Tilting at Windmills

November/ December 2011 Consider the alternative

By Charles Peters

I agree with those who say both parties are responsible for the sorry state of Washington, but isn’t it time to face the fact that much more than half the guilt lies with the Republicans? I say this even though I agree with much of the criticism of the Democratic Party and of Barack Obama that I find in the words of the liberal commentariat, in the centrist Matt Miller’s call for a third party, and even in Ron Suskind’s new book Confidence Men. But I also think it is foolish for thoughtful Americans to waste much more time focusing on the shortcomings of the Democrats and of the president. They indulged in a similar orgy of faultfinding in 2010, with the result that too many of them failed to vote and the country elected the worst House of Representatives in memory. There is a real danger that next year the Democrats will lose not only the presidency but also the House and the Senate.

To wake up to the danger, think about your choice. Obama and the Democratic Congress gave us national health care and Wall Street reform. Both were admittedly far from perfect. But do you really think that a Republican administration and Congress would have done—or will do—better?

Who gave us gays serving openly in the military, which had been such a great goal of liberals? It wasn’t Bill Clinton or any Republican. Who got Osama bin Laden, which was a goal of conservatives, as well as the rest of us? It wasn’t George W. Bush. Who was the first president to take on the issue of teacher quality, one of moderate Matt Miller’s main concerns? Neither Clinton nor Bush faced it and did something about it, as Barack Obama and Arne Duncan have done with their Race to the Top program.

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.

Comments

  • Neil Bates on November 05, 2011 4:16 PM:

    Well put!

  • Stephanie Mackey on November 09, 2011 2:02 PM:

    No, what President Clinton gave us was the opportunity for gay people to serve in the military. Prior to DADT, they were not permitted to serve AT ALL.

  • markg8 on November 14, 2011 11:34 AM:

    Stephanie apparently that's not what Clinton gave gays because the military didn't adhere to DADT. Gays had the opportunity to lie about their orientation to their employer while the employer, ignoring it's end of the bargain continued to actively seek out and expel gay members. Gays no longer have to lie about their status which is good for both parties, especially the military which relies so overwhelmingly on concepts like honor for force cohesion.

  • daniel quinn on November 24, 2011 4:50 PM:

    Stephanie...Do you really believe that there were no gays in the military before Clinton?