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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Beldar asks his non-moonbat Democratic friends: Can John Kerry do what LBJ couldn't?

Let's say you're a yellow dog Democrat, a patriot, a thoughtful person for whom the world changed on 9/11. Zell Miller's impassioned rant at the RNC didn't strike any responsive chords for you. You supported the war in Afghanistan and you're cautiously optimistic at having seen the successful elections that just took place there. You don't like the Republican positions on social issues, but you do recognize that this election is, and ought to be, first and foremost about foreign policy and domestic security issues. You aren't an appeaser; you know and appreciate quite a bit of history; you're not reflexively against any and all use of America's military power. You're deeply troubled, though, about Iraq; you think it is a big deal that we didn't find stockpiles of WMDs there; and something about George W. Bush just flat rubs you the wrong way. You think all the SwiftVets' stuff is irrelevant ancient history; you think there's not much difference between Kerry misspeaking about the "global test" and Bush misspeaking about the war on terror not being winnable; and besides, you take it as an article of faith that all politicians lie during campaigns. John Kerry, you're thinking, couldn't do much worse in prosecuting the Global War on Terror (or maybe you reject that characterization, in which case, let's just call it "fighting the terrorists.") You're inclined to take him at face value when he says he'll hunt down and kill the terrorists, and that he'll fight a smarter, more effective war fight. You're giving him the benefit of the doubt on the "character" issue. My question to you, my thoughtful, principled friend of the center-left, is this: How is John Kerry going to be able to resolve his fundamental dilemma if he's elected?
"What fundamental dilemma?" you ask. Well, look at your fellow Kerry voters. Look at the Democratic Party; look at its congressmen and senators; look at its policy wonks and think-tankers and fundraisers and likely appointees to key posts, on both domestic and foreign/military policy positions. We've established already that you're not a barking moonbat yourself. Surely, though, you can see them around you in the Kerry queue, can't you? Then in your best-case scenario, my friend, you'll be electing another man who'll be immediately thrust into the position Lyndon Johnson was in as of January 1968 — a man who from the first day of his presidency will be faced by incredible pressures from within his own party, from many of his own advisers and fundraisers and legislators, to do exactly the opposite of what you are counting on Kerry to do. If John Kerry keeps his promises to "fight for this country" — if he keeps his promise not to cut and run in Iraq, for instance — then he's going to seriously piss off, indeed to completely alienate, somewhere between a quarter and half of the people who've voted for him, and probably a much larger percentage of his intelligensia, fundraisers, and activists. If we're not out of Iraq come next July, there's going to be a boom market in "Dean '08" bumper stickers. Because just like you're working on the assumption that when elected, Kerry will indeed take the fight to the enemy, they're working on the assumption that when elected, Kerry's going to get us out of the "wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time." You and the moonbats can't both be right about what Kerry will do. Can we agree on that much, surely? Can we agree that the straddle that might succeed in getting Kerry into the White House can't last once he's there? Johnson's dilemma, of course, ended up never being efffectively resolved. Instead, it crippled his presidency and destroyed him as a leader — as a world leader, a national leader, even as a leader in his own party. It led him to withdraw from the 1968 presidential race three years after winning a historic landslide. It put Richard Nixon in the White House (a memory that still makes you shudder convulsively). That was before Bill Clinton perfected the idea of the "perpetual campaign," when newly elected leaders actually hoped to govern and lead based on their mandate from the last election for a while before beginning the compromises necessary for the next one. And LBJ had a solidly Democratic Congress, and demonstrated, unparalleled skills in manipulating it, which a President Kerry certainly won't have. For John Kerry to fulfill your vision for his presidency — for him to run a "smarter, more effective" fight against the terrorists — he's not only going to have to fade the heat from the Howard Dean wing of the Democratic Party, he's going to have to line up and make effective use of Republican allies. He's going to have to be slicker than Bill Clinton ever dreamed of being, and he's going to have to dance not with them what brung him, but with them what his former dance partners (who'll be screaming "backstabber!") believe to be devils incarnate. He'll need more votes than just John McCain's — you know that, don't you? I know plenty of smart people who, on domestic matters, would be delighted to see our country return to the days of divided government. Arguably that creates a tension that keeps all but the middle-of-the-road legislation from getting through; stuff either has to be genuinely bipartisan, or else have veto-proof support to get passed. Arguably, divided government leads to Clintonesque triangulation, which some folks near the political center, from only slightly to one side or the other, think is an okay thing. But stalemate is not an okay thing in foreign policy matters and security matters. You know this in your heart, don't you? You know that a conflicted warrior, a half-hearted warrior, a timid warrior, is really no warrior at all.
I respect your position, my friend. I wish there were more of you in your party, and that if Sen. Kerry is elected, that he could count on you and those like you, plus sympathetic (non-wingnut) Republicans, to give him an effective working coalition to continue prosecuting the fight against the terrorists. But I ask you — before you pull the lever (or touch the button, whatever) that will be your part to play in deciding how America fights the terrorists for the next four years — do you think John Kerry is up to the task that Lyndon Johnson failed at so miserably? Are you being realistic when you think that President Kerry is going to defeat the terrorists and the peace-at-any-price wing of the Democratic Party? And are you willing to accept the consequences for our country if your hopes, and Kerry's presidency, are frustrated? I know you're profoundly ill at ease with the way things have been going. As a Democrat, you would have to hold your nose and grit your teeth to pull the lever for Bush, and you don't want to do it. You want to feel like you're voting for someone. You want to feel like your vote is an expression of hope, and for whatever reasons, Dubya doesn't make you feel hopeful. But let's not kid each other. You are clear-eyed enough to know that if Dubya's re-elected, he is going to do his damnedest — perhaps without the finesse you'd like to see, perhaps with what you think are some huge blunders along the way — to win the fight against the terrorists. Dubya is a known quantity. Are you willing to gamble that you're right, and the moonbats are wrong, about Kerry's core convictions, and that he'll be a more effective leader than LBJ when he disappoints those moonbats? You, my friend, understand the stakes. I'll respect your decision if you take the gamble; I won't question your patriotism if it doesn't pay off. In fact, if your gamble doesn't pay off, your harshest critic in hindsight won't be me — it'll be yourself. Update (Thu Oct 21 @ 12:30am): Several folks have emailed to ask if I meant January 1964 instead of 1968 in reference to LBJ. No, I didn't. Yes, I know LBJ entered the White House in November 1963 and was first elected in his own right in November 1964 (see reference above to the landslide). But Vietnam, while looming as an issue, wasn't something that crippled his presidency until the 1968 election began to approach. By January 1968, the fracture in the Democratic Party was open, obvious, and growing increasingly bitter; the Tet Offensive started at the end of January 1968; Bobby Kennedy announced his candidacy in mid-March 1968; and LBJ withdrew from the 1968 presidential election race at the end of March. My point was, and is, that a President Kerry would face the same kind of dissension within his party (the left-most fringe of which was screaming "Vietnam!" before American troops entered Baghdad) that LBJ didn't face until he'd already been in the White House for several years.

Posted by Beldar at 04:54 AM in Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Beldar asks his non-moonbat Democratic friends: Can John Kerry do what LBJ couldn't? and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» A Respectful Appeal from I-Magery: A Family Blog

Tracked on Oct 19, 2004 6:56:02 AM

» For what it's worth from Manifest Content

Tracked on Oct 19, 2004 8:15:00 AM

» Beldar using his powers of persuasion makes the ca from The Pink Flamingo Bar Grill

Tracked on Oct 19, 2004 10:00:08 AM

» Beldar's Counter To Flirt from Winds of Change.NET

Tracked on Oct 19, 2004 4:22:35 PM

» BeldarBlog: Beldar asks his non-moonbat Democratic friends: Can John Kerry do what LBJ couldn't? from House Of The Dog

Tracked on Oct 19, 2004 8:02:42 PM

» If Kerry Wins, He's LBJ from Cartago Delenda Est

Tracked on Oct 19, 2004 9:12:12 PM

» This may not convince anyone to vote Republican... from On The Third Hand

Tracked on Oct 20, 2004 7:42:16 AM

» Bow To Your Partner / Bow To Your Corner from Acorns from an Okie

Tracked on Oct 20, 2004 12:06:43 PM

» What Can Kerry Achieve As President? from Just Some Poor Schmuck

Tracked on Oct 20, 2004 8:45:58 PM

» Beldar's Counter To Fling from Winds of Change.NET

Tracked on Oct 21, 2004 1:19:37 PM


(1) goddessoftheclassroom made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 5:42:36 AM | Permalink

May I copy and distribute this to every home in my neighborhood displaying "Kerry/Edwards" signs?

(2) Beldar made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 5:44:29 AM | Permalink

Of course.

(3) perfectsense made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 6:45:55 AM | Permalink

Maybe, they both awarded themselves phony silver stars.

(4) sTEVE made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 8:25:32 AM | Permalink

Nicely done.

(5) [email protected] made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 8:31:26 AM | Permalink

Well said, and I like the diplomatic approach. Although to a moonbat it will seem highly insidious and cynical, it seemed a reasonably stated observation and question. It's important to at least try to build personal bridges to the people that don't feel very Republican but have enough intelligence to think critically and arrive at reasonable decisions. I linked to this, thanks for writing.

[email protected]

(6) Sandy P made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 8:35:25 AM | Permalink

Kerry's base already said they're splitting off on 11/3. Via 10/10 posting at Dailypundit from SFGate:

"We're going to celebrate with John Kerry the night of Nov. 2. But the morning of Nov. 3, we're going to start organizing to take the party away from him, because we have serious disagreements about what the party should stand for and where this country needs to go," said one activist at the "What We Stand For" conference, Bertha Lewis, co-chair of the Working Families Party in New York state and a leader in the grassroots antipoverty group, ACORN.

"In 2004, we have to elect anyone but Bush," said a veteran labor strategist working to link unions with other progressive groups. "But if we keep working and build on the lessons learned and the partnerships we're forging during this fight against Bush, we can elect somebody we really like four or eight years from now."

All this signals a historic shift in the American left's approach to national politics. In the past, left-wing groups and individuals would moan about a Democratic nominee's perceived deficiencies and defect to a protest candidate, such as Ralph Nader or Jesse Jackson.

(7) Lola made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 8:53:33 AM | Permalink

Well, these folks just may find that there's nobody at the party, because any reasonable, sane individual will be backing away from the Democrat Party. After the election, I. Will. Be. Gone. Gone. Gone. from the Democrat Party.

(8) reliapundit made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 8:56:46 AM | Permalink

Me and ommy Franks think Kerry will abandon the emerging democrqacies of AFghanistan and Iraq as soon as the going gets tough.

Franks called this "premature withdrawal" more-or-less. No way to make love - or war!
(see: http://astuteblogger.blogspot.com/2004/10/franks-kerrys-gwot-strategy-is-no-way.html)

I called it ABANDONMENT, in another post; link below.

It's what we did to the South Vietnamese (largely becuase of unrepentent Left-wing doves like Kerry).

As a result of that abandonment, all of Vietnam looks like North Korea, ainstead of South Vietnam looking like South Korea,
Think about it: If doves like Kerry hadn;t forced the Congress to stop financial support for thr SVG, then we'd all be driving VIETNAMESE cars.

More importantly: if it weren't for Kerry and and the Left and the doves, there probably would've never been 1.5MILLION boat people FLEEING tyranny, or Polpot's genocide of 3MILLION!



(9) Dave Schuler made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 9:44:24 AM | Permalink

Excellent post, Beldar. Not surprising I should think so since we're thinking along similar lines. The Johnson parallel is interesting. Closer to hand is Jimmy Carter who faced the same dilemma. And the same failure.

Mr. Kerry only really has two alternatives. He can coddle the radicals in his own party by inaction. If he takes this path, he will certainly face impeachment at the hands of the bitter, angry Republican Congressional majority (not to mention the moderates in his own party whose worst fears he will have confirmed). For those who think this is far-fetched remember we're at war with troops in the field. Since there's no statute of limitation for either war crimes or treason, it shouldn't be hard to trump up grounds.

The other alternative is over-reaction to save his own skin. And then he'll face rebellion from within his own party.

I don't like either of these alternatives.

(10) Kathy made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 9:48:37 AM | Permalink

Insightful and logical presentation! A natural consequence to special interest pandering is universal failure when interests conflict. I wonder if American Jews voting for Kerry are aware of the Arab endorsements (ie. Malaysia), or if his gay constituents are aware of their capital punishment laws for sodomy. It would be an interesting social experiment to put all of his constituents into a room and hear their discussion about what Kerry will do for them.
It would be easier to heal paralyzed people than bring his base together on 11/3.

(11) Cybrludite made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 10:26:21 AM | Permalink

So, you're saying that if it weren't for Kerry, I wouldn't be able to get a decent bowl of Pho Ga around here? (Or a Cafe Sua Da to wash it down with?)

(12) Catherine made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 10:43:24 AM | Permalink

Thank you for writing what I wish I could say to those who look confused. I actually had a friend from Boston whine..."well, Kerry's a mess, but I just can't vote Republican, for Christsakes!" Your essay will be very helpful.

(13) LazyMF made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 10:47:43 AM | Permalink

Is this rhetorical?

If not, and assuming you grant me the non-moonbat status for a day, do you want a response?

(14) slarrow made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 11:10:49 AM | Permalink

Damn, that's an effective essay. Amazing job, Beldar.

Let me frame it slightly differently for your hypothetical non-moonbat Democrat. If John Kerry were to be elected, he will be facing a tension within his own party on the issue of the fight against the terrorists. It may very well come down to this: in order to protect his party, he must harm his country (or at least be prepared to let harm come to his country). To protect his country, he must harm his party, possibly even destroying it and its prospects for political power.

Given what you know of the man, which route do you think he will take? Given the options, do you really want this man as President? Might it not be advisable, just this once, to vote for a Republican for President and give yourselves time to do a little housekeeping in the ol' Democratic homestead?

After all, the way Beldar sets it up, "victory" in November would be an oh-so-temporary thing.

(15) [email protected] made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 11:11:49 AM | Permalink

Let's put aside the issue of what a President Kerry would do in Iraq for a second, and focus instead on the immediate effect of a Kerry victory in the war on terror.

President Putin said the following yesterday:

"International terrorism has as its goal to prevent the election of President Bush to a second term . . . . If they achieve that goal, then that will give international terrorism a new impulse and extra power."

This is a very serious statement, but received inadequate press attention.

To be absolutely clear, Putin is indicating that a Kerry win would be a significant victory in morale and recruitment for Zarqawi and his ilk. The message: the American election demonstrates that bombings and behadings actually work. {Picture victory celebrations in Egypt and elsewhere on Al Jazeera -- this is NO exaggeration.)

And imagine the effect on the morale of our troops in Iraq.

Now, is this fair to Kerry? If Kerry had embraced the rationale for war during the campaign as he did in 2002-2003 (even while condemning the execution of the war), this kind of conclusion arguably would be unfair. But Kerry has run on anti-war rhetoric (including McGovernite rhetoric like "wrong war, wrong time"), and the world now sees this election as a referendum on America's resolve.

So, regardless of Kerry's real intentions on Iraq, his election as President would unavoidably hand the terrorists a victory ..... just like the election in Spain. And this situation is strictly of his Kerry's making.

If we think about the election this way, I'm not sure that too many Americans will feel totally comfortable voting for Kerry.

(16) slarrow made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 11:15:27 AM | Permalink

I don't know about Beldar, lazyMF, but I'm certainly curious about a response. I was born in 1975 and knew the Vietnam era only as a historical phenomenon. I'm not particularly interested in experiencing it firsthand. So if you've got something that'll help avoid that (barring a Bush victory), I'd like to hear it, at least.

(17) Michael B made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 12:30:07 PM | Permalink

Or as Belmont Club recently put it in a post that covered the PM of Malaysia, Mahatir Mohammed's recent endorsement of Kerry, an endorsement directed at U.S. voting age Muslims. (And it was precisely one year ago that Mahatir came into prominence with his overtly racist and anti-Semitic speech.)

Belmont Club notes: "The argument that a Kerry presidency will somehow reform the Democratic Party by forcing it to assume national security responsibilities is less apt than the idea that it is stuffing itself with a volatile mix of elements, all of which will explode on contact the moment the thin membrane which separates is reactive elements is dissolved."

Less apt indeed, far less apt and entirely unpersuasive.

(18) The Lonewacko Blog made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 1:36:19 PM | Permalink

So, all the comments in Kerry would fight terrorism better are just for show? Joe Biden's in on the game? I don't think Kerry is going to consider any show of weakness in his interests or the interests of America.

OTOH, if you vote for Bush he'll continue his winning ways. If Kerry had invaded Iraq, I'm pretty sure Kerry would have paid attention to his advisors and made sure that those under him did as well. Instead, it appears we went into Iraq without a comprehensive plan to win the peace.

Meanwhile, here at home Bush would continue to allow thousands of illegal aliens to stream across our borders each day. The DHS has released thousands of illegal aliens from terrorist nations into the U.S. Those are not the actions of a competent administration that cares about American security.

Will Kerry do better with our own security? Well, that's not really the question. The correct question is: will divided government do better? Yes, it most certainly will. Those few pro-American conservatives who complain about Bush's policies get ostracized; under divided government they would have a much better chance to speak out about anything the president was doing that could lead to another attack.

(19) glen made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 1:41:46 PM | Permalink

I have finally seen the light. I finally understand why I should vote for John Kerry. He is the logical choice. I can see I missed it at first because I am nuance-impaired.

You see his position is simple:

Everything that you like that George Bush has done or is for, Kerry would do that too, only Kerry would do it smarter, better, more sensitively and he would, by force of personal charisma, meet the global test of world approval.

Everything you don't like that George Bush has done, Kerry would never have done any of that, whatever it is.

Everything you are for, Kerry is for.

Everything you are against, Kerry is against, unless someone else is for it in which case Kerry was for it before he was against it.

Any questions?

(20) Jeff Blogworthy.com made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 1:52:02 PM | Permalink

"...he's not only going to have to fade the heat from the Howard Dean wing of the Democratic Party"

Shouldn't that be *face*?

Good thoughts.

(21) [email protected] made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 1:52:35 PM | Permalink

Lonewacko Blog: I suspect you have never worked in the Executive Branch. Here's a hint: Congress appropriates, holds hearings, and is a scold but has very very little to do with the specifics of implementation of Homeland Security policy.

Here's another hint: When the Executive Branch makes decisions on such issues, it convenes interagency groups, first at the Assistant Sec'y level, then the Dep. Secretary level, then at the principals' level. In almost all of these deliberative fora, the "internationalist" agencies -- i.e. state, ustr, commerce etc. are doves, and the law enforcement/military agencies -- i.e. justice, defense, treasury -- are hawks. In almost every single homeland security debate this term, the internationalists wanted to water down the protective measures proposed. In almost every single debate, the President intervened and ruled in favor of a much stronger security approach.

So, you want a divided government with a liberal internationalist as President? Foolish.

(22) SemiPundit made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 2:17:45 PM | Permalink

My only question is, this time next year, will we be able to find anyone who voted for Bush?

(23) reality watch made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 2:23:19 PM | Permalink

Only me and 52% of the rest of America. Take a look at the Opinion dyamics poll just out. It had Bush up 4 points in Sept, and 2 points after the first debate. It now has Bush up 7.

Adding that to the +8 in Gallup and +6 in Newsweek ... looks like a tide. The state polls will follow this trend beginning late this week.

(24) Geek, Esq. made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 2:23:40 PM | Permalink

I'll take up the challenge.

First, I don't think the analogy with Vietnam is a good one. No one--not Nixon, not LBJ, not Alexander the Great--was going to lead the US to victory there.

Second, I think you overstate the importance of the "peace at any price" wing of the Democratic party. Michael Moore and the DemocraticUnderground crowd are a small minority of Democrats. The vast, vast majority of Democrats DID support the action in Afghanistan. "Peace at any price" doesn't even describe Howard Dean. Kerry's main primary competition, such as it was, wound up being John Edwards, not Dennis Kucinich.

Third, the essence of the debate comes down to what constitutes the optimal application of US power. Bush's is clear--the blunt strategy of force and the threat of force. Unfortunately, he has disdain for other levers of power--diplomacy, economic, intelligence, and law enforcement. In Bush's thinking, international cooperation is a luxury and not something that a president should worry about. If they choose to join us, the thinking goes, so be it. If not, they can go *Cheney* themselves.

Kerry disagrees. This is not to say that he discounts the value of military force. Quite the contrary. He supported the invasion of Afghanistan, and recognized that the ability to credibly threaten force is a vital tool to the President when conducting international affairs.

However, Kerry also recognizes that military force has its limits, and is only one component of the fight against terrorism. This is something Bush does not recognize. Either he invades, or he disengages.

The reality of modern terrorism is that the great majority of terrorist assets--financial, human, and otherwise--are not found in the middle of the desert or the mountains. They are found in cities, the suburbs, towns, and villages throughout the world.

Given the nature of the beast, Bush's chest-thumping assertions that US military power is the primary tool against terror is simply foolish. Intelligence and law enforcement are easily more important than military power when it comes to fighting a diffuse non-state actor. Identifying terrorists, tracking their movement and finances, intercepting communications, and infiltration of terrorist circles are all much more important than being able to apply military force. That is pure law enforcement and intelligence.

By the way, aren't you curious why Bush waited until THIS WEEK to freeze Zarqawi's financial assets?

Moreover, the US does not have the power of God. It does not extend to every flat in London, every house in Paris, every cafe in Jakarta. In order to fight a comprehensive yet localized opponent requires a comprehensive yet localized effort by the rest of the world. And that means international cooperation and coordination is absolutely essential.

Cooperation and coordination, in turn, require credibility and trust. This President is distrusted by and has absolutely no credibility with the rest of the world.

So, an approach that combines aggressive intelligence (including assassinations), law enforcement, diplomacy, economic power with the appropriate use of military force is a much better approach than Bush's "Hulk Smash!" approach to fighting terrorism.

Finally, I would assume that Kerry would lack the complete and grotesque incompetence which characterizes Bush's handling of Iraq.

(25) perfectsense made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 2:24:37 PM | Permalink

Lonewacko wrote:
If Kerry had invaded Iraq; I'm pretty sure Kerry would have paid attention to his advisors and made sure that those under him did as well. Instead, it appears we went into Iraq without a comprehensive plan to win the peace.

How does Kerry “win the peace” by listening to his advisors by voting against the $87 billion post-war funding? After winning the war, Kerry voted to deny the troops ammunition, food, fuel, replacement parts, infrastructure repairs in Iraq and funds for training the Iraqi army and police. That is a pretty nuanced plan for “winning the peace.”

(26) Geek, Esq. made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 2:29:44 PM | Permalink

I should also add a couple of points:

1) The whole $87 Billion dollar charge bears little resemblence to the facts. The controversy was not whether to fund the troops. Rather, it was whether to separate the funding for the troops from the Bush administration's blank check for the Iraq "reconstruction." Kerry voted for the version where they were separated, and against the version where they were bundled together. On the other hand, Bush threatened to veto funding that did not tie them together.

2. Bush does not even have the ability to credibly threaten force now. North Korea and Iran don't need to worry about American troops marching against them--because the US military is overextended and bogged down in Iraq.

Unless, of course, Bush changes his mind about that draft thing . . .

(27) SemiPundit made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 2:30:25 PM | Permalink

There is a time to speak, and there is a time to admire the words of others. Geek, Esq.'s grasp and explanation is absolutely scintillating.

(28) Palooka made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 2:43:45 PM | Permalink

I have had the same thoughts, how can Kerry finish the job in Iraq and have an even moderately aggressive posture against terrorism when he is the leader of a largely anti-war, dare I say anti-American, party?

Excellent piece, Beldar. How do you find the time to write this stuff AND practice law?

(29) Bethany Young made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 2:50:03 PM | Permalink

I find the LBJ analogy interesting here, because that means Republicans are actually admitting that the disasterous Iraq situation is comparable to Vietnam.

I am probably one of those "yellow-dog" Democrats of whom you speak, and probably one of the few who will ever view this posting. And I think you are missing the entire point here. The point is that George W. Bush's judgement is inherently flawed. His poor decisions are not making us safer here in America. The fact of the matter is our military is so overstretched that we would be incapable of defending ourselves if our national security was seriously threatened. This is a serious problem. What if terrorists staged a full out attack on us tomorrow? All our troops are in Iraq, so what would we do?

We have two choices given our present situation. 1. We have to have a draft. 2. We have to start getting out troops out of Iraq.

John Kerry is not willing to subject the young people of this country to another Vietnam-era situation; he knows how out of hand it can get because he was there in the thick of it. Therefore, he will first try to internationalize the effort with a true coalition. He will not need the permission of Congress to go to the international community and ask for help. He is capable of taking this action because, unlike our current president, he puts the well-being of Americans above his own unwillingness to admit his mistakes. I don't pretend to know if this will be successful or not, but John Kerry is our only chance. George W. Bush, in world opinion, is the worst kind of men. He disregards the views of anyone who disagrees with him. Republicans have to stop thinking that asking for help is equal to asking for a "permission slip" from the world to defend our country. It is not a sign of weakness to be considerate to others. Considering our overstretched military, and our goals of fighting terror abroad, we need international cooperation, plain and simple. There is no other way. Amerocentricism is a dangerous philosophy that will end up coming back to haunt us; our own greatness is not enough to get by in a globalized world.

No one, not far left anti-war liberals, centrist Democrats, or even Republicans really want a long, drawn-out conflict that results in thousands of dead Americans and lack of military support, do they? No one wants this to turn into a quagmire.

But George W. Bush will not admit he was wrong about anything. In order to change course, as we definitely need to do in Iraq, our president has to admit that things aren't working as they are. Since he's not willing to do that, his reelection will mean four more years of the same.

The Democrats are a unified party, more than they ever have been in recent memory. (Howard Dean, by the way, views the Iraq war as the wrong decision, but believes we can't cut and run in Iraq. The only Democratic presidential candidate representing a truly pro-peace platform was Dennis Kucinich, therefore your so-called "moonbats" are a tiny minority of the Democratic Party) We have George W. Bush to thank for that sense of unification. Wherever we fall on the left side of the line, we all agree that George W. has got to go.

(30) reality watch made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 2:54:10 PM | Permalink

Alright my friends, a few comments on your comments.

The President does not dismiss diplomacy etc. We spend an unbelievable amount of time on diplomatic efforts and brought more than 30 nations together for the effort in Iraq. And it was only after 12 years of failed UN resolutions that the President acted. You need to recognize that every reasonable diplomatic avenue was exhausted. The French and Germans were simply not going to participate (we now know that the French motives were "complicated"), and the Germans have very very little military capability anyway. They are both assisting in Afghanistan.

And you might ask: Why are there not more troops contributed by our coalition? Answer: We are the world's preeminant military power. Compared to the United States, everyone but Russia and China are midgets.

So, do you think we should have let Saddam off the hook after the 18th U.N. resolution? No "serious consequences?" Continue the corrupt sanctions that were all but over already. Continue to let Saddam shoot at our pilots in the no fly zone. Continue to let Saddam build long range missles? Show our essential weakness in the face of his defiance????

Well, a President Pansy might have agreed with you, but our President did not.

I suspect that many many in the Kerry camp would be continuing to support the war effort were it not for the election (including Kerry and Edwards themselves -- until the election, they were with the President). Has the post-invasion period worked well? Of course not, but we are getting there slowly but surely by teaching the Iraqis to defend themselves. Have there been mistakes in the reconstruction? As the President said in the second debate, there have been many tactical judgments that, in hindsight, were problematic. But are we going to get there. Of course we are. We are Americans.

Only one nation on this earth can defeat America in this effort, and that is America. Don't you dare hand over our nation to the defeatists at this time of challenges.

(31) Geek, Esq. made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 3:04:35 PM | Permalink

Speaking on behalf of only my own bad self, I would not dispute that taking Saddam out was per se the wrong thing to do.

Rather, it was the wrong time and it was done in the wrong way.

The big question is why it was so urgent to go into Iraq so soon. Per the Duelfer report, Saddam was a "DIMINISHING THREAT."

Had the US maintained the sanctions regime (which did work in their primary goal of neutering Saddam's WMD capability) while concentrating more on rebuilding Afghanistan (which is definitely improving, but could have been done much better), and done something about Israel/Palestine (I have absolutely no love for the Palestinians, but it's in our national interest to at least appear even-handed there), offered a straightforward account for the reasons why Saddam should have been removed, and you know, like, PLANNED for post-war Iraq, the result would have been much better and the world, and the US, would have been much safer.

(32) Palooka made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 3:09:13 PM | Permalink

You mean those sanctions which were working so well in the "Oil for Food" program? LOL

You mean those sanctions that only hurt the Iraqi people?

Those sanctions?

(33) jackson white made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 3:09:59 PM | Permalink

Actually, Belar, when you look at polls it shows a significant number of Democrats have decided not to support their party's nominee--and although seldom mentioned, this appears why Kerry appears headed for defeat. I hope that if the GOP ever nominates someone as unfit as Kerry, Republicans also will show at least the same degree of patriotism over partisanship.

(34) Geek, Esq. made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 3:16:03 PM | Permalink

"Saddam Hussein posed a diminishing threat at the time the United States invaded and did not possess, or have concrete plans to develop, nuclear, chemical or biological weapons."

But, I belong to the "reality-based community," so we probably adhere to different approaches.

(35) spongeworthy made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 3:18:19 PM | Permalink

"Either he invades or he disengages"? Are you that uninformed? What about Libya? What about Saudi Arabia's budding reform movement? What about our relationship with Pakistan, arguably the most important one? What about Central Asia, where we never had a diplomatic presence to speak of?

And do you know why these formerly recalcitrant regimes are suddenly compliant? Can you be so foolish and uninformed that you think it was magic or something? It was the demonstration of blunt force that greased the wheels.

And you can jam your law enforcement lecture. Nobody in the Mideast is going to help you track terrorists and limit their funding until you show them what happens when you don't.

And as far as credibly threatening force as a tool, which you believe Kerry understands, that's as laughable as anything I've heard yet. Threatening force is exactly what got about 3000 Americans killed three years ago. Clinton threatened in Mogadishu and when he shook that finger of his at Saddam. And when he disengaged from the Taliban and when he gave away the store to North Korea.

Those days are gone. Nobody wants a guy who knows how to threaten force. OBL cites our toothless threats as precisely why he chose to take us on now. We had become paper tigers. No more.

Those center-left Democrats our host is trying to reach ought to read your post very carefully. There's a lot of what sounds like reasonable dissent and credible criticism, but your post represents the most reasonable of what Kerry will be dealing with from his base. And that's why he'd be such a crappy wartime President.

(36) Jim Rockford made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 3:22:31 PM | Permalink

Bethany --

Speaking as a Yellow Dog Democrat (Gephardt was my choice in the Primary, but he dropped out so I voted Edwards) ... you forget that there is no other nation besides the UK that can offer ANY signficant military help to the US. France, Germany, Russia, China, Brazil, etc have neither the political will nor the MEANS to assist the US in ANY signficant military operation. The best they could do is offer a few thousand troops. They are simply unable to offer ANY force projection outside their home countries.

Our current military *IS* overstretched, this dates back to Clinton era cuts following the end of the Cold War and the Soviet Union, however we have thousands of troops in Germany and South Korea who could be moved to other theatres where they could be more effective.

The question is, would John Kerry endorse pre-emptive strikes aimed at say toppling Iran's government (that means more than just Clinton type air strikes and cruise missile attacks which make America look weak and unwilling to really fight)? Suppose by April of 2005 Iran has several nukes, and intelligence suggest perhaps they plan to give one to Al Queda, or maybe not?

Does anyone honestly think Kerry would order an invasion to topple the Mullahs based on incomplete intelligence? Or rather study, negotiate, ask for UN help, petition the French, etc ... until it's too late and a major American city was nuked?

I think the latter is the most likely, given his insistence on risk avoidance and internationalism (he weirdly echoes Nixon negotiating SALT with Brezhnev), and that just doesn't work with jihadists ("You submit or we slaughter").

Kerry is likely to get a major American city nuked while he delays any decision making, and along with the millions of Americans killed destroy the Democratic Party completely.

(37) SemiPundit made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 3:24:32 PM | Permalink

The commitment of the Democratic base may be substantially underestimated. No doubt many of them have experienced intimidation, ostracism, and accusations of being unpatriotic.

It is quite possible that large numbers of Kerry supporters have chosen to maintain a subdued posture with the intent of settling the matter in the privacy of the voting booth.

(38) Geek, Esq. made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 3:32:27 PM | Permalink

To the above "Yellow Dog Democrat" (I don't buy it for a second):

Where would the troops for an Iranian invasion come from? Are you calling Bush a liar when he says that he won't ask for a draft in his next term?


The threat of force is very useful against state actors. You implicitly said exactly that when discussing Libya and Pakistan.

Of course, Libya had other reasons to fess up and give up its weapons programs ($$$$$). But, it's a fool's errand to speculate as to the Crazy Colonel's motives.

Obviously, the threat of force doesn't work against terrorists. Of course you have to kill or capture them, instead of negotiating.

Be careful with matches--you surrounded yourself with straw men.

And you'll have to forgive me while I guffaw at your talk of the "budding Saudi reform movement.'

In the mean time, Iran and North Korea race ahead with their weapons programs, knowing that so long as they bury their facilities deep enough, Bush can't and won't do a damn thing about them.

(39) SemiPundit made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 3:37:13 PM | Permalink

Why is it so widely assumed that a "rogue" government would give away such a precious commodity as a nuclear weapon?

Two scenarios are likely: (1)it gets used against them, and (2)it gets used against a military power with thousands of warheads and people ready and willing to pull the trigger.

If I were the leader of such a government, I doubt that I would so needlessly expose my country to the blinding flash of nonexistence.

(40) jackson white made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 4:02:17 PM | Permalink

Again, Beldar, with the release this afternoon of the ABC and FOX polls we see a significant number of Democrats are not falling into lockstep with Kerry. As a matter of fact, these "undecideds" who have caused the president to open such a large poll lead this late in the game (if you actualy believe these polls; I think they just show trends) are by and large soft Democrats or Independents who normally lean Democratic.

Democrats, like Republicans, are patriots. This is most unfortunate for Mr. Kerry.

(41) SemiPundit made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 4:04:42 PM | Permalink

Describe patriotism.

(42) slarrow made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 4:11:01 PM | Permalink

Geek, Esq:

You did not answer Beldar's challenge. Let's try it again.

Beldar says that the big money (George Soros and Dem 527s), the publically influential (Michael Moore), certain "statesmen" (Byrd, Dean, Kennedy), and the intellegentsia (Chomsky et al) is driving much of the current Democratic campaign. If Kerry were to win, (a) will he have the courage to dismiss this group, and (b) if he does, how effective can he be?

That's his challenge, but you just wave the contradiction away in your second point. You say, "I think you overstate the importance of the 'peace at any price' wing of the Democratic party." The answer to the dilemma, Beldar, is that there is no dilemma!

Well, that won't cut it. Dean's influence caused Kerry to tack this way and that during the campaign season. Will Dean shut up if Kerry becomes President? On what basis do you make that claim? Michael Moore made over $100 million with his screed. Jimmy frickin' Carter sat next to him in Boston. Will he go away? What makes you think that?

The rest of your responses are more of the same: "Kerry's smarter, foreigners like him, yada yada yada." Forget all that rigaramole claiming why Bush shouldn't be president and answer the question about what would happen if Kerry were to win. Will the man pursue the proper foreign policy course if it means dismantling his Democratic coalitions?

That's what you've got to talk about, otherwise you're just spouting the ABB position like Bethany.

(43) Byron L made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 4:17:27 PM | Permalink

I'm also one of the few "yellow dog Democrats" reading this who are probably close enough to the type that Beldar is referring to, even if I have a tendency at some times to veer left, but I don't consider myself a pacifist, anti-war or anti-military (at least in a general sense) - I supported the Afghan war, opposed the Iraqi one because I didn't see it as a threat to U.S. national security, until we actually went in and Al-Qaeda has come in (we have to stay in now), but am appalled with the way that the administration has handled the war (and I think the Swift Vets are a bunch of lying hacks).

I think that Bethany Young hits the nail on the head. The premise of Beldar's argument is that the current situation in Iraq is comparable to that of Vietnam in early 1968.

The "gamble" for Democrats rather, is voting for president Bush. A vote for Bush is a vote to gamble on the continuation of a policy that has spread our military too thin, that has done little about nuclear proliferation and gambles the posibility of a draft (sure, a draft is unlikely and Bush has said it won't happen, but why is there a backdoor draft of our national guard and reservists?).

The fact of the matter is that the "peace at any cost" wing of the Democratic Party has fallen in line to support Kerry despite his vote for the Iraq resolution and his plans to double our special forces and increase the size of the military. Sure, the left wing of the party will have problems with Kerry at some points, but to suggest that chaos and stagnation would ensue is simply a resort of Republicans to their final straw of an arguement for Bush's reelection, essentially saying: "We've screwed this thing up badly, but John Kerry would be unable to defend America from terrorism, so vote for Bush even though you hate him". If that doesn't sound the chords of ultimate desperation, I don't know what does. This isn't an arguement that will persuade Democrats, rather its the kind of arguement that will self-servingly make Republicans feel more righteous in their views.

Go ahead, waste your money on flyers for your neighbors with Kerry/Edwards signs. I voted for Kerry yesterday not just because I agree with him on social and domestic issues, but because I genuinely believe that he will make America safer from terrorism.

(44) Geek, Esq. made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 4:23:55 PM | Permalink

I feel quite confident that, as a lifelong Democratic activist, that I know more about how my party works than people who think that Noam Chomsky has any influence within the Democratic party.

Howard Dean has said repeatedly that the US can't afford to cut and run in Iraq. Beldar was simply in error by listing him as a "cut and run" Democrat.

I most certainly can wave away a false premise.

(45) The Lonewacko Blog made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 4:26:22 PM | Permalink

In almost every single homeland security debate this term, the internationalists wanted to water down the protective measures proposed. In almost every single debate, the President intervened and ruled in favor of a much stronger security approach.

That does not, as they say, comport with reality.

I could provide a whole slew of links, but here's just one: House Republican leaders say the immigration reforms in their intelligence overhaul bill will remain, despite prodding by Senate Republicans and the White House to delete the provisions. The bill calls for a crackdown on driver's licenses for illegal aliens, easier deportations and limits on the use of foreign consular identification cards. The White House initially signed off on these provisions, which House leaders and some September 11 family members endorsed.

I have another example here.

In that case, the Bush administration was on the same side as the ACLU, Nanci Pelosi, Barney Frank, the Mexican government, and the CPUSA.

More examples on request.

(46) Michael B made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 4:44:22 PM | Permalink

Related Tommy Franks article in the NYT; it's not at all a lengthy article, a couple of excerpts:

"President Bush and Senator John Kerry have very different views of the war on terrorism, and those differences ought to be debated in this presidential campaign. But the debate should focus on facts, not distortions of history."


"Contrary to Senator Kerry, President Bush never 'took his eye off the ball' when it came to Osama bin Laden. The war on terrorism has a global focus. It cannot be divided into separate and unrelated wars, one in Afghanistan and another in Iraq. Both are part of the same effort to capture and kill terrorists before they are able to strike America again, potentially with weapons of mass destruction. Terrorist cells are operating in some 60 countries, the United States, in coordination with dozens of allies, is waging this war on many fronts. (If it even needs to be noted, this fact runs directly counter to some of the silly or even vacuous assertions made by Geek, Esq.)

"As we planned for potential military action in Iraq and conducted counterterrorist operations in several other countries in the region, Afghanistan remained a center of focus. Neither attention nor manpower was diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq. When we started Operation Iraqi Freedom we had about 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, and by the time we finished major combat operations in Iraq last May we had more than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan."

(47) Beldar made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 4:44:38 PM | Permalink

My friend Byron L wrote, as have one or two previous commenters:

The premise of Beldar's argument is that the current situation in Iraq is comparable to that of Vietnam in early 1968.

Alas, perhaps I should have seen that coming. But that's neither what I said, nor the premise of my argument. The word "Vietnam" isn't even in my post.

Rather, what I said — I thought fairly clearly — was that Kerry's position in the Democratic Party would be comparable to LBJ's in 1968. I wasn't talking about a literal battlefield, but the metaphorical one inside the Democratic Party. Personally, I quite disagree with the perception of real Democrats in 1968 or hypothetical Democrats in a 2005 Kerry presidency that the literal battlefield was/is a "quagmire," but whether accurate or not, that's undeniably the perception many Democrats had in 1968, and that many have now and will have in 2005. Please don't try to use my pointing out that widespread perception as an admission on my part that the perception is accurate.

The entire point of my post isn't to present my own views, for I disagree with essentially all of the premises I've hypothesized for my center-Left yellow dog Democrat friends, but to ask those friends how a President Kerry would manage to actually fight the terrorists effectively when the segment of his own party who want America to cut-and-run is braying "Traitor!" in his ear in 2005.

(48) Geek, Esq. made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 4:56:53 PM | Permalink


You're assuming facts not in evidence--I'll buy your scenario when you lay a foundation.

It is simply not true that the war on terror, as Kerry has advocated, will be as divisive within the Democratic party of 2005 as Vietnam and desegregation/civil rights were for the 1968 Democratic party.

Again, conservatives are vastly overstating the influence and feistiness of the Dennis Kucinich wing of the Democratic party. As I said before, the Democratic Party is nothing like the Democratic Underground.

The one issue where there WAS a significant split was Iraq. However, most of those who opposed the war also recognize that we can't simply pull up stakes and leave--see e.g. Howard Dean.

(49) Geek, Esq. made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 5:03:15 PM | Permalink

Michael B:

You realize that Karl Rove and other campaign officials are writing Tommy Franks' remarks, right?

I stopped listening to Franks' stump speeches for Bush when he blamed the decision to disband the Iraqi army on Congress and Europe: link

He did a great job commanding our troops, but now he's a campaign spokesperson, and should be treated accordingly.

(50) Beldar made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 5:11:12 PM | Permalink

Geek, no Democrat willingly accepts the "cut-and-run" label. I probably erred in using it, because it has pejorative overtones. "Peace at any price" is a phrase with the same problems.

Let's put it this way: Dr. Dean's surge in the Democratic primaries occurred when he was the only credible candidate who was opposing giving Pres. Bush authority to fight in Iraq. He savaged both Kerry and Edwards for their votes on that issue; there's no serious doubt that in response to that savaging and the Dean surge in the polls, both Kerry and Edwards found it expedient to vote against the $87 billion funding authorization.

Dr. Dean's now toeing the party line, sometimes graciously and sometimes not, in insisting that he's not a cut-and-run Democrat. He, and the wing of the Democratic Party that propelled him in the early polls (before folks actually started voting), are presently united behind Kerry because he is the sole remaining anybody-but-Bush alternative. Scads of Eugene McCarthy/Bobby Kennedy Democrats voted for Hubert Humphrey in 1968 for the essentially same reason (i.e., because he wasn't Nixon).

It's theoretically possible for a Democrat to simultaneously insist that (a) invading Iraq was a mistake and (b) now that we're there, we have to finish the job properly, even if that means continuing to do, in broadest outlines, what the Bush administration is currently doing in Iraq (i.e., keeping American forces there until Iraqis can assume responsibility for their own security; yes, I know, somehow Sen. Kerry will do all that "faster and better"). Indeed, my original post is addressed to my center-Left Democratic friends who sincerely believe both (a) and (b).

My premise, however, is that a sizeable chunk of Democrats — perhaps we should indeed call them the "Michael Moore/DU Democrats" — are only accepting premise (b) temporarily, and only nominally, because they recognize that it's a political necessity to defeat Dubya. Come November 3rd, while they'll certainly continue to resist characterizing their position as "cut-and-run," they'll suddenly proclaim the wisdom of "re-evaluating our situation." And their rhetoric will then precisely match that of young John Kerry as he was speaking to the Fulbright Committee in 1971 about Vietnam.

If he's to be true to the center-Left Democrats who genuinely believe premise (b) and will continue to believe it after November 2nd, how would President Kerry deal with the Michael Moore/DU folks? Is that just something we're supposed to take on faith, based on his superior abilities as a diplomat, the way we're supposed to believe that formerly insistent allies will suddenly flock to the side of a Kerry administration in the global fight against terrorists? Maybe so; indeed, that's the gamble I referenced at the end of my post. So if my hypothetical yellow dog Democrat believes that John Kerry can effectively neutralize and, indeed, harness the Michael Moore Democrats after November 2nd, and fight a smarter, more effective fight against the terrorists despite their instincts (that all use of American force is illegitimate, that America is the source of most of the world's problems, etc.), then my friend can and will take that gamble.

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