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August 24, 2007 - August 17, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007

Playing with Fire

WILLIE, CHAPTERS 5 & 6. There's an increasingly grumpy piper who expects to be paid. It's time for the leaders of the Democrat Party to start getting very very nervous.

ITEM: The leftwing activists mainstream Democrats have been using to raise money and grass roots support are now targeting so-called conservative Democrats for replacement reeducation (h/t CadillacTight):

[Y]ou may have noticed a lot of chatter about 'Bush Dog' Democrats over the past few days.  That's not an accident.  We've been working to identify the group of conservative Democrats in the House who are holding back progressives from being able to effectively govern.  These are concentrated in two main caucuses, the Blue Dog Caucus and the New Democrat caucuses...

We want to put a stop to the embrace of conservative values among House Democrats, and make sure that when Democrats are elected, they act like Democrats...

[T]he two biggest defeats for House Democrats so far in 2007 have been the capitulation vote on Iraq, and the vote to allow Alberto Gonzales warrant-less wiretapping powers. We're calling the Democrats who capitulated on both bills 'Bush Dogs', as these are the most likely to capitulate on important fights in the future.

ITEM: Other leftwingers are moving less deliberately to discipline the party's 'conservative' apostates:

The main protest group, calling itself Recreate '68 (a reference to the violent 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago), has set up a Web site "for all the grassroots people who are tired of being sold out by the Democratic Party."

Recreate '68 says it agrees with the notion that "all power comes from the people," and it says "party machines" are standing between the people and power....

The group is urging Americans to "join us in the streets of Denver as we resist a two-party system that allows imperialism and racism to continue unrestrained."

Why should the Dems get nervous? They like their rowdy partisans, don't they? Haven't they been aiming much of their rhetoric at them for years? Well, here's why they should be gravely concerned.

Throughout the past half century, Democrat leaders have mysteriously failed to learn that the loudest voices among them are not necessarily the wisest or the most important. That's why they continue to placate them. But they have forgotten that the raucous anti-war movement of the sixties was actually a catastrophe for their party. Yes, the left wing managed to force a surrender in Vietnam, but the Democrats who aspired to run the government thereby paid a punishing price.

After the ugly riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, their nominee Hubert Humphrey -- a sitting vice-president -- was narrowly defeated by a decidedly uncharismatic Richard Nixon, who was more hawkish on the unpopular war than Humphrey was. The Democrat response to this was, in party terms, suicidal. The left wing succeeded in taking over the party organization by 1972 and nominating the fatally weak George McGovern, who suffered one of the most disastrous electoral defeats in U.S. history.

Perhaps today's Democrats have forgotten that ignominy because of the subsequent resignation of Richard Nixon. But the real beneficiary of Nixon's downfall was not the longstanding Democratic leadership-in-waiting; it was a total outsider named Jimmy Carter, who implemented the remade party's appeasement policies so incompetetently that they led to two more landslide repudiations of the Democrats in 1980 and 1984, followed by a farewell gift to Reagan of electing his VP, Bush 41.

The Democrats only regained the White House after the end of the Cold War convinced a plurality of voters that foreign policy was, at least for the moment, no longer relevant to presidential qualifications.

Losing the Vietnam War thus did far more harm than good to Democrats in the foreign policy arena. And there's a second vital lesson they're in the process of forgetting right now. For international successes, diplomatic or otherwise, a party must occupy the White House. Legislative majorities, even huge ones, can only guarantee foreign policy defeats. The Democrat super majority which took, after the Nixon debacle, both houses of Congress managed to defund the Vietnam War and put millions of innocents to the sword, but that's all it could do until the party regained the presidency.

These are things that the current Democrat leadership should have been thinking about all along as they perversely sought to turn Iraq into Vietnam. But it's far more urgent for them to rethink their strategies now. If they truly believe that they have more to offer the nation than Republicans in terms of conducting foreign policy, they need to change direction in a hurry.

If they don't stop stoking the wildfires of the left, they will be setting themselves up for a true repetition of the Vietnam experience they have so recklessly exploited as a metaphor. Hillary Clinton is their presumptive nominee. If events continue to play out as they have been, Hillary will become Hubert Humphrey -- faced with a hopeless choice between appeasing the irresponsible demands of an extreme fringe, and losing the election, or responsibly repudiating the ugliest wing of the left when it finally goes too far (as it will), and losing the election because her party tears itself into bloody pieces voters won't trust with governance in perilous times.

This post is not any attempt to crow about dissension in Democrat ranks or to reassure Republicans they don't have problems of their own. It's about raising a red flag that the leaders of one of our two governing parties are ignoring at their, and our, peril.

This country has suffered enormously over the past four years because Democrats hypnotized themselves with the illusionary gains to be made by pretending that Iraq is Vietnam. To this end they dwelled obstinately and viciously in the past, endlessly replaying irreversible decisions that have to be put behind us if we are to solve the problems we confront right now. We need a responsible and articulate debate between the parties on foreign policy matters. That's the only way the party in power can rectify past errors and improve future performance -- and the only way the party out of power can honestly prepare itself for the executive responsibility the voters will accord them when they have proven themselves ready.

All of us will suffer if Hillary runs for the presidency as Hubert Humphrey. If this prospect doesn't seem real to you, let me help you remember some of the images from the 1968 Democratic Convention that voters carried with them into the polling booths that year.

Play with fire long enough, and you WILL get burned.

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