September 17, 2002


I’m embarassed for my party right now, and nothing I see in the Democratic response to Iraq gives me hope for a Democratic political renaissance. As I see it, the Democrats have two choices: Start making some principled arguments to the American people showing why Bush is wrong on Iraq, or start convincing us liberals why, in this case, our usual skepticism about military action is wrong. That is the choice Messrs. Daschle, Gephardt, Kerry, Kerrey, Clinton, Biden, Dean, Edwards, and other prominent Democrats face.

This sounds a lot like what Indepundit Scott Koenig is saying in his Daschle Dawdle Watch, and I agree with both of them. There’s a case to be made against war — maybe even an intelligent one as opposed to the of-course-America-is-wrong line we’re getting from the usual Chomskian suspects. And we’d be better off if someone were making it clearly and responsibly. (Robert Wright has been doing a much better job than Daschle, et al.) But making that case requires taking a position that someone might hold against you later, as opposed to carping from the sidelines and hoping to capitalize if it all goes wrong. Those who lack the backbone to take a position at a time like this aren’t qualified to hold office.

UPDATE: Athena Runner has a similar take. Oh, and I should link this editorial from The New Republic:

The Democrats’ evasions come in several forms. The first, and most naked, is the contention that the Iraq debate should wait until after the November elections. This is what Senator Ted Kennedy meant when he argued last week that “we can’t let it [Iraq] replace the domestic agenda,” and it is what Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe meant when he declared hopefully that “people are going to vote on the kitchen-table issues we’ve talked about for eighteen months.” But if the Democrats succeed, if they make this fall’s election a referendum on prescription drugs and pension reform, they will have done the voters a disservice. Elections should be about the most urgent issues facing the country; and compared with war with Iraq, the Democrats’ litany of poll-tested standbys is frankly trivial.

When this last sentence was quoted to Tom Daschle on This Week he replied by pretending to misunderstand — disingenuously, I think — and saying that he agreed with The New Republic that important issues like prescription drugs were suffering because of too much focus on the war. That’s not the point of the piece, Tom.

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