Why the Dems’ ship is dead in the water. Or why it ought to be, if they isn’t already.
I think the U.S. is in really bad shape politically. The problem isn’t the Republicans. They are doing what all politicians do when they get in power – losing their resolve and their core beliefs. Spend spend spend, and let’s build up federal police forces while we’re at it…
Whoa! This ain’t Newt Gingrich’s party. They’ve clearly gone a little off the tracks. But what about the Dems, the loyal opposition. Where are they at?
Well, let’s look at the field running for the presidency. I’ll go from least likely, to most likely, as measured by conventional wisdom right now.
Carol Moseley Braun – She ran for the senate from Illinois in the 90’s, arguing that sending her to the Senate would be a powerful symbol. Since that time, she’s been known as Senator Symbol. She had a little problem with compromising classified information, and sleeping with (or giving everybody the impression she was sleeping with) various African strong men. And by that, I’m not referring to the huge steroid munchin’ guys on ESPN who carry big rocks 53 yards. She was dating the other kind of African strong men – the kind who eat their enemies, give little kids AK-47s (not a bad thing in and of itself, unless you tell them to go murder all the Hutus). Her likely campaign slogan is – “I haven’t banged a brutal African dictator for ___ days.” Of course, she’ll have to carry a set of single digit numbers to post on her campaign posters to keep them up to date.
Her flaming heterosexuality and the utter futility of her hapless campaign didn’t stop the National Organization for Women from endorsing her yesterday…
Dennis Kucinich – the formerly staunch Catholic abortion foe did a 180 degree turn on the abortion issue a week or so before he announced that he’d run for President. Aside from the fact he’s going to hell, he’s also a lunatic. He wants to abolish the military, close the Department of Defense and open the Department of Peace, and he thinks that Bush staged the 9/11 attacks in order to boost profits for his oil company buddies at Halliburton.
On the positive side of the coin, you don’t see the little cartoon birds circling his head unless you have HDTV.
Al Sharpton – America’s second most nasty racial arsonist – literally – isn’t really running for President. I mean he is… but the goal isn’t winning, since he knows there is no chance of him winning. The goal is to make it clear to the Democrats that he, not Jesse “the Rhyming Man” Jackson, controls Blacks in America, and that they will vote for whoever Al endorses. I don’t buy that, but anybody who knows Sharpton knows that he could singlehandedly poison the well for Democrats and Blacks. He doesn’t have to wipe out the Black/Dem voting block – simply pissing off 30% of Blacks and convincing them to stay home on election day would wreak havoc in races all over the country.
So in reality, he’s crazy Uncle Al. Everybody’s got a crazy Uncle Al. He comes over at the holidays. Everybody is solicitous, everybody acts like they take him seriously, and everybody is living in mortal fear that he’ll blow up like he did at Easter a few years ago. Of course unlike your crazy Uncle Al and mine, the Dems’ crazy Uncle Al usually winds up surrounded by dead bodies when he blows up.
On the positive side of the coin, he hasn’t sparked any deadly race riots in four or five years now…
Bob Graham – the formerly moderate Democrat (a true center-left Senator) suffers from acute Diary-a. That is he has spent most of his life recording most of his life in a bunch of diaries. He starts writing when he wakes up, records how his shower and morning constitutional went, describes the feeling he got from shaving, writes down what he read in the Washington Post… and then writes in great detail about the important stuff going on during the day. He’s the only guy running to the right of Bush. As far as I can tell, his policy would involve knocking off the Saudis, knocking off the Iranians, roundin’ up some A-rabs in Amerr-ca… But he’s also incredibly pissed off about how badly Bush has abused the Afghans, the Iraqis, and A-rabs in Amerr-ca. The one good thing that might be said about Senator Graham is that he believes strongly in the maxim, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Well, he doesn’t suffer from any foolish consistency. Or any other type of consistency.
He’s decided to sponsor a truck in the NASCAR Truck Series, which is oval track racing involving a light pickup trucks – heavily modified Chevy S-10s, Ford Rangers, and so forth. Well, they are sort of pickup trucks. The beds are covered in fiberglass, they have more streamlined lightweight bodies, and the headlights and most of the front ends are solid fiberglass too – you wouldn’t want to drive one at night. But there’s something a little off kilter about light pickup truck racing… they go pretty fast, and they go pretty far – 300 or 400 miles per race — but at heart, they are still lightweights.
And that’s a pretty good metaphor for Bob Graham. He’s gone pretty far, pretty fast, but the lights don’t seem to click on and he’s essentially a lightweight.
John Edwards – I know he’s pretty, in a cloying, cute Southern boy with long hair but no mullet or Methuselah beard kind of way. I know he talks purty to the lower classes, most of whom seem to believe his “man o da peepil” crap in spite of the fact that he’s a snake mean bucks up plaintiff’s attorney… but I can’t help but get the Dan Quayle vibe off him. Dan Quayle was no dummy, nor is Johnny Edwards… but the man lacks gravitas and while he can fake caring, he’s no good at faking gravitas.
John Kerry – Mario Cuomo’s spiritual stepchild. He’s so busy being an Alpha Male… that a real Alpha Male – Howard Dean, who doesn’t give a shit about proving he’s an Alpha Male – is kicking the bejeebus out of him. Kerry is doing his best Hamlet imitation right now – sure he voted for the war on Iraq, but he’d have done it differently, he’s not sure how. Sure, he voted to kick Afghanistan’s ass… but his intentions were misinterpreted. Sure, he was in favor of No Child Left Behind, but the assholes in charge of funding it just won’t get the job done. And he wants to get a medicare drug benefit… but the one he voted for previously is fatally flawed.
It’s not uncommon to hear litigants and courts debate legislative intent. Clever lawyers and judges spill a lot of ink debating what the meaning of a given congressional vote was. The situation is especially complicated when you have a legislative odd-couple joining the same side on a close vote – as when Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch vote on the same side in a 54-46 vote. Yep, sometimes it’s really hard for people outside the legislature to figure out what the legislature meant by any give vote.
Just the same, it’s kind of rare to hear a Senator who doesn’t know what he meant by his own vote on a given issue.
Joe Lieberman – Well, Joe Lieberman is being slammed by the Dem faithful as being a right wing puke, a nearly fascist crypto-Republican bastard who is far to the right of Bush. That’s pretty shocking for a guy with an 85/100 rating from Americans for Democratic Action, a very liberal group – that 85 is par with New York’s Chuck Schumer, and to the left of Diane Feinstein. But don’t take their word for it – take the American Conservative Union’s word for it. They give Lieberman a lifetime rating of 20/100 – on a par with Feinstein. Last session, he ran up a 14. And the Dem faithful – the activists most likely to vote in the primaries – characterize him as a radical right winger.
If he somehow makes it through to the general election, he’s got a good chance of winning. He has sounded conservative enough on some social issues, and he’s hawkish enough on the middle east and the Islamofascist problem to win. The only problem is that he tends to piss off Hollywood, then go kiss their collective ass. You get the impression that there’s a good, conservative Orthodox Jewish guy just waiting to burst out , but the liberals in Connecticut would never re-elect him, and he just can’t bring himself to join the party of Reagan, and vote with Arlen Spector 15% more often.
Joe Lieberman, crypto fascist? Unbelievable.
Howard Dean – He’s a true populist, a man of the people, a guy who made it in life on merit, a doctor, a governor. Sure, he’s the son of rich stock investors, but he earned his money the old fashioned way – he inherited it. Dean has a can’t miss foreign policy proposal.
He says we shoulda rebuilt Afhganistan, rather than running out of it, and he’s not so sure we should have taken military action. Well, for what it’s worth, everything I’ve read says Afghanistan is coming around. I wouldn’t worry too much about the Talibs coalescing in a province in the South. If you are trying to punch a pool of water, you will miss it. Wait ‘til it freezes in place, you can hit it with a hammer and shatter it. Or for that matter, drop it in a toilet and flush. The French did this to the VietMinh for about 5 years, until the Viet Minh figured out that they had better not take control of real estate that they couldn’t defend. For years, Giap’s guerillas would drive the French out of a position, stop to celebrate, and the French paras would drop a little death from above, thereby spoiling the Pho.
Howie says we shouldn’t be in Iraq at all. He believes the middle east would sort itself out just fine without us. Hmmmm… seems like they weren’t doing too good of a job of it in the last decade or so…
So does he have any use for military power? Why yes, of course he does. It ought to be used to perform humanitarian missions where no U.S. interests are at stake. In such circumstances, it would be immediately evident to the world that U.S. motives were pure as the driven snow. Then, and only then, when nobody could accuse us of capitalist imperialist motives, should we use military power.
To sum it up: We shouldn’t attack people who attack us; we shouldn’t attack people who attack our friends, or who threaten our interest. But if we’ve got no frippin’ reason to intervene, save our bleeding goddam hearts – well, that’s the kind of place where we ought to intervene.
Like I said, the Dems are on the rocks. One of these jokers might win – but I think once their crazy-ass foreign policy positions come out, we’re looking at a 49 state sweep for Bush. Now Bush is no great shakes. He could still lose the election. And who knows – maybe the Dems will stop hitting the hookah. But I doubt it.
The whole left half of the Democratic Party is seething with a sort of blind rage that I can’t remember seeing in my lifetime. Maybe conservatives were like this after the Chicago Riot in ’68, when the red students tried to violently take over the Democrats’ convention. It’s incredible, really. I have a friend who is a top flight transactional attorney. She steers international nation-to-nation arms deals, commercial jet sale deals, and commercial vessel sales. The woman handles billions of dollars in transactions a year. Yet you mention the name George Bush, and she melts into a seething pile of irrational rage.
And she’s by far the smartest Democrat I know. I can’t imagine what the less educated Dems are like… something very much like the commenters at Democratic Underground or Atrios, I imagine.
Yup, the Dems are heading for the rocks in short order.
And if they aren’t, then my country is.