Conventional wisdom before and after the Take Back America conference — featuring The Booing of Hillary — is that liberals are “dividing” the Democratic Party. Unlike the groomed and housebroken “centrist” Dems like Joe Lieberman, we liberals are flea-bitten, uncombed mutts scratching at the door with muddy paws. Our disagreement with the indoor pooches is not a difference in opposing views but an untidy “disarray” that threatens to soil the carpets.

Last Tuesday morning Senators Clinton and Kerry separately addressed the Take Back America attendees, who were assumed to be “liberal activists” in some news stories, although that point is debatable. Senator Clinton’s speech was well received on the whole, but her non-position on the Iraq War — she wants neither an open-ended commitment nor “a date certain” for withdrawal — drew polite applause, plus some heckling and boos. By contrast, Senator Kerry won the day, and the audience, by admitting he had been wrong on the war in 2002 and calling for a firm withdrawal date. When Kerry said this the audience caught fire and leapt to its feet, cheering and applauding lustily.

John Gibson of Fox News, believing he saw disarray among the Dems and overlooking parallel disagreements about the war among Republicans, attempted to shove a wedge into the party by pressing former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe to choose between “Hillary’s side” or “the John Kerry side.”

Wow, which is it? The divide is widening within the Democratic party over the war in Iraq. Two top Dems don’t agree on an exit strategy, as you’ve just heard. And all this comes as the party fights to take back control of Congress. Now some Democratic leaders are trying to take things in a new direction. Former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe joins us now. Before we get into a new direction, Terry, what am I supposed to make of no deadline from Hillary, must have a deadline now from John Kerry? What is a Democrat to think?

I think the audience at Take Back America answered that question clearly; a whopping majority of Dems at the conference preferred a firm withdrawal date to “whenever .” I realize the TBA crowd is not necessarily a representative sample of Democratic voters. But considering that only 9 percent of Democrats approve of the George Bush non-strategy in Iraq (CBS News Poll, June 10-11), the TBA attendees may reflect rank-and-file Dem opinion pretty durn accurately.

And it seems to me the same poll reveals the Republicans are more “disarrayed” than the Dems. The GOP split on the question “Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation with Iraq?” was 71 to 24; the Dems split 9 to 85 (remainders were unsure).

Speaking for myself, I’m willing to consider options other than a firm withdrawal date. For example, I could live with a plan for withdrawal or redeployment within a time range — say, six to nine months, or by the end of 2007, or some such. What’s important is that the government draw up a concrete plan and then implement it in a timely manner. “Whenever” is not satisfactory. That appears to be the opinion of a solid majority of Dems.

Now, finally, print pundit Robert Kuttner suggests in today’s Boston Globe that just maybe the Dem party’s “disarray” is no disarray at all, but instead is a vacuum of leadership.

Most voters want to end American involvement in Iraq. As in the Vietnam War, the voters are ahead of most politicians. And political debate about defense is finally recovering from the administration’s manipulation of 9/11 trauma.

Yesterday’s passage of a House resolution affirming the President’s “plan” shows us political debate hasn’t recovered enough, however. Forty-two House Dems caved.

Democrats serious about national security are redefining what it means to protect America, and what it means to be a “Defense Democrat.” The dwindling Lieberman wing of the party and its enablers of George W. Bush have had a lock on that label for far too long.

Wow, a print pundit almost caught up to where leftie bloggers were even before the bleeping invasion. Be still my heart.

Digby links to a Republican analysis that says Dems aren’t ready to lead. The analysis points to the Lamont challenge of Joe Lieberman’s Senate seat as an example of immature Dem voters viewing the world through “war colored glasses.” Digby comments:

“The Democrats are not ready to lead.” I think we all know why, don’t we? The “war colored glasses” crowd is a terrible influence, don’t you know. We’re so out of control we are supporting a challenger in a Senate primary! Call out the guard!

And to charges the Dems haven’t fired up the base enough to ensure a House takeover by the Dems, Digby says,

I have to agree that Democrats have yet to fire up the base enough. And the reason is that although many voters are unhappy with Bush they can’t see how things will be any different with Democrats in charge of the congress….

Democrats can ignore this and fret about the immature and distasteful grassroots — or they can start giving their base a reason to vote for them. Mid-terms are about turn-out. Until rank and file Dems see that their party won’t just excuse, enable and endorse GOP policies they have no reason to get off the couch.

Let’s be clear about this: if we lose this fall, it will not be because the “war colored glasses” crowd was immature and failed to behave properly at the debutante ball. It will be because the Democratic establishment blew off its own voters in order to please David Broder and the stale DC punditocrisy — the same thing they have been doing for more than a decade and losing.

Don’t look at us. We’re trying to get Democratic voters charged up about being Democrats again. Pissing and moaning because Joe Lieberman is facing a primary challenge is having the opposite effect. If we lose, it will be because the party establishment once more showed contempt for Democratic voters — a fatal error the Republicans never ever make.

I cannot understand why the Dems are so clueless. According to a CNN poll of June 14-15, Bush’s disapproval numbers are still sixteen points higher than his approval numbers. This was after the glorious victory over Zarqawi and the publicity stunt visit to Iraq, notice. The war remains solidly unpopular with big majorities of Dems and Independents (the “I’s” poll at 67 percent against, 27 percent for, same poll linked above). Yet the Bushies can still scare the Dems into covering Bush’s butt with the ol’ soft on Communism terrorism threat.

You want to look tough and strong, Democrats? Then stand up to Bush. Every time you cave you prove to America you’re a pack of weenies.

18 thoughts on “Disarray

  1. Why should we believe they’ll stand up to the terrorists when they won’t even stand up to the Republicans? or the media?

  2. I think the dems are afraid they are being fed bait either way.If the dems had railed against it then they could be painted as not supporting the troops… if they say they are for it, then they can take all the blame when things go even worse then they are now.

    As far as the dems being in disarray…..I think the righties should understand that we are having a discussion on the left side about how we should handle events in Iraq….since bush seems unable to address the subject GROWN UPS have to take over and have a reasoned conversation…it is a good thing we don’t all have the same clone- like ideas for a solution,, because as we all see with bush ,an entire white house with one bad idea DOESN’T WORK.

    The beauty of it all is that VOTERS will have a choice and a say in what they want from THEIR elected officials… if that is disarray sign me up… choice beats one big fat failed idea anyday.

    I still feel like bush will leave Iraq in the blink of an eye..He could care less about protecting anything else there but oil…In my heart I still think our troops are still on the ground in Iraq only so they are close for an Iran conflict…I hope I am wrong but I think bush isn’t done using OUR sons and daughters fulfill his agenda.

    Short version: Too many ideas still better than only one that is wrong.

  3. The Democratic Party is just as rotten at it’s core as the ReThugs. The Rethugs are more blatantly corrupt but what the Dems utter refusal, yes refusal, to oppose the clearly disastrous ReThug policies is that they, the Dems, are feeding from the same trough.

    They all gotta go.

    And they will after failing to take the House and Senate in 2006 and, perhaps, failing to regain the White House in 2008.

    Democratic leadership DO NOT WANT TO WIN!

  4. Hi, justme…..I have been traveling this past week and now, the past couple of days, I’m up on the roof a lot!

    I do not believe that the Democrats are ‘clueless’. I think we may be catching clues about something else….that many Democrats are quietly busy being ‘collusionists’ in order to board the gravy train.

    Our government today is increasingly less about caretaking, protecting, improving and leading America because it [the government] has increasingly become a mechanism whereby those in power are actually there to make money for themselves and their supporters and cronies. Since 9/11, BIG MONEY [from our taxes and from borrowing from unborn generations] is there for the taking. All this money is made directly off of and because of death and fear.

    To the power-is-money-minded, what is the death of 2,501 soldiers compared to the enormous contracts being outsourced by Homeland Security and the Pentagon? In fact, those deaths provide justification and cover for those who are happily making their collective billions by keeping America afraid.

    I would like to say that the Repugs are the true death/destruction cultists because, being in the majority, Repugs can most utilize the post-9/11 gravy train……. but the silence of so many Democrats has me wondering once again about collusion…. or alternatively wondering if the Dems want the gravy train to keep running for them, in the event they win back more power.

    In the face of worldwide decline in oil resources, the [foreseeable future] big picture of holding unimaginable power and making unimaginable money will be painted with Mid-East oil……think about that future ‘gravy train’ when you wonder why the Dems don’t ‘stand up to Bush’ and insist we get out of Iraq. Hell, most Dems won’t even discuss the true significance of those ‘permanent bases’ or the 110 acre US embassy in Iraq.

    The ‘War on Terror’ is the greatest power and money maker ever known for those who hold seats in government.. And it has been simple and effective to spin away dissent and to thwart the good hearts and will of the majority of citizens—just use and repeat the whirling dust-in-our-eyes-from-the-devil slogans that would make Orwell roll over in his grave. Example: ‘More soldiers may need to die so that those already dead did not die in vain.’

    A most important question to ask about anyone seeking office today is: Who profits by this person being elected?

  5. The ‘War on Terror’ is the greatest power and money maker ever known for those who hold seats in government..

    Amen…It’s the secular equivalent to holding the keys to heaven.

    We need a leadership that is going to validate what we already know. Anything less just won’t cut it. Listening to Kerry’s speech at TBA makes me believe he’s found his legs to stand on and the Democrats would be wise to follow his lead. There’s power in admitting a mistake.

  6. ‘What’s a Democrat to think?” Gee, I don’t know, maybe whatever he or she wants to?

    I guess on Fox News they’re in the habit of having their opinions inserted directly into their brains by El Jefe, so they assume Democrats are waiting to be told what to think by either Hillary or Kerry? Like those ‘leading Democrats’ are the only possible sources of ideas?

    It’s fascinating how many people subscribe to this idea that opinions and positions go from the top down, when our system is supposed to work the other way round. I think I’ll start calling it the ‘W-prinzip.’

  7. Mark my words. Haditha will go away, Jack Murtha will be cornered, war is peace, bad is good, all for one and all for all. Find your god your gonna need it.

  8. Um, most Dems DID stand up W. on that resolution (by about 3-1). For that matter most Dems voted against the war in the first place.

    So no, the Dems are NOT the same as the GOP, as the last 6 years have clearly demonstrated. But then it was purist ideological third-party fantasies that put W. in office in the first place,

  9. hi maha, real off topic here, but i just added majikthise to my blogroll, and she winds up right under your blog.

    so my question is, did you guys room together at ykos because of some alphabetical rule i didn’t know about?

    (luckily i followed it by accident, with :skippy, mr.”, rooming with “skippy, mrs.”!)

  10. Skippy — Hmm, I suppose that was acceptable. I won’t turn your name in to the People’s Revolutionary Rooming by Alphabetical Order Committee. This time.

  11. #9, Td Raicer, I appreciate your comment that the Dems are Not the same as the GOP. I want to believe that wholeheartedly….because I want to believe that our constitutional system still has an organized political party which believes in following the will of the people. Paul’s comment #7 is right on about a lot of people subscribing to the autocrat idea of opinions and positions going from the top down, instead of democratically going from the people up to elected representatives.

    But I think it behooves us to look into all nooks and crannies to understand why we see a ‘silent coup’ in effect which ignores the will of the American people on Iraq.

    I support the ideological purity that honors the American democratic system [of the people, by the people, for the people] which purity should be used to counter the GOP war-mongering NECROS [necros = those who obtain pleasure from death].

    War is a dying business, war is about dying, war is a business…..some folks are reduced by their blackened souls to getting pleasure from accumulating money ……it matters not to them that their money comes from the business of war-making and continued killing. IMO, Cheney is the epitome of a necro.

  12. The Democratic Party is far from perfect. But a (bare) majority of Dems opposed the war resolution in the first place, and almost all who voted for it claimed to believe in W’s lie that it was about getting in those UN inspectors in order to avoid war.

    It is safe to say if Gore had won in 2000 we wouldn’t be in Iraq, and it is probable (though less certain) that if Kerry had won in 2004 we would be on our way out. (Not to mention the thousand ways we’d be better off apart from Iraq, such as our endless sea of red ink that transfers our tax dollars to wealthy Americans, and the Chinese.)

    Yet at every progressive website on any topic I can find the same predictable responses from those whose support for Nader, or simple unwillingness to vote for Gore, gave us W. in the first place. (This is not specifically aimed at Donna, who I don’t know-those of you to whom it applies will know who you are.)

    Call them (somewhat unfairly but for the sake of shorthand) the Chomskyite Left. Their comments are always the same: we are doomed unless we have a complete Revolution in America. Well we aren’t going to have a Revolution, (and if we did it would more likely be from the fascist populist Right than the Left) so perhaps we are doomed. But despair is really just an excuse for laziness (actual politics is work) and those demanding a Revolution that isn’t on the horizon are more interested in feeling ethically superior than changing things. (Politics IS a dirty business, involving compromise and messy ethical choices, and distinctions between bad and worse.)

    And frankly, as W’s rule has demonstrated, theirs is a self-indulgence the US (and the world) can’t afford just now.

    I’m hardly a DLC Democrat. I opposed the Iraq war from the start, I hope Ned Lamont kicks Leiberman’s ass, and I find Hillary’s triangulating disgusting (as well as self-defeating). But no third party on a white horse is going to ride in and save us all. Positive change will come through the imperfect instrument of the Democratic Party, and anyone who doesn’t accept that fact (unhappy though it may be) is kidding themselves. And this is no time for kidding.

  13. I am a psychologist(retired) and my comment can be viewed through that lens. Maha has it just right. The Democratic leadership are weenies. If you notice the Republicans portray themselves as tough. Tough on crime, tough on the jihadists, etc.
    Rove picked someone with swagger. The swift boat crowd portrayed Kerry as weak. Same with Max Cleland.
    I think many voters go for the image Bush projects.
    In psychological terms, many people want a father figure.
    If the Repubs have a hard core base of 35% and you add 10-15% for a father figure, and 5% for stealing elections, Rove has a winning majority. I haven’t even figured in the amount of money the Repubs outspend Dems.
    And look at the gains that war veterans are making.
    In this regard, you had a discussion recently on why women are not as electable as men. I submit that many women don’t project themselves in this way. Margaret Thatcher did. Remember her telling Reagan to not go wobbly?
    And isn’t it a shame that intelligence isn’t valued more?
    I’m new to the blogosphere, so if I’m doing anything wrong, please tell me.

  14. Td Raicer, I voted for Gore in 2000 and worked my butt off for Kerry in ’04. I do question why the DLC Dems are loath to take a firm stand about withdrawing from Iraq, or at least aren’t willing to follow Murtha’s wisdom about redeploying outside [but near] that country, which change would at least attempt to reduce the incentive for insurgency.
    Do you also watch and wonder about this same question? Do you have any clues about DLC Dems behavior vis a vis the Iraq debacle that would refute my supposition about them colluding to keep the war ‘gravy train’ running?

  15. >Do you also watch and wonder about this same question? Do you have any clues about DLC Dems behavior vis a vis the Iraq debacle that would refute my supposition about them colluding to keep the war ‘gravy train’ running?

    First, who are the DLC Dems? Certainly not the nearly 3-1 majority who voted against the sham Republican resolution.

    As for the remainder, most are Dems in Red States who have internalized the idea that the GOP will always win any fight over national security, and so are trying to avoid the issue. Of course it is unavoidable, and many of them are fools or cowards, but it has nothing to do with a “war gravy train.”

  16. Td, glad you are so certain that a ‘war gravy train’ cannot affect any but Republicans.

  17. I basically agree with everyone’s comments. I forget where I heard analysis — on the radio, maybe — about this “resolution” on the war, but whichever MSM person commented on it said, “It’s a trap.” And, obviously it is. I’d like to know why the House is making declarative resolutions instead of, like, real policy.

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