Friday, February 09, 2007


Myopia Space

I rarely respond to the personal attacks and trivial distortions of my words and work that frequently pop up in the liberal blogosphere, for the obvious reasons. But sometimes the shots are so wildly inaccurate that they are actually instructive, in so far as what they reveal about the direction the angry left is moving the Democratic Party, and as such warrant some examination.

Take Marty Kaplan's mocking rant yesterday on Huffington Post, in which he attacked my comments on Tuesday's Tucker Carlson Show on MSNBC and not too subtly suggested I was a moron (one of the blogosphere's favorite terms of endearment). Here's the sum total of his indictment:
I was watching Tucker Carlson on MSNBC (I know, I know, it's like getting high on cough syrup, but acknowledging my sickness is the first step toward recovery). There on the panel, sitting next to Pat Buchanan, was Dan Gerstein, the former flack to Joe Lieberman. He was saying that the problem with Democrats -- the reason they oppose the President's Plan for Victory in Iraq - is that they just don't understand the threat that global jihadism poses to civilization.
Now let's compare that characterization with what I actually said (taken from the official transcript):
CARLSON: Thank you for stating the obvious and puncturing my outrage with the truth. Quickly now, the “New Yorker” suggests, in a recent issue, that Joe Lieberman might leave the Democratic party. He was dissed by the Democrats pretty dramatically, of course, in the primary this year. But if the Democrats vote to defund in the Senate, he might just throw up his hands and leave. You worked for him for many years. Is that going to happen?

GERSTEIN: No, and I think this sort of constant speculation on the far left about this just sort of shows a bizarre obsession. He said during the campaign that he is a proud Democrat. He‘s going to stay in the Democratic party. He‘s going to caucus with the Democratic party. He is just concerned about the future of the Democratic party and where some of the more extreme elements are taking it, in sort of a pacifist, isolationist direction.

And they don‘t understand the fundamental threat of radical Jihadism to the American people. I think he is making a very important point about the future of the Democratic party.

As you can plainly see, I did not mention the war in Iraq, imply anything about the war in Iraq or the reason Democrats oppose the President's new surge strategy, or even say the word Iraq. I was clearly addressing the threat of radical Jihadism broadly speaking and raising questions about the peace wing of the Democratic Party's grasp of this danger and their commitment to fighting the war on terror.

The fact that Kaplan read Iraq into my answer when it wasn't there at all is a perfect example of the angry left's myopia about the war. There are no other issues for Kaplan and his ilk -- where you stand on Iraq trumps all other positions and makes you good or evil. There is no room for meaningful distinctions -- between the rightness of going to war versus the wrongness of its conduct, for example, or between the policies of George Bush versus those of others who are similarly focused on fighting Al-Qaeda. And too often there is no capacity for coherent, rational argument -- their motto is res ipsa shut up.

This is yet another way that the extreme anti-war crowd has come to resemble the crude, simplistic, intolerant thing they profess to hate about Bush and his far right supporters. Either you are against the lying, immoral, bloodsucking Neocons or you are with them. You cannot honestly believe the surge is the last best and only real hope of stabilizing Iraq and preventing it from becoming a safe haven for jihadist terrorists, as Joe Lieberman does. Nor can you be a Democrat anymore if you take that stance. You must be a Bush sycophant (and if you are Jewish, a tool of Israel).

Just look at the latest anti-Lieberman diatribe from DownWithTyranny, which speaks to the myopic obsession with Lieberman's party-designation I referenced on Tucker Carlson. Seizing on a picture from yesterday's New York Times of Lieberman sitting with Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham, his Republican allies on the Iraq resolution, the anonymous DWT writes:
Now he caucuses with the Democrats, and they allow him to use his Democratic seniority inside the committee system-- where he daily betrays Democratic policies, values and principles. But he sits with the Republicans... and votes with them. Today's New York Times says it was no surprise that when every single Democrat (plus two Republicans) voted to go forward with a debate on Iraq, Lieberman stuck with the GOP decision to adhere to Cheney's demands that no debate be permitted. Lieberman is constantly running after TV stations-- which insist on identifying him as a "Democrat"-- so that he can spin Rove's patently false and misleading talking points about how unpatriotic Democrats are. The Times points out that Lieberman is more of a White House shill than most Republicans are these days.
As this catalogue of baseless assertions shows, it does not matter that Lieberman is a registered Democrat -- meaning he is a member of the Democrat Party, not just of the Senate Democratic caucus. It does not matter that Lieberman has not cast a vote or made a statement on a domestic issue since the new Congress convened that could be reasonably classified as betraying Democratic values (for example, look at his statement on the Bush budget). Nor does it matter that Lieberman has been friendly with and working with Republicans on issues throughout his 19 years in the Senate, meaning he is doing nothing different now. The only thing that matters is that he had the gall to break from his party on Iraq (as he has been doing since 1991 and the Gulf War). That now alone makes him a Republican, or to be more precise, a traitor.

All of which goes to prove the fundamental point I originally made on the Tucker Carlson show about how Democrats are responding to the threat of jihadist terrorism. Kaplan and friends, who speak for the increasingly dominant wing of the party, don't just fail to grasp this danger, they are contemptuous of it. It is just something to be disparaged and discredited, in large part because it is the primary cause of their political enemies. And in doing so, they are only validating the conservative movement's cynical arguments that Democrats hate Bush more than bin Laden.

This is why the posturing and positioning of the anti-war movement is so troubling -- it is increasingly defining Democrats not just as the anti-Iraq war party, but the anti-war on terror party. Most noticeably, it is putting pressure on national Democratic leaders to take positions that can easily be marginalized and caricatured as McGovernite. Just look at the beating John Edwards took from the liberal blogosphere when he had the temerity to suggest that we can't preclude the use of force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons -- and how quickly he started to backpedal in response.

We can get away with that approach for the time being, because opposition to Bush and his Iraq policies is so high, and Democrats are winning by default. But once Bush is out of the equation and the fight over Iraq wanes, the voters of all stripes are going to be looking to both parties for a more convincing and more effective strategy for defeating the jihadist threat and keeping the country safe.

We know the Republicans are going to do everything in their power to reclaim their advantage on this critical issue. If Democrats respond by paying lip-service to jihadist terrorism in 2008 and beyond, or even worse by projecting weakness, we are writing ourselves a one-way ticket back to minority-land for the foreseeable future.

Your link to the MYDD story about John Edwards is bad. It should be:
Your comment about John Edwards and blogs in general is bad.
Thanks for catching the bad link, rachelrachel. It is now fixed.

Thanks for proving my point, ctblogger.
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