2008 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

IRAQ: More Bombing Creates New Enemies

BAGHDAD, Feb 8 (IPS) - Now that the smoke has cleared and the rubble settled, residents of a group of bombed Iraqi villages see the raid as really a U.S. loss.

Many Iraqis view the attack Jan. 10 by bombers and F-16 jets on a cluster of villages in the Latifiya district south of Baghdad as overkill.

"The use of B1 bombers shows the terrible failure of the U.S. campaign in Iraq," Iraqi Major General Muhammad al-Azzawy, a military researcher in Baghdad, told IPS. "U.S. military and political tactics failed in this area, and that is why this massacre. This kind of bombing is usually used for much bigger targets than small villages full of civilians. This was savagery."

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 9, 2008 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

That's just another popular assertion that a lot of people glibly make without supporting it. If you want to get my attention, state specific votes, i.e., votes where Clinton voted one way and Obama another. Or, was Obama also "supporting the war"? My perception is that neither supported the war at all, at any time.

Jim, your perception is wrong. I lived through that time and noticed every time that Hillary made another statement in favor of the war. She never went to protests, she never joined Murtha, she never apologized for her vote. All she did was play the incompetence dodge-- Bush screwed it up (which is true but doesn't get to the real problem with the war).

But don't take it from me. Read Spencer Ackerman's recent piece in the Washington Independent. He catalogs many of Hillary's statements in continuing support of the war.

Again I ask this of any Hillary supporter who peddles this line: do you have any doubt that if the Iraq War had gone well, Hillary would be claiming that she had supported it and this showed her superior judgment on national security?

Posted by: Dilan Esper on February 10, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Not long after Kerry was nominated, Mr. Rove and his minions mananged to change the conventional wisdom. Dilan has bought it hook, line and sinker.

By the way, Jim, I REALLY don't appreciate this libelous statement. It is fairly easy to determine that I WAS CRITICIZING HILLARY ON THE INTERNET FOR SUPPORTING THE WAR IN 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, AND 2006. Karl Rove had nothing to do with it.

Hillary supporters really need to stop bringing up Karl Rove and the Republican attacks. Just because the right made illegitimate attacks of Hillary does not mean every attack from the LEFT is illegitimate. It's a BS argument and it makes Hillary supporters look like huge liars and jerks when they make it.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on February 10, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

The 2004 Democratic presidential candidate Kerry made a military surge in Iraq part of his platform. Whether he was originally for the Iraq invasion or not, he supported a military solution to the occupation instead of withdrawal. I fear that whomever becomes president, Republican or Democrat, will attempt to solve the occupation of Iraq rather than stop US violence.

Posted by: Brojo on February 11, 2008 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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