Calling For A Politics of Contrast
I can spin!
Want to see why the currently prevailing Democratic strategy on Iraq will be a dud in November? Want to see how the corrupt Republican establishment will run from having lost Iraq while working to suppress majority voter interest in the midterm elections?
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Joe Scarborough from Monday night’s show:
Well, the Iraq war is the topic of tonight‘s “Congressional Memo.” You know, the Iraq war continues to divide America and the world but after the shouting dies down and you figure out what both sides are saying, you learn that Republican and Democratic leaders just aren‘t that far apart. And while I encountered political posturing in Congress, and as a member of the Armed Services Committee, I never saw a political fight where there was so much a smoke and so little fire. You know, Republicans bash Democrats for being weak on defense and Democrats bash Republicans for leading America into the deadly war that they believe does little to protect America.
But listen to this a little more closely to what the major party leaders are saying. And you‘re going to see, there‘s not a dimes worth of difference between either party. President Bush supported this war. The Democrats 2004 nominee, John Kerry, supported this war. And the Democrats 2008 candidate, Hillary Clinton, supported this war. Likewise, they all warned us, everyone warned us of Iraq‘s weapons of mass destruction. All of them of them voted for the invasion. All of them supported for the Patriot Act, all of them oppose immediate withdrawal from Iraq and all refuse to name a date certain when American troops should come home. What‘s the difference?
Well, the Democrats will tell you the president screwed up. But heck, even the president is saying he screwed up. So again, no difference. The biggest difference seems to be the Democratic leaders are still refusing to admit that they were wrong—wrong about voting for the war, if in fact it was wrong. Wrong about WMDs, wrong about giving this president a blank check to go into a war that they want their base to think they opposed.
Friends, they didn‘t oppose that war. And leaders like Hillary Clinton still don‘t oppose that war. And if you don‘t believe me, then try to find a quote by the New York senator calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. You won‘t find it, because it doesn‘t exist.
Senator Clinton, like George Bush, and like every politician in Washington who has a real shot at being elected to the White House in 2008 knows that leaving Iraq now would destroy American credibility across the globe for the next 50 years. And even if they believe George Bush weakened our standing by entering Iraq, they now know that surrendering to terrorists simply is not an option.
So, the next time you hear a politician whining about his opponent‘s Iraq‘s policy you can be sure that it‘s much ado about nothing, because when it comes to getting out of Iraq, Republicans may be clueless, but Democrats are spineless. And that‘s tonight‘s “Congressional Memo.”
Now, I apologize for asking you to wade into fetid swamps of Scarborough Country. But we need to understand this argument, because it will resonate with many people already conditioned to believe Democrats are weak, when in fact the truly weak, fearful, bedwetting party of "send someone else’s kid to war" is the Republican party.
Scarborough is making observations similar to those I made in my previous post today, but with a different prescription and conclusion, naturally. Still, he’s smart enough to know that the inability of the Democrats thus far to represent a clear security alternative hurts their chances. (Oh, and Joe, did I miss the Democratic primary?)
DC Democrats had better wake up. This is not the last time you’re going to hear this argument. What’s your answer? The Murtha redeployment plan enjoys majority support on its merits. Will you have the sense to support it as a unified block? Ready to point out how consistent the party has been in trying to fund port security? Or will you run from a fight on security to cede the issue to the failed party of the WATB’s?
Kevin Phillips, author of American Theocracy, makes similar observations (hat tip Josh Marshall):
"I believe that Democrats and liberals in 2006 stand to have their greatest opportunity since 1992 (which was lost). You will have the substantial support of many lapsed Republicans and doubters of Bush conservatism like myself. But I also have the sense that many Democrats and liberals have an instinct for the capillaries, not for the jugular. If that leads to failure in 2006, there will be a major price to pay, not just for the United States but in terms of the credibility of your party and movement."
I’ve done a lot of executive assessment, development and consulting in my career. Rahm Emanuel, by all accounts, strikes me as a ruthlessly effective implementer of a strategy, a workaholic who gets people moving and who micromanages more than he develops new talent. A classic mid-level manager for a lazy organization. People give him credit for shaking musty cobwebs out of the DCCC.
But his strategic instincts are poor. He lacks creativity and vision, and is failing to respond to the conditions of today, which call for a politics of sharp contrast, not 1990’s DLC third way timidity. Someone needs to sit him down and lay out a new vision for him, because he will never get it on his own. If no one steps up to point him in the right direction, he’ll be like the efficient quarterback who leads his team ruthlessly. . . to the wrong goal.
When that happens, we all lose.
Contact Congressman Rahm Emanuel:
1319 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
3742 West Irving Park Road
Chicago, IL 60618