When you're right you're right
Saturday, March 25, 2006
  Democrats finally admit it: they have no ideas for Iraq
Politics pre-1994 was an entirely different world than politics today. In 1994, the Democrats held the White House, Senate, and the House of Reprentatives, much the same way that the Republicans do today.

As strange as it sounds, there were some advantages to being in the minority. Though the Republicans lacked the political capital to do much of anything, other than maybe slowing down the runaway train of Democratic government, they did have some advantages.

Republicans were in attack mode back then. These days they (or should I say we?) are in defense mode. Back then we could criticize everything the government was doing, placing all blame on the Democrats, and leave the folks on the other side of the aisle to defend the government's actions. These days, it's the other way around.

I've noticed the Democrats actually seem to revel in this. Don't get me wrong--the Democrats want their power back--but they've learned the advantages of being able to blame all political failues on their opponents. After all, the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress run the show. When things go wrong, the powerful must be held responsible. These days, "the powerful" are Bush, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Frist, and Hastert.

But there's one thing that Republicans never did, and what the Democrats are doing now. Republicans never said "don't look to us for answers, we're in the minority!" When the Republicans stormed Congress in 1994, it was not with a battle cry of "we have no plan!" No, we did it with a simple, ten point plan we liked to call the Contract With America.

But the Democrats lack a major plan today. I'm talking about their position on the Iraq War. In my entire life, I have never seen such defeatism, Monday-morning-quarterbacking, and Arm-chair-generaling. In their minds, this is a substitute for a strategy.

These days, they're even admitting it. Just ask Paul Begala and James Carville, the former Clinton Administration's "dream team" of political advisors, and current regulars on political talking heads shows. In their most recent book, Take it Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future, Carville and Begala admit the complete lack of a plan on the behalf of the Democrats. Under the heading "Challenge Bush to Win in Iraq", the two write:

Only in the minds of Bush Republicans (and the national media) does it make sense to fault Democrats for not having the solution to the mess in Iraq. Democrats do not control the White House. They do not control the House or Senate. And they sure don't control the Pentagon. And we're supposed to clean up this mess?

The truth is, most Democrats opposed the war. If the politicians in Washington had listened to the Democrats in America (or the two Democrats on Crossfire), we never would have invaded in the first place.

Later, the political super-duo write:

Democrats can, should, and do criticize the Bush policy (or lack thereof) in Iraq. But it's unrealistic to expect them to solve Bush's problems in a sound bite. It's as if they are saying, "Because we've screwed up so badly in Iraq, there really is no good solution, which means you don't have a solution either. So, because you don't have a solution, leave us in charge, even though we screwed it up in the first place."

Finally, Begala and Carville conclude, "America can do better. Democrats should set the bar for Bush in Iraq: victory. They should support any requests for funding our troops in the field. But they should not be shamed into silence merely because they don't have a silver bullet to a problem that has no obvious solution."

There are so many things wrong with these statements, it's hard to know where to begin.

First of all, the two are right to say that they don't hold the reigns of power in Washington, thank goodness. But they'd like to have those reigns back someday, wouldn't they? In order to do that, they need a plan, they need vision. They have neither. Instead they have complaints and a "don't look to us for solutions, we're the minority party" attitude. I don't believe that any party has ever been elected to power on a platform such as that.

Or just look at it the other way. Since the beginning of the Iraq War, the Democratic onslaught has been entirely negative, and focused almost entirely on Iraq. Bush lied. Bush took his eye off the ball. Bush can't do anything right in Iraq. Boot the bum out of office, and elect us. But why? Your team can't do any better.

At least back in 2004, John Kerry claimed to have a "secret plan" to win the war. He used the phrase "I can do better" almost as much as he said "When I was in Vietnam..." But I guess Democrats don't even have that anymore. They can't do better, and now they're admitting it.

Furthermore, the "national media" does not ask Democrats for solutions. Reporters only ever seem to ask the "tough questions" about Iraq when talking to Republicans. When talking to Democrats, they toss them softballs, ready-made for the Democrats to wallop out of the park. Any question about Iraq posed to a Democrat can automatically be answered with some variation on the following Democratic talking points: Yes, it's terrible that 1) our commander-in-chief misled us into war, 2) that our troops don't have body armor, and 3) that he seems to have no clear exit strategy.

In other words, asking the "tough questions" about Iraq to a Democrat seems to put that Democrat in a position to bash his opponents. Once again, the Democrats have the luxury of playing offense, while Republicans have to play defense.

Carville and Begala are also wrong to say "The truth is, most Democrats opposed the war. If the politicians in Washington had listened to the Democrats in America, (or the two Democrats on Crossfire), we never would have invaded in the first place."

I can see here that Clinton's boys are drawing a distinction between Democratic voters and Democratic elected officials. What he's saying is that Democratic voters were against the war but Democratic politicians went against the will of their consticuencies and voted for it anyway. Is it even true that most Democrats were against the war from the start? They provide no evidence of this, and based on some of the other whoppers in the book, I'm not taking their scout's honor on it.

Those Democrats who voted for the war, I salute you. It was the right decision. But to this point, I can think of only one Democrat who has stood up and taken the credit he deserves: Joe Lieberman.

But if Carville and Begala really want to blame Democratic politicians for not listening to Democratic voters, he must admit that it is those very same politicians who have a duty to their voters to provide a solution. Are they trying to tell me that an elected Democrat who voted for the war can now shrug his shoulders and say, "don't look at me"? I'm talking about Senators Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chuck Schumer, and Harry Reid among others. I'm talking about eighty-one Democrats in the House of Representatives. No, a majority of Democrats in the Senate and sizable 81 in the House voted for this war, and now they're trying to pretend that they share no responsibility to finish it, simply because they have a "D" after their names.

What Carville and Begala wanted to say was that the Democratic Party was against this whole thing from the beginning, so it's not their fault. But they couldn't say that, because a quick check of the roll call votes would reveal that the Democrats were in on it in a big way. In the Senate, a majority of Democrats voted for the war. The House is another story, but even there 81 Democrats voted for the war, and 126 against.

So they can't say that the Democrats had nothing to do with this, because they did. Instead they use the lame argument that the majority of Democratic voters were against the war, so that means that Democratic politicians (who didn't listen to those voters) are off the hook. Great, well now that we've exonerated all Congressional Democrats, the two strategists can get back to doing what they do best--slinging mud at Republicans. We all know that that's how we win a war.

According to Carville and Begala "Democrats can, should, and do criticize the Bush policy, (or lack thereof) in Iraq." Yes, and that's about all they do. I hate to use a cliche here, but they are "invested in defeat". Bad news for America is good news for Democrats.

But to say that Bush does not have a policy is a bold-faced lie. The short form of his policy is "As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down." That's what President Bush told troops gathered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in June 2005. I happen to agree--how else can we go home and leave a stable Iraqi government in place? Cuttting and running now? Carville and Begala mock Bush's Fort Bragg pronouncement, saying that it's a "a slogan, not a policy."

Okay, Paul and James. That's too short on details for you? How about this? Is this a strategy? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/documents/Iraqnationalstrategy11-30-05.pdf That's the White House's "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq", released November 30, 2005.

It would be one thing if they thought that Bush's strategy wouldn't work. If not, fine. I would listen to the exalted former-Clinton staffers take me through their objections point by point, telling me what the problems are with the strategy, and what they would do better. But they haven't done that, and that's not even what they're saying. What they're saying is that Bush doesn't have a strategy. That's simply not true.

One of these days, I'm going to get around to reading that entire document. I suspect Carville and Begala haven't read it either. After all, they don't even seem to know that the document exists. I suspect that they actually do know of the existence of "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq", but just choose to lie through their teeth anyway, singing in chorus with the rest of the Democrats that "Bush has no plan on Iraq".

So, in fact, President Bush and the Republicans do have a strategy, despite obvious lies to the contrary from hysterical opponents of the White House. The Clinton super-duo and their Democratic friends in Congress have no such plan, and don't think they have any obligation to come up with one. Their only obligation is to complain more. Still thinking of voting Democrat this Fall?

"But it's unrealistic to expect them to solve Bush's problems in a sound bite," write Carville and Begala. First of all, what's going on in Iraq is not "Bush's problems". I can't say that I really like Iraq refered to as a "problem" (was World War II "Roosevelt's problem"?) but I can understand what they mean. It wasn't over as quickly and cleanly as expected (though never promised) by Republicans. Now challenges lie before this. I think a little Yankee know-how and national unity will get us through this. We're Americans, and challenges are what we do best.

But note the fact that he calls it "Bush's problems". Huh? And he thinks that Republicans are dividing the country? Iraq is a "problem" (as I said, I don't like using that word) for the entire country. It's our boys and girls over there. It's our tax dollars being spent. If you ever want the voters to trust you again, you can't just sit on your hands and say that it's not the responsibility of the Democrats to fix "Bush's problems". If the Democrats can't muster the willpower (or the brainpower) to fix "Bush's problems", can't they at least solve the "problems" of a family in Ohio whose son is deployed, and whom they want to see come home, without the disasterous effects of abandoning Iraq now? To be sure, both Carville, Begala, and most congressional Democrats say that they're for victory. They just don't know how to achieve that victory, and asking them for a strategy is asking too much.

Furthemore, no one is asking for a "sound bite" from the Democrats. If they have an idea, they should say it. It doesn't have to be a sound bite, and no one ever said that it did. If that idea takes the form of 38-page pdf file, as Bush's strategy does, then fine. Democrats should write their own "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" and let America decide who has the better plan. But as it stands right now, our plan ("As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down") beats their plan ("Don't look at us to solve Bush's problems!") hands down. As you can see, we have one party with a plan (the party of the elephant), and one party that denies the existence of that plan while simoltaneously believing that it has no responsibility to come up with a plan of its own (the party of the ass).

Carville and Begala are really on a roll this time. They continue, "It's as if they are saying 'Because we screwed up so badly in Iraq, there really is no good solution, so you don't have a solution either. So, because you don't have a solution, leave us in charge, even though we screwed it up in the first place.'"

No, that's not what Republicans are saying at all, and these two clowns know it. First of all, we haven't "screwed up so badly in Iraq". It hasn't been as quick and clean as we would have liked, but that's okay. America has fought plenty of wars before that were neither quick nor clean. We persevere. That's what we do over here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Furthermore, there is plenty of good news coming from Iraq: we captured Saddam Hussein, and he's currently on trial (even though the Left said we wouldn't), we transferred sovereignty to a new Iraqi government two days earlier than planned (even though Democrats said it was a pipedream), we've held two successful elections and one successful constitutional referendum (even though Democrats said it was impossible). Last, but not least, the Iraqi people approved a constitution that guarantees freedom of religion, equality for women under the law, and universal suffrage, (even though the Democrats said we would be ushering a new Iranian style human-rights nightmare).

So we aren't doing all bad, and I have never ever heard a Republican say that we need the Democrats to come rescue us, because we've "screwed up so badly in Iraq". As mentioned before, we have also not said, as Carville and Begala claim "...there really is no good solution, you you don't have a solution either, leave us in charge, even though we screwed it up in the first place."

Actually, what we're saying is that the Republicans do have a solution, and we'd like to compare our solution to the Democrats' solution, if only they had none. Furthermore, even if the two Democratic strategists believe that this whole war is misbegotten, a majority of their party voted in favor of it, in the Senate, if not the House. And they still think they can wash their hands of it, and pretend that "Bush's problems" are not their responsibility?

Finally, the Clinton tag-team writes, "Democrats should set the bar for Bush in Iraq: victory. They should support any requests for funding our troops in the field. But they should not be shamed into silence merely because they don't have a silver bullet to a problem with no obvious solution."

It's like they're from another planet! I'm glad that these two guys are pro-victory. So am I. But I'm not sure that their party is. Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic Party, is not. He wants to cut and run, (or "redeployment" as he calls it), setting up bases in neighboring countries, where we can come to the rescue if the Iraqi forces are overwhelmed. Great plan, Howie. Stick to playing doctor. Nancy Pelosi, House minority leader, wants to surrender as well. So does Representaive John Murtha.

Still, even those Democrats who say they're in favor of victory don't seem to act like it. Call me cynical if you want, but I don't think they have America's best interests at heart. I think that they see the "disaster" in Iraq as an opportunity to claim their power back for another forty years.

Furthermore, Democrats have not "support[ed] any request for funding our troops in the field." Not even close. Remember John Kerry and his "I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it?" Kerry had a million explanations for that vote, but I didn't buy any of them. When the chips were down, he voted against it. So did lots of Democrats. In the midst of a war that many of them voted for, and which they still claim to want victory in, the Democrats--not exactly the party of fiscal discipline--couldn't seem to cough up the dough for our troops. All they knew how to do was complain that it was costing too much.

Nor are they being "shamed in silence" because they have no solution. Frankly, I wish they would talk more. But I'd like to hear some constructive criticism. Give us ideas, not complaints. According to the these DNC dieities, Democrats are not up to that challenge.

As the title of their section implies, the Democrats want to "challenge Bush on Iraq". What they mean by this, of course, is to resist everything he does, every step of the way, try to eliminate support for the war at home, embolden our enemies, and get elected on a rising tide of anti-Republican sentiment that they created themselves. But they don't say this. They say they're pro-victory, they just want our commander-in-chief (who can't do anything right, and never will so long as you're asking a Democrat) to fix everything. And they want to be consulted on everything he does, so they can complain about it, but offer no actual alternatives.

That's their idea of leadership. I'm not kidding.

Well you've brought up some interesting points. True, the Democrats don't have an Iraq exit stragety, as is the case for the Republicans. But I do wonder if your statement about a Democrat administration would have prevented any invasion. After all, Bill Clinton launched Tomahawk missles in 98 again at what his "people" told him was terrorist training camps in Afganistan, so i'm sure those same "people" would have put his feet to the fire after 9-11 if hypothetically he was still running the show. Yes, I know he served his 2 terms, and this scenario is impossible, but it's an example. In fact, what would any Democrat have done after that day? If bombs weren't falling somewhere, no matter Left or Right calling the shots, the populace would have cried foul.
Another quick issue I wanted to address was the powers that be in the current administration. You forgot to mention the "architech" that got Bush Jr. into consecutive terms. Karl Rove, as much as I dislike him, should not be over looked. I would like to address your comments more, and there are plenty of things worth addressing, but it's work time, and I must go.
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