Friday, September 07, 2007

Waiting for Nixon

The front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary is -- rather unexpectedly -- Richard Nixon.

What do I mean by that? I mean simply this: the Democrats will most likely run a candidate who claims to want to end the war, but will in fact continue it. The Democrats will most likely run a candidate who presents themselves as a peace candidate -- and yes, improbable as it seems in retrospect, it's important to remember that Nixon ran as a peace candidate -- but is in fact a war candidate. And the Democrats will most likely run a candidate who takes an immoral, failed, unpopular and disastrous war largely begun by one party and achieve true bipartisanship with it.

And it seems that the Democratic voters don't know this. (via)

As Chris Bowers said, it'd be one thing if the Democrats knowingly put forward candidates who want to continue the war. (A war which, its boosters claim, will "require the presence of roughly 100,000 American troops for 20 years — and that, even so, it would be a "long-shot gamble."" That's what the pro war people are saying.) But to do so in ignorance? To have 76% of Democrats think that Hilary Clinton wants to end rather than perpetuate the war?

It's hard to stomach. I mean, no wonder Hilary's leading if more people think Hilary wants to end the war: as Atrios keeps saying, people hate the war and want it to end. Only our political class seems not to notice this -- or to agree. Our political class -- including most of the Democrats.

How could they think so? Why are people so misinformed about the leading candidates' support for the war?

Well, maybe because the candidates are lying about their positions:

A damning video. (via) One that -- in a sane world -- would cripple Hilary Clinton's candidacy. But, of course, we don't live in a sane world.

Now, Obama is saying some terrible things too. And his Iraq stance is, so far as I can tell, not much better than Clinton's. (Edwards' might be better -- I frankly don't know; I haven't looked into it enough. I'll have to study the issue if my primary vote will actually matter. Otherwise I'm voting for Kucinich as a protest vote. (Update: Edwards is certainly saying some good things.))

But what the candidates are saying isn't everything. And there's at least one very telling indication that Obama would be significantly better than Clinton (once again via):
The well-publicized contrast between Hillary Clinton's early backing of the Bush administration's war effort and Barack Obama's early opposition, has to a degree been replicated in the less visible network of foreign policy advisers that each candidate has cultivated -- the early war opponents by Obama, and the one-time hawks by Clinton. The differing histories of the candidates on Iraq, reinforced by the parallel commitments of their advisers, suggests - but does not guarantee - that Clinton and Obama would, if elected, adopt substantially dissimilar approaches to international relations and to national security threats. If the past and the advisers are a guide, then Clinton would be expected to adopt a tougher line, and would be likely to threaten, and perhaps use, force more readily than Obama.
Clinton supported the war; Clinton is hiring people who supported the war. Obama didn't, and isn't. Thus for now I'm supporting Obama, on the theory that he is the realistic anti-Clinton.

But for the most part I am bitterly disappointed in the Democrats. Not only for what they are likely to do in the next week about the Petraeus sham -- but for what they are likely to do in 2008.

Krugman, in his justifiably-widely-linked but NYT-firewalled column today, (update: try here), said:
Voters are exasperated with the Democrats, not because they think Congressional leaders are too liberal, but because they don’t see Congress doing anything to stop the war.
And also said that he's afraid that
Democrats will look at Gen. Petraeus’s uniform and medals and fall into their usual cringe. They won’t ask hard questions out of fear that someone might accuse them of attacking the military. After the testimony, they’ll desperately try to get Republicans to agree to a resolution that politely asks President Bush to maybe, possibly, withdraw some troops, if he feels like it.
And part of me is afraid of that too. Afraid that they're too cowardly to stand up to a despised president on his most-despised policy.

But more of me is afraid that they're not afraid. More of me is afraid that they're doing it, not out of fear, but out of conviction.

And lying to us about it. Because, like Nixon, they know the public wants the war to end. And so their secret plan for peace will be the same as his was: more war.

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