Monday, April 16, 2007

Krugman gets it half right: Democrats are fighting their base

The terrific Paul Krugman gets it half right in this important column. The Democratic base and a large section of independents understands that the Iraq war is doing everything the Bush-Cheney clique intended: the destruction of Iraqi and (somewhat more subtly) US civil society, the destabilization of the Middle East and, if they can pull it off, enlarging the war to Iran and Syria.

So the question is why, faced with the most brutal and destructive president in US history, the opposition won't challenge him on the most obvious and critical policy question facing the US and the international community.

Krugman's answer is that the Democrats are afraid to challenge the president despite the overwhelming majority begging them to do just that. Either Krugman is in denial about the power of the big New York money men or he chooses the better part of valor.

Alexander Cockburn and led the way in pointing out how Democratic leader, Rahm Emmanuel, has successfully headed off the most vocal and effective anti-war Democratic candidates from last November's elections. Emmanuel, on behalf of the Democratic Party, which is beholden to those extremist Zionist billionaires, has played a key role in insuring that there is no effective majority in Congress for immediate withdrawal -- something the whole country desperately wants and needs.

Similarly we observe no outcry from Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid to roll back torture, warrantless wiretapping, the stripping of habeas corpus. These are all seen as measures to control THEM, the Muslims, the anti-Zionists, the liberals and moderates, all those who represent threats to Israel and who are soft on terrorism.

April 16, 2007
New York Times
Op-Ed Columnist
Way Off Base
(note copyright issues)
Normally, politicians face a difficult tradeoff between taking positions that satisfy their party’s base and appealing to the broader public. You can see that happening right now to the Republicans: to have a chance of winning the party’s nomination, Republican presidential hopefuls have to take far-right positions on Iraq and social issues that will cost them a lot of votes in the general election.

But a funny thing has happened on the Democratic side: the party’s base seems to be more in touch with the mood of the country than many of the party’s leaders. And the result is peculiar: on key issues, reluctant Democratic politicians are being dragged by their base into taking highly popular positions.

Iraq is the most dramatic example. Strange as it may seem, Democratic strategists were initially reluctant to make Iraq a central issue in the midterm election. Even after their stunning victory, which demonstrated that the G.O.P.’s smear-and-fear tactics have stopped working, they were afraid that any attempt to rein in the Bush administration’s expansion of the war would be successfully portrayed as a betrayal of the troops and/or a treasonous undermining of the commander in chief.

Beltway insiders, who still don’t seem to realize how overwhelmingly the public has turned against President Bush, fed that fear. For example, as Democrats began, nervously, to confront the administration over Iraq war funding, David Broder declared that Mr. Bush was “poised for a political comeback.”

It took an angry base to push the Democrats into taking a tough line in the midterm election. And it took further prodding from that base — which was infuriated when Barack Obama seemed to say that he would support a funding bill without a timeline — to push them into confronting Mr. Bush over war funding. (Mr. Obama says that he didn’t mean to suggest that the president be given “carte blanche.”)

But the public hates this war, no longer has any trust in Mr. Bush’s leadership and doesn’t believe anything the administration says. Iraq was a big factor in the Democrats’ midterm victory. And far from being a risky political move, the confrontation over funding has overwhelming popular support: according to a new CBS News poll, only 29 percent of voters believe Congress should allow war funding without a time limit, while 67 percent either want to cut off funding or impose a time limit.

Health care is another example of the base being more in touch with what the country wants than the politicians. Except for John Edwards, who has explicitly called for a universal health insurance system financed with a rollback of high-income tax cuts, most leading Democratic politicians, still intimidated by the failure of the Clinton health care plan, have been cautious and cagey about presenting plans to cover the uninsured.

But the Democratic presidential candidates — Mr. Obama in particular — have been facing a lot of pressure from the base to get specific about what they’re proposing. And the base is doing them a favor.

The fact is that a long time has passed since the defeat of the Clinton plan, and the public is now demanding that something be done. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll showed overwhelming support for a government guarantee of health insurance for all, even if that guarantee required higher taxes. Even self-identified Republicans were almost evenly split on the question!

If all this sounds like a setting in which Democrats could win big victories in the years ahead, that’s because it is.

Republicans will, for a while at least, be trapped in unpopular positions by a base that’s living in the past. Rudy Giuliani’s surge into front-runner status for the Republican nomination says more about the party than about the candidate. As The Onion put it with deadly accuracy, Mr. Giuliani is running for “President of 9/11.”

Democrats don’t have the same problem. There’s no conflict between catering to the Democratic base and staking out positions that can win in the 2008 election, because the things the base wants — an end to the Iraq war, a guarantee of health insurance for all — are also things that the country as a whole supports. The only risk the party now faces is excessive caution on the part of its politicians. Or, to coin a phrase, the only thing Democrats have to fear is fear itself.

cuibono wrote:
cuibonote: "And the answer is..." (to the Q. Ronald poses): In a nutshell, UFPJ.

Which the Dems believe can be counted on to do in 2008 what they did in 2004: hold hands w/ the designated War Candidate-Lite & sing Happy Days Are Here Again. "Anybody But Bush, Hurrah For Our Side!" You think it will be "different this time"? Based on what? I'm all ears.

As near as I can tell, the main so-called "peace movement" leadership is actually a Misleadership in bed with the zionist-controlled tweedlecrat party. And I do mean JVP.

Yes, there are a handful of Demos who are really very convincing. Some may actually be sincere. But their main impact on the process is to provide cover for the other ones.

And thus perpetuate mass addiction to Tweedlism.

The challenge becomes how to wean a major sector of the Demo Base -- Labor, Civil Rights, the Healthcare movement, this "peace" movement? -- away from kneejerk support of anything Israeli.
The challenge as it appears to me right now & here in the Big Tomato, is how to establish a Pole* within this anti-Iraqupation movement that plays no footsie with Zionism, which means none with the Dumbocrat party or any of its subsidiaries, JVP, PDA, UFPJ, whoever.

Yes, we can cooperate toward shared objectives, as long as they're strictly defined, and no gag rules are imposed. But those of us who are really serious, and who are alert enough to have a clue what's going on, need to get together and really get clear about this Zionism business, about the true character of the so-called "state of israel" & its "democratic" Apartheid system.

Which for a lot of people means cracking some books, doing some serious homework. Which means getting up off the "do sthg even if it's wrong" addiction to mindless activism for activism's sake, & taking a little time to figger out where all this is going.

Which for me means finding a way to communicate what I know in a way that at least a few of the newbies can grasp it. Not that I know everything, but Miz Elliott din't raise no dummies. Quiet as it's kept, after all this "Time In Grade" I do know where a whole lot of the answers can be found, or how they can be collectively developed. Or if I don't, I know who to ask. (I do have to criticize myself: I haven't been communicating the message very effectively. But I'm working on it.)

However, I'm clear about this much: the question of what UFPJ/PDA really stands for must be placed at the very top of the movement's agenda. Until that question is squarely confronted, all this "Peace Activism" is nothing but masturbation.

*if no Pole is available, try a Littauer? -de]

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