by Chris Bowers, Wed Oct 19, 2005 at 11:20:05 AM EDT
For example, look at this code-laden excerpt from Amy Sullivan (emphasis mine):The conclusion in many liberal circles seems to be: We just need to talk about those issues more. Voters don't seem to realize what our positions are. No, voters know damn well what you stand for. They simply aren't listening to you because you haven't satisfied their initial conditions: credibility on national security and on culture. It doesn't matter that you'd prefer to talk about domestic issues. If you can't pass the threshold of convincing them that you can be trusted on those other two fronts, they're not going to listen to a word you say about the other stuff.
This doesn't mean Democrats have to make their campaigns all about national security and culture. Far from it. But they do need to suck it up and accept something Republicans realized a long time ago: You can't tell Americans they must care about what you want to discuss; you must discuss what they care about.This is an amazing excerpt. It contains what strikes me as the ultimate piece of Democratic hawk code in the first quoted paragraph: "credibility on national security." If you don't believe that this is Democratic hawk code, just plug "credibility on national security" into Google and here is what you get, in order:
- 1. Evan Bayh on Fox stating that Democrats lack "credibility on national security.
- 2. The "Progressive" Policy Institute (aka the DLC) arguing that Democrats need to re-establish "credibility on national security."
- 3. Democracy Corps arguing that Democrats must cross the threshold of "credibility on national security."
- 4. A post from the Left Coaster about a New Yorker piece that quotes Democrats with the most "credibility on national security," but actually only seems to be about Kerry and Lieberman railing against "blogger types."
- 5. A Washington Monthly blog post about Howard Dean lacking "credibility on national security."
- 6. An article from the National Review discussing how the Bush campaign successfully raised questions about Kerry's "credibility on national security."
- 7. A piece from Mathew Yglesias about how Democrats have never had "credibility on national security" since he Vietnam era.
- They are self-identified Democrats.
- They have strong ties to center-right Democratic organizations.
- They were openly in favor of invading Iraq.
- They are vehemently opposed to withdrawal from Iraq.
Moving on in the excerpt from Sullivan, we find what I find to be the most mind-blowing and frustrating contradictions of the Democratic hawk position revealed. That basic argument of the "credibility on national security" code is that Democrats are losing elections because they hold unpopular positions on the use of military force. This is evidenced by Sullivan simply telling liberals to "suck it up and accept" that they hold unpopular positions, because "you can't tell Americans they care most about what you want to discuss," because, presumably, America is against Democrats when it comes to the use of military force in general and what to do in Iraq in particular. However, the fact of the matter is that right now, Democrats in general and Democratic hawks in particular are the ones who need to do the sucking up and accepting. Look at these poll numbers:NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by the polling organizations of Peter Hart (D) and Bill McInturff (R). Oct. 8-10, 2005. N=807 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.4.
"Do you think that the United States should maintain its current troop level in Iraq to help secure peace and stability, or should the United States reduce its number of troops once new elections have been held?"
Maintain Level Reduce Level 34 58If liberals need to suck up and accept anything, it is that withdrawal is the overwhelming majority position in this country. In June, Harris found a 63-33 pro-withdrawal majority. In August, they did the same thing, and found a 61-36 pro-withdrawal majority (source for Harris numbers). In the middle of September, in a poll that included the gradual withdrawal option, Gallup found a 63-36 majority in favor of withdrawal. In early September, CBS actually asked the gradual withdrawal question, and found a pro-withdrawal majority of 58-34.
Sullivan is right that "you can't tell Americans they must care about what you want to discuss; you must discuss what they care about," but right now people doing the avoiding are the Democratic hawks. What the country wants to talk about is withdrawal. What the country is overwhelmingly in favor of is withdrawal. However, the Democratic leadership isn't talking about it at all. This is because, as their code tells us, they are petrified of losing "credibility on national security." However, it strikes me that one sure way to never achieve "credibility on national security" is to stare failure in its face, and argue that we must stay the course. It strikes me that another way to lose "credibility on national security," is to side with the current governing party and its very minority position on Iraq, when by nearly 2-1 margins the country is calling for a change. The Iraq war is fast becoming as unpopular as gay marriage, but while Democratic hawks happily aruge that we need to throw the GLBT commuity overboard in order to achieve electoral victory, they strangely seem unable to ever realize just how extremely unpopular their own hawksih positions have become.
If you are unable to realize that the current way the military is being used in Iraq is mistaken and destructive, like the vast majority of the nation already has, you have no credibility on national security. And if you can't realize that simply avoiding the issue will compound this problem even further, then whatever credibility on national security you once had will erode away entirely. If national security is one of the two thresholds that political parties must meet before voters will even listen to them, then right now the only group of people meeting the national security threshold are those in favor of withdrawal. And if you can't recognize that by now, then, at long last, it is time that you just suck it up and accept it.