10.21.2006

The Coming Democrat Victory: No Win for Us, Pt. 2

(Part 1 is here)

I was looking for this last week when I wrote Part 1:
"How Rahm Emanuel Has Rigged a Pro-War Congress
Election 2006: The Fix is Already In" by John Walsh at Antiwar.com. Clips:
In contrast to voters' sentiment, 64% of the Democratic candidates in the 45 closely contested House Congressional races oppose a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Note carefully: not only do these Democrat worthies oppose the Murtha or McGovern bills for rapid withdrawal or defunding the war; they oppose so much as a timetable. (The number of Dem candidates supporting the Murtha or McGovern proposals is vanishingly small.) The position of these Dem candidates is indistinguishable from that of George W. Bush. How did this betrayal of the Democratic rank and file come about? Who chose these Democratic candidates that oppose rank and file Dems on the number one question on voters' minds, the war on Iraq? How could such candidates get elected in the primaries? Two primary campaigns, now largely forgotten, give us the answer. They are near perfect case studies, and they deserve some reflection although the Dem establishment would dearly like us to forget them . . .

Enter Rahm Emanuel, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who dug up a pro-war candidate, Tammy Duckworth. Although she had both her legs blown off in Iraq, she has remained committed to "staying the course" in Iraq (2). Duckworth had no political experience and did not live in the 6th District, but Rahm Emanuel raised a million dollars for her and brought in Dem heavyweights Joe Lieberman, Barak Obama, John Kerry, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton to support her. Despite all this help and with the Cegelis campaign virtually penniless, Duckworth barely managed to eke out a victory by a measly four percentage points. According to a recent Cook Report, Duckworth is not the smashing success that Rahm Emanuel had dreamed of; she remains tied at 41% of the vote with her rookie Republican Rival, Peter Roskam, the same percentage that Cegelis had against the entrenched Hyde in 2004! Recently (9/30), Duckworth was pushed onto the national scene to help her campaign, providing the "rebuttal" to Bush's weekly Saturday radio address. AP, in its story on the exchange where Duckworth was supposed to differ with W on Iraq, concluded thus: "She offered no proposal for an immediate withdrawal or a timetable for withdrawal." . . .

Rahm Emanuel's Stable.

To win the House, the Dems must win 15 seats from the Republicans. Here are the 22 candidates hand picked by Emanuel to run in open districts or districts with Republican incumbents, according to The Hill (4/27/06): Darcy Burner (WA), Phyllis Busansky (FL), Francine Busby (CA), Joe Courtney (CT), John Cranley (OH), Jill Derby (NV), Tammy Duckworth (IL), Brad Ellsworth (IN), Diane Farrell (CT), Steve Filson (CA) ­ defeated in primary by Jerry McNirney (see above), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Tessa Hafen (NV), Baron Hill (IN), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH), Ron Klein (FL), Ken Lucas (KY), Patsy Madrid (NM), Harry Mitchell (AZ), Chris Murphy (CT), Lois Murphy (PA), Heath Shuler (NC), Peter Welch (VT).

If we group these 22 candidates by their positions, it is much worse than one might have imagined. Here it is:

U.S, must "win" in Iraq (9): John Cranely(OH); Jill Derby (NV); Tammy Duckworth (IL); Brad Ellsworth (IN): Teresa Hafen (NV); Baron Hill (IN);Ken Lucas (KY); Lois Murphy (PA); Heath Schuler (NC).

More troops should be deployed in Iraq. (1): Diane Farrell (CT);

Bush (or Congress or Bush and Congress or someone other than the candidate) must develop a plan or timetable for exit. This means that the candidate does not offer a timetable or other withdrawal plan and amounts only to a partisan criticism of Bush without a plan offered by the candidate. (6): Francine Busby (CA); Joe Courtney (CT); Kirsten Gillibrand (NY); Mary Jo Kilroy (OH); Patricia Madrid (NM); Harry Mitchell (AZ).

Biden's 3-state solution. (1): Phyllis Busansky (FL).

No position. (1): Chris Murphy (CT).

Not for immediate withdrawal (3): Steve Filson (CA) (He lost Dem primary. See above.); Ron Klein (FL); Harry Mitchell (AZ);

Withdrawal in 2006. (1): Peter Welch (VT). (In VT, you could probably not get elected dog catcher without calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Still it is a bit mysterious why Rahm is backing Welch who for that reason probably deserves a bit of scrutiny. Perhaps something "worse" like a Green is waiting in the wings.)

So only one of Rahm's candidates is for prompt withdrawal from Iraq. And it is notweworthy that Rahm found prowar candidates in both red states and blue, like CT and CA. Check out these candidates for yourself. If you live in their districts, pressure them to change their positions and do so publicly with letters to the editor, withholding of funds and most importantly support for third party antiwar candidates where they are to be found ­ no matter how slight the establishment media regards their prospects. Ask what UFPJ, The Nation and other branches of the peace and justice complex are doing to expose Emanuel's candidates . . .The italics there are mine.

I hope you don't think that because I've been trashing the Democratic Party for the past five years that I think we should elect Republicans. Don't be ridiculous. I don't think that either party will give us what we need, but we on the Left/Hard Left have failed to effectively act on an opportunity to build a third party and become a legitimate and effective opposition. It might be productive to review some history . . .

JFK was elected for two reasons. One, his cover story was that he was a WWII hero. So was his predecessor, but Kennedy was cuter. Second, he and his dad were rich enough to buy a state and steal the election from Nixon, who was definitely not cute. Kennedy abandoned the invasion of Cuba (unfortunately, in the middle of the invasion), but got himself talked into Viet Nam by The Company (and, probably, by his brother Bobby, a rabid anti-communist).

When the mob whacked Kennedy, we got Johnson. I believe to this day that LBJ didn't want Viet Nam, but he was forced to swallow it by Westmoreland, McNamara, Rusk, and others, who were feeding him intelligence lies. Sound familiar? What LBJ wanted more than anything was The Great Society. He had both a vision and the power over Congress to make it happen, except for the interference of Viet Nam. He bailed out in sorrow and guilt and died not long after.

Nixon beat Humphrey. I will not rehash the 60s. Period. It was during Nixon's administration that we got out of Viet Nam, albeit after bombing the shit out of Cambodia and Laos. Then Nixon shot himself in the balls.

We got Ford. I was pretty screwed up from 1973 through mid-1974, when I first got sober, but I think we stayed out of any serious military shit.

We got Carter. 'Nuff said, except to mention that we got ourselves into the war against Islam that had its first nadir twenty five years later in September of 2001.

Reagan presided actively in our proxy wars in Central and South America. And it provides no solace that we lost very few American lives on his watch. We were responsible for the loss of thousands of human lives, nonetheless. There was also, uh, Granada. He pretty much restrained from retaliating for the 1983 bombing of the Beirut US Marine Corps barracks. During his reign, the Soviet Union/Empire crumbled under its own weight; Reagan had little to do with it.

Bush the First reluctantly committed us to Gulf the First and got us the hell out pronto. He also invaded Panama to nab Manuel Noriega, but got the hell out pronto.

Then there was Clinton. He was the Anti-George Washington, in that he chopped down a whole bunch of cherry trees and lied about them all. He bombed Yugoslavia into shards and in turn suffered the first World Trade Center bombing, and the USS Cole bombing without committing troops to war. Then, of course, there was Somalia. Whew!

Here's what William Blum ("Don't Look Back: Who Said Clinton Didn't Kill AnyBody?") at CounterPunch has to say about Bill (clip):
The cartoon awfulness of the Bush crime syndicate's foreign policy is enough to make Americans nostalgic for almost anything that came before. And as Bill Clinton parades around the country and the world associating himself with "good" causes, it's enough to evoke yearnings in many people on the left who should know better. So here's a little reminder of what Clinton's foreign policy was composed of. Hold on to it in case Lady Macbeth runs in 2008 and tries to capitalize on lover boy's record . . .Along with the wars I mentioned above, Blum adds Eduador, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Iraq (devastating sanctions), and Cuba (sanctions).

I may not have gotten all the above quite right, but I'd say the Democrats and the Republicans are about even, with the body count somewhat higher under the Democrats. So I ask you who are so excited about the Democrats now and in '08, what are you THINKING? This not another case of "the lesser of two evils". At best it is "the lesser of one evil.

One more shot. This from AWOT, "Mid-Term Democrats" (excerpts):
. . . 'Are the Democrats an Alternative?' We would like to make two basic arguments against voting for the Democrats: their vigorous avoidance of long-term political thinking, and their condescension to the voter.

On Thursday, Barack Obama spoke at the Barnes and Noble in Union Square, New York. He spoke to one of the most committed, liberal audiences he could have asked for. And the pep talk he gave them was, well, not particularly peppy. "The Democratic Party is not an ideological party, it is a party of common sense," he said. "It is a party that knows how to put aside differences, and get things done."* This is a surprisingly deflating thing to say to a liberal audience entranced by their next great hope. Yet it is no accident. Obama spoke the truth about the Democratic Party: it is purely pragmatic. When people complain the Democrats 'have no vision', they speak as if the Democrats once had one. But that is something of a mistake. The essential feature of the Democrats, throughout the twentieth century, has been that they have been a party that aggressively avoids strong ideological stances, and committed ideological positions. It has, instead, always been one that has acquired its reputation for being 'left-wing' more from being not as conservative as the Republicans, than for a coherent set of ideas that it stands for. Indeed, its hey-day, under FDR, was famously non-ideological; FDR and his New Deal was often criticized for its unplanned, experimental, and pragmatic character.

What makes this relevant to the current debate about the mid-terms and voting is that it sheds light on the 'Anybody but Bush' character of the Democrats' campaign. There is a myth that underwrites this campaign, which goes something like the following: if we throw-out Bush, and bring in the Democrats, that will create breathing room, which we can then use to develop some interesting ideas about politics. Obama's words belie that claim. Anybody But Bush is simply the most recent iteration of a long-standing Democratic strategy in their electoral war of position. They constantly seek that Archimedian point, just far enough from the Republicans to win an election, never too far to sound extreme and unelectable. This time, they may very well succeed in latching onto popular discontent with Bush and the Republicans, but they are not leveraging a short-term opening to bring in a long-term agenda . . .

. . . Democrats have a great deal of difficulty answering for their own political failures. They blame diabolical Republican machinations, corrupt voting machines, apathetic voters, unpredictable world events, and anyone else but themselves for their own failures to convince, persuade, inspire and, in short, conduct themselves like a truly democratic party. All the talk of holding the Republicans to account if the Democrats win this election is just another smokescreen for their failure to exercise political backbone during their numerous opportunities over the past five years. They have done, and will do little, to be worthy of a vote in this election. They are not an alternative worth considering . . .
Categories: war, Democratic+war, elections
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