August 29, 2005
-- by John Emerson
There seems to be a consensus, especially among liberal hawks, that we shouldn’t play the blame game about Iraq, but instead should dedicate ourselves to efforts to solve the problem facing us.
My opinion is the opposite. The most important thing is to find and punish the guilty parties (including media people, conservative ideologues, and liberal hawks) by ending their political careers. We must have recriminations.
Outside politics, the “blame game” is called accountability. Achieving accountability will be extremely difficult in the present case, since the culprits include not only most Republicans, but also many Democratic leaders and almost all of the media. But unless a large number of careers end, there’s no hope for this country.
The demand for a solution to the Iraq problem is deluded. Nobody knows what to do next –- engineering the fait accompli has been Bush's game all along (“facts on the ground”), and he’s made sure that Humpty Dumpty will never be put together again. Despite the failure of Bush’s non-plan in Iraq, however, the Democrats actually are in a very tight spot. The American people (bless their optimistic little hearts) hate naysayers and truth-tellers, and the Bush team may very well parlay their failure in Iraq into permanent domination of American politics.
Within the media, special attention should be given to Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., and Donald Graham -- the unjustly-respected individuals who ruined the Times and the Post. Because of this planned media failure, ambient political opinion (the opinion of the semi-informed voter) is now reflexively anti-liberal, and this has led us one more time to a failure of democracy. Like Nixon and Reagan, Dubya was elected to a second term; only the efforts of prosecutors kept the first two somewhat under control, and right now we’re waiting for Fitzpatrick to save us from our stupidity again.
The politicians and opinion leaders who got us into this mess, including the liberal hawks, must be blamed, and their careers must be ended. The only other alternative is for them to destroy us, which is what they plan to do. The “stabbed in the back” smear is already on the table, and the movement conservatives haven’t lost any of their enthusiasm for the culture war. Terrorism has never been their primary enemy –- their primary enemy has always been liberals (us). They’ve been calling us traitors for over a decade, and for them 9/11 is just another stick to use to beat us with.
(Parenthetically, people should lay off the “chickenhawk” meme. It’s indeed a fact that most strategic planners and foreign policy spokesmen, for both parties, are non-veteran wonks, but the military is not on our side. Angry veterans coming back from Iraq right now might mostly be liberals or Democrats, but if the military as a whole turns against Bush -- and that might happen –- most of them will become rightwing ultranationalists and superhawks. Check out the post-WWI German Freikorps if you wonder what I’m talking about).
Since 1941 the United States has been in a permanent state of mobilization, and the interventionist war party has controlled both parties during that whole period. Within the Democratic Party, arguments about foreign policy are usually ended with the simple invocation of the words “McGovern” and “isolationist”. The Democratic Party foreign policy can be summed up with the words “You can’t be a dove”. This makes the intelligent proposal of alternatives impossible and makes it easy for the Republicans to win every time by outhawking us. A genuine demagogic militarist will defeat an opportunistic one every time.
The Bush plan is especially hard to argue against because no one really knows what it is. A big chunk of factually-misinformed voters supports Bush because they trust him personally as a good Christian gentleman, and another better-informed “insider” chunk supports Bush because they think that they know what his “real” plan is (as opposed to any of his various publicly expressed plans). The cult-of-personality and liberal-hatred aspects of Bush’s support far outstrip informed support for any intelligible program.
Do I really think that it will be possible for us to politically destroy Bush, Cheney, Rove, Norquist, DeLay, and the Revs. Moon and Robertson?
Not really, but I think that that’s what we need to do. If we don’t get them, they’ll get us. No matter what happens in Iraq, we can expect a savage counterattack. It’s them or us.
(If you're wondering why I quit blogging politics, this post helps explain things. I sound like a Chomskyite now, so of course no good Democrat is going to listen.)
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You are so right, John. We're doomed.
I am a very good Democrat and I agree with you.
I think it would be great if we could target a few of the liberal hawks and take them out in a primary.
I try to take the long view on things because I believe that is how change happens. That's why I wanted Jesse Jackson and not Corporate Mike in 1988. That's when the Democratic Party, never really a bastion of progressivism or liberalism, took the hard right turn. We really need to turn it back.
There certainly has been no rehabilitation of Democratic doves. All the pro-war people are doing their lame little mea culpas, but they expect to stay in control of the party and haven't been a bit shy about asserting control. They don't even to seem to expect to have to fight to remain in power.
Not to mention, people who consistently opposed the war do not get a voice in the mainstream discourse. The only exception I can think of is Howard Dean, and the media made him look like a loon during his presidential campaign and I never hear commentary about the war from him now.
It needs to be made crystal clear: the pro-war faction was wrong. Some more egregiously wrong than others, but they all got it wrong and the consequences are dire.
The anti-war faction got it right. Every untoward consequence of the invasion that has since occurred was well-articulated before March of 2003. There were plenty of people who stated that civil war was going to be the ultimate result of invading, and we're on the brink of it now.
Nonetheless, you still can't hear serious anti-war voices on shows like CNN, MSNBC, Meet the Press, etc. Fools like Kenneth Pollack are still considered trustworthy authorities whereas, if I were him, I would hang my head in shame for having written the most idiotic book of the 21st century. Even as Iraq shows itself to be an unmitigated disaster, you still must have supported the war if you want to go on TV and oppose it now.
The people who opposed the war don't need to be rehabilitated. The people who backed it, and kissed Bush's ass in the process (yes, you, Dick Gephardt) need to be taken down and out.
We made a small move forward by getting Dean in as DNC chair. He isn't in a position to make foreign policy or Democratic policy.
Those who are in those positions, Reid and several well-known senators, a few governors, are overwhelmingly in the war party. To my knowledge, not one of them has renounced their pro-war, pro-Bush stance in 2002-2003, or recognized the fact that their doing so made it hard for the party's nominee and candidates in 2004.
We need some way to send a very clear message that they and their manner of doing things is not acceptable.
I am not sure what to do, but if I heard a good idea, I'd sure go for it.
What a ripper of a post, John! Could not agree more - I especially like this: "The most important thing is to find and punish the guilty parties (including media people, conservative ideologues, and liberal hawks) by ending their political careers. We must have recriminations." The exact same thing can be said about Australia btw.
Oh, and this is brilliant as well, John: 'Angry veterans coming back from Iraq right now might mostly be liberals or Democrats, but if the military as a whole turns against Bush -- and that might happen –- most of them will become rightwing ultranationalists and superhawks. Check out the post-WWI German Freikorps if you wonder what I’m talking about).' I was born in Germany (have been living in Australia since early 1985) and remember reading 30 or so years ago that there were twice as many ultra-right wingers in the army than in the general population.
The neo-cons have their roots in the Scoop Jackson Democrats and the Coalition for a Democratic Majority
that included Jeane Kilpatrick, Hubert Humphrey, Patrick Moynihan, Ben Wattenberg, Irving Kristol, Sam Nunn, James Woolsey and Norman Podhoretz.
The warmonger roots run deep in the Democratic Party. War resisters were not welcome during the Vietnam war and they will not be welcomed now. If we don't put a stake through the hear of the robust liberal hawks and the DLC, they will put a stake through ours. They are not our allies or allies of working Americans. The DLC and Blue Dogs are allies with conservatives in the culture wars as well as the Iraq war.
The military industrial complex controls both parties and Democrats cater to and benefit from corporate largesse. They just don't do it as well as Republicans, but you have to give them credit for being tryers. Before we can take our country back, we have to take our political party back.
I have been a Democrat for over 45 years and I agree with you with all my heart. I have been saying this for a few years now and have had little to no support. We have to clean house. We have to get rid of, not only the rabid republicans but also the dead beat democrats who find it easier (and safer) to agree with the repubs and becoming repubs "wannabe's" than to stand up and fight for what the Democratic Party is supposed to stand for. Although I realize that this takes some courage in this Congressional climate we find ourselves in with people being fired, downgraded and smeared with ka ka for disagreeing or (god forbid) telling the truth. If the Dems would unite and stand together like the repubs do, then they would be a force to contend with. Instead they bicker among themselves, slamming any of their colleges who dare to stand up to the bulling that is prevalent in our elected(?)officials, each vying for the approval of the abusive repubs. It reminds me of a highly disfunctional family where each member is trying to win the approval of the abusive parent in order to escape the abuse. This has to stop. We cannot live in fear of our government and we cannot allow our elected officials to give in to the fear thereby allowing it to overcome reason and justice. I have a real problem in believing that the next election will be any better than the last two. The voting machines have not been changed and since the news media is owned by corporations and repubs, little of value that the Dems have to say will be allowed on the news media. There is hope however. Free Speech TV which is available on DISH is owned only by the public and is supported 100% by public donations. Free Speech TV has Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, INN Work Report and other progressive programs. There is another channel, LINK TV which also carries Democracy Now as well as MOSAIC (news from the middle east), Journal (news from Europe), etc. These programs are gaining ground in the media as well as with viewers and are seen as the dependable avenues to access real news rather than gossip, fluff, and "Bush Speak".
Thanks for saying this, John. It really needed to be said. Bush and Gang have taken a wrecking ball to this country. We need to find a way to demonstrate this fact to more Americans. As for the Democratic Party, it is up to progressives to prevail within it, or to gain substantial influence at the least.
Tagore said "Where danger is near, so also is salvation."
Americans will have to discover a more constructive kind of unity. The nation will be tested and will have to make an accounting of the decency that still exists within it.
Posted by: Copeland at August 30, 2005 7:10 PM
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