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How Will Dems' Turn To the Left Play?

William Kristol gives a few reasons why Democrats seem to have abandoned the moderate strategy that won in November, in favor of anti-war rhetoric. He gives several reasons for the change in direction.

In part, an accelerated presidential race, with its own dynamic. In part, the fact of congressional majority status, which has its own dynamic too. But in largest part, Bush. He crossed up the Democrats. They expected him to stay the Rumsfeld-Abizaid-Casey course in Iraq. Or, they thought, he might accede to the Iraq Study Group, admit errors and lead us to gradual defeat. Neither would have required Democrats to do anything much except lament the lamentable situation into which Bush had got us. Instead, Bush replaced Rumsfeld, rejected the Iraq Study Group's slow-motion-withdrawal option and chose to try a new strategy for victory, backed by a troop surge. The Democrats were genuinely shocked that Bush wouldn't behave as if the war was lost.
Interesting to me was his take on Hillary's statement that Bush should time a pullout in Iraq to a political timetable so troops would be out of Iraq before his successor took office.
This was an odd statement. After all, we presumably should get out of Iraq on whatever schedule we can responsibly do so, not so that the next President won't be bothered in her first few months in office with something messy and unpleasant. But her statement was a sign of Democratic frustration overtaking Democratic good sense. Why the frustration? Do Democrats worry that Bush's new strategy might actually work? Or, even if it doesn't, that Republicans might not be penalized politically for supporting one last try for victory? In any case, it would be ironic if the anger of Democrats at Bush and his war, unleashed by his recent attempt to win it, undoes their moderate image of 2006 and hurts their chance to succeed Bush in November 2008.
I don't know whether or not Democrats will pay a political price for their recent turn back to the Left, since favorable media treatment often turns a blind eye to unpopular statements and stands made by Democrats. As for Hillary's statement about Bush not leaving Iraq for a successor to deal with, I am sure that President Bush would have preferred Bill Clinton not leave him an economy in recession and a bunch of terrorists in the U.S. with a 9/11 plot in place. Life sucks that way. Sometimes you end up dealing with messes left by others. If it bothers her that much to have to deal with messes, maybe the job of President is not for her.


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Comments (26)

William Kristol gives a ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

William Kristol gives a few reasons why Democrats seem to have abandoned the moderate strategy that won in November, in favor of anti-war rhetoric.

Democrats didn't run against the Iraq war in '06? We are talking about the United States, right? Just want to make sure you're not talking about a different country, because you're memory seems pretty faulty, as does Kristol's.

Btw being against endless war is not a turn to the left, in case you haven't noticed. Most Americans, left and right, want this thing over.

mantis, I think you're miss... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

mantis, I think you're missing the larger point. It isn't just in relation to the Iraq War that the Dems have turned away from their campaign positions. Frankly, I think the reason for this is because it was never anything more than a campaign tactic in the first place. The party never had any intention of actually maintaining that pose once the election was over. You only have to look at the Democratic leadership to see that the so-called moderate positions are incompatible with what they think and believe.

So they face a decision: either allow a faction whose views are incompatible with theirs to continue to exist in the party solely for the purpose of maintaining a partisan majority (as the '60s Democratic leftists did when they allowed the Southern segregationists to remain in the party), or own up to their true beliefs.

I've always said that whatever else you may think about Howard Dean, you can't accuse him of not being honest about what he believes. Personally, I think it's better this way: let the Democrats own up to what they really believe, and then the voters can decide next time around. We'll see.

Senator Warner has "turned"... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

Senator Warner has "turned" to the "left" also. How interesting. Oh, and Senators Smith, Snowe, Hagel, Coleman to name a few. Wow, that's good news. Should make it even easier to win 08 than I thought.

the dems that gained seats ... (Below threshold)
jp:

the dems that gained seats in redstates did so by lying, no suprise.

True mantis, people want th... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

True mantis, people want this thing over, as they do in any war, but not at any cost. Surrendering isn't the only other option and frankly, would be a disaster. Regardless of your opinion on going into Iraq just leaving for political reasons won't just end up in a bloody turmoil for Iraqis--it will lead to increased terrorist attacks against the US and US interests worldwide. If you don't believe that you are just lying to yourself.

There are other areas we should pull out of first--just to refresh your failing memory--like Kosovo. That's a mission with no end goal, no solution in sight, no support from the rest of the West, has little or no UN support yet isn't squawked about because it was started by a liberal President so the press doesn't harp about it in everyone's face everyday with how much of a miserable failure it's been. Germany and Japan would be good candidates as well since we aren't needed and aren't wanted there either.

Perhaps we could pull out of the DMZ in Korea as well. It is, after all, supposedly a UN mission that, like most UN mission, is 99.9% the US and .1% token representation from the rest of the world. Allowing a communist takeover of Korea would most likely be very popular with the Left and the MSM. After, the leading Dem candidate is already in love with the Iranian form of government as an ideal liberal utopia.

Mantis: "Most Americans,... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

Mantis: "Most Americans, left and right, want this thing over."

This comment was equally true (or even more so) in:
- 1777 (an incredibly bleak year in the Revolution)
- 1863 (an incredibly bleak year in the Civil War)
- 1942 (an incredibly bleak year in World War II)

Yet in each case our SUCCESSES in those years are remembered more than our DEFEATS in those years! Why? Because the media (such as it was) was actually telling the American people about those victories!!

1968 was a bleak year in VietNam...yet included arguably one of the most lop-sided VICTORIES in American history: the Tet Offensive. BUT, the media did NOT highlight our victory, but instead played it as a defeat.

2006 was a bleak year in Iraq. But again the media chose to highlight ONLY the cost...and thus give the impression we are losing. The reality is that the eneny, in all guises, is taking fearful losses. Losses that should and WOULD have them demoralized if not for the media (and now Congress) telling them to "just hold on a little longer".

Get it?

I am sure that President... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

I am sure that President Bush would have preferred Bill Clinton not leave him an economy in recession and a bunch of terrorists in the U.S. with a 9/11 plot in place.
Clinton also had 8 years to achieve Saddam's compliance with his surrender terms as well.

It isn't just in relatio... (Below threshold)
mantis:

It isn't just in relation to the Iraq War that the Dems have turned away from their campaign positions.

Ok, give some examples of positions they have turned away from.

as the '60s Democratic leftists did when they allowed the Southern segregationists to remain in the party

As I recall most of the diehard segregationists switched to the Republican party (Thurmond, Watson, Cochran, Lott, Colmer, etc). The Democrats who stayed in the party changed their tunes.

let the Democrats own up to what they really believe, and then the voters can decide next time around.

Well, I agree with you there.

Democrats didn't run aga... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

Democrats didn't run against the Iraq war in '06? We are talking about the United States, right?

The Democrats made gains locally, and locally the only Democrat I can think of that asserted his anti-war position was Lamont. Didn't go well for him, did it. It was disgust with Republicans conduct that swayed this election.

And national, the 'anti-war' message was watered down and delivered with the vaguery of "course change". Course change is what Bush is doing with the surge. That term was used explicitly to deceive as many as possible that a pull-out wasn't absolutely the Democrats plan.

If Hillary is so concerned ... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

If Hillary is so concerned about a mess not being left for the next administration, maybe she should help try to WIN, sooner rather than later. But that would make Bush look good, and the Dems certainly couldn't have that! And, if you think the war is ultimately unwinnable, then be honest about it (like Feingold) and advocate defunding it all.

By now anyone who is awake ... (Below threshold)
bill:

By now anyone who is awake knows Bush is not going to abandon the Iraq war until he leaves office or achieves victory. Live with it.

What's really going to be funny is when Bush punts the global warming lefty crap and leaves it up to the next President. Much like BJ Clinton did with terrorists.

In any event, the fly in the Democrats ointment is the terrorists are not going away, no matter how much nice talk they use.

Mantis:A... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Mantis:

As I recall most of the diehard segregationists switched to the Republican party (Thurmond, Watson, Cochran, Lott, Colmer, etc). The Democrats who stayed in the party changed their tunes.

You recall incorrectly, Mantis. Most of the segregationists that left the Dem party formed the Dixiecrats, and if they stayed in politics, returned to the Dems after the civil rights movement ran its course.
From Wiki (not always the perfecct source, feel free to point to a better one)
Dixiecrat senators:
(D)VA Harry F. Byrd, 1933-1965
(D)VA A. Willis Robertson, 1946-1966
(D)WV Robert C. Byrd, 1959-Present
(D)MS John C. Stennis, 1947-1989
(D)MS James O. Eastland, 1941-1941,1943-1978
(D)LA Allen J. Ellender, 1937-1972
(D)LA Russell B. Long, 1948-1987
(D)NC Sam Ervin, 1954-1974
(D)NC Everett Jordan, 1958-1973
(R)NC Jesse Helms, 1973-2003
(D)OK Thomas Pryor Gore, 1906-1921,1931-1937
(D)AL J. Lister Hill, 1938-1969
(D)AL John J. Sparkman, 1946-1979
(D)FL Spessard Holland, 1946-1971
(D)FL George Smathers, 1951-1969
(D)SC Olin D. Johnston, 1945-1965
(D,R)SC Strom Thurmond, 1954-1956,1956-2003
(D)AR John McClellan, 1943-1977
(D)GA Richard B. Russell, Jr., 1933-1971
(D)GA Herman E. Talmadge, 1957-1981
(D)TN Herbert S. Walters, 1963-1964

Mmmm, 2, all of 2, went Republican.

You're right, I should have... (Below threshold)
mantis:

You're right, I should have said most diehard segregationists switched to the Republican Party, were defeated and left politics/were never elected again, or changed their tunes in the Democratic Party. Notice on that list many of them were finished with politics after the civil rights movement had its successes in the late '60s (H. Byrd, Robertson, Ellender, Ervin, Jordan, Hill, Holland, Smathers, Johnston, Russell, and Walters). Those that remained in the Democratic Party for the most part abandoned their racist stances, or at least kept them quieter (R. Byrd, Stennis, Long, Sparkman, McClellan). Eastland & Talmadge didn't like change a bit. In any case, what is clear is that the civil rights movement drove the south from support of Democrats and towards Republicans, who were more in line with the racist attitudes so prevalent there.

My point being, that I don't know how this:

as the '60s Democratic leftists did when they allowed the Southern segregationists to remain in the party

could possibly be true. The Democratic party's stance on civil rights drove southern voters to the other party. How Dave thinks the Democratic party could have "purged" them otherwise is beyond me.

Lorie,Cristol says... (Below threshold)
aRepukelican:

Lorie,

Cristol says, "Why the frustration? Do Democrats worry that Bush's new strategy might actually work?"

In a pig's eye. (sorry, Bill, for the cloven-footed reference) This war-mongering neocon Fascist is one of those primarily responsible for pushing this fraudulent Iraqi war down the untutored Chimp-in-Chierf's throat. Cristol was insanely wrong about Iraq from the start and a snowball in hell would have more of a chance for success than Cristol will ever have for his militaristric PNAC lunacy to project American power. His ideas are leading to the castration in the Mid-Eastof the world's sole superpower.

Iraq, rather than Cristol's PNAC delusional fantasy for projecting American super-power status into the 21st Century, is going to result in a catastrophic failure of US Mid-East policy. Cristol's strategy has unleashed the potential for Iranian dominance in the Mid-East.

Cristol is a neocon lunatic who should have been institutionalized decades ago.

And what is the prospect for Cristol's delusional hope for an American Iraqi success? Send him a copy of the latest NIE report.

Lorie, I am appalled that you would ever so desperately resort to featuring a Cristol piece when the World knows that this man and his advice are totally failed and a colossal error, unmatched in magnitude for quite some time back in history.

SquishyIt was not ... (Below threshold)
aRepukelican:

Squishy

It was not so much the Democratic Senators and Dixiecrats; it was Nixon's courting of the Southern racist voters w/ his policy of "benign neglect" that began the Southern evolution to Red status.

The former Southern racists found an increasingly warmer embrace in the Republican Party.

I am sure that Jim Webb won... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

I am sure that Jim Webb won do to his moderate views on social issues and not his anti-war stand.

Bill K. has such great insight as demonstrated by his views on bringing a democratic garden of eden to the Middle East.

Puke - when was Bill Crysta... (Below threshold)
GeminiChuck:

Puke - when was Bill Crystal in the Bush II admin? What position did he hold that enabled him to force GW to follow his advise? "Primarily Responsible"? Huh?

gc

Amazing, Bill Kristol has b... (Below threshold)
Reality:

Amazing, Bill Kristol has been wrong about everything concerning Iraq and wizbangers still lap his brainfarts up like milk.

Gemini ChuckKristo... (Below threshold)
aRepukelican:

Gemini Chuck

Kristol (earlier misspelled as Cristol) was a driving force behind the creation of PNAC and its initiative. Bush appointed a fistful of these neocon fascist war-mongerers in his Defense & State Departments, including Perle, Feith and a host of others. They were all Kristol disciples and took Kristol's crap to the highest Admin. levels.

Kristol was, in a sense, a de dacto architect of the Bush Iraq policy.

"How Will Dems' Turn To ... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"How Will Dems' Turn To the Left Play?"

In the 2008 elections, the Democratic Party will maintain control of the House, increase their control of the Senate, and take the white House with a sweeping mandate of "get those GOP clowns out of Washington."

Did anyone bother to actual... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Did anyone bother to actually read Kristol's article? He opens with a premise, and then proceeds to... completely ignore anything to do with backing it up. He claims the Dems are now anti-war (something he backs up clearly), but that they weren't then (something he never addresses beyond his opening declaration).

I think I'm going to go write an article about how Republicans were anti-war before Nov. 7, but somehow became pro-war afterwards. After all, I apparently don't need to base my article in reality, nor back up my premise.

Brian, maybe you have forgo... (Below threshold)

Brian, maybe you have forgotten, but prior to the elections the Democrats hid Murtha, Kerry (after his disaster of a "joke" about the troops) and even Pelosi. There were only a few Dems (Murtha and Kennedy types) who would openly advocate cut and run. They played moderate.

Wow, if Murtha and Kerry we... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Wow, if Murtha and Kerry were "hidden", they sure picked a lousy hiding place. What I remember before the elections was "Murtha this, Kerry that, Pelosi, BOO!" coming fast and furious from the right (and I don't just mean blogs).

But regardless, the Dems are proposing now what they proposed then. Phased withdrawal. That you chose to call it "cut and run" then but are willing to engage it now says more about the right than the left.

go to the archives of newsb... (Below threshold)
jp:

go to the archives of newsbusters.org and you will see how the Dems literally hid pelosi, cary and murtha on the national scene the last few weeks. Its a fact.

Heath Schuler winning in NC in a mainly conservative district(less Asheville) is a good example of the Dems lying about who they really are and campaigning as basically republicans in rhretoric to fool the voters who felt republican fatigue and what I call "partsian guilt"

Went to newsbusters.org and... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Went to newsbusters.org and found this comment which lead to this link to a November 5 article quoting Pelosi from an interview the preceding Friday, November 3rd.

She's in hiding? as she hands out interviews in Washington, D.C.???

You see, jp, you believed the lies and outright bullshit posted on newsbuster.org -- and they made up your mind for you, the good little lie-monkey, who then repeats the lie elsewhere on the Internet while claiming it's "a fact".

"go to the archives of newsbusters.org and you will see how the Dems literally hid pelosi, cary and murtha on the national scene the last few weeks. Its a fact."

No, jp, it's just another Republican lie... unless you'd care to do what I did, and search newsbusters and provide proof that supports your claim?

The Dems are working toward... (Below threshold)
John S:

The Dems are working towards their 49 state-loss strategy. Thy're the only party that has managed to do this (twice). And Lee, in 2008, Dems will loose 15 seats but hold the House. They've already lost the Senate (anyone seen Sen. Tim "Schiavo" Johnson, lately) and I expect Hillary will lose badly.




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