By building him up into a great Satan, the oil man who invades
countries to seize their reserves and the Christian who orders bloody
crusades, [the liberal-left in Europe and North America] have hidden the totalitarian threats of our age from
themselves and anyone who listens to them. Bush allowed them to explain
away radical Islam as an understandable, even legitimate, response to
the hypocrisies and iniquities of American policy. Even those in the
European elites who do not buy the full 'America has it coming' package
believe that Bush is a cowboy who doesn't understand that the
postmodern way to end conflict is to compromise rather than fight.
January, Bush will be history, leaving liberals all alone in a
frightening world. Little else will change. Radical Islam will still
authorise murder without limit, Iran will still want the bomb and the
autocracies of China and Russia will still be growing in wealth and
confidence. All those who argued that the 'root cause' of the Bush
administration lay behind the terror will find that the terror still
flourishes when the root cause has retired.
Agreed 100%. In many ways, an Obama presidency would be a relief, in that it would force the Democratic Left to confront the realities of an ideology of religious supremacism that stands foursquare opposed to all of its professed ideals. But since that ideology doesn't originate with familiar opponents, it may take awhile for the realization to set in. But those realities will be there to be confronted, and the illusions will last only so long once hard decisions must be made.
Once back in power, the Democrats will find that they can stay in power by pursuing popular programs here at home and putting out soothing idealistic rhetoric abroad, all the while quietly building on the assets left to them by the Bush administration, i.e., an emerging democratic Iraq and an al-Qaeda back on its heels after a stinging defeat in Mesopotamia -- a defeat Obama the Democrats would have gladly embraced to repudiate Bush and his war, regardless of the enormous cost. Fortunately, Bush made it easy by doubling down on the Surge, enabling that victory to occur at virtually no cost to the Democrats.
For their part, if the GOP is out of power, they will need to put country above politics and lend enthusiastic support to any moves by Obama to counter the influence and aggression of radical Islam, even if that means on occasion siding with the opposition party on principle, as did Joe Lieberman. Will the GOP have the courage of its convictions, even if they no longer call the shots?
Former Ambassador John Bolton weighs in with a harsh analysis of Obama's recent address in Berlin before a crowd of 200,000 Germans:
First, urging greater U.S.-European cooperation, Obama said, "The
burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together." Having
earlier proclaimed himself "a fellow citizen of the world" with his
German hosts, Obama explained that the fall of the Berlin Wall and the
reunification of Europe proved "that there is no challenge too great
for a world that stands as one."
Perhaps Obama needs a remedial
course in Cold War history, but the Berlin Wall most certainly did not
come down because "the world stood as one." The wall fell because of a
decades-long, existential struggle against one of the greatest
totalitarian ideologies mankind has ever faced. It was a struggle in
which strong and determined U.S. leadership was constantly questioned,
both in Europe and by substantial segments of the senator's own
Democratic Party. In Germany in the later years of the Cold War,Ostpolitik-- "eastern politics," a policy of rapprochement rather than resistance
-- continuously risked a split in the Western alliance and might have
allowed communism to survive. The U.S. president who made the final
successful assault on communism, Ronald Reagan, was derided by many in
Europe as not very bright, too unilateralist and too provocative.
This is, of course, exactly right. The Cold War didn't come to an end because we all came together as one world to reject Communism; it ended in spite of a drift towards seeing the Soviet Union as a mirror image of -- and occasionally useful counterbalance to -- to the excesses of American power. During the '80s, Ronald Reagan's hard line against the Soviet Union, which included basing medium range Pershing missiles in Germany, sparked massive protests across Europe. Yet, it was this hard line stance that convinced the Soviet leadership that they would not be able to prevail in a confrontation with the West. The need to choose between guns and butter ultimately led to the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev and his polices of glasnost (political openness) and perrestroika (economic restructuring).
The Berlin Wall fell, in no little part because of Gorbachev's outreach to the West and his decision to not use military might to rein in Poland and other balky Warsaw Pact nations. But without the hard line -- and unpopular -- Cold War stance of Reagan, backed by Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, the Soviets would have pushed more aggressively for world domination, and reformers like Gorbachev would not have been ascendant,
Obama either forgets or ignores those lessons at his own peril. It is very possible that, should he end up in the Oval Office, he will be forced into a remedial course.
I am late to the party blogging on this extremely clever video that riffs on the Obama phenom. It's been out for several weeks (you can tell because there are no pictures of Jeremiah Wright), but it's a fun sendup of the candidate and his minions.
Obama's more recent, er, religious problems notwithstanding, there is no question that he is the most electrifying candidate in the race.
Are centrist blogs on the rise? Will they be a major factor in the 2006 and 2008 elections? G.L. Junket of Oddman Out is convinced they are and they will be:
For me, they bring sanity and hope to our perversely polarized political environment (what Carl calls the "left-right echo chamber"), and the onslaught of main stream media frenzy. But I'm haunted by the general impotency of historically "independent" movements. How do we make a real impact on the establishment, to turn the tide and powerful inertia of the destructive extremism and blame-and-justify modes of "politics-as-usual?" With the crushing failure of government at all levels with various crises, both natural and man-made, including healthcare, education and the environment, I'm convinced Centrism is the only hope. And as "free market" oriented as I am, the shame of corporate abuses and corruption is hard to swallow. Where is the balance?
He'd like to see a genuine grass-roots centrist movement. It's highly unlikely to emerge in the US as any kind of organized political movement. But it can manifest itself in the blogosphere. In fact, an argument can be made that it is already happening, as attested to by the growth of my "Front and Center" blogroll.
Marc Cooper comments on Murthamania and ponders what it will take for the Democrats to make a comeback in '06 and '08. Though he is not a Democrat (he is considerably further to the Left), he is not optimisitic about winning future elections by playing to the party's base:
The Republican base, you will recall, favors full-time occupation of Iraq, privatization of social security, repeal of Roe, Ten Commanments in the class-room, and a 200 foot high wall on the border; and you see how politically savvy that’s been. The base is the ideological hard-core of a party. And while it’s nice to have them on board—they rarely if ever provide the majority needed to actually win an election.
The most recent case in point, of course, was the failed candidacy of Howard Dean. His energized supporters – “the base”—just couldn’t believe he got his ass handed him to in Iowa and then in New Hampshire by none other than the walking corpse of Kerry. The Deaniacs, accustomed to attending rallies of hundreds or even thousands of others just like themselves, failed to notice that Dean, even at his zenith, never polled higher than 30% among Democrats and that millions did not want him. Why all the surprise, then, to see on primary day that – well—about seven or eight out of ten Dems voted against him?
So to those on the Democratic Left, are you sure you want a “strong anti-war” candidate in 2008? Or do you want a candidate who has come out against the war, but might still resonate with constituencies far beyond your own? Someone who makes people other than you and your reading group feel good?
I am crossing my fingers that in '08 the Democrats will nominate a presidential candidate who can speak forcefully and articulately on the war against Islamofascism, and who knows the difference between true moderate Muslims and phony apologists (something the GOP is not too clear on either, though people like Senator John Kyl get it). Evan Bayh would be good, though I am convinced Hillary Clinton will be the nominee. And Hillary has been tacking to the center for the past few years, understanding that suspicion from the Democratic base may be the price she has to pay for winning the majority vote in the general election. I am not convinced at this stage of the game, but 2008 is still a long way off and she may convince me yet.
After five years of George W. Bush, I would like to see fiscally responsible social liberals in charge rather than conservatives who are preoccupied with issues like abortion and gay marriage. But the war trumps all - I am willing to give my vote to the Democrats only if they are willing to defend the country and talk straight to the American people about the ideology we're up against.
On the GOP side, the moderates seem to be in the asendancy. Poll after poll shows McCain and Giuliani consistently in the lead, though it's still too early to make much of them. Patrick Ruffini's site is an excellent spot for straw polls, and Hugh Hewitt is running one that shows Giuliani leading among the "real" candidates and Condoleeza Rice way ahead in a "fantasy" poll.
Dick Morris is beating the drum for a Condi vs. Hillary matchup in 2008. I say bring it on!
Tammy Bruce advises us to keep our eyes on a certain Mr. Gene Washington, Director of Football Operations for the NFL, who was the companion for Dr. Condoleeza Rice at a recent White House dinner hosting Britain's Prince Charles and Lady Camilla:
Hmmm...and this isn't the first time Dr. Rice has been in the company of Mr. Washington.
I've noted before that one of the signs we should look for that Secretary Rice might be considering running for office is if she were to pair up. A single, never-been-married 50+ year old woman would face certain types of innuendo from the ever-so-tolerant left. Of course it's not fair, but you know how ugly the left is. Where this 'relationship' goes will be interesting. Keep your eye on it. I will too :)
For Rice to be a credible candidate for the White House in 2008, she will need to be a) sitting vice-president and b) married. I expect Cheney to resign within the next year, either for claimed health reasons or due to the expanding investigation of his role in Plamegate, leaving the VP slot open for Condi to claim. And by or before 2007, expect to see headlines that Dr. Rice is engaged (a very short engagement, followed by a modest, low-key marriage ceremony).
Previous speculations on this blog about Rice as the GOP's answer to Hillary in 2008 can be found here, here and here.
UPDATE: Amazing. Rice is currently leading the pack of GOP hopefuls in a recent Marist poll, moving ahead of the widely-touted McCain and Giuliani.
These results may surprise many of my readers, who assume that based on my positions on Iraq, the War on Terror and international politics (plus my support for Bush in last year's elections) I am a neocon of some stripe. (Actually, many necons - Paul Wolfowitz is an example - are quite liberal on social issues, so maybe I am.) Counter-evidence can be found here, here and here.
But I continue to believe that the Democrats could be in power for the next few decades if they were paying attention to folks like me, rather than the noisy Michael Moore fringe. Apparently, Hillary Clinton thinks so too, which is why I am giving better than even odds that she will be our next president (I will demure for the moment on whether that would be a Good Thing).
While the last election was predicated on polarization, the next Presidential cycle may be centered on the center. Americans appear to be tiring of the partisan politics of the base. Within the Democratic Party, the frontrunner is clearly running to the middle - Hillary has taken firm centrist positions on such issues as values and national security.
And the early clear frontrunners in the GOP - McCain and Giuliani - are men of the middle. While it is far too early to suggest that the respective bases of the two parties will not be significant players in the '08 sweepstakes, there are not strong candidates of the left in the Democratic Party nor are there obvious righties with strength in the GOP.
I agree. While we have a long way to go, early straw polls place McCain or Giuliani as the likely GOP frontrunners against a presumptive run by Hillary Clinton. Hillary has rock star status within the Democratic party, her support for the Iraq War notwithstanding, but she is only a faux centrist. Long-time Clinton insider Dick Morris, who wrote the anti-Hillary book Rewriting History, explains the difference between Hillary and her husband:
Bill is a moderate who is a liberal when he has to be. She is an ultra-liberal who moves to the center as a charade to win election. Rated as the 11th most liberal senator by National Journal — one notch to the left of Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) — she has a liberal quotient, according to Americans for Democratic Action, of 95 percent, contrasted with 85 percent for the party as a whole and 60 percent for a real moderate such as former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.).
Bill Clinton made a fine president on domestic issues because of his ability to find common ground in the center of our process. Hillary has never been comfortable in the center and is at her most natural when she is deriding the motives of the opposition, as when she wondered if someone could be Republican and Christian at the same time.
Nonetheless, Hillary Rodham Clinton is proceeding according to plan, casting herself as a moderate who is thinking deeply about divisive social issues such as abortion and trying to find common ground. Evan Thomas of Newsweek noted that following the 2004 election, Hillary even started speaking in a more folksy style and is attempting to project a more Midwestern Methodist image. It is expected that Hillary's liberal core packaged in a more down-to-earth political persona will be able to unite the Democratic left and center in 2008.
McCain and Giluiani both have an uphill climb within the GOP. McCain is popular with the media for his "maverick" positions but this same tendency makes him distrusted by the base, many of whom will simply sit on their hands if the Republican candidate is seen as not sufficiently conservative. At the same time, he is unwavering in his support for the War on terror, and an articulate spokesman in making the case for the Bush policy in Iraq as part of that war.
Giuliani had attained notoriety over his cleanup of crime as mayor of New York City, but his leadership on 9/11 made him "America's Mayor". Still, he is pro-choice and pro-gay rights (my kinda Republican!) and therefore unpalatable to the religious right who turned out in huge numbers for Bush in part over hot-button social issues such as same-sex marriage.
This is a conundrum for the GOP. Post-Bush, the two best-polling candidates are far more attractive than more conservative wannabees like Rick Santorum or Bill Frist. The Republican Big Tent is increasingly being buffeted by ideological pressure from its core conservatives, who might rather lose an election than put a centrist into office for as much as two terms.
The most interesting advice to the GOP comes from Dick Morris, who should know: "Nominate [Condoleeza] Rice. Otherwise Hillary will win."
UPDATE: Maybe there's hope for Rudy among a segment of the conservative GOP base after all. Michael Barone notes:
Conservative radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt, speaking to Republican women in conservative Temecula, Calif., found that most favored Giuliani, despite his stands on cultural issues. When he asked why, one said, "All that doesn't matter if we are attacked. Rudy will keep us safe." Republican blogger Patrick Ruffini's late-August poll of more than 10,000 readers showed Giuliani far in front of the nearest competitor, Allen.
That's the big headline on the Huffington Post. I can find nothing about this story on CNN, MSNBC or Fox, though Huffington links to an innocuous AP item about the VP visiting on orthopedic surgeon, supposedly for a football injury, which she claims is a cover story. Even Drudge has nothing, but Arianna is running with it: "What is the White House hiding?"
Why is the White House still insisting that the only health issue Vice President Cheney dealt with today is an old football injury to his knee, visiting renowned orthopedist Dr. Richard Steadman? At the Vail Valley Institute dinner tonight, I kept asking what those in the know here knew. Little by little, here is the story I pieced together: After the Secret Service secured the Vail Valley Medical Center, including the parking lot, the Vice President arrived under his own power and checked in at the orthopedic center under the name “Dr. Hoffman”. He was immediately whisked to the adjacent cardiac unit, suffering from what was described to me as “an angina attack”. The security was so high that a Secret Service agent wouldn’t let an ER nurse out of the bathroom that she had gone into just before the Veep arrived. “Get back in there,” the agent told her. Confounded, she called her husband on her cell phone, telling him “something big” was going on. And indeed it was… but you wouldn’t know it from the White House. It appears that not only doesn’t the public deserve to know what is really going on in Iraq (“last throes”?) we don’t deserve to know what is going on with our Vice President’s health.
If this rumor turns out to be true, it is not surprising in the least that the Secret Service would be keeping a lid on it for security reasons while he was there. Cheney's heart problems are not exactly a state secret, but if it turns out he made an unscheduled visit to a heart specialist, the White House would be smart to keep thir spin close to the truth. If Cheney's health is worsening there is a likelihood he would have to step down as VP, and the administration would need to have its ducks in a row regarding succession. As Drudge would say, "Developing..."
If you have the stomach for it, read the comments section, where the majority appears to have nothing but contempt and ill will for a sitting vice president of the US. Cheney hatred seems to run almost as rampant as Bush hatred. Quite a contrast from the reaction of conservatives during Clinton's heart surgery, who largely wished him a speedy recovery.
ANOTHER UPDATE: From the Jawa Report we learn that Arianna has removed the offensive comments, which is of course her right (and maybe her obligation, if she cares at all about decent standards of behavior). I would do the same in her position. Of course, she probably realizes just how over-the-top her readers look to the rest of us.