The 'Retreat and Defeat' Dems
For once the Republican attack machine has described the Democratic Party perfectly: retreat and defeat. It's what Democrats are all about now. I'm not talking about the Democrats' position (if they had one) on Bush's fool's errand of a war in Iraq. I'm talking about how Democrats have flatly refused to stand and fight the war here at home, the war for America's own democracy.
Democrats remind me of the that group of kids in every grammar school whose members were not smart enough to be dorks nor tough enough to be knuckle-dragging jocks. They are stuck in a social vacuum of sorts. Every now and then one of them gets some backbone and declares he's "gonna show those jocks." To which his frustrated friends eagerly egg him on. So he tosses an insult or rock at the school thugs, who of course immediately counter attack. His friends desert him leaving him screaming, "it was an accident, honest. I didn't mean it." After which the thugs would beat the crap out of him anyway.
Asked about recent comments where Dean trashed Republicans as "evil" and said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay belongs in jail, Biden told ABC's This Week: "He doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric and I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats."And...
Responding to Dean's initial remark, Edwards said Dean "is not the spokesman for the party."Dean is 'a voice. I don't agree with it,"That's today's Democrats. John Murtha, one of the few truly tough guys in the party, stood up and said right out loud -- "get out of Iraq, now." I'm sure Murtha didn't wake up that morning and decide to hold a news conference. He almost certainly ran his idea by fellow party members. And, from what I hear, they replied, "Sure John, go ahead. We're right behind you."
When Murtha stepped forward, alone, and fired off that rock, Republicans did what Republicans do best, they attacked. Poor John turned to rally his troops, but they were long gone. Many were clustered for cover around CNN microphones, declaring as loudly as they could, "Murtha? He's not with me," and "Hardly know the guy," and "Sure, John's a brave American. No one questions that. But he doesn't speak for me or most other Democrats on this one."
Hillary Clinton said she respects Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., the Vietnam veteran and hawkish ex-Marine who last week called for an immediate troop pullout. But she added: "I think that would cause more problems for us in America."Oh you pack of quisling cowards. Run away! Run Away! Retreat and defeat.
This is why Dems never win anymore. And why Americans lose and lose and lose again. We lose jobs, we lose medical care, we lose sons and daughters. Because the when the other side starts shooting Democrats hoist the white flag of surrender and political cowardice. Instead of rallying around defensible positions and yelling "Bring em on! Pass the ammunition," they whimper, "Waffles, damn it! We need more waffles up here. They're killing us with our own words. Pass the friggin waffles!"
Their own party chairman, Howard Dean, is the latest Dem to be left bleeding in no-man's land by his own troops. Dean opened fire on the Bush administration last week, pointing out -- correctly -- that even though President Bush keeps using the term "Victory in Iraq," there can be no American victory in Iraq.
Dean's statement is demonstrably true and nothing Dems should run from. Any victory in Iraq will have to be an Iraqi victory. Because if we declare it an American victory that's just an open invitation to young Arabs worldwide to wage neverending Jihad in Iraq to prove us wrong. Just ask the Israelis how "victory" works in that part of the world. An American "victory" means, "Mission Never Accomplished."
Dean's statement was also correct based on the demographic reality Bush so carelessly refers to as "Iraq." When Bush says we are "bringing democracy to Iraq," he's flat wrong. What he is really trying to do is get three tribes, Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, who hate one another's guts, to live together peacefully under one civil roof. Forget about it. It will never happen. Not in Bush's lifetime, not in his grand kids lifetimes. The best hope for everyone involved is the creation of three autonomous regions whose people agree that killing each other -- as much fun as it may be -- is simply bad for business.
Republican thugs also attacked Dean for saying that U.S. troops were "terrorizing Iraqi women and children in their own homes." Using the word "terror," was trespassing. "Terror," you see, is apparently now a branded policy trademark of the GOP. They own it and they decide what's terror and what's something else. Anyway, everyone knows that only swarthy people who blow things and themselves up terrorize, not American troops. But, wait, I've seen TV coverage showing American troops breaking into Iraqi homes in the dead of night and lining Iraqi women and their children against a wall. They sure as hell looked terrorized to me.
What Dean said was completely defensible by hard facts and video tape. (Why didn't the DNC immediately put one of those videos up on the their web site asking the question: "Do these Iraqi women and children look terrorized to you?" )
Dean was simply pointing out the obvious: that such raids, if necessary, should be carried out by Iraqi troops, not Americans. And that all we were doing scaring the hell out of Iraqi kids is sowing the seeds of anti-Americanism into a whole new generation of Iraqi kids.
So Dean bravely scrambled out of the trench and engaged the enemy at their most vulnerable places. Then he heard the thunder of his troops feet behind him. Dean turned to find himself alone. Not only did his troops run for cover but they fragged their chairman for good measure, just as they did Murtha earlier. Because those who stand and fight make the rest of them look like what they are, connivers and cowards.
What kind of party is this? What kind of men and women run from the fight they signed up to wage? When we voted for them they pledged to stand and fight for what's right, liberty and the American way. Instead they have done little but collaborate, triangulate and masturbate.
Murtha was right. The job of American soldiers in Iraq is done. They should leave.
And Dean was right. We can't win an American victory in Iraq. (It isn't even clear that an Iraqi victory is possible in Iraq.)
Any first-year college student could debate those positions convincingly. Data, facts, video tape, testimony supporting those positions is piled up all over Washington like cord wood. It's not exactly like we're asking Democrats to enter the battle unarmed.
Dean and Murtha have handed their party an opportunity to circled their wagons around a strong alternative to the administration's failed polices. The party could have -- and should have -- done just that, refined those positions into a coherent, clear and defensible policy, and gone to battle. Instead they tripped all over themselves in retreating into defeat, a refuge from which they can snipe at Republicans without exposing themselves to the political dangers of open combat.
Murtha and Dean are the Democratic Party's ideological bookends. Between them bracket the full scope of party ideology. Dean is liberal and Murtha conservative. Murtha is pro-military. Dean is anti-war. Between the two men's positions are all the ingredients needed to cook up a coherent and strong Democrat alternative to the GOP's "stay the course," policy in Iraq.
Look how easy it is:
- Tell the Iraqis they have six months to get their political and military act together.
- In six months all US combat troops will move to the Iraqi borders to provide better border security than we have in the US.
- In six months the only US military assistance Iraqis can expect is close air support, supplies and free advice.
- One year later all American troops leave Iraq.
Is that so complicated? But it means Democrats digging their heels in ... drawing a line in the political sand and daring the Republicans to cross it and engage them in open combat on the facts right out there where everyone can watch in public square.
But so far Democrats look even less keen for combat than the scared looking Iraqis we're trying to train. Like the "new Iraqi army" Democrats run for cover at the first hint of trouble. And, if one of their own does or says something that gets him whacked by Republican thugs, well, no one is gonna drag him to safety. After all, he was asking for it talking like that.
So it's more of the same. More retreat, more defeat.
Democrats do come out of their foxholes for the Sundays TV talk shows where they can take pot shots at the enemy from behind Tim Russert et al. So there they were this Sunday, blathering away about how wrong-headed Bush's Iraqi policies are. But when asked what Democrats would do, what their plan was, they ran behind the skirts of their minority status. Peaking out from behind those skirts they bravely declared, "Well, we're not in charge. It's not our responsibility to come up with solutions. Republicans are in charge, it's their responsibility."
Come on, Democrats. Would you folks agree on defensible positions and stand and fight? Stand and fight, damn it. Do you understand how important it is to this country that you do that and do it now?
You've already wasted five years, during which you've waffled, wavered, wimped, whined and withdrew from battle. And look what it's gotten us? The federal treasury is empty, the nation is treading in a rising sea of red ink, most of the world no longer believes a word that comes out of Washington -- and neither do a growing number of Americans. And, worse of all, once again in my lifetime American kids are dying thousands of miles from their homes for reasons that don't add up.
And you can't lay all this on George W., either. You Democrats wimped out on us and let it happen, all of it. Worse, many of you didn't just let it happen, you lent a hand - hands now permanently stained with blood. (Even Lady Macbeth regretfully accepted her complicity.)
So, what's it gonna take to get some backbone in you folks and get you out of your foxholes? If asked to describe the Democrat Party right now I think an alarming number of registered Dems would say it's become a nest of connivers and cowards. (You say it's not so. Fine, make my day. Try convincing me that's not true. I dare you. I double-dare you.)
Here's an idea. Begin by publicly admonishing the collaborators among you? Remember how mad you all got at Zell Miller when he spoke at the Republican convention? How about shelling out some of that righteous indignation now on Joe Liberman?
I don't know. I think I just waste my breath when I talk to Democrats like this. But I do believe that slapping around the collaborators, quislings and cowards in their own party would certainly change the "risk/benefit" equation. Suddenly wimping out in the midst of political hand-to-hand combat would no longer be entirely risk free. It would be a way of laying down a marker to party cowards, "Here's your choice, stand with us and risk a GOP bullet in the chest or run and risk a Democrat bullet in the back. Your choice."
But so far the only Democrat commandos with the stomach and backbone for a fight appear to be John Murtha, Howard Dean and Russ Fiengold. (Hillary Clinton's been too busy getting P.R. photos taken of her making nice to soldiers and wrapping herself in Old Glory to fight. And the Democrats' general in the Senate, Harry Reid, a man with all the charisma of a undertaker -- looks like he'd need one himself if he ever got too excited about anything. Smiling Joe Biden would stand and fight, but he's been away having his teeth whitened for the '08 campaign.)
So it's fools to the right of us, clowns to the left, and me, stuck in the middle with you.
Republicans won't change course because that would mean admitting they've just killed thousands of people for all the wrong reasons. And the Democrats refuse to put forth an unambiguous alternative because they are scared. That's right, scared. Imagine that. One of two parties responsible for running the most powerful nation on earth, scared. Afraid of honest, thoughtful, progressive positions and policies. Afraid to put them in black and white and then stand at the ramparts and fight for them.
Instead Democrats stick to what has become their new comfort zone, defeat. Retreat and defeat.
Maybe we need to start training a new political army. Nothing less important than our own democracy depends on it. Because I don't know about you, but I'm tired of losing.
I'm ready for a fight.