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View Diary: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (120 comments)

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  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (3.88)
    At least George W. Bush had the gall to do it. He might be an imbecile, a moron, a dimwit, and a buffoon but to his supporters, he is a likable buffoon.

    Not to sound self-righteous, condescending, and sanctimonious, as one who has worked for several Democratic campaigns at all levels from national to local -- and always incurring substantial personal expense and opportunity cost to do so -- it bothers me that our candidates are often timid, conventional, and not given to taking risks. Instead of embracing unprecedented domestic prosperity, a significant improvement in several social indices, and relative peace abroad, our last presidential candidate (I speak as one who worked his tail off for him) did not take a "damn the torpedoes" approach. Oh, where Al Gore would have been had he had the balls to show a bit more political courage in the 2000 Election!

    For some (particularly the Greens and Ralph Nader), Bill Clinton may have been too moderate, not ideologically pure enough, and perhaps even compromised by his corporate supporters but, he was, after FDR, the only Democratic president to serve two full terms in the last century. Most presidents are either good at mastering the details of policy minutiae or interpersonal/political skills; rarely, if ever, one combined it as brilliantly as Clinton. He was, when all is said and done and looking back at all the presidents of the 20th century, perhaps the best combination of politics and policy since Teddy Roosevelt.  

    Bush's visit to Iraq simply reinforces my belief that timidity is not going to get us anywhere in the next election. We must be for something. We cannot always oppose Bush but to offer clear-headed policy alternatives. For those of us with degrees from fancy schools and the ability to have some basic level of mastery over the English language, we cannot deride Bush for being linguistically challenged. We must be positive, optimistic, and above all, daring. If we reside on the liberal coasts and not live in 'flyover country,' we cannot look down upon 'Middle America.' After all, only about one in four adult Americans has a 4-year college degree. What else, as one political sage observed long ago, do blue-collar, working class Americans have other than patriotism and love of country? Are they endowed with wealth? No. Do they have a sophisticated understanding of issues? Maybe not. Why can't we, as Democrats of all stripes, regain their political support, trust and confidence? We've done so in the past. If we Democrats don't stand up for social and economic justice, who will? Surely not the Republicans.  

    I have chosen my candidate (Richard Gephardt) in the primaries. I've said so in previous posts. I support him financially and will work hard to get him nominated. Will I go work for another candidate if Gephardt isn't nominated? Of course. Do I sound bitter? Perhaps a little bit. Does looking at Bush in Iraq make me angry? You bet. Do I fault him for being politically opportunistic? No. It might be time to look at ourselves in the mirror.  

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      Your post says it all.  Democrats have a communication problem.  Republicans have been effective in communicating a message and associating themselves with that message in ways that resonate in many people.  What anyone who wants change to occur must do is find a way to promote the Democratic agenda so that it appears superior to the other side.  And not condescending. And not apologetic.  If your a Democrat be proud of it and tell other people.  But don't demonize George for being the puppet we know he is, because that will do nothing but alienate those on the fence.
      I live in a Red county and I don't hesitate to dispute Bush policies with any and all and have been able to engage with many people who don't share my beliefs.  But the discussion has value if it plants the seed of critical thinking.  Every rock thrown in pond makes a ripple.  

      Its harder to be for something than it is to be against something...

      by lapin on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 12:08:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  A little history, if you please... (none)
      Woodrow Wilson served two full terms from 1913-1921.  He was a Democrat.  Harry Truman ascended to the Presidency 5 weeks after FDR was inaugurated for his fourth term.  In essence, HST served two terms.

      It is interesting that you criticize Democratic candidates for not taking risk and choose Dick Gephardt to back.

      •  Re: A little history, if you please... (none)
        I thought that supporting Gephardt was a little ironic also, but thought it bad manners to point out after such a good post. But now that you mention it...

        I would only add that I don't think that any of the candidates fail to heed his point that we need a positive message. Even Dean, at whom I assume the comment was directed, spends more time now emphasizing various policy proposals, the empowerment of citizens, and other matters than he does going after Bush. Not to turn this into another Dean/anti-Dean discussion, but he's also surely the best so far at taking bold steps forward in this campaign.

      •  Re: A little history, if you please... (none)
        Phil S,

        Thanks for your comments. I am intimately familiar with the presidencies of Woodrow Wilson and Harry Truman, having written numerous papers on different aspects of their presidencies as well as my two graduate school theses on their major foreign policy initiatives. I should also mention that I have a great deal of respect for their approach to foreign policy -- both from a theoretical and substantive perspective.  

        I believe I wrote that Bill Clinton served two full terms among all the Democratic presidents after FDR which means, as you well know, that Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy, and Harry Truman did not. I gather, after reading some of your other postings, that you're a passionate Howard Dean supporter. I respect that. I'm going to refrain from criticizing Dean or say anything negative about any of the other candidates. In fact, tactically, I think Dean has run an excellent campaign so far. If indeed he is the eventual nominee, I would have no hesitation in supporting him.

        As to why I chose Richard Gephardt, the reasons are numerous. Among them, I like and respect the man; who he speaks for; where he is from; his message; and believe strongly that he is best-suited to oust the incumbent. The conventional wisdom is that, under Gephardt's leadership, the House Democrats could not win the House back in four attempts... even though they did gain seats in three of those four elections. However, serving as parliamentary leader, where he had to reconcile conflicting opinions amongst disparate groups of Democrats -- unlike the more ideologically homogeneous Republicans -- is not the same as when Gephardt decided to run independently for an executive position. And, free of all such restraints. No wonder there is a growing belief among many (excluding most Kossacks, I'm fairly sure) that strategically, Gephardt is the most credible Democratic challenger to George Bush in the general election.  

        There is, however, always the possibility that I could be wrong.  :)  

         

        •  Re: A little history, if you please... (none)
          Clinton ... was, after FDR, the only Democratic president to serve two full terms in the last century.

          As you can see, your wording is open to more than one interpretation. One might read is that "Clinton, after FDR, was the only Dem POTUS to serve two full terms in the last century." In this reading "after" = "besides" and leaves the reader to interpret "the last century" as the period from 1901-2000.

          Since you meant the only Dem POTUS since FDR to serve two full terms (although Truman was essentially a two-term POTUS and I probably would have pointed that out, being the stinker I am), it would have been clearer to write just that and leave out the phrase "the last century".  I apologize if I stepped on any toes.

          I wouldn't say I'm a passionate Dean supporter.  Howie has his warts.  What I am passionate about is the promise of the Dean campaign's effect on the process and that Howie has the backbone to take it to Dubya. In fact, my second choice today would be Gep.  But that's because he's shown some backbone, too, of late - after Howie showed it was safe to do so. ;-)

          •  Re: A little history, if you please... (none)
            Good points. But hey, I wrote that after a heavy dose of turkey 'n stuffings, wine, football, and... don't get me started on the relatives!  :)

            Glad to hear that you too think highly of Gephardt.  

      •  Re: A little history, if you please... (none)
        I abandoned my support of Gep after finding out he voted for the flag burning amendment.  But I disagree with the notion that he's not a risk taker.  Opposing his president on NAFTA, proposing an international minimum wage, backing a repeal of all Bush tax cuts for an extremely ambitious national health care plan that even Dean says is too much...those aren't safe positions.  Nor, ironically, was it safe for him to support the $87 billion for Iraq in light of the political climate in must-win (for him) Iowa.

        Alan, Maverick Leftist "They laugh because they know they're untouchable, not because what I said was wrong." --Sinead O'Connor

        by SlackerInc on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 03:35:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      Bush's visit to Iraq simply reinforces my belief that timidity is not going to get us anywhere in the next election.

      Excellent post. I join with the others in wondering how Gephardt fits in. Do you think that without the Dean campaign, Gephardt would ever have managed to say "miserable failure"?

      If Gore had sent some of his Miami supporters to finish off the Brooks Brothers rioters, he'd be President today. I didn't notice the Democratic leadership, including Gephardt, trying to stiffen his spine there.

      •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
        jd in nyc and Andrew Lazarus,

        Both of you made some excellent points. Thanks.

        I thought that supporting Gephardt was a little ironic also...
        Notwithstanding personality, style, and temperament, Gephardt's health care proposal is, by far, the single most boldest idea of the campaign to date. While Dean is certainly a passionate individual, his policy proposals are, at best, cautious and incremental.

        Even Dean, at whom I assume the comment was directed...
        I wasn't directing my comments as much against Dean as reflecting upon past experiences. I really don't have anything against the good doctor.

        Do you think that without the Dean campaign, Gephardt would ever have managed to say "miserable failure"?
        Probably not. Then again, I'm sure the Dean folks have learnt a thing or two from Gephardt's Campaign. Imitation in politics is not unheard of. Joe Trippi, after all, worked for the 1988 Gephardt Campaign.

        If Gore had sent some of his Miami supporters to finish off the Brooks Brothers rioters, he'd be President today. I didn't notice the Democratic leadership, including Gephardt, trying to stiffen his spine there.
        I don't necessarily disagree with you. Conventional post-Florida Recount wisdom was correct: the Gore Team's approach focussed mostly on the legal aspects of the dispute. Republicans, on the other hand, saw this not only as a legal but, equally so, as a political struggle. This "Bourgeois Riot" (I think Paul Gigot of the WSJ coined that term) was a naked power grab. Having been involved in that montrosity (the so-called "Florida Irregularities") and taking everything into consideration, having one more sympathetic US Supreme Court justice would have made the difference. One way or another, that is what it was eventually going to come down to! Having a younger brother as Florida Governor and a Democratic operative as Florida Secretary of State wouldn't have hurt Al Gore either. Now, I don't completely absolve Gore. He was the one directing strategy and, at a minimum, should have won his home state of Tennessee. Then, the above is irrelevant.

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      He was, when all is said and done and looking back at all the presidents of the 20th century, perhaps the best combination of politics and policy since Teddy Roosevelt.

      I've got to take one more shot. Clinton's policies were ruinous for the Democratic Party - that is, if you want the part to be something other than the Eisenhower Republicans. He won two terms for himself, but lost both the House and Senate a mere two years into his first term (and from which we've yet to recover), and presided over the loss of half of the Democratic governorships we held when he took office. His supposed crowning policy jewel - welfare reform - has been a disaster on the ground (my wife is a social worker)and was nothing more than rank political opportunism.

      This supposed political master comes into Washington wih only a plurality of the popular vote and immediately fires off the two most controversial guns of his Presidency - gays in the military and universal health care. This before he had consolidated his power base in DC, made nice with his party members in Congress or established any sort of mandate from the people. To top it off, he puts the ever-popular Hilary in charge of the health care package. Ten years later we're no closer to universal health care than when he took office. And this is your best combination of politics and policy since Teddy?

      Democratic presidents who were better than Bill at both politics and policy:

      LBJ
      JFK
      HST
      FDR
      and even Woodrow Wilson and that takes into account the myopic arrogance of Versailles.

      God, how I wish the Clintons and all their hangers-on would just go away.  Please, the party begs you.

       

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