Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington: Getting Enough Sleep Is Non-Negotiable

The following is an excerpt from the new book The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington (Harmony Books, 2016): 

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Why Don't Americans Take Their Paid Vacation Days?

I hope you're not reading this. That's because, this being mid-August, I hope as many people as possible are on vacation somewhere -- maybe someplace exotic, or maybe just a relaxing staycation at home. And if you are on vacation, you definitely shouldn't be staring into screens -- so please, close the computer or power down your phone immediately and take a walk outside.

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'Signature Strikes' and Obama's Empty Rhetoric on Drones

On March 17, 2011, four Hellfire missiles, fired from a U.S. drone, slammed into a bus depot in the town of Datta Khel in Pakistan's Waziristan border region. An estimated 42 people were killed. It was just another day in America's so-called war on terror. To most Americans the strike was likely only a one-line blip on the evening news, if they even heard about it at all.

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How Drones Are Turning Politics in Washington Topsy Turvy

It's become accepted wisdom that Washington has become pathologically polarized and partisan, with every new debate inevitably breaking down along party lines. That's why it was so remarkable last week when Rand Paul's old-fashioned talking filibuster scrambled the even more old-fashioned right-vs.-left way of looking at the world. The Paul-provoked debate on the confirmation of John Brennan to head the CIA in turn provoked a wider and critical debate about the use of drones -- a debate that needs to continue well beyond Brennan's confirmation.

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Why Obama Must Avoid "Centrist" Solutions with the GOP and Set a Bold Course for Washington to Follow

Appearing on CNN, retiring Senator Joe Lieberman gave voice to the conventional wisdom: "In my opinion the last two years, 2011-12, have been the least productive and most partisan and uncompromising in my 24 years here." For Lieberman, like much of establishment D.C. -- both political and media -- being a "moderate" or a "centrist" or a "pragmatist" is synonymous with the ability to "get things done." Yet, according to the AP, this year's election resulted in "a thinning of pragmatic, centrist veterans in both parties," and that "among those leaving are some of the Senate's most pragmatic lawmakers, nearly half the House's centrist Blue Dog Democrats and several moderate House Republicans."

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The Financial Elite Have Been on a 30-Year Onslaught Against the Middle Class

The press is all abuzz with news of the SEC suing Goldman Sachs for fraud. While this is certainly big news in itself, even more important is what it says about what the financial elite has been doing to America for the last 30 years: shorting the middle class.

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Dems Repeat Their Failed Health Care Strategy and Preemptively Surrender on Plan to Protect Consumers

A "doom loop." That's what Andy Haldane, executive director of financial stability for the Bank of England, warned last fall would happen if serious financial reform wasn't enacted.

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Will Obama End the War on Drugs?

When it comes to addressing America's disastrous war on drugs, the Obama administration appears to be moving in the right direction -- albeit very, very cautiously.

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If Only Jon Stewart Had Interviewed Dick Cheney

Jon Stewart's Jim Cramer interview was a pivotal moment -- not just for Stewart, Cramer, and CNBC but also for journalism. It was a bracing reminder of what great research and a journalist more committed to getting to the truth than to landing the big get -- and keeping the big get happy, and ensuring future big gets -- can accomplish.

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Why are Tim Geithner and the Media Playing Dumb About What Happened to Our Money?

A formerly famous and now mostly forgotten poet of nonsense verse once said: "There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns....there are also unknown unknowns."

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Could Our Darkening Economic Clouds Have a Silver Lining?

How bad are things getting?

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Why Are the Media More Interested in Blago Than in Unraveling the Bailout Mystery?

Have you heard what's going on with the government's almost trillion-dollar bailout and how your money is being spent? Do you know all you need to know about who's managing all that taxpayer money -- and how effectively it's being used?

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The Right-Wing Economics That Got Us into This Mess Should Go the Way of Soviet Communism

The collapse of Communism as a political system sounded the death knell for Marxism as an ideology. But while laissez-faire capitalism has been a monumental failure in practice, and soundly defeated at the polls, the ideology is still alive and kicking.

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Washington Panics as the Economy Burns

So, $290 billion into his bailout plan, Hank Paulson is calling for a do-over. Now there is a confidence booster.



Providing "I-told-you-so" talking points to the what's-the-rush crowd, the Secretary of the Treasury announced yesterday that the government is no longer going to use any of the $700 billion Congress allocated to the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to buy, well, Troubled Assets from financial institutions -- the original centerpiece of the plan.



Instead, Paulson is looking to fortify the financial industry by continuing to buy premium stock in banks (aka the Warren Buffett approach). Unfortunately, instead of sending Paulson a thank you note in the form of increased consumer lending, the banks are depositing the government checks and taking a wait and see approach. (Among the things they've seen: another $40 billion handed over to AIG.)



This is not to say that Paulson's midstream direction change is a bad thing -- indeed, the lip service he's now paying to putting the focus on consumers is encouraging -- but it shows just how uncertain official Washington is about how to keep the economy from imploding.

Can Obama Change Government Policy and Convince Us to Change Ourselves?


''On or about December 1910," Virginia Woolf wrote, "human character changed.'' We can be much more specific: "On November 4, 2008, just after 11 pm Eastern, America changed" (human character remains rather intransigent).



The change was driven by two things: our country's remarkable capacity for regeneration, and Barack Obama's remarkable ability to tap into the better angels of our nature.



You know something extraordinary is happening when even Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and Joe Lieberman trip over themselves -- and their hastily discarded invective -- to say nice things about Obama and the "tremendous signal" sent by his election.



Sure, it's easy to see their encomiums as purely tactical attempts not to be on the wrong side of history, but they are more than that. They also demonstrate how certain moments and certain individuals are able to bring the best out in people -- even people who have shown us some of the worst aspects of human character. Because, hard though it may be to accept, the best and the worst reside in each of us, side-by-side.



As Alexander Solzhenitsyn put it: "The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either -- but right through every human heart." And the greatest leaders are those who inspire us to reside on the good side of Solzhenitsyn's line.

McCain Finds Americans No Longer Buying Into the Politics of Dread

As expected, John McCain is trying to turn the stretch run of the campaign away from the economy and back to national security. He knows Americans are afraid of losing their jobs, their homes, their 401Ks, and their life's savings -- but he wants them to put all of that on the backburner and focus on the fear of losing their lives.



Accordingly, his latest Hail Mary bomb comes equipped with a nuclear warhead.



McCain barreled through the door Joe Biden opened with his ill-advised comments about Obama being tested within the first six months of his presidency, flashing back to the Cuban Missile crisis and painting Obama as "untried, untested" and a national security liability.



In contrast, McCain insisted, "I've been tested." Of course, the kind of test given a 26 year-old Navy pilot assigned to Cuban targets, as McCain was during October 1962, is very different from the test a president would face in that kind of crisis. But who needs to worry about details like that when you are playing the mushroom cloud card?

The Power of the Internet and the Failure of Rovian Politics


Age has finally become an issue for John McCain. But the problem isn't the candidate's 72 years; it's the antediluvian approach of his campaign.



McCain is running a textbook Rovian race: fear-based, smear-based, anything goes. But it isn't working. The glitch in the well-oiled machine? The Internet.



"We are witnessing the end of Rovian politics," Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google told me. And YouTube, which Google bought in 2006 for $1.65 billion, is one of the causes of its demise.



Thanks to YouTube -- and blogging and instant fact-checking and viral emails -- it is getting harder and harder to get away with repeating brazen lies without paying a price, or to run under-the-radar smear campaigns without being exposed.



But the McCain campaign hasn't gotten the message, hence the blizzard of racist, alarmist, xenophobic, innuendo-laden accusations being splattered at Obama.



And it seems that the worse McCain is doing in the polls, the more his team is relying on the same gutter tactics. So over the next 15 days, look for the McCain campaign to become even uglier. That's what happens when following Rovian politics is your only strategy -- and Rovian politics isn't working.



McCain has stockpiled his campaign with Rove henchmen, including not one but three of the people responsible for the political mugging inflicted on him in 2000.



Just last week he brought on Warren Tompkins in an "unofficial" capacity to see how receptive North Carolina would be to some Rovian slime. After all, it's right next door to South Carolina, where in 2000 Tomkins and his buddies in the Bush campaign spread race-baiting rumors about McCain having an illegitimate black daughter (referring to McCain's adopted Bangladeshi daughter Bridget).



And those disgraceful robo-calls that McCain is running? They were done with the help of Jeff Larson and his firm FLS-Connect -- the same firm that created the robo-calls smearing McCain in 2000.



At the time, McCain's reaction to the attacks on him was: "I believe that there is a special place in hell for people like these."

A Desperate McCain Attacks Obama With Vicious Smears


The McCain campaign is all set to roll out its message for the last 30 days of the campaign: "We may not be good for your bank account, your mortgage, your health care, or your job security -- but none of that will matter if you are dead. John McCain: If You Want to Live."



It's coming a little earlier than expected, but with an imploding economy and no solutions from the McCain camp other than yet another round of tax cuts, Team McCain is hitting the GOP's default key: Be Very Afraid!



The title of McCain's latest TV ad says it all: "Dangerous." The ad brands Obama as "dishonorable," "dangerous," and "too risky for America." That's right, folks, it time to appeal to the voters' Lizard Brains.

Media Insists on Viewing Obama Criticism Through Left-Right Lens

In the last two weeks, there has been a flurry of stories, both in the traditional press and in the blogosphere, that has tried to portray criticism of Barack Obama's recent stands as the sole province of disenchanted members of "the left" -- also referred to as "the far left" (New York Times), "left-winger bloggers" (also New York Times), "the liberal blogosphere" (USA Today, Christian Science Monitor), and "left-wing supporters" (The Telegraph).



And many of these stories have cited me, using the two posts I wrote urging Obama not to water down his brand and tack to the middle in an attempt to attract undecided swing voters as examples of the "fire from the left."



They must not have read the posts carefully. Actually, they must not have read them at all. So allow me to repeat a key graf from the first of these posts:

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Why the Media and Independent Voters Need to Break Up with McCain

I hate to be the one to break up a love affair, especially with Valentine's Day just around the corner, but I can no longer stand idly by and watch the media and independent voters continue to throw themselves at the feet of John McCain.

The John McCain they fell in love with in 2000 -- the straight-shooting, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may maverick -- is no more. He's been replaced by a born-again Bushite willing to say or do anything to win the affection of his newfound object of desire, the radical right.

And we've got the money shot of his betrayal on tape: McCain singing the praises of Karl Rove, calling him "one of the smartest political minds in America," and saying, "I'd be glad to get his advice."

So, please, stop pretending that McCain is still the dashing rebel that made knees buckle back in the day -- and stop referring to him, as the New York Times did this weekend, as "moderate" and a "centrist."

What is it going to take for you guys to face reality? McCain verbally stroking Rove should be the equivalent of that great scene at the end of The Godfather where Diane Keaton's Kay watches in horror as Al Pacino transforms, in the kiss of a ring, from her loving husband Michael into the next Don Corleone. This ain't the same man you married.

I know it's hard. I myself was deeply enamored of the old McCain. In 2000, I invited him to give the keynote address at the Shadow Convention I'd helped organize. He spoke with passion about the need to clean up the "iron triangle of lobbyists, big money, and legislation."

And now he'd be "glad to get" advice from one of the preeminent architects of that triangle?

Of course, McCain's embrace of Rove is just the latest proof that the new McCain bears no relation to the old.

The old John McCain once rightly called Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and like-minded religious bigots "agents of intolerance." The new John McCain now slavishly seeks their endorsement.

The old John McCain talked about trying to do something about global warming and encourage renewable energy. The new John McCain didn't show up for a vote last week on a bill that included tax incentives for clean energy, even though he was in DC. And then his staff misled environmentalists who called to protest by telling them that he had voted for it.

The old John McCain once stood tall as a fearless leader on immigration, co-sponsoring a humane, bipartisan reform bill with Ted Kennedy. The new John McCain, when asked during a recent GOP debate whether he would support his own proposal, replied: "No, I would not." In other words, he was for his core beliefs before he was against them.

What's the opposite of a "maverick?"

So McCan has backed an amendment that would limit the right to habeas corpus, has endorsed an Arizona constitutional amendment that would not only ban gay marriage but deny benefits to unmarried couples of any kind (lest those pesky gay people find some kind of loophole), and has discovered a newfound support for teaching "intelligent design" in schools.

The old John McCain once tried to take the mantle of true conservatism away from George W. Bush. The new John McCain is now essentially running to give America a third Bush term -- and, indeed, will even out-Bush Bush when it comes to staying the disastrous course we're on in Iraq.

Right on time, the new McCain got Bush's blessing on Fox News Sunday: "I know his convictions," Bush said. "I know the principles that drive him. And no doubt in my mind he is a true conservative."

There you have it: John McCain, a Bush conservative. If you love George Bush, and all that he's brought you over the last seven years, you're gonna love John McCain.

And though McCain threw the mouthbreathers at CPAC into weeping, lamentation, and gnashing of teeth last week for not being right-wing enough, he is demonstrating every day that he will be more than right-wing enough come November.

As it turns out, the new John McCain doesn't need any advice from Karl Rove. He's already internalized the Boy Genius' lessons.

If you think the problem with the United States right now is that we haven't given Bush enough time to finish his agenda, then John McCain is your man. If not, it's time to stop running on the fumes of romantic notions past and find a good divorce lawyer (and, yes, I'm talking to you in the campaign press corps and to you independents and to you moderates and to you anti-war McCain voters in Florida).

The Thousand Year War Express is careening along the road to the White House, and the new John McCain is gunning the engine. And he has to be stopped.

The 2008 Race for President and the Search for Our Better Selves

Watching yesterday's Obama rally in Los Angeles featuring Oprah, Caroline Kennedy, Maria Shriver, and Michelle Obama, I was struck by a point that both Michelle Obama and Maria Shriver made but that is rarely discussed during a presidential campaign: the importance of having someone in the Oval Office who can inspire us to tap into the better angels of our nature -- who can stir people to expect more of themselves than they otherwise would.

"The thing I like the best" about Obama, said Shriver, is that "he's not about himself. He's about us... He's about the power of what we can do if we come together." And she quoted from a Hopi Indian prayer: "We are the ones we have been waiting for."

Michelle Obama made a similar point, adding that this "it's about us" dynamic would require all of us to up our game. "[Barack] is ready," she said. "The question is, what are we ready for?... Barack Obama will require that you work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism; that you put down your division; that you come out of your isolation; that you move out of your comfort zones; that you push yourself to be better; and that you engage."

This call echoed something that historian and presidential biographer David McCullough had once said about JFK. "The great thing about Kennedy," he told me, "is that he didn't say I'm going to make it easier for you. He said it's going to be harder. And he wasn't pandering to the less noble side of human nature. He was calling on us to give our best."

I'd interviewed McCullough back in 1999, along with a variety of other political observers, for a column I was doing on the 2000 race and what Americans were looking for in a president.

The consensus opinion, one that crossed party and ideological lines, was that while specific policy proposals and nuts-and-bolts plans are an important part of what a candidate brings to the table, more than anything, people are looking for a leader who can inspire and mobilize them, who can tap into America's latent reserve of idealism.

"A great president," the late Paul Wellstone told me, "is one who successfully calls on all Americans to be their own best selves."

"Every presidential election is a renewal," said McCullough. "Like spring, it brings up all the juices. The people are so tired of contrivance and fabrication and hokum. They really want to be stirred in their spirit. That's when we are at our best. The great presidents are people who caused those who follow them to do more than they thought they were capable of."

"The American people," said Cornel West, "want a statesman who will tell the truth about our collective life together, good and bad, up and down, vices and virtues. That is the ultimate act of respect for the American people."

"What a successful president does," William F. Buckley Jr. told me, "is transcend the usual marketplace collisions. FDR accomplished that, and so did Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. A successful president isn't necessarily one who takes us in a direction I applaud. But he is somebody who does get the country excited about a political purpose."

Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin agreed: "We need to get away from a political system that is so filled with minute public opinion polls and focus groups and the ability to know what the electorate is thinking at every moment that the leader loses his instincts for boldness. The job is not simply to reflect current opinion but to challenge it, move it forward and shape it. The ability to just take a stand and know that you can move the country to that stand is a lost art we need to recapture."

Back in '99, I also spoke to Sen. John McCain, who hadn't yet begun his 2000 bid for president. He too focused on "the ability to inspire Americans," and reached back to a defining moment in our history -- JFK's speech proposing the Peace Corps: "Young people were willing to live in a village hut in Africa for years and dig irrigation ditches," said McCain. "Why were they willing to do that? Why were they in fact eager to do that? It's because he inspired them to do it." Almost a decade later, McCain is still talking about sacrifice -- but these days he's thinking less of time spent digging ditches in Africa, and more of blood spilled on the streets of Iraq. Alas.

After the dark, uninspiring -- indeed deeply alienating -- years of the Bush presidency, the feeling that I took away from these conversations resonates even more profoundly today: that it is time we recognize that our search for a great president is also a search for our better selves. Finally, a political litmus test that matters: Which presidential candidate can lead us to do more good than we think we're capable of?

Big Money Conservatives Do Not Heart Huckabee

With Mike Huckabee's continuing surge, the Republican Party now has an Iowa front-runner whose religious beliefs are virtually identical to those of George Bush. He's anti-choice, born-again, against gay-marriage, and gets political advice directly from God.

So why is the Republican establishment suddenly in a state of near-apoplexy about Mike Huckabee? Shouldn't they be happy? They've been cultivating evangelicals and fundamentalists for 30 years. Now they finally have a candidate who's truly part of the movement. So what's the problem?

Actually, that is the problem. The evangelical crowd was fine when it was just a resource to be cynically exploited every few years in demagogic anti-gay get-out-the-vote campaigns. But now the holy-rolling monster the GOP's Dr. Frankensteins have created has thrown off the shackles, fled the lab, and is currently leading in Iowa. And the party doesn't know what to do.

It's actually fun to watch the consternation. Ross Douthat has dubbed this feeling "Huckenfreude," which he defines as "pleasure derived from the outrage of prominent conservative pundits over the rising poll numbers of Mike Huckabee."

And there is certainly no shortage of outrage among hyperventilating conservative columnists across the country. The National Review's Rich Lowry has coined a neologism of his own: "Huckacide." This is when a national party commits suicide by nominating an "under-vetted former governor who is manifestly unprepared to be president of the United States."

Yeah, that would certainly be crazy, wouldn't it? Makes you wonder where these people have been for the last seven years.

Over at the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer is wringing his hands about an "overdose of public piety," "scriptural literalism," and how the 2008 campaign is "knee-deep in religion."

At the Weekly Standard, Stephen Hayes worries about the fact that Huckabee "told a producer for Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network that his religious background made him most qualified to lead the war on terror," and that he "seems to believe the best foreign policy is one guided by the Golden Rule." Scoffing at the Golden Rule? What's next, attacking the Boy Scout Oath? And what it is about Huckabee's name that inspires a whole new lexicon? The Weekly Standard's headline writers couldn't resist, dubbing his perceived foreign policy shortcomings "The Perils of Huckaplomacy."

Over at the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan frets that the Republican Party of today wouldn't like Ronald Reagan much now that "faith has been heightened as a determining factor in how to vote," and says that voters in Iowa "may be deciding if Republicans are becoming a different kind of party."

If? If??

Turns out that when you define your party a certain way for a two or three decades, people actually start to believe it, and that definition can, in fact, become your party.

According to Andrew Sullivan, "it is certainly too late for fellow-traveling Christianists like Lowry and Krauthammer to start whining now. This is their party. And they asked for every last bit of it."

The Republican establishment is tying itself in knots trying to land on a publicly acceptable rationale for their Huckabhorrence (I told you, it's irresistible). Some criticize his "fair tax" plan -- but since when have nutty economic plans ever disqualified a Republican presidential candidate?

No, the real reason is class. As Kevin Drum puts it, "mainstream conservatives are mostly urban sophisticates with a libertarian bent, not rural evangelicals with a social conservative bent. They're happy to talk up NASCAR and pickup trucks in public, but in real life they mostly couldn't care less about either. Ditto for opposing abortion and the odd bit of gay bashing via proxy. But when it comes to Ten Commandments monuments and end times eschatology, they shiver inside just like any mainstream liberal."

As Steve Benen writes at TPM, "The Republican Party's religious right base is supposed to be seen, not heard. Candidates are supposed to pander to this crowd, not actually come from this crowd."

They want their base to be a kind of electoral cicada: wake up every four years, vote, and then go underground and shut-up.

Will Huckabee win the nomination? No one knows. But win or lose, I can't see this genie going back in the bottle. One danger for the Huckabee haters is that right wing social positions aren't the only thing they've been nurturing for 30 years -- there's also this sense of aggrieved, martyred hatred of "the elites." Of course, it's usually completely manufactured. But this time, there really is a group looking down its nose at the evangelicals -- and it's not godless liberals. It's the supporters of Romney, McCain, Thompson and Giuliani. So what's going to happen when evangelicals realize this and tap into the hatred of "the elites" the GOP establishment has been whipping up in them for three decades?

Mark Kleiman points out that Huckabee is the only non-millionaire among the serious GOP contenders, and the only one who doesn't court what Kevin Drum calls the "money-cons" -- those Republicans for whom globalization is the only true religion.

Republicans have been running on a faux populist/religiously conservative platform ever since Richard Nixon. It was refined and heightened by Lee Atwater and again by Karl Rove. And now that they have a rising candidate who truly represents that platform, the movers and shakers of the party are doing all they can to kneecap him.

But as the Good Book says: "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

Will Bush Suck the GOP Down the Drain With Him?

George Bush continues to swirl around the drain; the only question now is: will he suck the Republican Party down with him?

Michael Gerson, the speechwriter responsible for many of the president's rare moments of eloquence ("the soft bigotry of low expectations," "Grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a time. Goodness, remembrance, and love have no end.") certainly sounded gloomy about the current state of the GOP during his spot on Sunday's This Week with George Stephanopoulos: "The party is in a funk. There is a lack of creativity, very little domestic policy energy. I think it's going to be a problem."

Of course, Gerson is one of the party's brightest thinkers and a Bush loyalist, so his calling it "a problem" must be translated as "a disaster." In the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll [pdf], a whopping 74 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track. Only 24 percent think we're heading in the right direction.

Which makes the behavior of the leading GOP presidential candidates all the more befuddling. To a man, every one of the top tier candidates -- Giuliani, Romney, McCain, Thompson, and Huckabee -- seems intent on competing to see who can out-Bush Bush. Not a single one of them has tried to put any distance between himself and the president -- especially on foreign policy, the area of Bush's most catastrophic policies. As George Will put it, "They are, if anything, to the right of [Bush] on foreign policy. There's a bidding war to see who can be more hawkish toward Iran."

I've written about how the lunatic fringe of the GOP has taken over the party. Well, the takeover is so complete that those looking to lead the party have come to the conclusion that the only way they can win is to compete for the 24 percent of the country that does not think we are headed over the edge of a cliff.

They are all vying to be voted head wacko of the lunatic fringe. Running on a platform of heightened Bushism, they seem to think the reason three-quarters of the country has turned against the president is because he just wasn't extreme enough. So the problems of the GOP will only intensify when Bush packs his bags.

The reign of Bush and Cheney has not only alienated the public. It has also alienated conservative intellectuals like Gerson and Will -- and Bill Buckley, the godfather of conservative intellectuals.

Back in April, writing about Iraq, Buckley called public opinion on the war "savagely decisive" and concluded, "There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican Party will survive this dilemma."

If the Republican Party in its current shape ends up fading away to obscurity and irrelevancy, for its epitaph, we can use the words of Don Rumsfeld (trying to sugar coat a different debacle): "The dead-enders are still with us, those remnants of the defeated regimes who'll go on fighting long after their cause is lost."

Now, can some please explain to me why the Democrats keep caving in to this bunch of dead-enders?

Candidates Turn Negative Comments into Fundraising Gold

p>There are many explanations as to why Fred Thompson is coming up light in the fundraising department. Here's another one: people aren't saying enough bad things about him.



Welcome to one of the hottest new trends of Campaign 2008: raising money by being insulted. Or, at least, acting like you've been insulted.



A growing number of candidates have adopted the motto, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words ... will allow me to significantly add to my campaign coffers.



Hillary Clinton's campaign is the latest to try to turn a bash into cash.



After Barack Obama recently chided Hillary for being "Bush-Cheney lite," Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle quickly fired off an aggrieved email, seeking retribution via contribution.



"Can you imagine??" fumed Doyle. "Hillary like George Bush??!! Or Dick Cheney!!" (Focus-group testing must have shown that double punctuation is extra effective when asking for money.) "When you're attacked, you expect your family and friends to stand with you. And one thing is crystal clear: you are Hillary's family; you are Hillary's friends... Now there is only one thing I'm going to ask you to do: CONTRIBUTE. ... Every dollar helps Hillary fight back."



The message was clear: Hillary has been attacked (indeed, "attack" appears six times in Doyle's 440 word whimper) and the only way to salve her wounds is with a CONTRIBUTION (ALL CAPS must have tested well too).



Team Hillary also tried to turn dudgeon into dollars when WaPo fashion writer Robin Givhan had the nerve to write about the minor-but-notable amount of cleavage Hillary had shown during a speech on the Senate floor.



It took the Clinton camp a week to realize that there might be gold in them thar hills, but once they did, the faux fury was palpable: "Would you believe that the Washington Post wrote a 746-word article on Hillary's cleavage?" fumed Senior Clinton advisor Ann Lewis. "That is grossly inappropriate... Click to contribute." (Lewis apparently didn't get the double punctuation or ALL CAPS memos.)



But while the Clinton campaign is clearly catching on to the financial value of being offended, it has a ways to go before it catches up to John Edwards' campaign which, thanks to the serially loose lips of Ann Coulter, has taken mad money to new heights.



It started in March, when Coulter called Edwards a "faggot" at the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference in D.C. That afternoon (no waiting a week for these guys), Edwards campaign manager David Bonior fired off an email calling the episode "one of the worst moments in American politics I've seen," and asking people to "Help us raise $100,000 in 'Coulter Cash' this week to show every would-be Republican mouthpiece that their bigoted attacks will not intimidate this campaign."



The pitch proved even more effective than Bonior had hoped: the "Coulter Cash" appeal brought in $300,000. So it was no surprise that when Coulter struck again, joking on Good Morning America about Edwards being "killed in a terrorist assassination plot," the Edwards campaign sprung into action, blasting out two emails and a telephone text message, including an email from Elizabeth Edwards that featured a clip of her Hardball skirmish with Coulter -- along with the obligatory request for a donation.



The result was fundraising alchemy, turning a slap in the face into a trip to the bank; the gambit turned out to be the Edwards campaign's most effective fundraising email. (Perhaps that is what Joe Trippi meant when he told the New York Times that the Edwardses - particularly Elizabeth -- "get it" when it comes to using the Internet "to reach out to people.")



Interestingly, just as Republican presidential candidates are lagging behind their Democratic counterparts when it comes to overall fundraising, they are also falling short when it comes to cashing in on potentially lucrative negative comments.



Just imagine what the Edwards ire factory could have done with Joe Scarborough asking if Fred Thompson's wife "works the pole" or a Romney supporter's not-very-subtle anti-Thompson jibe about Mitt's wife being his "starter wife and trophy wife, all in one." And while Rudy Giuliani's camp has called Vanity Fair's new highly unflattering profile of Judi Nathan Giuliani "vile" and a "hatchet job," it hasn't sent out an email asking supporters to "help Rudy and Judi fight back." At least not yet.



So do Republican candidates have a thicker skin? Are they less easily offended? Or do they simply still not "get it" when it comes to mining Internet Indignation for campaign gold?



And what of the furiously flush Democrats? Sure, they have tapped into a rich fundraising vein of profitable perturbation. But do they run the risk of appearing mired in a constant state of whininess and victimization?



Will all that Coulter Cash and Cleavage Coin have the unintended blowback of making its recipients look like a bunch of self-pitying wimps?

How the New Energy Bill Adds Fuel to a Bloomberg Candidacy


In laying the groundwork this week for a possible independent run for the White House, Michael Bloomberg has been making the case that "Washington is sinking into a swamp of dysfunction."



Exhibit A in his argument should be the debate currently underway in the Senate over raising fuel efficiency standards for the auto industry. It's a perfect example of the fetid D.C. bog at its most dysfunctional.



Raising CAFE standards should be a no-brainer. It's the fastest and most efficient way to reduce our dependence on oil -- especially foreign oil. An increase of just 3 mpg nationwide would save one million barrels of oil per day. But for close to 25 years, the U.S. auto industry and its allies in Congress have repeatedly fought back any and all efforts to raise mileage standards.



That's right, despite all that has happened in the last quarter century in terms of the environment and shifting world politics, the mileage requirement for cars, truck, and SUVs hasn't changed a lick since A Flock of Seagulls was a hot band and Rubik's Cubes wer all the rage. Passenger cars are still required to get just 27.5 miles per gallon, while SUVs and light trucks only have to get 21 mpg.



But due to mounting concern over climate change, our dependence on Middle East oil, and skyrocketing gas prices, the political wind has at long last shifted, and an increase in fuel standards is an idea whose time has finally come -- embraced not just by environmentalists but by groups like SAFE, a coalition of top corporate and military leaders that see this as a foreign policy issue.



Even President Bush -- an oilman who has spent the last six and a half years turning the White House into a full-service fueling station for Big Oil -- has jumped on the CAFE bandwagon and is supporting a proposal that would require both cars and trucks to reach 35 miles a gallon by 2020.



To put this modest increase into perspective, automakers have already managed to comply with much tougher mileage standards all over the world, including 46 mpg in Japan and 44 mpg in Europe. And that is what they are doing today, not 13 years from now.



Nevertheless, Detroit is still fighting progress tooth and nail. Automakers originally were sticking to their guns and pushing for no increase at all but, after finally seeing the writing on the wall, are now desperately trying to water down the already watered down CAFE provision in the energy bill currently under debate. And they are getting help from a group of lawmakers that includes Michigan's two Democratic Senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow. They are pushing a compromise amendment that would require cars to get 36 mpg by 2022, while allowing trucks and SUVs to continue lagging behind, required only to get 30 mpg by 2025.



It's modern politics at its worst. Instead of embracing a big idea that is long overdue and seizing a moment of national consensus on one of the biggest issues of the day -- energy independence -- Levin, Stabenow, and their cohorts are giving in to the lobbyists and the special interests that have defined Washington for decades now. It should come as no surprise that Levin and Stabenow have been major recipients of auto industry largess -- Levin taking in $104,000 from Big Auto since 2001, and Stabenow pocketing over $115,000 from automakers, auto dealers, and auto worker unions.



According to Stabenow, the proposed mileage increase "doesn't do anything to help us." Which makes me wonder: which "us" is she referring to -- the American people or the auto industry?



Either way, she's dead wrong. It goes without saying that raising fuel standards would be good for the American people. (As Southwest Airlines chairman Herb Kelleher, a member of SAFE, put it: "We concluded that the overall dependence of the United States on oil was a great vulnerability, and by continuing it we were helping the people who opposed us.") But it would also be good for Detroit.



For far too long, Washington has been an enabler of the auto industry's refusal to get with the times. Detroit missed the boat on hybrid technology and so many other innovations because, instead of forcing auto makers into corporate rehab to clean up their act, our leaders in Washington have acted as a dysfunctional parent -- not only turning a blind eye to Detroit's wild ways but actively encouraging it by creating outrageous loopholes like the one that allows buyers of extra-large gas-guzzling SUVs to take extra-large deductions on their taxes. It would be like Lindsay Lohan's mom leaving a vial of crack on her daughter's pillow at night.



Washington needs to adopt a zero tolerance policy for Detroit -- and for business-as-usual political maneuvers like the one Levin and Stabenow are attempting.



It's behavior like this that could fuel a "drain the swamp" candidacy like Bloomberg's.

Democratic Candidates Are Deafeningly Silent on the Drug War


There is a major disconnect in the 2008 Democratic race for the White House.



While all the top candidates are vying for the black and Latino vote, they are completely ignoring one of the most pressing issues affecting those constituencies: the failed War on Drugs, a war that has morphed into a war on people of color.


Consider this: according to a 2006 ACLU report, African Americans make up 15 percent of drug users, but account for 37 percent of those arrested on drug charges, 59 percent of those convicted, and 74 percent of all drug offenders sentenced to prison. Or consider this: America has 260,000 people in state prisons on nonviolent drug charges; 183,200 (more than 70 percent) are black or Latino.



Such facts and figures have been bandied about for years. But what to do about the legion of nonviolent -- predominantly minority -- drug offenders has long been an electrified third-rail in American politics, a subject to be avoided at all costs by our political leaders, who fear being incinerated on contact for being soft on crime.



You might have thought this would change during a spirited Democratic presidential campaign. But a quick search of the top Democratic hopefuls' websites reveals that not one of them -- not Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama, not John Edwards, not Joe Biden, not Chris Dodd, not Bill Richardson -- even mentions the drug war, let alone offers any solutions.



The silence coming from Clinton and Obama is particularly deafening.



Obama has written eloquently about his own struggle with drugs, but has not addressed the tragic effect the war on drugs is having on African American communities.



As for Clinton, she flew into Selma to reinforce her image as the wife of "the first black president," and has made much of her plan to attract female voters, but has ignored the suffering of poor, black women right in her own backyard.



Located down the road from her Chappaqua home are two prisons housing female inmates, Taconic and Bedford. Forty-eight percent of the women in Taconic are there for nonviolent drug offenses; 78% of those in the prison are African-American or Hispanic. And Bedford, the state's only maximum security prison for women, is home to some of the worst victims of New York's draconian Rockefeller drug laws -- mothers and grandmothers whose first brush with the law resulted in their being locked away for 15 years or more on nonviolent drug charges.



Yet even though these prisons are so nearby, Clinton has turned a blind eye to the plight of the women locked away there, notably refusing to speak out on their behalf.



Our political leaders' avoidance of this issue comes with a very stiff price (and not just the more than $50 billion a year we're spending on the failed drug war). The toll is paid in shattered families, devastated inner cities, and wasted lives (with no apologies for using that term).



During the ten years I've been writing about the injustice of the drug war, I've repeatedly seen politicians pay lip service to doing something about it, then duck and watch as the sickening status quo claimed more victims. Here in California, of the 171,000 inmates jamming our wildly overcrowded prisons, 36,000 are nonviolent drug offenders.



I remember in 1999 asking Dan Bartlett, then the campaign spokesman for candidate George Bush, about Bush's position on the outrageous disparity between the sentences meted out for possession of crack and those given for possession of powder cocaine - a disparity that has helped fill America's prisons with black low-level drug users. Federal sentencing guidelines dictate that judges impose the same five-year prison sentence for possession of five grams of crack or 500 grams of powder cocaine.



"The different sentencing for crack cocaine and powder cocaine is something that there's no doubt needs to be addressed," Bartlett told me. But in the more than six years since Bush and Bartlett moved into the White House, the problem has gone unaddressed. No doubt about it.



Maybe the president will suddenly wake up and decide to take on the issue five days before he leaves office. That's what Bill Clinton did, writing a 2001 New York Times op-ed in which he trumpeted the need to "immediately reduce the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences" -- conveniently putting aside the fact that he had the power to solve it for eight years and did nothing.



When it mattered, he maintained an imperial silence. Then, when it didn't, he became Captain Courageous. And he lamented the failures of our drug policy, acting as though he had been an innocent bystander rather than the chief executive presiding over these failures (indeed, the prison population doubled on his watch).



As a result of our political leaders' neglect, the disparity has continued to wreak havoc on the black community. Even though the majority of crack users are white or Hispanic, 80% of sentenced crack defendants are black. The injustice is so egregious that a conservative Republican senator, Jeff Sessions, is now leading the charge in Congress to ease crack sentences.



"I believe that as a matter of law enforcement and good public policy crack cocaine sentences are too heavy and can't be justified," says Sessions. "People don't want us to be soft on crime, but I think we ought to make the law more rational."



There's a talking point Hillary and Obama should adopt. It's both the right thing and the smart thing. Because of disenfranchisement statues, large numbers of black men who were convicted of drug crimes are ineligible to vote, even those who have fully paid their debt to society. A 2000 study found that 1.4 million African American men -- 13 percent of the total black male population -- were unable to vote in the 2000 election because of state laws barring felons access to the polls. In Florida, one in three black men is permanently disqualified from voting. Think that might have made a difference in the 2000 race? Our short-sighted drug laws have become the 21st Century manifestation of Jim Crow.



Shouldn't this be an issue Democratic presidential candidates deem worthy of their attention?

The War on Drugs Is Really a War on Minorities

There is a subject being forgotten in the 2008 Democratic race for the White House.

While all the major candidates are vying for the black and Latino vote, they are completely ignoring one of the most pressing issues affecting those constituencies: the failed "war on drugs" -- a war that has morphed into a war on people of color.

Consider this: According to a 2006 report by the American Civil Liberties Union, African Americans make up an estimated 15% of drug users, but they account for 37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted and 74% of all drug offenders sentenced to prison. Or consider this: The U.S. has 260,000 people in state prisons on nonviolent drug charges; 183,200 (more than 70%) of them are black or Latino.

Such facts have been bandied about for years. But our politicians have consistently failed to take action on what has become yet another third rail of American politics, a subject to be avoided at all costs by elected officials who fear being incinerated on contact for being soft on crime.

Perhaps you hoped this would change during a spirited Democratic presidential primary? Unfortunately, a quick search of the top Democratic hopefuls' websites reveals that not one of them -- not Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama, not John Edwards, not Joe Biden, not Chris Dodd, not Bill Richardson -- even mentions the drug war, let alone offers any solutions.

The silence coming from Clinton and Obama is particularly deafening.

Obama has written eloquently about his own struggle with drugs but has not addressed the tragic effect the war on drugs is having on African American communities.

As for Clinton, she flew into Selma, Ala., to reinforce her image as the wife of the black community's most beloved politician and has made much of her plan to attract female voters, but she has ignored the suffering of poor, black women right in her own backyard.

Located down the road from her Chappaqua, N.Y., home are two prisons housing female inmates, Taconic and Bedford. Forty-eight percent of the women in Taconic are there for nonviolent drug offenses; 78% of those in the prison are African American or Latino.

And Bedford, the state's only maximum-security prison for women, is home to some of the worst victims of New York's draconian Rockefeller-era drug laws -- mothers and grandmothers whose first brush with the law resulted in their being locked away for 15 years or more on nonviolent drug charges.

Yet even though these prisons are so nearby, Clinton has turned a blind eye to the plight of the women locked away there, notably refusing to speak out on their behalf.

Avoidance of this issue comes at a very stiff price (and not just the more than $50 billion a year we're spending on the failed drug war). The toll is paid in shattered families, devastated inner cities and wasted lives (with no apologies for using that term).

During the 10 years I've been writing about the injustice of the drug war, I've repeatedly watched as politicians paid lip service to the problem but then ducked as the sickening status quo claimed more victims. In California, of the 171,000 inmates jamming the state's wildly overcrowded prisons, 36,000 are nonviolent drug offenders.

I remember in 1999 asking Dan Bartlett, then the campaign spokesman for candidate George W. Bush, about Bush's position on the outrageous disparity between the sentences meted out for possession of crack cocaine and those given for possession of powder cocaine -- a disparity that has helped fill U.S. prisons with black low-level drug users (80% of sentenced crack defendants are black). Federal sentencing guidelines dictate that judges impose the same five-year prison sentence for possession of five grams of crack or 500 grams of powder cocaine.

"The different sentencing for crack cocaine and powder cocaine is something that there's no doubt needs to be addressed," Bartlett told me. But in the more than six years since Bush and Bartlett moved into the White House, the problem has gone unaddressed. No doubt about it.

Maybe the president will suddenly wake up and decide to take on the issue five days before he leaves office. That's what Bill Clinton did, writing a 2001 New York Times Op-Ed article in which he trumpeted the need to "immediately reduce the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences" -- conveniently ignoring the fact that he had the power to solve it for eight years and did nothing.

When it mattered, he maintained an imperial silence. Then, when it didn't, he became Captain Courageous. And he lamented the failures of our drug policy as though he had been an innocent bystander rather than the chief executive (indeed, the prison population doubled on his watch).

The injustice is so egregious that a conservative senator, Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), is now leading the charge in Congress to ease crack sentences. "I believe that as a matter of law enforcement and good public policy, crack cocaine sentences are too heavy and can't be justified," he said. "People don't want us to be soft on crime, but I think we ought to make the law more rational."

There's a talking point Hillary and Obama should adopt. It's both the right thing and the smart thing. Because of disenfranchisement statutes, large numbers of black men who were convicted of drug crimes are ineligible to vote, even those who have fully paid their debt to society.

A 2000 study found that 1.4 million African American men -- 13% of the total black male population -- were unable to vote in the 2000 election because of state laws barring felons access to the polls. In Florida, one in three black men is permanently disqualified from voting. Think that might have made a difference in the 2000 race? Our shortsighted drug laws have become the 21st century manifestation of Jim Crow.

Shouldn't this be an issue Democratic presidential candidates deem worthy of their attention?

Murtha Can Lead an Iraq Withdrawal


Everywhere you look, "experts" are sifting through the rubble of last night and offering standard-issue, conventional wisdom-approved explanations for the GOP's defeat. For a perfect example, check out Ron Brownstein's reading of things in the LA Times, where he divines that the "GOP ceded the center and paid the price." Or DLC founder Al From, who -- surprise, surprise -- claimed Tuesday as "a victory for the vital center of American politics over the extremes."



Nonsense. The GOP lost for three reasons: Iraq, Iraq, and Iraq. Period. End of discussion.

Election Day 2006 was an unambiguous repudiation of the Bush administration's failed and tragic policy in Iraq. In race after race after race, Democrats who were unequivocal on Iraq prevailed. Democrats who ran campaigns by the book, listened to their consultants, and veered to Al From's "vital center", lost.



A perfect example of this can be found in Pennsylvania, where Joe Sestak and Patrick Murphy both made strong anti-Iraq positions a key part of their congressional campaigns. Sestak, a retired three-star admiral, called the war a "tragic misadventure" and advocated withdrawing U.S. troops by June 2007. Murphy, an Iraq war vet, praised the leadership of Jack Murtha, and said, "We need to start bringing our men and women home now." Both men won.



Conversely, Lois Murphy, who many pegged as a sure-fire Democratic pick-up, avoided putting Iraq front and center -- and lost. She didn't even mention Iraq in the "On the Issues" or "Making Us Safer" pages of her campaign website.



Then there is Ned Lamont, who paid the price for trying to play it both ways on Iraq. He initially, and courageously, ran on the need to leave Iraq -- and came from nowhere to win the Democratic primary. He then put the war on the back burner for months -- giving Lieberman time to not just get off the mat but to learn his lesson on Iraq and begin muddying the waters by also using anti-war rhetoric. By the time Lamont went back to pounding Lieberman on Iraq, it was too late.



The Iraq dynamic played itself out across the country. In New Hampshire's 1st District, social worker Carol Shea-Porter, who unequivocally said "We have to leave Iraq," defeated incumbent Jeb Bradley, despite no financial support from Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC. In Kentucky, anti-Iraq progressive John Yarmuth, who said that Americans are no longer fighting terrorists in Iraq, "we're fighting Iraqis," unseated five-term incumbent Ann Northrup.



And here are some other Senatorial and Congressional winners on Iraq:



Sherrod Brown, Senator-elect from Ohio, who defeated two-term incumbent Mike DeWine: "From the beginning, I have been an outspoken critic of the Iraq war."



Jay McNerney of California, who defeated seven-term incumbent Richard Pombo: "I'm 100 percent in favor of Congressman Murtha's plan."



Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who beat 12-term incumbent Nancy Johnson: "We must leave Iraq as soon as possible..."



Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who defeated ardent anti-immigration candidate Randy Graf: "My priority is to bring our troops home safe and soon."



Baron Hill of Indiana, who defeated incumbent Mike Sodrel: "We stand for getting our boys and girls out of Iraq sooner rather than later."



Dave Loebsack of Iowa, who defeated 15-term incumbent Jim Leach: "Complete disengagement from Iraq in the next year will serve to enhance America's security."



Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator-elect from Rhode Island, who was even more strongly anti-war than anti-war incumbent Lincoln Chafee: "I support a rapid and responsible withdrawal of our troops from Iraq."



Don't let the DLC and DCCC spin-meisters fool you. This election was not a mandate for the Democratic Party to run to the middle. It was a mandate for the Democratic Party to do everything in its power to get us out of Iraq -- rapidly and responsibly.



And that's why the next thing Democrats need to do is make sure that Jack Murtha becomes the new Majority Leader of the House. He led the charge to make Iraq the central issue of this campaign, and led the charge to keep pressing the issue when other Democratic leaders wanted to tone down the rhetoric or move economic issues to the forefront.



Jack Murtha's leadership sparked last night's victory and has given Democrats control of Congress for the first time in a dozen years. Now they have to complete the end-the-Iraq-debacle mission the voters have given them. And Murtha's the leader who can take them the rest of the way.

Before the Polls Close


Even before the polls close -- hell, even before they open-- the battle within both parties to control the '06 narrative, to define what the results of this election mean, has already begun.



Tuesday's key fight is the get-out-the-vote ground war, but behind-the-scenes the struggle is to spin the results -- whatever they may be.<
Sensing victory in the House, and keeping their fingers crossed on the Senate, the Democratic Party's competing factions -- DLC centrists on one side, progressives on the other -- are eagerly trying to frame the hoped for good news as proof that their side is right.



Leading the charge for the centrists, as he has for the last 14 years, is Bill Clinton. At a private fundraiser last week, the DLC Dem's Big Dog framed the Democrats' '06 return from the dead as a victory for triangulation and the party's ability to make itself more appealing to conservative voters.



Speaking of the current GOP, Clinton said "The reason we are at this moment is that they do not represent faithfully the Republicans and the more conservative independents in this country... If you're a conservative on the budget, on law enforcement, on the rule of law, when it comes to the environment, on the conservation of our military resources, you have to be a Democrat."



In other words, Democrats are winning because they have run to the right and cloaked themselves in the mantle of conservatism.



It's the same mindset that has sunk the Democrats again and again. Shades of John Kerry in '04, putting on that just-off-the-rack hunting suit and saying of rural voters, "I actually represent the conservative values that they feel."



Yes, Democrats have to appeal to Red State voters -- not by aping conservatives but by standing up for progressive values. For instance, check out this Wall Street Journal article about how the fight against free trade agreements and the movement of American jobs offshore has been a beneficial position for a surprising number of Democratic candidates. In fact, according to Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, trade/offshoring is being used as a key wedge issue in over 100 races nationwide.



Triangulating as the way to victory has the stink of self-loathing all over it. A loathing of what the Democratic Party can really be.



Indeed, on the central issue of this election -- Iraq -- it's not that, as a group, Democrats have shifted to offer real leadership; it's that events have shifted the mood of the electorate away from backing a failed foreign policy that was the foundation of GOP victories in 2002 and 2004.



Clinton and the DLC Dems are ready to claim a strategic victory whatever Tuesday's outcome. If Democrats prevail, we will be told it's because they returned to a third-way scheme. If Dems lose, it will be blamed on progressives pushing too hard on Iraq.



Progressives need to be ready to counter those specious arguments. As Bill Scher put it, "No matter what happens Tuesday, we all have work to do to better articulate what the Democratic Party stands for." His contention: "Without consistently articulating the core liberal principles that gird the Democratic Party, we will only be able to win the occasional fluke election, not a string of elections that come with real mandates."



Of course, Republicans are having their own internecine turf war, with those on the right pointing the finger for the party's troubles at the abandonment of conservative ideals -- and those in the party who've been challenging Bush on Iraq making the case against the party's foreign policy.



In a stinging rebuke entitled "GOP Must Go," the editors of The American Conservative wrote: "There may be little Americans can do to atone for this presidency, which will stain our country's reputation for a long time. But the process of recovering our good name must begin somewhere, and the logical place is in the voting booth this Nov. 7. If we are fortunate, we can produce a result that is seen -- in Washington, in Peoria, and in world capitals from Prague to Kuala Lumpur -- as a repudiation of George W. Bush and the war of aggression he launched against Iraq" -- a war the magazine describes as "a war we are now losing and cannot win, one that has done far more to strengthen Islamist terrorists than anything they could possibly have done for themselves."



When The American Conservative starts sounding like The Nation, you know that we have entered rarely charted political waters.



This is why the coming narrative battle promises to be as profound as it is passionate. And why 2006 could prove to be the most transformative election in a generation -- no matter the final outcome.






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