August 24, 2007 - August 17, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
Playing with Fire
WILLIE, CHAPTERS 5 &
. 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
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
[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
[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
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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