Sunday, August 19, 2007

All Politics All the Time

I started to write about Archbishop Akinola's latest "reflections" but decided to leave that for another day. Instead, between the Iowa Debates, the ongoing mess in Iraq and Karl Rove's resignation there's plenty to chew on on the political front so I'm declaring today's blog:


  • The War As We See It
  • The Iowa Debates
  • Why Hillary Clinton Is Electable


The War As We See It

First up is The War As We See It -- sobering commentary about the realities of the war in Iraq by those who actually know what they're talking about: the troops on the ground. Bravo for these brave soldiers who are so articulately able to speak truth to the powers that keep them in harm's way for political rather than military reasons. From their New York Times op-ed:

... In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.

Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.
We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.

God bless 'em!

The Iowa Debate

We watched the debate this morning. I was glad to see Bill Richardson recovered from the bout with foot-in-mouth that plagued him when they were here in L.A. ten days ago. Mostly I was encouraged that in spite of the efforts of the moderator to "get them going" at each other there was a united effort to stick to the issues and make their points -- sometimes agreeing with opponents and sometimes disagreeing. (What a concept, eh?)
One of my favorite moments was John Edwards naming the fact that every single one of the Democratic candidates would work to bring an end to the war in Iraq if elected. The question on the table isn't "if" the question is "how." And that ALONE is a source for encouragement and optimism. Another good bit was when Clinton addressed her "negatives" in the polls.
“I have been fighting against these people for longer than anybody else up here. I’ve taken them on and we’ve beaten them,” she said. “The idea that you’re going to escape the Republican attack machine and not have high negatives by the time they’re through with you, I think, is just missing what’s been going on in American politics for the last 20 years.”
Well done and Amen!
Which brings me to ...


Why Hillary Clinton IS Electable

I figured it out yesterday while we were watching a CNN report on Hurricane Dean looming off the Jamaican Coast. The reporter was talking wind gusts and the video showed a massive storm graphic but the "crawl" ... the "other news" that runs along the bottom of the screen ... kept repeating "Karl Rove says Hillary Clinton is unelectable."

Karl Rove -- arguably one of the most brilliant Republican strategists in the history of politics -- is using "unelectable" as his weapon du jour against the president-elect of his nightmares: Hillary Rodham Clinton. Why "unelectable" when there are SO many other places he could hit? Let's see:

"Karl Rove says Hillary Clinton is a big old liberal who will tax and spend America into the poor house."

"Karl Rove says Hillary Clinton is a femi-nazi manhater who shamelessly attacked America's cookie bakers and advocates socialized medicine."

"Karl Rove says Hillary Clinton is out of step with America's values and besides who wants to give Slick Willy another crack at the Oval Office?"

And we get none of the above. We get "Karl Rove says Hillary Clinton is unelectable."

And that's when I got it. Yesterday. Watching the crawl go past one more time on the CNN report on Hurricane Dean. All those other arguments are aimed at Rove's base -- at conservative Republicans who are never going to give Clinton a chance no matter what.

"Unelectable" is aimed at Democrats & Independents. At the people I have drinks and dinner and discussions with. At the ones who are terrified of another 2000 or 2004 election debacle and for whom another Bush-clone in the White House seems a Fate Worse Than Death. The ones who end every dinner table debate with "Yeah, well, whatever -- she isn't electable."

What I "got" was that the "Hillary Clinton is unelectable" argument has nothing to do with whether she's electable or not
-- it has to do with keeping her from getting nominated because it speaks to the deepest fears of those with the power to nominate her. And because Karl Rove may just be the most brilliant Republican strategist in the history of politics my gut tells me if he REALLY thought she was "unelectable" he'd be doing whatever he could to see that she WAS the Democratic nominee ... because who wouldn't want to run THEIR candidate against someone who was "unelectable?"

If Karl Rove ends up being a felon for his actions in the White House it won't surprise me. That Karl Rove would choose his words lightly or unadvisedly at this crucial point in an primary election campaign would surprise me.

Give the devil his due: he's smarter than that. And thanks to him I feel smarter already.

Thanks to Karl Rove I'm no longer worried that Hillary Clinton is "not electable." And what that does is free me to up to really LISTEN to her positions and her proposals and weigh them along with the other candidates. It gives me the freedom to look for the BEST from among a field of great candidates as I make up my own mind about who to vote for here in Calfornia on February 5th. And it gives me a whole new set of questions -- and answers! -- for those dinner table discussions.

So if you want to talk politics over dinner give me a call -- I'm your girl!


Caminante said...

Yeah, and Karl also said that the Repubs were going to get the House and Senate in 2006; the numbers were certain of it. Still, I don't trust his words or actions further than I can get to the bottom of this little box in which I am typing.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rev. Russell:

On the war, the soldiers are right, they always are. We have done what we came to do, time to leave, but not in a way that leaves the Iraqi's at the mercy of their many, many enemies. We would have been smarter to wait and not charge in, but we're there and we should clean up the mess before we pull out. But pull out we should.

For me the political season is waaaaay too long. We never get anything done in this country because we are always working towards the next election. Our Democratic Congress elected last November has done, exactly what in the past 10 months? Basically posture and talk about the next election. Where do I get that job?

As to Hillary. I am one who will never vote for her. I actually liked her husband, although I never voted for him. I thought he had an incredibly hard ride with Republicans, the same ones who complain about the hard ride their President is now getting.
Here's my problem: Since 1989 we've had Bush-Clinton-Bush, that's 20 years of the same two families as leaders. Enough already! I haven't heard Jeb saying he wanted to run, but I wouldn't put it past the family.
There simply has to be someone out there who is neither a Bush or Clinton with perhaps some new, bold ideas to lead this country. I'm somewhat intrigued by Obama, but worry that he actually has less government experience than did Dan Quayle. But in another way that encourages me. Perhaps we need a government novice, one who wouldn't be tied to so many special interests and personal history.
So while I'm up in the air on my choice, it won't be a Clinton or a Bush.

A sinner saved by God's Grace

Jim from Michigan

Anonymous said...

I think his strategy is not to prevent her from being nominated but to get her nominated. He is betting that the hatred Democrats have for him will translate into a boost for whoever he attacks. Given the response yesterday and today to his attack on Hillary, I think this is the case, and he is too smart not to have known that it would be.

RonF said...

You can find an excellent analysis of the soldier's piece you refer to at Blackfive. I recommend it to anyone who wants to take a serious look at this issue. It addresses a number of concerns of the writers and points out how what's going on in each individual area (which is what an junior non-commissioned officer sees) into the overall picture.

BTW, Susan, you have mis-formatted the last two paragraphs of that extract. The second-to-last sentence of your extract is the first sentence of the last paragraph, not the last paragraph of the second-to-last paragraph. I believe it changes the context for that sentence.


ron ...

Re: the "Blackfive" blog ... sure there are other opinions out there. That's why they call this a free country and why some of us are working toward an administration that will keep it that way rather than undermine the Constitution beyond recognition.

Re: formatting ... that was actually the unintended consequence of cut & paste into blogger ... no editorial commentary implied.

But here's the bottom line -- and one I hear from my OWN "guy in the field" (who I talked to yesterday and who thought the op-ed was "f-ing right on" ...) ...

The idea that calling for an end to the failed strategy in Iraq is undermining the morale of the troops or not supporting them while they're in harm's way is ... well ... BS.

RonF said...

True, there is a diversity of opinion on the topic. The problem is that quite often, we see a lot of uninformed opinion. Grim is a well-qualified and well-informed writer and milblogger who provides reasoned commentary rather than bloviated Fox News style rhetoric, and I found his analysis persuasive. You may not find it so, but I believe you'd find his points at least worth considering. It's dangerous to simply accept something that fits into the narrative we'd like to believe without analyzing it.

I found it interesting that the Democratic candidates said that they were all united in planning to "bring an end to the war." As opposed to the Republicans who intend to ... what? Keep it going forever?

Of course the Republicans will want to bring an end to the war as well. Everyone wants an end to war; if they are trying to make it look as though the Republicans don't they're guilty of demonizing them. But as you quite cogently point out, the issue is going to be not whether but how that's to be done. Will we simply set a deadline and pull out? Will we set a functional milestone along the lines of "When the Iraqi civil and military authorities are able to take over security"? How will that be evaluated? Will it be a complete pullout, or will we leave certain levels of forces there for an extended period? What will the civil authority in Iraq do - will they be able to pass and enforce necessary legislation such as the oil revenue sharing plan, etc.? How will the actions of the Iraqi civil authorities affect our plans?

Few of these are simple questions. I await the candidate's approach to them - whether they think all of these and more are important, whether they understand the interrelationships among them, whether they have any concern for what happens to Iraq and the Iraqis after we leave, whether they think that complex questions have simple answers, etc.. I'm talking about all the candidates, not just one party or the other. This issue is far more important than partisanship.

RonF said...

Jim, if you don't think that Sen. Obama isn't tied to the current set of special interests and has little personal history, you should start reading the Chicago Tribune. Senator Obama is quite comfortable with the existing power structure. In the last mayoral election in Chicago he endorsed Mayor Daley over a number of more "progressive" candidates. His house is built on a lot that was expanded to it's present size by purchasing land at well under market price from a mover/shaker and money man in the Cook County Democratic machine. And trust me; nobody lasts 4 terms in the Illinois Senate unless they follow directions from the Illinois Combine's leaders and vote the way they want.

nacinla said...

Re: Hillary, I agree with the the anonymous poster here, whose comment jibes with an analysis that I read on Salon or the NYT. Rove's strategy is to say things that will tick off Democrats and get them to rally behind her. Every Republican I have talked to WANTS Hillary as the Democratic nominee because they believe she'll be the easiest to beat.