Posted by: Steve Coplan | March 27, 2006

Pick your favorite moderate Republican

because no Democrat stands a chance in 2008. I'm deeply cynical by temperament, but I see little remaining opportunity for Democrats to reverse a preciptious decline in what may called be 'mindshare'. Expressed in other terms, no one really gives a crap about the Democrats apart from the party faithful, and for any indication of the leanings of that group, look no further than Howard Dean (chairman of the Democratic National Convention). In last week's New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg argued that the reason why leading contenders for the Democratic nomination ran for the hills when Russell Feingold proposed censuring Bush for blatantly overstepping the bounds of executive privilege, is because there's nothing to be gained at this point in alienating swing voters- leaving Feingold swinging in the wind is a "necessary" tactical calculation. Hertzberg is certainly one of the most astute political commentators I read, and he also has a valid point that expressing an opinion too early on in the cycle of what should be done in Iraq is risky particularly given that Bush and his gang of four have created a situation increasingly impervious to resolution.

While keeping yourself out of trouble may be politically expedient, it has its downside too. For instance, the results of the USATodaywhatever poll indicates that despite dissatisfaction with Bush, Democrats were seen as equally clueless on how to resolve the war. And I believe that's because they are. Granted, the scale of the problem is enormous, and has been consistently aggravated, as General Paul Eaton who was
in charge of training the Iraqi security forces in 2003 and 2004 has indicated. Last week I received a survey from the Democratic National Committee since I am considered a "grassroots Democratic leader" in Brooklyn. I am not sure what mailing list the DNC bought to get my name, but some of the survey questions are revealing:

Q.12 – Do you support immediate withdrawal from Iraq

  • Yes
  • No

Q.13, If you don't support an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, what do you believe the time frame should be?

  • Sometime in 2006
  • By the end of 2006
  • Sometime in 2007
  • By the end of 2007
  • Don't know

Personally speaking, I think it would be really cool if it it was around 11 PM on my birthday (May 12), which would make it around 7 AM the next day in Baghdad. By that time the Brooklyn pub crawl my wife is organizing for my birthday should be hitting its stride. On reflection, it would probably be a good idea to withdraw troops when we have in a strategy in place to a) secure the availabilty of oil (because that's why we've spent $250bn so far); b) ensure that oil revenues don't accrue to a regime with leanings toward theocracy (sounds familiar) and c) prevent a full-scale civil war. Of course, the strategy should reduce or eliminate any participation by the National Guard. Setting a timeframe for withdrawal is a meaningless exercise, but is a useful smokescreen for not actually having the first clue what to do if Democrats are in the driver's seat. Saying Bush made a mistake doesn't win votes any more.

So why do I say that moderate Republicans are the only ones who stand a chance? Having tiptoed around Bush because of concerns they will be perceived as weak on security issues, the Democrats have basically surrendered the issue. And given how the media has been co-opted into propaganda machine, Americans actually believe national security is under enormous threat. Republicans (like John McCain or Chuck Hagel) can't as easily be dismissed as liberal namby pambies, and there's enough discontent within Republican ranks over Bush's obeisance to the Christian right (if they can be described in political terms at all) and his fiscal profligacy to support an insurgent (no pun intended) candidacy . But the bottom line is, we need someone who stands a realistic chance of beating Jeb Bush.

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