Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Fun With Jerks (including myself), Plus an Actual Point
It's not quite blogroll-worthy, but one of the sites on politics I've taken to reading regularly is Dick Polman's American Debate, linked off For the most part, he plays it straight--despite constantly being attacked as yet another America-hating liberal in the comments section of the blog, I have yet to discern which if any pols are his personal favorites. He points out the hypocrisies of all public figures; over the last year, of course, Republican failings have been more prominently on display, so that's where he has aimed much of his fire, but Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats come in for occasional rough treatment too.

Anyway, perhaps because I'm no longer posting on and have pledged not to talk politics on BackSheGoes, I've taken to commenting on Polman's blog. The right-wing nuts there tend to post anonymously, and most of them just regurgitate the usual attacks on leading Democrats or, in his role as an MSM mouthpiece for the secular monsters who want to turn our kids into Muslimiac homos, Polman himself. Here's an example from today's post, about Hillary Clinton's triangulation (though he doesn't use the word) on Iraq:

At 3:15 PM, Anonymous said...
Hillary is unfit to serve in any political office. She should have never been permitted to enter the Senate race in New York. She is a far-left socialist who cannot be trusted. She was involved in over a dozen scandals as the first lady stolen FBI files, Travelgate, Whitewater illegal land deal revealed, death of Vince Foster, vacation trips including a safari to Africa, stealing White House furniture and gifts, did not want military personnel to salute or be in uniform in the White House, attempted healthcare socialization plan and more.

The media has covered up these things and never questions her on these items. And by the way, why did her brothers spend time in jail??????

It's drivel like this that reminds me why, despite reservations even then, I voted for Hillary in her first victorious Senate race back in 2000: precisely because her victory upset asshats like this guy. And frankly, much as I can't stand Our Lady of Perpetual Triangulation, it's the only reason I could possibly support her again.

When I first started commenting on Polman's blog, I did so under "David," my actual name. It didn't link to anything--Annie has made it clear that she doesn't want me tangling with any more right-wing nuts online--but I eventually decided that it would be more fun to adopt a more detached persona in my comments while writing under a name that would be particularly likely to annoy your average reactionary Philadelphian. Having grown up among and around some of these people, and still seeing the ugly undercurrent of residual racism in my hometown's sports fans--seriously, how else could one argue that Jeff Garcia is a more effective quarterback than Donovan McNabb?--I think I know what bugs them.

So I started posting under the name "iverson."

More on that in a minute. Further down in the comments to this same post, someone makes a more pertinent point:

At 12:25 AM, AST said...
The problem for the Democrats is that they are burdened with a large number of voters who are irrational about any use of force anywhere. The quagmire is their thinking about terrorism. They see Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the rest as just modern equivalents of the Viet Cong trying to take control of their own nation and drive us out.

Of course, the facts of the current terrorism and the aims of the Mujihadeen don't support that view. They will not be appeased.

Responsible political leaders should lead, not be driven by the likes of the Daily Kos and the crowd. The role of a leader is two-fold: to understand the realities of the world and to persuade his followers to take a responsible course. Abandoning the Iraqis is not a responsible course, unless you think that instability and more fighting among the nations of the Middle East is good for our interests.

This guy or gal has it exactly right. I'm very worried that the Democratic presidential contenders, in their zeal to capture the antiwar sentiment that increasingly looks like the most powerful driver of the nominating process, will go overboard and try to outdo each other in at least implicitly renouncing the use of military force. The reasons for this likely would range from simple political calculation--if you're in a seven-candidate pool, and you figure that 30 percent of the electorate in a small-state primary or caucus will support any plausible contender (sorry, Kucinich) with the strongest antiwar position, that's a big incentive--to guilt, at least for those current and former Senators who voted in 2002 to give warmaking power to a simpleminded sociopath who had already decided to use it.

It would be almost as simpleminded to send a strong signal that the presidential nominee, and the party more broadly, would hesitate to use force under almost any circumstance. I don't foresee another 9/11-level attack, simply because I think it's almost impossible to plan and coordinate something that big when a country as capacious is ours is on the lookout for it, but something smaller--a truck bomb driven into a post office in a county seat, or just some maniac firing a machine gun into a crowd at a mall--is at least possible and perhaps likely. Suppose that happens in September 2008; suddenly the Democrat goes from a 12 point lead to a 10 point deficit as the ads follow, questioning whether Senator X has what it takes to protect America.

There's also the simple matter of statecraft. Military power can't solve every problem, obviously. But anybody with the first clue about how the world works understands that it's an important tool to be used--judiciously, for sure--in pursuit of essentially political ends. Every president of both parties between FDR and Clinton grasped this, and most of them used our enormous power more or less rationally; you can argue the morality of various interventions, but the bulk of them had some logic in a realpolitik sense.

(The one that didn't, of course, was Vietnam. I still have this strong sense that if the East Asia branch of the State Department hadn't been purged in the '50s as a result of the McCarthyite mania, we never would have screwed that up so badly. But that might be another topic for another time.)

Hillary, for all that I'm not a fan, gets this. The New Yorker article to which Polman refers in his post shows her with a pretty nuanced grip on foreign affairs; as occasional AIS commenter Dr. Catloaf recently said to me, the one who comes off as a naif in that piece is Edwards. As I'm broadly sympathetic to the equity-based economic agenda Edwards is pushing, this bugs me; if he emerges as Not-Hillary, I'll want to support him. But the fervor he's showing, perhaps not just on Iraq but as a worldview issue, strikes me as both bad policy and, in a general election context, very bad politics.

I posted a shorter version of these thoughts on Polman's blog here, using a nom de web I think I like even better than "iverson."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's right. No more nuts in a tangle.