Friday, January 26, 2007

Come on Dems, Do the Right Thing!

Digby has a post today that follows nicely on the theme raised by AC in my last post -- that the Democrats need to be aggressive and unafraid. The public is behind them, they have a mandate to provide oversight and opposition to BushCo's madness and corruption.

I can't make up my mind about whether Digby is exhorting or imploring us to exhort (or implore) the members of Congress to "do the right thing". Digby opens with:
Rick Perlstein has two very important articles running right now that everyone should read. I would really love it if our Democratic representatives, especially, would read them, so if any of you have some extra time on your hands and would like to forward the articles to your Democratic congressperson and Senators, you would be doing a public service.

Democrats do not understand their own history and because of that they are allowing certain GOP myths to govern their decisions about Iraq. Perlstein's articles vividly describe how the history of Vietnam has been distorted, how it was done, who did it and why the Democrats find themselves battling fake ghosts instead of riding on the backs of real ones.


He outlines several important lessons:
1: "Forthright questioning of a mistaken war by prominent legislators can utterly transform the public debate, pushing it in directions no one thought it was prepared to go."

2: "Congress horning in on war powers scares the bejesus out of presidents."

3: "Presidents, arrogant men, lie. And yet the media, loath to undermine the authority of the commander in chief, trusts them. Today's congressional war critics have to be ready for that. They have to do what Congress immediately did next, in 1970: It grasped the nettle, at the president's moment of maximum vulnerability, and turned public opinion radically against the war, and threw the president far, far back on his heel."
And perhaps the most important lesson in this moment:

Grass-roots activism works.


Perlstein continues:
We can likewise expect a similarly nasty presidential campaign against whomever the Democrats nominate in 2008. But we can also assume that he or she won't be as naive and unqualified to win as McGovern; one hopes the days in which liberals fantasized that the electorate would react to the meanness of Republicans by reflexively embracing the nicest Democrat are well and truly past. What we also should anticipate, as well, is the possibility that the Republicans will run as Nixon did in 1968 and 1972: as the more trustworthy guarantor of peace. Ten days before the 1972 election, Henry Kissinger went on TV to announce, "It is obvious that a war that has been raging for 10 years is drawing to a conclusion ... We believe peace is at hand." McGovern-Hatfield having ultimately failed twice, its supporters were never able to claim credit for ending the war. That ceded the ground to Nixon, who was able to claim the credit for himself instead. He never would have been able to do that if he had been forced to veto legislation to end the war
I highlighted that line above because it's the single thing I fear the most. I don't believe that after all these years of vicious conservatism that most liberal activists are that naive. But I do believe that all this beltway babble about bipartisanship is designed to make the media and then the electorate believe that the only way a Democrat can win is by being the most passionless bowl of lukewarm water.


It is that little piece of mythic propaganda that has our current politicans turning themselves into pretzels over using the power of the purse to stop this war. It's a testament to the ongoing success of the conservative movement's potent disinformation machine.

But Democrats need to stop battling these ghosts at least long enough to look at how the anti-war movement actually operated and how the congress used wily legislative positioning to both reflect the popular will and move the president toward it.


Whether any of us like it or not, that era is defining the present one. So, it behooves our Democratic representatives to at least decontruct this stuff for themselves so they can deal effectively with the war and wield their power as a congressional majority most effectively. To do that they need to read these two articles by the historian who has spent the last few years immersed in the politics of the period --- a man who wasn't even born until the late 60's and has no axe to grind. He has something important to tell them.


Blogger liberal journal man said...

Not much to add here. It's completely right.

12:28 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

And yet, how confident are you that the Dems will do it? The greatest success they've known in a decade was realized by those who spoke out against BushCo's corruption and lies. The vast majority want an end to the Culture of Corruption and want (and will support) elected reps who Do the Right Thing.

If not now, when?

12:58 AM  
Blogger liberal journal man said...

I get the feeling that even if polls revealed that 100% of Americans were against a surge or the war, Democrats still wouldn't do it. I think for most, it's about fear. For others, including some in the leadership, well, I'm scared to speculate.

4:21 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

I'm afraid that you are right. I've written before about the Dems pathological unwillingness to Do the Right Thing.

I just don't understand them. What are they so afraid of?

8:56 PM  

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