Thursday, August 18, 2005


Kevin Drum writes:
The dovish left is losing patience with establishment hawks, and if this continues we can be sure that Karl Rove will do his best to hammer this wedge straight through the heart of the Democratic party as the 2006 midterms begin to heat up.

This is about the last thing we need, and both sides would be well advised to do some serious thinking before this internecine warfare gets out of hand. For its part, the dovish left needs to content itself with merely trying to win support for its position, rather than also demanding ritual public humiliations from ego-driven politicians. It ain't gonna happen, and if it did it would do nothing but destroy their credibility and fracture the party anyway. So knock it off.
I'm torn. On the one hand, I realize that getting the Republicans out of power - without "ritual public humiliations" - is more important than vindicating my personal views about the war.

On the other hand, having my views vindicated with ritual public humiliations is still really, really important to me.

Besides, the Democrats have been so complicit with America's war-making, it's hard to see how the party can make a new, coherent stand against continuing the war in Iraq without at least a little ritual humiliation - some of the pro-war Dems in Congress are going to have to say "we were wrong." Period. Not to assuage the left wing of the Democratic party, but to justify the party's new anti-war stance.

Because let's face it - the Democrats have a very real problem. Kerry, despite a relatively consistent position on Iraq, was portrayed by the Republicans (and therefore the media) as confused. The same applies for the Democratic Party, on a larger scale. I don't think that there's an easy way for the party to escape this trap: They supported the early war efforts, so now that the plan has gone to shit in Iraq, it's as impossible for them to withdraw ideologically as it is for the US to withdraw militarily. And in both cases, the withdrawal is going to be more painful because there are no other options.

The Democrats are going to have to say, clearly and loudly, "We fucked up." But what bugs me more about Kevin's post is not simply that I think it's wrong-headed, but the defensiveness that I may be reading in to it. Kevin was, it should be remembered, an advocate of the war just until shortly before it began, whereupon he switched. But I don't think he's ever abandoned the idea that the war "could have been" right, if only Bush wasn't in charge. Somehow, the pro-war left imagines that the various problems of Iraq would have been magically solved if only President Gore had invaded. This is ridiculous - no Iraqi suicide bomber actually cares that much. So long as the plan involved invading Iraq, there was going to be a large, well-armed insugency. Would the war in Iraq really be that much better if only 1,000 US servicemen and women had died thus far?

As much as I think Bush has criminally misled this war, he isn't to blame for the fact that, with remarkable consistency, bad ideas continue to be bad ideas. This is true regardless of who thinks them up, or how hard you clap.

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