August 7, 2006

"The 'peace' Democrats are back. It's a dream come true for Karl Rove."

Writes Martin Peretz.


Simon said...

I was just reading that in dead tree format. ;)

Look, on the one hand, the moderate in me sees this fratricidal stupidity in CT with weary familiarity - the Club for Growth's been trying to pull this stuff on moderate Republicans for some time, and worse yet, the whole paradigm of seeking compromise with the other side relies on the premise that the other side isn't completely nuts. Take all the moderates out of the Democratic party, and you essentially damage the moderates in the GOP.

But on the other hand, the partisan in me is almost choking with laughter at the Democratic party doing such grave injury to itself. There is simply no bad outcome for Republicans here. If Joe wins, against the odds, the Nutsroots will be crushed yet again; if Lamont wins the primary, the Democrats will face the humiliation of their isolationist, appeasing, "unilateral surrender" policy agenda being on full display to the world. The Bull Moose Blogger has called this shower "McGovernites with Modems," and the (democratic-leaning) Moose fearfully recognizes them as a dagger aimed at his party's throat, a radioactive millstone that will highlight to America once again that if you believe in a robust, muscular foreign policy, you must not only vote Republican, but do everything possible to reduce the success of the Democratic party.

The only difference between Peretz' position and mine is that Peretz is worried that the dems are about to cede their credibility, while I think they already did that some time ago (probably about the time they made Nancy Pelosi and Dick Durbin, of all people, part of their leadership) and are on the verge of putting it beyond their recovery in the short term.

The GOP has had a terrible two years. So-so legislative record, internal unrest over immigration and judges, scandal, corruption, increasing public unrest over Iraq...If the Dems can't recapture the House now, when can they do so? By rights, we [the GOP] were set to take a major hit in the fall, until General Markos sent in the cavalry. No greater ally have we today than the quality of our enemy. Thanks, Kos - if we somehow win this fall, we owe it all to you. If we had medals, we'd pin one on you.

MadisonMan said...

Is this an anti-war thing, or an anti-incumbent thing? I haven't been able to tell. Certainly there is a big anti-war element in it -- and that's how it started -- but I think it's a mistake to attribute all of it to anti-warism.

That doesn't mean, however, that *saying* it's all anti-war isn't a smart thing to do for Republicans.

If only there were a party that could exclude the Christianists of the Republicans and the Pacifists of the Democratic party. That is, one that was the sensible center.

Dave said...

Madison--Lamont is running on the explicit premise that he is the anti-war Democrat of choice. Incumbency has little to do with the issue.

As for the credibility of Dems having been squandered--I think both parties have ceded any credibility long before Nedranaline came along.

Who the hell calls himself Ned anyway? On the one hand you have a guy who reminds you of your creepy, nebbishy uncle, and on the other, you have a guy who reminds you of Ned Flanders.

Neither is an inspiring choice. My suggestion to Connecticut residents is to take their large incomes and spend time golfing, boating, or doing whatever else it is that wealthy people do.

MadisonMan said...

Ned Flanders as a yes indeedily do Senator! Now there's an image!

I should think a viral ad mocking Ned Lamont could be great. But then, I love the Simpsons!

Adam said...

"[B]logosphere Democrats, whose victory Mr. Lamont's will be if Mr. Lamont wins, have made Iraq the litmus test for incumbents."

Peretz is tilting at straw men, and misses the fundamental point of the case against Lieberman -- that Lieberman alone among Democrats has given aid and comfort to this administration, chastizing those Democrats who dare crititcize the President on matters of foreign policy. Nor does Peretz address Lieberman's plans to ignore the results of the party's primary should he lose tomorrow.

I defended Lieberman until that last point, but one cannot be both a Democrat and an Independent -- he needed to choose, and instead, he chose himself.

Simon said...

Dave said...
"As for the credibility of Dems having been squandered--I think both parties have ceded any credibility long before Nedranaline came along."

Well, to some extent, that's true - but I think the difference is that the credibility of democratic ideas and incumbents is practically non-existent today, while in the GOP, it is only the crediblity of the incumbents which has really been squandered in the last few years.

Now, you might say that "but you're not just voting for ideas, you're voting for incumbents, so you can't separate the failed incumbent from the sound policy," but while that's true, you really have to pick your poison. From my perspective as a moderate, there are a lot of problems with the GOP of 2006; our Congressional team has become slothful and corrupt, failing to enact even the basic set of ideas it was sent to Washington to enact, the Contract With America, let alone to build on that; we have a President whose commitment to our legal ideas is non-existent, and his commitment to retain those who have failed is decidedly questionable; all around us, the idea of Federalism and of small government is in retreat; "big government conservatism" -- that is, neconservatism, or perhaps "socially conservative fiscally liberal conservatism" -- is in the ascendancy; and the party's view of climate change is jaundiced to say the least. But for all that, you have to look at the other side. Bill Kristol summed it up neatly in a Weekly Standard op/ed a couple of weeks back - whatever the heck is wrong with Bush's foreign policy, one only has to consider how much worse it would be with a President Kerry or a President Gore. However bad Harriet Miers might have been -- and let's be clear: she was crushingly, faith-shakingly, credibility-destroyingly bad mistake that seriously shook the faith of a substantial chunk of the base's faith in Bush's judgement, and for me, utterly destroyed his credibility on the one subject above all others I supported him for -- she would have been better than Justice Tribe or whoever Kerry would have appointed. As disappointing as it is that we might not get Justice Steven Calabresi under this President, it is as relieving that we will never get Justice Guido Calabresi.

So my point is, you have to pick your poison. One of the two major parties is going to win the election. MadisonMan's pipe dream - the whole Unity '08 thing - is not only unwise, but unrealistic; the bottom line is that the next President will be a Democrat or a Republican, and the next House of Representatives will be controlled by Democrats or Republicans. Those are the choices; you can have a Speaker Hoyer (nothing on Earth will convince me that they're dumb enough to give us a gift like Speaker Pelosi), or a Speaker Boehner; who do you want running the House Appropriations committee - Bill Young, or David Obey? Who do you want running the House Judiciary Committee - Jim Sensenbrenner (who frankly, I don't like a great deal) or John Conyers? Do you want Charles Rangel to be the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee? These are the questions you have to ask yourself. You have to pick your poison. One party is a discredited, exhausted mess that shows not even the faintest sign that it should be trusted with running the government; the other is about the same, but it has better ideas, and is more likely to do the right thing by accident. What are you going to do?

When the Democrats start looking vaguely like a credible governing force, or at least when they find some credible candidates, then maybe this is going to be a harder choice to make. Right now, though, they are in full-tilt retreat to la-la land, and that makes my choice this fall very easy indeed. We have a choice between a party that isn't at its best, the GOP, or a party that is increasingly in the grip of a poisonous cancer that will do grave harm to this country if given power, the Dems. That's an easy choice to make.

Simon said...

Adam said...
"I defended Lieberman until that last point, but one cannot be both a Democrat and an Independent -- he needed to choose, and instead, he chose himself."

Given the present state of the Democratic party, one can hardly fault him for that. A handful of Connecticut Dems seem to stand poised to purge one of the least noxious of their members - and to plunge the party full-tilt into the McGovernite abyss - and for what? For the ghastly and dreadful crime of believing that Congress should work with the President to make America safer, and that damaging national security for partisan advantage is a bad deal? For taking the view that the President is the President, and just because he's one's opponent doesn't make him the enemy, and that since he's the President he should be worked with? That there should be many more such villains!

How can Democrats seriously wonder why moderate Republicans are harder and harder to find? How can they seriously wonder why it is that it is hard to find members of the majority to work with them in Congress? The root of being a moderate is a willingness to consider your opponent's ideas, a willingness to look for compromise. But when your opponent is full-tilt nuts, how can you compromise with that? How can you compromise with a party that wants to set a timetable for surrendering in Iraq? How can you compromise with a party that seems to think that all that's wrong with the Federal budget is that there isn't enough taxing and spending? How can you compromise with a party that thinks that halting social security reform is a legislative achievement and impeaching the President is a legislative agenda? How can you compromise with a party that thinks that Roberts and Alito are "extremists," when they are in fact the most moderate choices that Bush could credibly make? How do you compromise with people who think that the status quo on abortion IS a compromise? Such people are not to be taken seriously, are not capable of reason, are not capable of compromise, and are not fit to hold office.

It has become almost an untenable position to be a moderate, and that is entirely because the other side is in the process of impaling itself.

MadisonMan said...

The problem with the Democratic party, as I see it, is that they don't learn from their mistakes. Kerry lost in '04, so who is elected Chair? Howard Dean! Not only unelectable as a democrat in a nationwide race, but laden with baggage for the lamentable scream. (Frankly, though, I put a lot of the reaction to the scream in the same category as the umbrage taken at Wellstone's funeral. Effective, yes. Truthful? No.) So I think I'm as frustrated with Democrats as Simon is with Republicans. What a huge wasted opportunity for each party.

If the Democrats can't re-take the House/Senate given the present sleaze in DC, I would expect all the leaders to resign. But will they? Of course not. Will they be forced out? Of course not.

Speaking as a Wisconsin resident, I wouldn't mind Obey as chair of Appropriations. Wouldn't it be nice if the taxpayers of Wisconsin got back from the government the amount they lose? It's high time the so-called red states, purportedly (cough) conservative, get off the Federal dime and start paying their own way! I completely agree with Simon re: Mr. Sensenbrenner -- but probably for different reasons. He (and much of sprawly Waukesha County, frankly) epitomizes what's wrong with the US.

Adam said...

Simon, that's all well and good from an internal Senate perspective, but this has never been an administration interested in compromise. When you say "when your opponent is full-tilt nuts, how can you compromise with that?", I can only respond that many Democrats feel the same way.

I've never seen so many Republicans concerned about the state of the Democratic Party as I have in the past few weeks. Thanks, guys.

Doug said...

What I find most fascinating about this race isn't the anti-war vs pro-war dynamic, but how the left wing blogs have become involved. The rhetoric coming from these blogs is digraceful, the obsession of these people with Lieberman shows something about the character and the mental makeup of some on the left.

I found a diary on Kos interesting, it had a regular poster trying to deflect the blogs impact on the race by saying it isn't the bloggers, it is the activists on the ground who preceded the bloggers that deserve the credit. I took it as an attempt to distance themselves from the camgaign in light of the horrid behavior by the nutrooters, with the blackface picture only being part of it. The blogs have to know they have crossed the line of common decency(well, maybe some do), and it is making Lamont look like an idiot when he is asked to defend their actions. Lamont's response so far has been to say he knows nothing about these newfangled things called blogs.

Simon said...

"I've never seen so many Republicans concerned about the state of the Democratic Party as I have in the past few weeks."

Quite aside from the obvious point that a party that has no credibility cannot perform as a functional opposition party, something absolutely necessary in a democracy, I'm concerned because when you vote in an election, you do so knowing that there is a chance that the other side could win - and I'd like to be able to vote against someone while not fearing that it'll be a catastrophe if they win. I would vote against Stephanie Herseth, but I could live with the prospect of her winning an election. I didn't vote for Evan Bayh, but he is simply someone I disagree with, but I think he's a good man, a responsible Senator, and I'm not going to make empty threats about leaving the state because he won (Alec Baldwin, I note, still lives in the United States despite promising twice to leave if we'd elect Bush).

In 2008, America is going to go to the ballot box, and is likely going to have to choose between two imperfect candidates. I would like to be able to choose the lesser evil without worrying that if the greater evil prevails, that we're in deep shit. There are a handful of Democrats who could win the White House and that I'd bitterly oppose before and during their tenure, but who I would still feel okay about if they won. Doesn't mean I like them; doesn't mean I'd vote for them; just that if they won, that's probably not the end of the world. And then there are some candidates who are probably going to seek the nomination who would be an absolute catastrophe for America should they win election, and what happens in Connecticut may make their nomination more likely. Ergo, I have a direct interest as both a Republican and as an American that one of the two major parties does not commit hari kiri.

Adam said...

Simon, I sympathize with a lot of that, but from this Democrats' perspective, we've already reached the point where the other party is in control of the nutters -- studiously incurious folks who disregard evidence and science and fact, and go out and wage wars of choice just because, well, they said they were going to, and we just couldn't back off without losing our credibility. As opposed to the credibility we've lost by going forward.

(And I'm one of the moderates on DailyKos.)

Yes, if Chuck Hagel was your 2008 nominee, I'd be comforted in knowing that he was a serious thinker, and would handle the ship of state responsibly, if not always how I'd want him to.

But our current President is not such a man, and he does not deserve moderation, enabling or Democratic support in response. That's why Lieberman is such a problem.

PatHMV said...


President Bush doesn't compromise? What about massive additional spending for education? Prescription drug benefits? In the early days, he even resubmitted the names of two Clinton judicial appointees who hadn't been confirmed in time. Fat lot of good that did him.

True, he hasn't compromised much on the war. But which Democratic Party should he have compromised with? The "we should have never sent in troops to Iraq" party? The "we should have sent troops in but now we should yank them out immediately" party? The "we should have sent in 5 times as many troops" party, or the "we should institute a draft" party?

As for not supporting Lieberman as an Independent, I assume that also means you oppose Senator Jeffords? Remember, the guy who was elected as a Republican, but then switched to Indepedent, and who now "caucuses with" the Democrats? Senator Lieberman has already announced his intent to continue caucusing with the Democrats should he win, thereby showing Democrats far more loyalty than they are showing him.

Adam said...

On Jeffords, first: there's no problem, because Jeffords didn't *also* seek the Democratic nomination. Lieberman wants all the advantages of potentially winning the Democratic nomination with none of the consequences of losing it. He ought to have dropped out of the primary altogether rather than having it both ways.

On the rest: let's not forget who controlled the Senate in 2001-02. And as you know, most Dems opposed the prescription drug plan at the time, and certainly do so now.

On the war: there was no need to rush. We could have gathered two things before going into Iraq (if at all) -- allies and evidence. We went in with too little of both.

PatHMV said...

Adam, that most Democrats opposed the drug benefit is exactly my point. Your party has been after drug benefits for a long time, but because it wasn't exactly like Democrats wanted it (and, more importantly I suspect, because they wouldn't get as much credit for it), they voted against it. It was a major compromise by Republicans to have the bill at all, and the Democrats wanted nothing to do with it. It's hard for me to see how you car blame the President for failure to compromise. After you reach out your hand a few times only to have it slapped away, you get tired of trying.

As for Jeffords, he did seek the Republican nomination, and the election, as a Republican. He sought all the advantages of running as a liberal Republican, then switched parties, between elections. That's far, far worse than what Sen. Lieberman is doing. Talk about having it both ways. Contrast with how Phil Gramm resigned his seat when he decided to change parties; he won reelection as a Republican.

As for the war, the original debate we were having was about compromise, not the merits of the war. Again, my question is, which wing of the Democratic Party should the President have compromised with?

The Drill SGT said...

A nice piece from Sunday called:

The Last Honest Man

a snip

If Lieberman loses, it will not even be because he supported the war. Almost every leading Democratic politician and foreign policymaker, and many a liberal columnist, supported the war. Nor will he lose because he opposes withdrawing troops from Iraq this year. Most top Democratic policymakers agree that early withdrawal would be a mistake. Nor, finally, is it because he has been too chummy with President Bush. Lieberman has offered his share of criticism of the administration's handling of the Iraq war and of many other administration policies.

No, Lieberman's sin is of a different order. Lieberman stands condemned today because he didn't recant. He didn't say he was wrong. He didn't turn on his former allies and condemn them. He didn't claim to be the victim of a hoax. He didn't try to pretend that he never supported the war in the first place. He didn't claim to be led into support for the war by a group of writers and intellectuals whom he can now denounce. He didn't go through a public show of agonizing and phony soul-baring and apologizing in the hopes of resuscitating his reputation, as have some noted "public intellectuals."

sparky said...

re the Kagan post: sounds good, but
as Eric Alterman points out the paragraph after the snip here contains what Alterman calls a "patently dishonest" rewrite of what Gore said.

otherwise, it's a nice try at a rewrite of history, but it's not accurate. only a pundit would come up with an argument that Leiberman is in trouble with the general public (50% of whom think Saddam had WMD) because he didn't do some elaborate dance that seems to exist only in the heads of the pundits. one might better argue Leiberman's difficulties are the bitter fruit of the R efforts to steamroll national government: the Ds have discovered that compromise is a waste of breath. my guess is that this particular pundit--and many others--might be frightened for themselves because they now find themselves unable to mount a convincing rationale for their prior missteps.

finally, i remain fascinated by the prevalence of the current culture notion that saying "I made a mistake" is a terrible thing. neurobiology? insecurity? risk aversion? need for authority figures? or here, perhaps, the last effort after those dastardly facts are in: accuse the other side for being soft because they had the temerity to rethink their position. how clever! i look forward to a next piece explaining the heroism of the Flat Earth Society.

Henry said...

Given that Kagan presents his opinion of Gore's position over time and makes no reference to a particular Gore statement, I think Alterman's counterattack is rhetorical nonsense, but so it goes.

Sparky, the election at issue is a Democratic primary. General public not invited.

Simon said...

Alterman misses Kagan's point. The former quotes the latter as saying: "Al Gore, the one-time Clinton administration hawk, airbrushed that history from his record. He turned on all those with whom he once agreed about Iraq and about many other foreign policy questions."

Now, I think Alterman reads that to mean that Kagan is accusing Gore of changing his mind on Iraq since the commencement of hostilities, and quotes a 2002 Gore speech opposing the war to prove Gore was against the war all along. But that is an exceptionally unnatural reading of what Kagan actually wrote: "Gore, the one-time Clinton administration hawk, airbrushed that history from his record. He turned on all those with whom he once agreed about Iraq and about many other foreign policy questions." The most natural reading of that statement is that Kagan is saying Gore has changed his mind since the time that he was "the one-time Clinton administration hawk". So the question is really whether this is intentional distortion or whether Alterman is so basically biased that it affects his ability to read and give words their normal meaning.

sonicfrog said...

This upcoming election is the Democrats to lose. But despite all the negatives against it, and the inneptness and inability of the Republican leadership to get anything done, I'll be damned if I haven't seen a party more eager to keep losing than the current Democratic party.

Aspasia M. said...

The 'peace' Democrats are back. It's a dream come true for Karl Rove

I'm no fancy-pants pollster, but Charlie Cook doesn't agree:

Money quotes from Cook's August 1st article:

In a very large tidal wave election, as this one appears to be, it would not be unusual to see all toss-ups go to one party.

First, the political climate will be extremely hostile to Republican candidates. Second, while Republicans benefited from turnout in 2002 and 2004, this time voter turnout will benefit Democratic candidates. And third, the advantage that the GOP usually has in national party spending will be significantly less than normal.

In terms of the political climate, the facts are clear. All of the traditional diagnostic indicators in major national polls taken in the past 10 days show numbers consistent with an electoral rout.


As a generation Xer, I do not "get" this obsession with '68 and '72.

I suppose people really enjoy making historical analogies. However, I'd suggest these comparisons are rather a-historical and overdrawn.

37383938393839383938383 said...

Beyond its sneering condescension, liberalism's problem is its painting of a false picture of reality. It confuses ideals and conceptions for facts and experiences. It posits that government by focus-grouped fiction is better than truth tempered by common-sense. The peaceniks never left.

Concerned12 said...

ChrisO said...

I, too, an truly touched by all of the concerns about the health of the Democratic party being shown by Republicans. It chokes me up a little, as I read about their worries that the Democrats will dry up and blow away, all because of the misguided nature of the leadership and the liberal bloggers (all of whom have apparently registered to vote in Connecticut so they could respond to the pollsters.) Yes, the poor Democrats, who lost the Presidential election by one of the closest margins in history, who were only prevented from gaining in Congress because of the Texas gerrymandering, and who have a very real opportunity to romp to victory this Novemeber.

You want sneering condescension? How about the attitude of Peretz and people like him, who can't give the Democratic voters of Connecticut credit for knowing who they want to vote for, instead portrayting them as being in the thrall of the "netroots." I'm sure the Democratic Connecticut House majority leader would be interested to read that description of himself. Lamont supporters know exactly what they're doing. They're opposing a guy who sucked up to the Republicans at a time when the Democrats needed to stay united. A guy who insisted on running for both Vice President and Senator in 2000, meaning if he and Gore won, his replacement in the Senate would appointed by a Republican governor (gee, I guess that Party of One attitude is kind of second nature to him.) The problem isn't that he compromised witrh the Republicans. Ted Kennedy works across the aisle every day. The problem is that as the Republicans were taking advantage of their majorities to steamroller the Democrats, Lieberman was helping them out by insisting that any criticism of Bush was somehow dishonorable. Please tell me what the reaction would have been if John McCain had stood up in 1998 and said "We really shouldn't criticize Bill Clinton, because he is our commander in chief." I suppose all of the Republicans would have said "That John. He really is the conscience of the Senate, isn't he?"

It's funny how all of the term limits loving Republicans, who like to portray Democratic imcumbents as fat and happy pols out of touch with their constituents, are now suddenly so concerned about someone coming into the Senate with no political experience. I'm sure Martin Peretz expressed the same concerns when Bill Frist, Chuck Hagel, Mitch McConnell and Elizabeth Dole were elected.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cousin Don said...


As a Gen Xer you should appreciate there are more baby boomers than us, and they vote in much greater numbers especially since the first of them are turning 60 this year, and they need to protect their medicare and social security benefits.

Their heydey was '68 and '72, and there was a lot more idealism which had very little relation to reality. This is contrary to our generation which is perhaps the most cynical. I like ridiculous over-generalizations obviously.

Invest in things that have to do with retirees if you want to make money, and consider all the money taken out of your paycheck for social security just like throwing $100 bills down a well.

The baby boomers will continue to control the fate of this country for a long time. I wish more of them would stay home smoke pot and drone on about Woodstock.

Al Maviva said...

Adam said: Lieberman alone among Democrats has given aid and comfort to this administration,

You want to know why a lot of centrists, not to mention most conservatives think the Democratic Party has gone stark raving nuts, Adam? Because a lot of people like you conflate political disagreements with making war on the U.S. You confuse rhetoric with actuality. The Administration has done a lot of things I disagree with, but the alternative for me, as a voter, is to support people who cater to the squeaky wheels in the Democratic Party. What is the endgame with the Administration? Drumhead courts martial, followed by execution at dawn? Seriously - jail terms for everybody above the paygrade of GS-7? What exactly is it you are looking for?

Just when I get sick of pulling the lever for "R", the "D"s push me back in. Aid and comfort? You're sh1tting me, right?

Ps. Surrender all you want, Adam. The Islamacists are coming for us, like it or not. Our mere existence offends them. Fighting them creates more of them because they have more deaths to avenge; and not fighting them creates more of them because they think we are weak. The only plausible way forward is to exhaust the supply of Islamacists.