They are so consumed with Social Security elimination they the message machine didn't seem to have time to connect GWB with the events in Egypt. When was the last time anything remotely positive in the Middle East happened that didn't justify the Mess O' Potamia?
I think some of the disagreement may come from how we percieved 9-11 at the time. It was incredibly searing for me. I still envision planes crashing into buildings and I still remember talking to my mother on the phone that day. She was in Iowa at the time and I was in Atlanta at school. She was crying because she was so scared. But I had also just taken a course about nationalism the semester before it. We had read Ernest Gellner's Nations and Nationalism and Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities. As a sophomore in college, this class had opened the door for me to examine the "rally around the flag" effect more critically. I had also taken a course in the Arab-Israeli conflict as a freshman, and I thought that Bush's war mongering, even if it was satisfying to Americans for emotional reasons, would really come back to bite us. It really seemed like Bush had no idea that we could be percieved as an imperial menace in the Middle East. The Saudi bases were, of course, a big part of OBL's raison d'etre. So I thought that Bush made a big mistake in rallying support in the U.S. and worldwide only for a military response and not for a more active state-building policy in Afghanistan. He defended freedom as if it was just a tool and never allowed discussion of why people might, in certain places, hate America and love freedom.
I can't say that I supported the Afghanistan War because I thought he made very similar mistakes in terms of our long term success that he ended up making in Iraq.
I do agree very much that this was not all right wing hysteria. I think there are two ways to view setbacks, even if they are major tragedies. You can freak out and irrationally resist it and, depending on who you punch out, you may feel satisfied temporarily. Or you can say this was a setback, but we will work through it together, stay true to our principles, and come out of it in the end. Bush deliberately exploited the irrational instead of encouraging the rational response (like Guiliani).
In regards to what Democrats can do, I just think that since we are out of power, it is largely an issue of framing. Whenever America's role in the world comes up: "Well, Tim, as we found out on the day those tsunami's struck..." or "As you know, the tsunamis changed everything in terms of how we look at the role of government in protecting people..."
I am arguing here that we need to teach lessons and draw conclusions in our rhetoric based on the disaster. Here is the part in my original piece:
It is clear to me that this Tsunami disaster response should function as a strategic initiative for liberals. Since we are out of power, this will primarily be a framing exercise. 12-26-2004 in fact highlights a lot about liberal values and why they are important. Here is how:
The lack of a warning system in the Indian Ocean represents the danger of a world in which the governments to not cooperate with each other when it is in their best interests to do so. Failure to address long term issues of protection is a failure of proper progressive foresight and progressive open communication.
The lack of infrastructure in poor countries highlights the dangers and consequences of extreme poverty. We liberals prioritize public infrastructure for that reason among others.
*Liberals believe a fundamental goal of economic interdependence and foreign policy is to increase the quality of life of humankind, which spreads peace, helps the economy worldwide, and spreads freedom, dignity and individual rights. This tragedy underscores the need to prioritize interdependence in our politics.
*Liberals are committed to eradicating decease worldwide. The threat of disease is a central horror facing the tsunami victims.
*Many natural disasters are a result of dumb luck. Sympathy for those injured by their dumb luck is an important root of liberal values in all people. Because we cannot fundamentally control where we are born, how rich our parents are, how good our parents are or even how close we are when a freak disaster happens, we believe that it is fundamentally human to assist people victimized by dumb luck.
*That people now feel connected across lines of nationality, class, race, religion and divisions represents a teachable moment for those espousing liberal values because that is what we believe about the world. Unity of humanity helps our worldview and it should be revisited time and again.
*Humanitarian issues are areas where liberals unquestionably dominate.
In short, a bold Democratic framing of this disaster is needed because, at least politically, it is conservative attitudes about government and international cooperation that decrease our ability to cope with these types of disasters. It can also provide an important grounding event (in the same way that 9-11 was that type of an event for conservatives) to derive principles for an opposing and visionary liberal foreign policy agenda. This, combined with AIDS in Africa and genocide in Sudan, can be the beginning of important framing and policymaking on our part.
That was from the link in my post up top. Great discussion here. Thanks.
Great reply. I think you are right about a lot of this. I would add, however, that a lot of that mood was in a sense created by a lot of the right wing hysteria after 9-11. It could have been responded to in a much cooler way (think Rudy Guiliani vs. Bush) than it was. For instance, was it really necessary that the press became compliant after 9-11? No, it was a top-down effect that came directly from right wing exploitation of the event. Of course 9-11 was freaky and scary especially because it happened to Americans. But that tsunami disaster sparked something in us as humans. It sparked a sense of compassion in a world overflowing in self-interest. I think it is still an opportunity.
True, it did not shake my core like 9-11. But it was also--you must concede--much much bigger than any previous humanitarian disaster in terms of emotions it evoked.
You are right that defending liberalism does not mean defending Democrats necessarily. But you say that we should, therefore, evaluate everything on a case by case basis. I disagree because sometimes it is better for liberalism long term if you defeat conservatism rather than continually finding common ground with it. Think of the Kennedy position (as I understand it) in the tax cut debate in 2001. The Democrats decided that Bush was going to pass a tax cut so they figured that the best thing to do was to concede that and then cooperate to make it less destructive than the Rethuglicans wanted. But, it may have been better for liberalism if we had opposed a tax cut with no mandate for it.
I also think that defending liberalism means that we need to make a coherent case for why we look for common ground and why the conservative worldview is wrong. In other words, we need to be able to describe "changing positions in order to correspond with the facts" in a positive way that connects with voters. We do not need to stop "flip flopping." So I agree with your observation, I just don't think that the answer is to be less partisan; the answer is to defend the cooperative traits as liberal traits.
All I am saying is that whatever the depth of this story, it is possible that the only thing that could keep this blackmail going was access to the only difinitively criminal investigation of this White House. In other words, whatever the deed, to someone in the administration it was worse that people would find out what it was than to risk charges of treason...
But I honestly wonder about one thing. Maybe one of you can answer it. In 1994 a lot of what drove Gingrich is that he finally picked off the South for the Republicans and completed a realignment of anti-integration types into the Republican party. I don't see a similarly robust "natural" realignment for the Democrats. Maybe those liberal northeastern Republicans. Maybe the non-ideological moderates in the West and Mid-West. Those are good prospects, but they seem less primed than the Southern conservatives were in the early nineties. On the other hand, we are a lot closer than they were, so our tidal wive might be smaller but get the job done anyway.
Is it stupid in light of what I said in the diary? I admit that I am attempting to peer into the future a bit, but there is nothing I have read or seen that makes me think we are close to reversing a broken political dynamic there that is not in our favor and is actually growing in our disfavor. I am not sure what you find stupid about it.
I agree that it is up to the Iraqis now where their country goes, but there is a problem with your analysis. It makes U.S. action appear passive, as if we are just facilitating pluralism over there and they simply don't see it. America, on top of facilitating, is also acting militarily and politically. Daily. You have to factor that into the equation. We have been occupying for nearly two years. That has had an effect on opinion there. That is what I mean when I talk about dynamics and gambling and all of that. We have to come to terms with the fact that America is not simply making a sales pitch for freedom in Iraq that they can either accept or reject. No, we are doing a lot more than that and most of it appears to be counterproductive. Of course, I still hope for the best. And I also think it is clear that I am talking about our policies, not our soldiers.
This does raise an interesting issue (wow, I am such a lib). Should we stand up and become more rigid or should we stand up for the virtue of open-mindedness itself? I happen to think that there is a good case to be made for a public defense of openmindedness. I think our frame would be that openmindedness is absolutely necessary for governing even if closemindedness helps win campaigns. This means that liberals produce people who are effective and not wasteful in government. We don't just talk the talk. We don't just win campaigns. We govern responsibly and effectively in line with the interests of the people. Openmindedness can--and should-- be sold as a civic virtue only found in the Democratic Party.
The scream is not a liability. It is not why he lost Iowa (as it was after Iowa) and it is not why he lost after that. If Bush's DWI wasn't a liability, the scream isn't either. It will be so far forgotten by 2008 it is not even an issue. All it means is that if he wants to run for pres, he has to have a 15 second statement that shuts down scream talk forever, which seems easy enough to do.
I really think that focus on little things like this is paranoid and giving in to RWNM tactics. Their pettiness should not scare us out of candidates. If you don't dig a candidate (not you, just in general) then just have that be your reason. There is no reason to come up with some bogus reason why he or she is not "electible." It is part of this consultocracy thing that we, as citizens of a democracy, need to shake...