The Democrats' Quagmire
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Yesterday, if you went to johnkerry.com and followed the links to discover Kerrys thoughts on Iraq, youd finally reach the prompt: What is Kerrys plan to win the peace in Iraq? *Read here*.
Clicking the link simply took you back to Kerrys home page.
Kerrys web team thus inadvertently captured perfectly the problem Iraq presents to the Democrats nine major presidential hopefuls. All of them agree, to varying extents, that George Bush has made a mess of things. But theyve been so busy of late harping on Dubyas failures that few of us have any idea what each of them would do. And theres this nagging suspicion that they dont know what theyd do, either. Ask them, and theyre likely to simply send you back to their home page, the one that reads Bush = bad. Me = good.
The reality is that no matter how flawed George Bushs reasons for invading Iraq, the invasion happened. No matter how poorly planned the occupation of Iraq has been, the U.S. still controls Iraq. No matter how corrupt the awarding of no-bid reconstruction projects has been, the contracts are being signed and fortunes are being made. And no matter how absurd the mandate of American soldiers is, the bombs, grenades, bullets, and homemade mortars being fired at them are very deadly, and the weapons theyre firing back with are deadlier still.
If ever there were a time this country needed to set aside sound-bite politics and have a serious discussion of what to do next, this would be it.
Dream on. John Kerry, Bob Edwards, and Howard Dean all want to win the peace. (Who, exactly, would then lose the peace?) Perusing the candidates official web sites, not many have anything substantive to say at all regarding the future of Iraq. Along with all the ills of our once-popular President, we learn that:
Excepting Kucinich, who has raised hundreds of dollars to date, none of Dubyas would-be replacements is challenging the fundamental Bush premise that the U.S. intends and expects to call the shots in Iraq (literally) for a long time to come. None is addressing future specifics of how to help alleviate the dire status of U.S. soldiers, or the even more dire reality facing many ordinary Iraqis.
Perhaps American politics cant support such detail; maybe it really is all about image and leadership and judgment and (especially) personality. But like it or not, George Bush has a clear plan for Iraq: loot it bare, shoot anything that moves, and eventually install puppets to oversee the survivors. Its grim, but its simple and concrete.
Democrats like Clark, Kerry, Dean, Gephardt, and Lieberman need not only to distinguish themselves from Bush and from each other, but to lay out the ideas that they believe would work better. By and large, were still waiting.
In exactly one year, one of these nine people will face George Bush. Are you worried yet?