The More Things Change …

I just clicked on Memeorandum and had a sixties flashback. Righties are linking to an internet clip of a fellow who says he was an Army Ranger in Iraq and who saw atrocities committed. I haven’t taken the time to look at the clip yet and cannot comment on its contents.

Rightie bloggers have decided the guy is a poseur. And he may be; I wouldn’t know. “The pic on his wall shows the wrong t-shirt, wrong sleeves roll, wrong flash, this boy is so many flavors of wrong I can’t keep up,” says this guy.

But then I read this comment: “Someone really should look into the background of the other IVAW members.”

Wow, does that take me back. During the Vietnam War era antiwar veterans often were accused of being poseurs. I remember allegations that some participants in the Winter Soldier hearings were not real veterans, and the allegations severely damaged the effectiveness of the hearings. And I understand it’s possible some of the participants were poseurs, in spite of the efforts of VVAW to screen out impostors, although certainly most VVAW activists were real Vietnam veterans.

I remember that every time a news story about a “fake”veteran hit the news, always someone would say “Someone really should look into the background of the other VVAW members.” And “I bet they’re all fake.” The allegations, true or not, undermined the credibility of VVAW.

The new video is being linked on sites like True Blue Liberal and Information Clearing House and is, apparently, gut wrenching. But the video is not linked on the Iraq Veterans Against the War or the Veterans Against the Iraq War sites. Before more antiwar sites link to this video I urge that questions about the speaker’s service and credentials be resolved.

Why We’re Better

When Republicans get caught at corruption, righties say …

Democrats do it too!
It’s liberal media bias! (And Democrats do it too!)
Leftie bloggers get a trip to Amsterdam! (I haven’t yet heard what nefarious quid pro quo was demanded by the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions.)
Liberal news bias. Our guy just made a mistake.

Or, they say nothing. On several active rightie blogs I got no hits at all for “Abramoff,” “Cunningham,” or “Tom DeLay.”

When Democrats get caught in corruption, lefties say,

Looks like he’s guilty.
He’s not the only Democrat with ethical problems.
It was stupid, and he got caught. He should resign.
The guy belongs in jail.

Sorta gives you a clue which side drinks the most Kool Aid, huh?

Jiltin’ Joe

Once again, Paul Krugman nails it. Of the Connecticut Democratic Convention results that put Ned Lamont on the primary ballot against Joe Lieberman, he writes,

What happened to Mr. Lieberman? Some news reports may lead you to believe that he is in trouble solely because of his support for the Iraq war. But there’s much more to it than that. Mr. Lieberman has consistently supported Republican talking points. This has made him a lion of the Sunday talk shows, but has put him out of touch with his constituents — and with reality.

Mr. Lieberman isn’t the only nationally known Democrat who still supports the Iraq war. But he isn’t just an unrepentant hawk, he has joined the Bush administration by insisting on an upbeat picture of the situation in Iraq that is increasingly delusional.

Moreover, Mr. Lieberman has supported the attempt to label questions about why we invaded Iraq and criticism of the administration’s policies since the invasion as unpatriotic. How else is one to interpret his warning, late last year, that “it is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be Commander-in-Chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war we undermine Presidential credibility at our nation’s peril”?

Other points made by Professor Krugman:

“A letter sent by Hillary Clinton to Connecticut Democrats credited Mr. Lieberman with defending Social Security ‘tooth and nail.’ … In fact, Mr. Lieberman repeatedly supported the administration’s scare tactics. … Mr. Lieberman was providing cover for an administration lie.”

“Mr. Lieberman supported Congressional intervention in the Terri Schiavo affair.”

“Mr. Lieberman showed far more outrage over Bill Clinton’s personal life than he has ever shown over Mr. Bush’s catastrophic failures as commander in chief.”

The MSM keeps reporting that us lunatic raging lefties out here in Nowhereland are angry at Lieberman only because of his support for the Iraq War. Krugman gets it right.

Mr. Lieberman’s defenders would have you believe that his increasingly unpopular positions reflect his principles. But his Bushlike inability to face reality on Iraq looks less like a stand on principle than the behavior of a narcissist who can’t admit error. And the common theme in Mr. Lieberman’s positions seems to be this: In each case he has taken the stand that is most likely to get him on TV.

You see, the talking-head circuit loves centrists. But a centrist, as defined inside the Beltway, doesn’t mean someone whose views are actually in the center, as judged by public opinion.

Instead, a Democrat is considered centrist to the extent that he does what Mr. Lieberman does: lends his support to Republican talking points, even if those talking points don’t correspond at all to what most of the public wants or believes.

Truth. It’s a beautiful thing.

But this “center” cannot hold. And that’s the larger lesson of what happened Friday. Mr. Lieberman has been playing to a Washington echo chamber that is increasingly out of touch with the country’s real concerns. The nation, which rallied around Mr. Bush after 9/11 simply because he was there, has moved on — and it has left Mr. Lieberman behind.

See also Jane Hamsher.

Today the Wall Street Journal editorial staff is swooning in shock over the “ugliness” shown to senators McCain and Lieberman over the weekend. I addressed the “rude” New School students here; I’d have been disappointed if the students hadn’t heckled McCain. So many young people seem apathetic about politics; it’s good to see some who give a damn.

But WSJ wags it’s finger in warning at the antiwar Left. “It’s not an encouraging trend, especially if you’re a Democrat who wants to take back the White House,” it says.

Let’s see — the most recent ABC News/Washington Post Poll on Iraq says a solid two-thirds of adults polled disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the war in Iraq, and almost that many — 62 percent — say the war was not worth fighting. But if the Dems want to take back the White House, they’d better support the war? On what planet, WSJ?

Alec Russell of the Telegraph (UK) documents that the war is destroying the Bush Administration.

… as the American death toll has risen to more than 2,400 and nightly images on the news of death and destruction have failed to cede to the administration’s hoped-for scenes of prosperity and success, Mr Bush’s image has been in freefall.

In April 2003, 70 per cent of people surveyed in an ABC News/Washington Post poll said the war was worth the financial and human cost.

Three years later the figures were almost reversed with just 37 per cent saying the Iraq war had been worth it. Barely 30 per cent said they approved of Mr Bush’s handling of the war. …

… But now the American public appears finally to have had enough. In living memory, only Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and his father, briefly, in the year he lost his bid for re-election, have sunk as low as Mr Bush. “How low can he go?” asks this week’s US News & World Report.

Yet Beltway conventional wisdom still says that being against the war is politically risky? Weird.

Of course, the trick WSJ is trying to pull is to paint the Left as being soft on terrorism. The editorial continues,

Mr. Lieberman will still be favored to win the primary, but angry-left activists around the country will now descend on the state and the fight may well turn vicious.

The left’s larger goal is to turn the Democratic Party solidly against the war on terror, and especially against its Iraq and Iran fronts.

In fact, the left’s larger goal is to get somebody in Washington to notice that people out here in Reality Land ain’t buyin’ the same old snake oil.

At the Washington Post, Jackson Diehl writes about “reclaiming the Democratic agenda.” Does he mean rank-and-file Democrats are reclaiming the party from the weenies in charge? Of course not.

This is about a coalition of mostly younger foreign affairs professionals who held mid-level positions at the State Department and the National Security Council during the Clinton administration and who have spent the past several years formulating a distinctly Democratic response to the post-Sept. 11 era — as opposed to a one-dimensional critique of President Bush or Iraq. Now they are beginning to gravitate toward some of the centrist Democrats who — unlike Pelosi or Reid — might actually emerge as serious presidential candidates in 2008, such as former Virginia governor Mark Warner, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack.

Remember Professor Krugman’s definition of “centrist Democrats” — “A Democrat is considered centrist to the extent that he does what Mr. Lieberman does: lends his support to Republican talking points, even if those talking points don’t correspond at all to what most of the public wants or believes.”

This month they published a fascinating book that lays out what the foreign policy of a winning campaign by one of those Democrats — or perhaps Hillary Clinton — could look like. Sponsored by the Progressive Policy Institute, which is an outgrowth of the Clinton-friendly Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), it’s called “With All Our Might: A Progressive Strategy for Defeating Jihadism and Defending Liberty.”

The DLC wants to take the terrorism issue away from Republicans by being more Bushie than the Bushies. Essentially they’re on the Bush bandwagon about promoting “democracy,” meaning … well, I’m not sure what “democracy” means to Bushies. It can’t mean, you know, democracy, because it’s obvious from their behavior here at home that they don’t like democracy very much. But they like the word, along with other words like liberty and freedom that sound just grand even if they’ve been stripped of all substantive meaning.

But the DLC is preparing the way for an “extended and robust security and reconstruction presence” in Iraq, which might have been a rational position to take in 2003. Now it makes me wonder what drugs they’re on.

Diehl continues,

[The DLC group] has ideas on how Democrats can build stronger ties to the Republican-dominated military, revitalize NATO and the United Nations, and reverse Bush’s tax cuts in order to modernize and expand the Army. Don’t be surprised if, after all the Internet noise fades away, such ideas are at the center of the next presidential campaign.

In point of fact, some of us making the Internet noise have already made those same suggestions on our blogs. Like most Washington “pundits,” Diehl has bought into the canard that we netroots types are only against the war and couldn’t possibly be promoting a much broader agenda to inject some real progressivism back into national politics.

The upcoming midterm elections are critical, folks. They are just as important as a presidential election. If the netroots demonstrate we can not only get candidates on the ballot but get them elected, we will have served notice on Democrats in Washington that we are not to be trifled with. On the other hand, if the Democrats don’t take back at least one house of Congress in November, the Bush Administration will assume they have a mandate to stumble along on the same dead-end course for two more years.