August 9, 2006

Kos is triumphant.

He should be. From his torrent of enthusiasm:
[E]ven the most powerful, entrenched forces can be dislodged by people-power. That the combined mights of the Democratic and Conservative establishments couldn't hold the gates against the barbarian intruders.

We can make a difference, and we will.... We will win the battleground races. We will win many "lean Republican" ones. We will shock in several more. And even where we lose, we'll build the party for the future, recognizing that Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was the Conservative movement.
So are you identifying with the barbarians or the Romans?

81 comments:

Kev said...

Nice speech. Of course, he's been rehearsing it for how many months?

And, of course, he immediately demanded that Lieberman be removed from all committees and caucuses - be made an un-person. Napoleon the pig is certainly full of himself today.

Goesh said...

-it ain't over until the fat lady votes, that's for sure...

Mariner said...

I think he meant "Rome wasn't burnt in a day"

The Drill SGT said...

Actually, the more accurate line might be, "Rome wasn't destroyed in a day" It took several hundred years and a culture that lost it's moral compass and devalued those Roman virtues of family and military service. Rome began to hire others to protect its elite and in the process educated the barbarians to the point that they decided, "hey we've got the swords, why aren't we running this operation". One day, the good barbarians stopped fighting the bad barbarians and each picked up a Roman virgin and went looking for some wine.

On the content of Ann's post, taking liberties with Sip's metaphor, that torrent you see is the democratic party spinning around and being flushed down the toilet. Bad for them and ultimately bad for the GOP.

Elizabeth said...

For goodness' sake, the people of Connecticut voted for another Democrat instead of Lieberman. It's not the sacking or Rome and the end of civilization.

Wade_Garrett said...

I lived in Connecticut for four years, during which time Lieberman won re-election with almost 80% of the vote. Democrats in Connecticut USED to like Lieberman, but that was before he became George W. Bush's lap-dog. Its one thing to support the war -- a lot of Democrats support the war on jihadists. However, Lieberman is to the right of a LOT of conservatives -- for instance, George Will and William F. Buckley -- on the war.

It is quite another thing to question the legitimacy and the patriotism of those who oppose the president's handling of the war. Every time Lieberman said something like "the Democrats need to realize that George Bush is going to be their commander-in-chief for three more years, and to question his leadership is to give aid and comfort to the enemy" he lost 10,000 Democratic votes. Can you imagine what would have happened if a Republican, in 1996, had said that about Clinton, and Clinton's foreign policy? That Republican would have lost the primary by far more than Lieberman lost his last night.

At the end of the day, Lieberman wanted to get in good with the administration more than he wanted to serve his constituents. That's why he lost. This sort of selfishness and grandstanding has always been his trademark -- remember in 2000, when he refused to take his name off the ballot in his senatorial race, despite the fact that Dick Blumenthal would have won just as easily as Lieberman, and despite the fact that Connecticut's Republican governor would have appointed a Republican in his place? That was awesome.

Its one thing to be hawkish, its something else to question the patriotism of somebody who refuses to bend over backwards to kiss the President's hem. I say good riddance.

BJK said...

[i]We will win the battleground races. We will win many "lean Republican" ones. We will shock in several more.[/i]

...and then we'll go to North Dakota...and Michigan...and then on to Washington to take back the White House

YYYYYEEAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHHHH!

----

Enjoy the high-water mark: they won by 10,000 votes in a contest with - at best - 20% of the regular electorate. How many registered Independents and Republicans do you see voting Lamont in November?

I'm not a fan of Lieberman (I'm a Conservative after all), but at least he's one Democrat who can be reasoned with. Or should I say 'former Democrat.'

AJ Lynch said...

I am for reasonable term limits so I enjoy it when an incumbent gets canned. It is just unfortunate he was canned by a prototypical Dem senator (you know the ultra-wealthy late to politics type...Corzine, Lautenberg, now Lamont).

Re building Rome, in college I worked for a small bricklaying company owned by a guy named Joe Duff. He worked hard and his two sons did too. Whenever someone would say..Rome was not built in a day, Mr. Duff would respond "that was because he did not have the job".

Mike said...

Kos hasn't won until Sen. Ned Lamont moves into his Washington office. Kos knows this, so he is taking his opportunity to gloat now, while he can.

The Drill SGT said...

Answering Ann's question: So are you identifying with the barbarians or the Romans?

I imagine in that lifetime I was a centurion, whacking a Celt (good barbarian) on the ass with my gladius (short sword) and saying: "Rulf, get your swarmy behind back in line before I stick this sword up your ass".

Rulf likely turned and said: " not today SGT " and took my head off and carried his virgin and my sword off.

yetanotherjohn said...

"Kos is triumphant.
He should be. "

With all due respect, I think Kos is a bit premature in his triumphalism and you are a bit pre-mature in congratulating him.

Lamont was polling a double digit lead a couple weeks ago. He won by about 4 points in a very left of center state (CT is the 6th least conservative state voting 12.8% less republican in 2004 than the national average). If Lamont goes on to win the general election, then Kos will have grounds for being triumphant. I suspect the 20% of the CT voters who are republican and 50% of the CT voters who are independant are just a bit to the right of the democratic primary voters. This bodes well for Lieberman to win the general election, especially in light of the polling arc which shows Lamont seems to have peaked in his support.

If Kos has managed to take a senior democrat viewed by the party as being worthy of being the VP standard bearer 6 years ago and make make him win outside of the party (and not in anyway beholden to Kos), then I think Kos is actually hurting himself.

A 52 to 48% split of the party is a disaster for the democrats, which ever side of the split you are on. Its to large to kick out of the tent without the tent collapsing and it would just halve the political effectiveness if it forms a third party.

I suspect that we will continue to see frustration from the left that their views aren't winning in the elections. Some will see conspracies that are conniving to keep them out. Some will be frustrated that what they strongly feel is not winning. Some will give up. Some will want to split into another "purer" party.

This is bad for republicans as it means they can win without having to play their best game. The best thing for the nation and each of the political parties would be for the Kossaks to do less agitating for short term change and more long term spadework. An example would be for them to do as the conservatives did in the republican party after the 1964 loss. Start developing a philosophy for governing the country and solving the problems the US faces. A Kos led democratic party would keep the USA safe by ______. A Kos led democratic party would grow the US economy by ______. A Kos led democratic party would change immigration into the US by _______. Then internally examine the ideas for practicality, unintended consequences, cost and benefits, etc. Look at historical parallels to see how the ideas turned out in the past. Look for unusual corner cases that can tear the idea to shreds. Then start persuading the voters that you have an alternative that will work and be better than the current solution. You still might lose, but you will be much further ahead than the simple minded Bush = Evil philosophy.

yetanotherjohn said...

"Kos is triumphant.
He should be. "

With all due respect, I think Kos is a bit premature in his triumphalism and you are a bit pre-mature in congratulating him.

Lamont was polling a double digit lead a couple weeks ago. He won by about 4 points in a very left of center state (CT is the 6th least conservative state voting 12.8% less republican in 2004 than the national average). If Lamont goes on to win the general election, then Kos will have grounds for being triumphant. I suspect the 20% of the CT voters who are republican and 50% of the CT voters who are independant are just a bit to the right of the democratic primary voters. This bodes well for Lieberman to win the general election, especially in light of the polling arc which shows Lamont seems to have peaked in his support.

If Kos has managed to take a senior democrat viewed by the party as being worthy of being the VP standard bearer 6 years ago and make make him win outside of the party (and not in anyway beholden to Kos), then I think Kos is actually hurting himself.

A 52 to 48% split of the party is a disaster for the democrats, which ever side of the split you are on. Its to large to kick out of the tent without the tent collapsing and it would just halve the political effectiveness if it forms a third party.

I suspect that we will continue to see frustration from the left that their views aren't winning in the elections. Some will see conspracies that are conniving to keep them out. Some will be frustrated that what they strongly feel is not winning. Some will give up. Some will want to split into another "purer" party.

This is bad for republicans as it means they can win without having to play their best game. The best thing for the nation and each of the political parties would be for the Kossaks to do less agitating for short term change and more long term spadework. An example would be for them to do as the conservatives did in the republican party after the 1964 loss. Start developing a philosophy for governing the country and solving the problems the US faces. A Kos led democratic party would keep the USA safe by ______. A Kos led democratic party would grow the US economy by ______. A Kos led democratic party would change immigration into the US by _______. Then internally examine the ideas for practicality, unintended consequences, cost and benefits, etc. Look at historical parallels to see how the ideas turned out in the past. Look for unusual corner cases that can tear the idea to shreds. Then start persuading the voters that you have an alternative that will work and be better than the current solution. You still might lose, but you will be much further ahead than the simple minded Bush = Evil philosophy.

Sloanasaurus said...

I am still miffed about Lieberman. Apparently he votes with the Democrat leadership more than 90% of the time making him one of the most loyal democrats. He just happened to support the war along with 20 other democratic Senators. Why would they toss him out? Lieberman's other big enemy is Hollywood. Democrats could always point to Lieberman as a hawk and an anti-hollywood type. Now who is there in the Democratic party? The Democratic tent is getting smaller.

There is an old cliche that history repeasts itself. In 1814, the anti-war federalist party met at Hartford to discuss sucession. They were enraged over President Madison's war with the British. Eventually, the public rejected the anti-patriotic tirade, Monroe was elected in 1816 and the federalist party ceased to exist.

Americans take National Security seriously when it matters. They did in 2004. They will again in 2006 and 2008.

Simon said...

"It is quite another thing to question the legitimacy and the patriotism of those who oppose the president's handling of the war."

Democrats aren't primarily questioning the handling of the war, they are trying to use the underlying question of whether we should be there in the first place as a lever to win office in this country.

Imagine if one of the major parties had said during the cold war "we don't think we should be wasting American money and American troops protecting Europe and South Korea, so we're going to unilaterally remove those troops and let the Soviets have their way with Europe." Heck, that kind of line might even have won a few votes, but it would still be deeply wrong. We won the cold war because both parties were willing to agree with the basic premise that containing and eventually defeating the Soviet Union were necessary to American security, and that American ideas of freedom were better than Soviet oppression. What has happened to that consensus today? It has been discarded by a morally bankrupt party whose old ideas were soundly defeated and whose new ideas have not yeat arrived, one which is in desparate search of a lever - any lever - to return them to power. The democratic party isn't fit to run a convention center, let alone the United States government, and I really think that an overwhelming majority of Americans realize and understand that; the real difficulty is that - not entirely unreasonably - they don't like what they see of my party at the moment either. Ergo, the elections are far closer than they would otherwise be were the Congressional GOP able to shake its addiction to corruption and lethargy.

David said...

Kos' comments are immitating the florid speech of the jihadists. His winking at the antics of the loons who look to him for inspiration will be his downfall.

He is being used by the very people he believes he is using. When he falls, which he surely will, it will be with a whimper and a whine blaming those who allowed him to pursue his anti-American goals.

Hecla Ma said...

This all sounds like ratskeller ranting to me. It's not enough to defeat someone, they must be obliterated? That's unbalanced, unhealthy and portends nothing good for this "movement."

Henry said...

Kos deserves to crow. Even if Lieberman wins in the general election, it'll be a pyrrhic victory. His defeat yesterday marked the end of his influence in his party, if any was left.

dklittl said...

The disassembling campaign is quite impressive for the right wingers. Especially as you watch the Club for Growth do the very same thing in Republican races against Repuclican incumbents. Look, if a politician, even an all-powerful and wise INCUMBENT proves to be out of touch with his constituents, who says that he can't or shouldn't be replaced.

Quite frankly there are plenty of hawkish Democrats, but not many that were extremely to the right of guys like Kristol, George Will, Chuck Hagel and Pat Buchanan. There is a reason that crazy right wingers like Coulter, Hannity and Limbaugh are big fans of Lieberman. And if you don't think there is a point to the company that he keeps, ask yourself how much trouble would Chaffee be if he got one of those Michael Moore hugs.

Lieberman found himself out of touch with his party and quite frankly most of the nation if you look at polling. To act as though this now creates a party of peacnicks and pacifists is childishly simplistic and silly.

jeff said...

Pride goeth before a fall.

Kos managed to replace a senior Democrat with (quite likely) a junior Democrat. This is winning?

And won't he look foolish if Liberman carries through and wins the general election?

Simon said...

"Even if Lieberman wins in the general election, it'll be a pyrrhic victory ... [because] [h]is defeat yesterday marked the end of his influence in his party."

That's an intriguing theory that seems to bespeak a fairly loose understanding of the meaning of the term "pyrrhic victory." If Lieberman wins this fall, it will demonstrate that although the netroots are powerful in Democratic politics (Michael Moore, "sent out a message to supporters soon after the vote warning that the result would 'send a cold shiver down the spine of every Democrat who supported the invasion of Iraq'"), their candidates are antithetical to even the electorate that is BEST disposed to them (arguably MA would be even friendlier ground, but that's about it). If they cannot even win an electorate in Connecticut, they're really in pretty poor shape, and even if they do, it seems haltingly unlikely (fortunately enough) that they will win over voters in the states they need to win. To his credit, even Howard Dean understands something that is evidently wholly beyond the comprehension of the nutroots, which is that Democrats cannot win elections by making the blue states bluer. To win, they have to field candidates who can win in places like Ohio, New Mexico and Iowa - and veering left or opportunistically bashing our progress in a war we must win is not the way to do that.

As to the idea that it is a phyrric victory from Lieberman's point of view to win this fall but have little influence beyond his Senate Democratic colleagues, I sincerely doubt Lieberman is much concerned at this point with what the nutroots think about him or about how much influence he has in the Democratic party.

Simon said...

jeff said...
"Kos managed to replace a senior Democrat with (quite likely) a junior Democrat."

In terms of committee seniority, assuming, arguendo, the unlikely scenario of Lieberman being ejected from the Senate in the fall, Carl Levin will become the ranking member at Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, and Jack Reed will become the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee's Air/Land subcommittee.

Mike said...

dklittl said: "Quite frankly there are plenty of hawkish Democrats"

Could you name some for us?

SteveR said...

Well Simon is right, the anti war issue is the path to regain power. Power to control judicial nominations, raise taxes, increase government control over individuals (the nanny state-- we smart people know better what you stupid people should do), etc etc.

An inconvenient fact is that the withdrawel of American forces from the mideast, and dramatic reductions in defense spending will not stop the Islamic lunatics desire for world domination, which includes killing Americans wherever they are and all Jews (not to mention a considerable number of Muslims).

The diplomatic force of the world community led by the UN in these matters is laughable.

So while the smiles are wide today, the end game looms.

sonicfrog said...

Good for Kos. Every dog has it's day.... 'till he gets out'a the gate, runs into the road, and gets squished by the semi of life.

Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a major incumbent purge. Not that I like Ned and hate Joe (indifferent to the former, like the latter), but lets face it, many, many of the guys and gals in congress have been in office so long, they have little contextual experience in the modern world. You have people regulating stuff they probably never use (Ted Stevens / internet "tubes"), or they regulate with different rules for us and them (pension plans, drug testing). How many of these politicians go on Steven Colbert's show and have no idea what his schtick is?...

Am I ranting?

Oh, well. I'm all for kicking out the old guard. I wonder, is this the start of one of Thomas Jeffersons beloved revolutions he thought should happen every twenty years or so?

Simon said...

Mike said...
"dklittl said: "Quite frankly there are plenty of hawkish Democrats" Could you name some for us?"

Hillary Clinton in the Senate and Stephanie Herseth in the House come to mind.

PatCA said...

I guess Kos has to crow because his victories are so rare! Lamont ran a smart primary campaign (anti-war) but the 'smart' ballon burst when he surrounded himself with kooks like Sharpton and Jackson for his victory speech.

If Lieberman actually wins, which is a possibility, it will serve the opposition well. Either the Dems will return its roots as the party of Truman, JFK and FDR or will wither and die and be replaced with a party of more vigor.

If I am a Roman, the netroots are the barbarians, and the Lamontites are a small, ineffectual religious cult, dedicated to the gods of the past.

Simon said...

sonicfrog said...
"Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a major incumbent purge. Not that I like Ned and hate Joe (indifferent to the former, like the latter), but lets face it, many, many of the guys and gals in congress have been in office so long, they have little contextual experience in the modern world."

Another good reason for term limits, I agree, but not necessarily a good justification for a purge of the apostates.

Mike said...

Simon, as I imagine you might agree, that does not constitute "plenty". As to Sen. Clinton, it will be interesting to see how her positions track going forward in light of the CT results. We may have a real world test as to whether her hawkishness is real or a political calculation.

Simon said...

PatCA said...
"If I am a Roman, the netroots are the barbarians, and the Lamontites are a small, ineffectual religious cult, dedicated to the gods of the past."

McGovernites with Modems, some have opined. I think that's excessively flattering, myself; the McGovernites at least had the defense that the Soviet Union was not actually propagating a shooting war against us. They were merely foolish, naive and unwise; the Kossacks and their ilk are something entirely worse.

amba said...

Lamont ran a smart primary campaign (anti-war) but the 'smart' ballon burst when he surrounded himself with kooks like Sharpton and Jackson for his victory speech.

Yeah really -- this is what it reminded me of.

Sharpton's face is so much bigger, and wore such a "heavy" expression, that it was him, not pinched little paleface Lamont, that you found your eye drawn to. Reminds me of Don King hovering around his boxers -- another fixer with big hair.

ChrisO said...

So, Kos shouldn't crow because he hasn't really accomplished anything, but the Republicans can crow because the results of the Connecticut Democratic senatorial primary means that the way is paved for future Republican triumphs. Right.

What's especially amusing is the point made by yetanotherjohn, who claims that the victory by a candidate who had zero name recognition a few months ago yet came on to defeat a nationally known three-term incuments isn't really that impressive, because his double digit lead was reduced to three or four points by the time of the election. Geez, if you keep using that pretzel logic you're going to hurt yourself.

As someone who was happy to see Lamont win, I think neither side is in a position to predict what this all means. While anti-war sentiment is bound to have a significant impact on elections around the country, there were issues specific to the Connecticut race that won't necessarily be duplicated. Lieberman had no re-election machinery in place because he had been virtually unopposed for so long. I'm not sure other incumbents will be caught quite so off guard after seeing the Connecticut results.

And can we please stop hearing about how Lieberman voted with the Democrats 90 percent of the time? Besides the fact that I have yet to see that number contrasted with other Democratic senators, the fact remains that there's more to being a senator than casting votes. The Democrats have been more marginalized than any minority party in memory, and have had to watch people like Pat Roberts manipulate the Intelligence Committee report in order to effect the election. Lieberman saying that Democrats should just shut up and go along with the President was bound to create a lot of disenchantment with him among Democrats.

I'd be interested to see an analysis of Lieberman's senate votes. The implication is that 100 percent of the votes in the Senate are split along party lines, and that 90 percent is a high number. I'm not in a position to do an analysis, but I'd be interested to see how Lieberman's record looks against other Democrats on issues that matter, like the war, the bankruptcy bill, medicare and taxes.

Sissy Willis said...

Small detail Kos might not have noticed. The conservative movement was built on ideas, not bile:

While liberals slept

Henry said...

If Lieberman wins this fall, it will demonstrate that although the netroots are powerful in Democratic politics ... their candidates are antithetical to even the electorate that is BEST disposed to them

Lieberman didn't lose the primary because nobody but nuts showed up. He lost despite a huge primary day turnout. The anti-war crowd set the agenda for the primary and they will set the agenda for the general election.

If, in November, Lieberman cobbles together a majority of independents, loyal supporters and Republicans who abandon their own candidate, he may retain his seat, but he will see many of his colleagues support Lamont against him (albeit in tepid fashion, I suspect). Those colleagues pledged to support the primary victor, knowing full well that a Lamont triumpth would be derived entirely from his antiwar stance.

Lieberman may be vindicated by history, but he has failed to change the direction of his party in the present. To win in the general election he will have to further alienate Democratic loyalists -- either by swinging right or by going negative on Lamont. Other hawkish Democrats will not gain courage by such a victory, especially as it will give the Kos crowd more ammunition to use against them in their own intra-party manuvers.

dklittl said...

dklittl said: "Quite frankly there are plenty of hawkish Democrats"

Could you name some for us?


Hillary Clinton
Ben Nelson
Evan Bayh
Joe Biden
Herseth
Murtha (despite the smearing campaign)
Mark Warner

All Democrats who support a hawkish proactive foreign policy. I'm guessing that your insuation is that being pro-war has anything to do with being a hawk which to me is foolish. The Democrats have and will always have elements who are more anti-war, but Lieberman's loss doesn't at all turn us into an anti-war party. Just an anti- stupid, ill conceived, proven wrong for our best interest wars party

ChrisO said...

I'm interested in the assertions I read that Lieberman is now justified in turning his back on the Democratic party. Lieberman ran in the primary, and received a great deal of support from the national Democratic leadership. The ones he didn't receive support from were the voters in his state. So now that he's lost the election, this man of principle is justified in turning his back on his party out of spite? So when John McCain lost the 2000 presidential primaries, his proper response would have been to actively oppose the Republican party? My, what a strange view of principles.

BJK said...

He lost despite a huge primary day turnout.

Huge primary day turnout is an oxymoron.

Roughly 280,000 people voted in the Democratic primary (aggregating the Lieberman and Lamont totals). In the 2004 general election, over 1.5 million votes were cast in CT. Even if that number comes down in the 2006 general election (and given the prestige this race is going to have down the stretch...it might not dip that much), you're still looking at 2-to-3 times as many people who didn't vote for Lamont.

Given the problems that the Republican candidate has had in the race, I don't see much of an alternative for Republicans and (registered?) Independents in November...they're choice of political affiliation suggests they're not likely to side with the more liberal of the two candidates. Even if some of the 130,000 Dems who voted for Sen. Lieberman back the party candidate...he'll still win in a landslide.

knoxgirl said...

ugh, reading that "torrent of enthusiasm" makes me extremely uncomfortable. I almost want to blush. The way it's just soaked through with all the rebellious language: "entrenched forces" "people power" (snicker), "establishments" ... I dunno, it's so, almost childish, like something you expect from an 18-yr-old. Anyway, it's embarrassing.

Elizabeth said...

Small detail Kos might not have noticed. The conservative movement was built on ideas, not bile

Please, I'm laughing so hard I'm likely to pee my pants. Yeah, there was no BILE on talk radio throughout the 90s. Right. This from the people who give us Savage, Limbaugh, and Coulter. Limbaugh is a serious mentor of reason and ideas. And Chelsea Clinton is the White House dog.

Aspasia M. said...

30,000 more people recently registered to vote in yesterday's CT primary.

Good for them. This election got people motivated and there were record levels of turn-out for a primary.

I predict that in Novemember the intensity and numbers of voters will also be at record levels for a non-presidential election.

Aspasia M. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike said...

Thank you, dklittl. I wasn't insinuating anything. I wanted to know. I don't know much about the foreign policy views of most on your list, so now I know who to watch. Of those I do, I'll give you Joe Biden. As I said, I'll be very interested to see if Hillary remains a hawk. I strongly suspect it's not a real conviction, but we'll see. I most certainly will not give you Murtha and it has nothing to do with a "smear campaign". I've seen him speak for himself plenty of times.

Anthony said...

I don't know if "Good for him" and "triumphant" are really in order. I mean, he's now what, 1-17?

Hey, go Texans. . . .

Mike said...

Anthony, I don't think you can even count this one. If Lamont doesn't win the general what, exactly, has Kos accomplished? It's only half-time.

Richard Dolan said...

On the Lamont win over Lieberman, the Drill Sgt says: "Bad for them and ultimately bad for the GOP." I would add: and very bad for the country.

In two fundamental ways, the Lamont win highlights the inconstancy that now hobbles American foreign policy.

First, it shows that there is a large element of the Democratic party that feels no obligation to honor or carry through on American commitments abroad. The Iraqi war began with a vote in Congress supported by strong bipartisan majorities; repeated efforts by the US at the UN to obtain comliance with UN resolutions from Saddam; and warnings and commitments by the President and many other American officials about the consequences of Iraqi non-compliance. Yet the rsulting commitments to post-Saddam Iraq clearly mean nothing to a majority of Democrats, at least according to the CT results and recent more general polling data.

Second, it shows that Democratic voters cannot be counted on to support foreign engagements even over the short term -- the US engagement in Iraq is in its third year, which is quite short given the objective of transforming a despotism into a functioning democracy -- especially if those engagement involve any significant sacrifice. Many have commented that the American public, most particularly Democrats, have soured on the Iraqi campaign because it has dragged on inconclusively for three years. The complaints about how Bush supposedly made a mess of the post-Saddam reconstruction in Iraq all have at their core the notion that Bush devoted too little in the way of American resources. But it seems highly unlikely to me that those folds would ever have supported a more massive American commitment in Iraq.

Given the US position as the sole superpower, such arbitrary and unpredictable conduct by the US will have serious and very unhappy consequences in the years ahead. No doubt, foreign observers of the American scene will drawn the necessary conclusions, all to the effect that the time limit on any American commitment is at best no longer than the next election, and may be as short as the next turn in very fickle public sentiment. Having drawn those conclusions, those foreign observers, most assuredly including our enemies, will act accordingly.

The leaders of the Democratic party, including especially the supposed Democratic "hawks" (assuming dubitante that Simon is right that there are any), would do themselves great credit, and the US a great service, to reject the approach now apparently adopted by a majority of Dem voters in the CT primary. Don't hold your breath.

Abraham said...

Please, I'm laughing so hard I'm likely to pee my pants. Yeah, there was no BILE on talk radio throughout the 90s.

The conservative movement certainly wasn't "built" in the 1990's.

Madison Guy said...

Whether you talk about Kuhn’s paradigm change or Dylan’s Mister Jones, it’s really all about generational change. Some are leaving the stage, others -- like Kos -- are just starting to play their parts.The trouble with the conventional wisdom is that it’s conventional.

Synova said...

"Every time Lieberman said something like "the Democrats need to realize that George Bush is going to be their commander-in-chief for three more years, and to question his leadership is to give aid and comfort to the enemy" he lost 10,000 Democratic votes."

Is that an actual real quote or a pretend made-up quote?

Nevermind he's *right*. His sin, obviously, was failing to actively hate Bush. All we've heard lately is about how divisive Bush is while we watch how someone is treated who refused to constantly fuel the division.

Obviously 90% compliance with the Democrat party line is meaningless for anyone who misses that vital requirement.

And it does give aid and comfort to the enemy when we fail, on that one issue, to present a united front. Because it's war. Other things are NOT war. It's not the same.

"Can you imagine what would have happened if a Republican, in 1996, had said that about Clinton, and Clinton's foreign policy? That Republican would have lost the primary by far more than Lieberman lost his last night."

Maybe. But are you saying that they were right and that makes the Dems right too?

I don't particularly recall a whole heck of a lot of Republican undermining of Clinton's military adventuring. I don't recall any "bring them home now" campaign over Bosnia. Being *for* Bosnia would have lost no Republican his or her re-election because there was not a one-issue anti-war take over of the party. I have to come to the conclusion that you're making that part up.

Hillary, of course, has managed to be (usually) pro-victory in Iraq but she is very *very* careful to season it with a huge dose of hate-Bush.

Murtha isn't a "hawk" by any stretch of the imagination. He's a Code Pink approved premature pull-out advocating dove.

Leiberman is one of the very few "it's necessary that we win" politicians on the Dem side of any national prominence at all. He was someone who, despite his 90% loyalty to left-liberal politics, conservatives trusted with our foreign policy and might have been willing to vote for. He might actually have been able to beat Bush last time.

But we got Kerry, who all of us *stoopid* militant sorts were supposed to love so much just because he'd served in the military (because we don't really think much deeper than that you know.) And when that didn't work, instead of understanding why, it was just because he was "smeared."

It's the same with Murtha. He was in the military and since military sorts are ignert stooges we're supposed to love Murtha no matter what he says or does and if we *don't*... it's because he was smeared.

Leiberman's defeat is sending all sorts of messages. Those of us not on the "inside" aren't seeing or hearing the same message in this that KOS sees.

Aspasia M. said...

A tidal wave is sweeping through American politics, and it's expressing itself in strong anti-incumbent sentiment. Joe Lieberman was a casualty, but not the only one, and there will be many more this November.

I agree. I will bet anybody two bits this is a "throw the bums out" election.

Good post Madison Man. I especially agree with your generational analysis.

1994 was a watershed moment in the political education of many people. The conservative talk radio shows that fueled political discontent had no liberal alternative.

Following 1994 we have watched a bunch of Republican young turks dominate the House and Senate, rolling over the traditional rules and removing bi-partisanship from the atmosphere. The Democrats who tried to compromise to achieve legislative aims were almost always crushed. We watched Delay set up the Republican lobbying project, cutting Democrats out of the money game. We saw extended votes of critical legislation late at night. We saw legislators get strong armed by the Republican whips.

Furthermore, the national Democrats seemed to have no clue how to act as a opposition party after the 1994 elections. For years the national Democrats have acted as if they were still in power.

In summary, I believe that certain members of the younger generation are mighty tired of watching Democrats bring knives to a gun fight.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Richard Dolan: "the Lamont win highlights the inconstancy that now hobbles American foreign policy... First, it shows that there is a large element of the Democratic party that feels no obligation to honor or carry through on American commitments abroad... Second, it shows that Democratic voters cannot be counted on to support foreign engagements even over the short term."

This kind of "inconstancy" is an unavoidable feature of representative governments throughout the world. Neither the U.S. nor the Democratic Party is uniquely guilty of it.

The commitment to Iraq was made based on the Bush administration's representations that Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction and had been involved with the 9/11 terrorists. When those representations proved false, the legality and wisdom of the war itself was called into question. Democrats who are critical of the war are not critical because they somehow lack the stomach to carry through with their convictions. They are critical because the war has proven disastrous for Iraqis, the U.S. image abroad, U.S. relations with other countries, and the U.S. budget. And pretending that things will work out just peachy if we just keep with it for another six months or six years is not an adequate answer to this deepening problem.

To the extent the U.S. has made obligations to other countries, the Bush Administration and GOP have hardly been a shining light with respect to honoring international commitments. The U.S. has also made commitments under the Geneva Convention which the Bush Administration and DOD have felt obliged to consider only when it suits them. The U.N. Charter restricts the use of force against another sovereign country to certain limited circumstances, such as when presented with an imminent threat, which has now been shown to never have existed.

SteveR said...

geoduck2: Somehow "bipartisanship" became a desirable attribute, only when Republicans gained control of the house for the first time in 40 years. I don't remember Jim Wright or Tip giving a fig about what the minority party wanted.

To the extent bipartisan legislation got through it was not due to the good will of the majority party.

I not trying to downplay what happen after 1994, but lets be honest, it didn't just show up from nowhere.

ignacio said...

My wife and I watched the 2003 Democratic Presidential primary debates with great interest, as I am a lifelong Democrat and was looking for a candidate and she was newly immigrated from France and curious about how things work here. Every single time Lieberman came to the microphone he was greeted with hisses, catcalls and boos before he said a word.

dreamingmonkey said...

Not voting for Lieberman is not the same thing as saying everyone should just pack up, go home and leave behind the mess to sort itself out. There are two separate issues: (1) was the war a good exercise of political and military judgment, and (2) now that we have created a power vacuum, what should we do about it? One problem with the terms "pro-war" and "anti-war" is that they don't distinguish between the issues. To the extent that hawks like Lieberman are going to be punished in the polls, it is for showing what much of the voting public perceives as a gross deficiency in judgment by cheerleading the invasion in the first place. The fact that almost all the Dems may have voted to authorize the president to exercise the use of force doesn't put them on the same par as certain people, like Lieberman, who sold the invasion as the best thing since sliced bread to a confused and psychologically vulnerable American public post-9/11. Whereas the war is now perceived by many as maybe not having been the brightest idea.

Of course, having already opened up the pandora's box, you risk sounding even more removed from reality by suggesting that we just walk away and hope it sorts itself out in some fashion that is moderately better than what we had before with Saddam. It is going to take a collosal amount of blood and treasure, way more than any hawks have ever suggested, in order to come up with something even halfway stable in Iraq, and even that is going to be at constant risk of collapse by coup or otherwise. As Richard Dolan noted above,

"It seems highly unlikely to me that those folds [the voting public] would ever have supported a more massive American commitment in Iraq."

No kidding - that's why folks like Lieberman are being punished at the polls, even if the alternative (walk-away Lamont) is just as disastrous.

Aspasia M. said...

I don't remember Jim Wright or Tip giving a fig about what the minority party wanted.

I thought Tip was friends with Republicans? Wouldn't they hang out at some bar together?

My point wasn't that partisanship didn't exist -- it is that the House and Senate in WA DC in 2006 isn't WA DC in 1986.

And one is a fool if they show up at a gun fight with a knife.

Freeman Hunt said...

a confused and psychologically vulnerable American public post-9/11

I think most of the "American public" would find this characterization condescending and insulting. More importantly, I think it's inaccurate.

SteveR said...

I think the entire culture is different and much more attention is paid to details that used to be behind the scenes. I think that discourages friendliness which can and is used against politicians.

The fact that media growth (including the internet, 24 hour cable news, talk radio) and how that effected the politicians act coincided with the Republicans majority status in Congress, doesn't make the atmosphere a one sided problem

knoxgirl said...

Freeman beat me to it... one thing most of us weren't --and I'll go so far as to say "aren't"--is confused after 9/11.

dreamingmonkey also said:
The fact that almost all the Dems may have voted to authorize the president to exercise the use of force doesn't put them on the same par as certain people, like Lieberman, who sold the invasion as the best thing since sliced bread

I agree, in a way... I think it's highly irresponsible to vote for ANY "use of force" --which obviously means the death of our troops and innocent civilians--if you do not intend to live with the consequences. You can't go voting for military action like you're dipping your toe in the pool to test the water.

The Drill SGT said...

geoduck2 said...
I thought Tip was friends with Republicans? Wouldn't they hang out at some bar together?


Tip was a very hardball professional on the floor of the house. He would steamroller everything through the House (the House is always pretty authoritarian)

Tip didn't hate his opponents. He didn't personally attack folks. He had a good personal relationship with Reagan for example.

Aspasia M. said...

The fact that media growth (including the internet, 24 hour cable news, talk radio) and how that effected the politicians act coincided with the Republicans majority status in Congress, doesn't make the atmosphere a one sided problem

I'm not trying to say that the Ds are inherently less partisan in their personal behavior. I think the establishment Ds are inept in political and legislative fights when compared to Rs.
------------------------------
The Lieberman campaign is a great example of how the DLC people can't figure out how to run a campaign to save their political lives. Lieberman should have won this in a landslide. It's this sort of inept political behavior (Dukakis in a tank? Hello?) that I'm talking about.

Rs know that their politicians will go out and fight for them. The D base is sick of their politicans running inept, loosing campaigns -- both legislative and political.

ChrisO said...

Since Ned Lamont's opinion about the war is often not clearly articulated, here's a quote that I think sums it up:
“I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions... these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our overextended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today.”

I fail to see how anyone could argue with that.

Simon said...

Richard Dolan said...
"it shows that Democratic voters cannot be counted on to support foreign engagements even over the short term -- the US engagement in Iraq is in its third year, which is quite short given the objective of transforming a despotism into a functioning democracy -- especially if those engagement involve any significant sacrifice. Many have commented that the American public, most particularly Democrats, have soured on the Iraqi campaign because it has dragged on inconclusively for three years."

Agreed; as I noted nearly three years ago, it was over four years after the end of the Second World War that Germany held its first elections, and that was in a country with a relatively recent experience of living in a democratic system, and without interference from a guerilla campaign mounted against the government and occupying forces. It is a question of time.

To some extent, though, it has to be pointed out that part of the reason people have grown impatient, I think, has to do with the very first mistake the administration made in Iraq - in their choice to sell it primarily as a question of WMD. To be sure, that was never the only reason they had in mind, but it was the basic premise that was sold to the public (most likely, one suspects, because it was the argument the public was most likely to buy: people do act out of purely altruistic motives, and they will put blood and treasure on the line for purely altruistic motives, but they will do so more readily and with greater dispatch if they believe that they have a direct and personal stake in the matter). That was a mistake, in my view: I do not suggest that it should have only been sold as a crusade to rid the world of a ghastly dictatorship, or only as a strategic move in the GWOT, but it should not have been sold with such heavy reliance on the WMD issue. The result has been that when the WMD turned out to be largely illusory, people turned on the government and felt, at best, lied to, and at worst, as if it really was "mission accomplished": if we went to remove the threat of Saddam's WMD, and Saddam is gone and there are no significant WMD, the more rational opponents of the war (reasonably enough) ask, why are we still there? And it does the administration no good to now say - even though this is true - that we weren't just there for WMD. That was the principle cause sold to America, and to the extent that the collapse of public support (and I'm not naive; I do recognize that the Democrats are pandering to hostility to the war rather than driving the issue) has to do with the perception of an ever-shifting justification for the mission (even if that perception is purely illusory), that is a consequence of decisions the administration made. That doesn't excuse it, but it does make it a little more understandable.

Sorry if this isn't as lucid as it could be, I'm not feeling very well...I'm "laptop in bed with some chicken soup blogging."

Simon said...

"Obviously 90% compliance with the Democrat party line is meaningless for anyone who misses that vital requirement."

I keep seeing that number, and I keep wondering about it. Where did it come from? Has anyone seen it actually demonstrated,or just asserted - and if so, where? How does it compare to any other Democratic Senator? In short, is that an actual real number, or a pretend made-up number that has that truthiness feel?

sonicfrog said...

Simon; on term limits. We have them here in California for state legislatures. Term limits suck and don't change anything.

They were voted in to get one lifelong politician out of office, that being the charming Mr. Willie Brown. Mission Accomplished. But the public didn't anticipate the unintended consequences.

Upon being termed out, the incumbent endorses the guy / gal who closely represents their policy views. This new politician gets the party backing and $$$, leaving any would be challenger in the dust. So even though the bodies change, the policy / ideology / philosophy remains the same - Stagnant. But you also throw out years of legislative knowledge and experience. So every two years, you ge a whole bunch of people elected to office who are in cumbered because the don't know the ropes, so to speak. And the district gerrymandering in this state only exacerbates things.

Term limits usually only change the bodies, not the politics.

Simon said...

Joseph Hovsep said...
"This kind of "inconstancy" ["that there is a large element of the Democratic party that feels no obligation to honor or carry through on American commitments abroad"] is an unavoidable feature of representative governments throughout the world. Neither the U.S. nor the Democratic Party is uniquely guilty of it."

It's strange that this supposedly "unavoidable feature of representative governments" did not plague American policy during the cold war. Our policy - its objectives, if not always its execution - remained extremely constant from Truman through Reagan, through eight administrations (bipartisanly so - four GOP, four dem). Why might that be, do you think? I don't think that anyone, of either party rebelled against this "constancy", and I don't remember any politician of any significance advocating withdrawal from Europe and Korea, still less unilateral surrender, which is the analog of the policy the democrats are presently lurching towards.

Seven Machos said...

I love that progressives like Chris O. have convinced themselves that criticism of a policy is tantamount to a policy in and of itself.

Yeeaaaaarrrgggghhh!

Joseph Hovsep said...

Simon: Our policy - its objectives, if not always its execution - remained extremely constant from Truman through Reagan, through eight administrations (bipartisanly so - four GOP, four dem).

I don't think there is more disagreement about basic foreign policy goals today than during the Cold War. First, its not as though the GOP today opposes Islamicist terrorism and fascist dictatorships and the Democrats support terrorism and fascism. They basically agree that promoting representative democracy, rule of law, and opposing terrorism are worthy foreign policy goals. We disagree on whether the U.S. occupation of Iraq actually promotes those goals or not.

Likewise, during the Cold War almost all the mainstream politicians wanted communism's spread to stop and allow people a voice in their own rule, but there was plenty of disagreement about whether Truman was responsible for "losing" China, or whether U.S. fighting in Vietnam or supporting civil wars in Central America was achieving our foreign policy goals.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Simon: I don't remember any politician of any significance advocating withdrawal from Europe and Korea, still less unilateral surrender, which is the analog of the policy the democrats are presently lurching towards.

No, Vietnam is the Cold War parallel to Iraq. The Koreans and Europeans were not blowing themselves up or setting themselves on fire in opposition to our presence, nor were they engaged in bloody sectarian violence during our occupation. There was plenty of political opposition to our war in Vietnam and most people now recognize that the U.S. was not capable of achieving its purported goals there, however worthy they might have been.

Steven said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steven said...

(Numbers corrected)

To win a majority of the Senate, the Democrats must lose none of the three Red State Democrat seats where there are weak Republican challengers (Florida, North Dakota, West Virginia), lose none of the four Democratic Senate seats where Republican challengers are running relatively strong (Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey and Washington), keep Minnesota where the Republican is running even, win the five classically vulnerable Republican seats (Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island), and pick up a lower-probablility seat (Tennessee).

So, of fourteen seats in reasonable play, the Democrats need to win all fourteen -- or the Republicans maintain 50 seats plus Cheney and control of the Senate.

Facing that, Kos wants Lieberman kicked out of the caucus and his committee seats, adding a fifteenth must-win for the Democrats. After all, nobody will expect Lieberman to caucus with the Democrats if the Democrats won't caucus with him; and the Republicans would certainly invite him across the aisle if it meant a 50-50 Senate with Cheney casting the deciding vote.

Really, if I were Rove, and I had a plant on the other side who would be taken seriously, this is exactly the sort of demand I'd have him make. A Lieberman kicked out of the Democratic Party is the only reasonable way the Republicans can pick up a caucus member in Connecticut.

ChrisO said...

Lieberman lost his party's primary. In what way can this be construed as being "kicked out" of the Democratic Party? Why is Lieberman the one elected official who should somehow not have to actually win an election? The Democratic Party supporting the winner of their primary isn't exactly unprecedented. And why is no one upset that the Republicans have so far failed to endorse the winner of their primary? Is it somehow more prinicpled to throw Alan Schlesinger under the bus while they make goo goo eyes at Lieberman?

Abraham said...

Since Ned Lamont's opinion about the war is often not clearly articulated, here's a quote that I think sums it up:

Well that's nice and all, but if you're seeking power, you need to have more than an opinion. You need to have an actual policy.

perry said...

abraham,

Why don't you go ahead and tell me then, exactly, what is the current administration's "policy" for what's going on in Iraq and in lebanon and its proxy for Iran? I want you to tell me any metric that the public has been given for when we've done our job, or even for when we know that we're "winning". Is the plan really to stay intimately involved all of these places for the rest of the foreseeable future? Is that really a plan?

I think that the lesson that Republicans and democrats both have learned is that when you fight a "war" against something intangible, you never have to admit that you're losing and every defeat just means another reason to 'dig in' and throw in more resources.

If the war was on Saddam, then it would be over. If it was on Osama it wouldn't yet be, but instead its on "terror" so you tell me..

Steven said...

ChrisO

I did not say Lieberman had been kicked out.

I am not saying that in supporting Lamont, Kos was trying to "kick out" Lieberman from the party.

I am not saying the DSCC and other Deomcrats actively supporting Lamont for election is kicking Lieberman out of the party.

Instead, I am saying that advocating Harry Reid immediately strip Lieberman of all his committee seats, while Lieberman is still serving his 2001-2007 term and is pledged to support Democratic control of the Senate, is advocating kicking him out. And both Kos and Huffington have called for it.

And, er, this has nothing to do with principle. In fact, it's specifically not about principle. In principle, punishing Lieberman for running against the Democratic candidate by denying him the fruits of his senority as a member of the Democratic caucus is eminently reasonable.

But as a matter of practical politics, advocating an action to punish Lieberman that in no way aids the election of Lamont is to deliberately risk making it harder for Democrats to take control of the Senate. Remember when Bush threatened Jeffords with a shutdown of the Northeastern Dairy Compact, and what resulted from that? Stripping Lieberman of his committee seats would be the same type of action taken out of pique that can have serious consequences.

Accordingly, the strip-committee-seats position is one that would only be taken by someone more interested in purity than actually getting the power to change things by taking control of the Senate. As Kos is advocating such an action, it's clear he's more about purity than victory.

Which is a fine position to take. It's not the one Kos claims to have, of course, but hypocrisy is hardly unknown among political operatives.

ChrisO said...

The fact remains, by declaring that he will run as an independent, Lieberman is leaving the party. How do you kick out someone who's already gone? I'm not necessarily advocating stripping Lieberman of his committee assignments, but it doesn't make sense to count Lieberman as a Democratic seat. He failed to support the party at key instances, and has now made it official by declaring himself an independent. Part of what the leadership does is maintain party discipline. Exactly what hold does Lieberman have over the party at this point that they have to live in fear of retaliating against him for screwing the party? Lieberman supposedly voted with the Democrats 90 percent of the time. Since he's being portrayed by the Republicans as the last principled Democrat, can't we assume that he won't start now voting Repblican simply out of spite?

And by the way, who cares what Kos says about this issue anyway? Do you really think Harry Reid is going to assign committee seats based on what Kos says?

Wade_Garrett said...

Synova -

It is a real quote. I didn't look up the precise wording, but if I did, I wouldn't be off my more than a word or two. The sentiment is what's important. Democrats didn't vote against him because he supports the war, because a lot of Democrats, even blue-state liberal Democrats like Hillary Clinton, Charles Schumer and Christoper Dowd, supported the war, and continue to support it. Rather, he lost because he questioned the legitimacy of anybody who dared question the wisdom of the war. Democrats are tired of bringing brass knuckles to a knife fight, and tired of candidates like Lieberman who attempt to ride the coattails of another party's president, apparently in an attempt to set himself up for a cabinet position. I supported Lieberman in 2000, but now I hope he enjoys his retirement.

Wade_Garrett said...

"It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril.” -Joe Lieberman

Mike said...

"to a confused and psychologically vulnerable American public post-9/11."

I agree with Freeman and KnoxGirl. I found 9/11 clarifying, not confusing.

dreamingmonkey said...

Well, notwithstanding certain commentators on this blog, a lot of Americans were very confused about what exactly the US ought to do following 9/11, and about who was responsible and how those parties were related to all the various other players in the Middle East. There was a lot of uncertainty and ambivalence during the build-up to the war. 9/11 was a nationally traumatizing event. That's great that it brought a flash of sudden clarity to certain people. For most people, though, it made living in the world more, and not less, complicated. I kind of wonder if that flash of clarity simply said "Blame liberals." and then "Invade Iraq?"

In response to Simon's comments, I highly doubt that the American public would support a military action of this scope on the basis of 'altruism' alone, in the absence of some kind of incredible imminent humanitarian catastrophe. The moral calculus behind self-defense is a lot easier to quantify and understand than the moral calculus behind altruism (why Iraq? why not Darfur?). Anyway there's nothing wrong with America trying to protect it's interests, that's what the government is supposed to do. But I read your comments to suggest that, at least in the eyes of the administration, the public wouldn't buy the war for the right reasons (a long and difficult but necessary project to promote democracy in an unstable reason) so they had to sell them on the less realistic reasons (WMDs, al-Qaeda connections). I don't know if I am misreading that. But I do agree that the public would not have bought a democracy-building project. Well, if that's what this is, then the public should have been able to debate that on its own terms. It's incredibly arrogant for the government to assume that its constituents can't make an intelligent decision about their own long-term interests.

knoxgirl said...

It's incredibly arrogant for the government to assume that its constituents can't make an intelligent decision about their own long-term interests.

And incredibly arrogant of you to make the same assumptions about "certain commenters on this blog."

Steven said...

The fact remains, by declaring that he will run as an independent, Lieberman is leaving the party. How do you kick out someone who's already gone?

Ah. See, a party is not a monolith. Lieberman's leaving the Connecticut Democratic party, but he's still in the Senatorial party. See the case of James L. Buckley, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1970 running on the Conservative ticket against the Republican nominee in the gneral election, but was in the Republican Senate caucus anyway.

Exactly what hold does Lieberman have over the party at this point that they have to live in fear of retaliating against him for screwing the party?

Er, the potential power to deliver the Senate to Republican control? I thought I explained that quite carefully.

Since he's being portrayed by the Republicans as the last principled Democrat, can't we assume that he won't start now voting Repblican simply out of spite?

Um, no, because despite the amazingly deep insight into character held by Republicans, and despite the tremendous character of Joe Lieberman, both are only human, so such an assumption is insane?

And "out of spite"? A Senator's effectiveness is highly dependent on his having committee assignments. If Lieberman can only be an effective Senator for Connecticut by agreeing to support Republican control of the Senate, that's not switching out of spite, that's practical politics.

Do you really think Harry Reid is going to assign committee seats based on what Kos says?

The analysis here was of Kos, not of Harry Reid. I think Harry Reid is a sensible, practical man interested in winning, and so will not strip Lieberman of his committee assignments. Kos claims to be a practical man interested in winning . . . .

Simon said...

dreamingmonkey said...
"In response to Simon's comments, I highly doubt that the American public would support a military action of this scope on the basis of 'altruism' alone, in the absence of some kind of incredible imminent humanitarian catastrophe."

Well, even allowing for sake of argument (inaccurately, I think) that Iraq was not involved in a "kind of incredible [ongoing] humanitarian catastrophe", I think that they [the American public] would - particularly if the government explicitly set out to pursuade them of its merits. I think the left-leaning would be a lot more comfortable with a project with explicitly altruistic motives - building democracy, freeing the oppressed - than they were with a project about making America safer in the world.

But being a skeptical sort of fellow, and to allow that very possibility (that they wouldn't buy it), that is why I tried to emphasize (the threat of WMD "was the basic premise that was sold to the public ... That was a mistake, in my view: I do not suggest that it should have only been sold as a crusade to rid the world of a ghastly dictatorship, or only as a strategic move in the GWOT, but it should not have been sold with such heavy reliance on the WMD issue") (emphasis omitted) that my view is that the mistake was not selling the war on WMD, it was on selling the war primarily - exclusively - on the WMD premise, rather than trusting that the American public can understand that there can be numerous, complex and interlocking factors that guide a policy. The mistake was the utterly false suggestion that there was one single cassus belli, when in fact there were several, as much as which of the several elements of the
cassus belli they chose to promote.

If this theory is right, the problem is that Bush is not a neocon: it is an explicitly neocon premise to argue that the promotion of democracy - sometimes requiring physical force to remove a regime - can be an ally in the GWOT. Bush's lack of faith in the American public's ability to understand that argument alone may have led to the choice to look for a simpler argument, something the public assuredly could comprehend: "that bad dude from the South Park movie is back and now he's got missiles."

dreamingmonkey said...

I think the left-leaning would be a lot more comfortable with a project with explicitly altruistic motives - building democracy, freeing the oppressed - than they were with a project about making America safer in the world.

That's just poor caricature.

Imminent danger unites people. That's why the WMD story (along with the al-Qaeda connection) was exclusively relied on. Bringing in a neoconservative argument complicates the issue and generates more opportunity for disagreement. The neoconservative argument requires a much more long-term view, and it frankly relies on a lot of speculation about future political events, and generates more opportunity for disagreement (will it work? will it not work? will it get worse?) which in turn would likely have led to even more scrutiny of the WMD claims and whether they warranted a preemptive military assault. We could have, and probably would have, sat around forever debating the pros and cons of the neocon argument.

Second, as you noted in your earlier example with Germany, even if you can build an enduring, stable democracy out of a dictatorship, it would take a very long time and a very intensive commitment. That could have significantly undercut support for the war, which was sold as a 'quickie' with very clear objectives and parameters. So in that respect, the neocon argument would have hurt the war effort.

Finally, bringing in alternative bases for invasion would have diluted the urgency of the WMD argument, and that urgency was critical to maintaining public support to mobilizing our forces.

Now that everything is said and done, the administration can call up the neocon argument ex post facto and say "well, there were no WMDs, but so what, it's still a good war because of this neocon argument." OK, maybe, maybe not, but that doesn't mean that the country would have gone to war for that neocon argument.


Bush's lack of faith in the American public's ability to understand that argument alone may have led to the choice to look for a simpler argument, something the public assuredly could comprehend:

By understand" and "comprehend" do you just mean "support?"