Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The End of an Era

The Prez's speech was fairly predictable. I heard that 1/3 less people tuned in when compared to past addresses. They didn't miss much. Salon called it Bush to Errant Flock; 9/11, 9/11, 9/11.

Then today, we have this Republican congressman, Rep. Robin Hayes from North Carolina, claiming that there is a direct link between Saddam and 9/11. He seems to have forgotten the findings of the 9/11 Commission, which the CNN article summarizes;

...The 9/11 commission, appointed by Bush, presented its final report a year ago, saying that Osama bin Laden had been "willing to explore possibilities for cooperation with Iraq" at one time in the 1990s but that the al Qaeda leader "had in fact been sponsoring anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan, and sought to attract them into his Islamic army."

The 520-page report said investigators found no evidence that any "contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship."

"Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States," it said.
So, let's see; first we were invading Iraq to remove Saddam and his stockpile of WMD, then, when no WMD were found, the cause was democracy, and now its to get the terrorists. Does this administration really think the American people are going to buy this constantly shifting justification for a war that has taken the lives of 1,700 Americans and 20,000 Iraqi civilians? News flash, Mr. President; THERE WEREN'T ANY TERRORISTS IN IRAQ UNTIL YOU INVADED!

Meanwhile, the real battlefield against terrorism; the one that is connected to 9/11, is ignored. On Tuesday, a helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. 17 Americans died. The Taliban are taking credit. Note that Bush did not mention Afghanistan once in his speech.

He picked the wrong war, for reasons we will never know. From what I've seen on the net, and from what the polls are starting to show, the American people are waking up to the fact that Iraq was a terrible blunder, and that this administration has no idea what they are doing. I think the Bush era is finally coming to an end. Thank God.

Unless, of course, the Democrats fail to get their act together before 2008. But, there's helpful signs on that front as well. It looks like John Bolton will not be the next US ambassador to the UN. It's doubtful if he'll come up for a vote again. It's also doubtful that Bush will use the recess appointment option. Without the Senate's approval, he would never have the respect from other members of the UN he'd need. The Democrats stuck to their guns, and it worked. The Wall Street Journal suggests that Bush should send National Security advisor Stephen Hadley to the UN, and give Hadley's job to Bolton, as it does not require the Senate's approval. Most likely, something like this will happen. Bush will get the foreign policy advisors he wants. Yet, the success of the Democrats in blocking a man who was so obliviously unfit for the job is still sweet.

There's also some good discussions going on about the Democrats needing to talk more about moral values and hear more from people of faith. That's us, folks. About time. I am a Christian Too points to Amy Sullivan's blog entry on Beliefnet, Democrats and Moral Values--They Still Don't Get It;

Now, don't get me wrong. Democratic policies reflect my moral principles much better than nearly anything Republicans do. If you take seriously admonitions to care for the most vulnerable in society, to care for the sick, the imprisoned, the young and the old, at the end of the day, you'll find more to support in a Democratic platform than a Republican one. But, and this is important, Democrats have a credibility problem. For far too long, they've talked about these issues in very abstract, utilitarian terms, taking care to stay as far as possible from terms like "morals" or "values" or "faith" and ceding those concepts to the Republican Party. As one writer recently put it: "Democrats tell voters, 'We know what you need.' Republicans tell voters, 'We know who you are.'"

That's critical. Just calling Democratic priorities "moral values" will not make them so in the minds of voters (even though, as we know, promoting peace and protecting the environment and ending poverty are every bit moral values). Nor will helpfully informing voters that they really need to start caring more about their economic interests do much for the Democrats. Why? Because it's paternalistic, it's saying, We know better than you what's good for you.
That's an excellent point, and one we all need to keep in mind.

Sullivan also points to a WaPO article on Howard Dean. I don't know what you think of Dean right now; he's getting a bit of a lashing lately for his outspoken comments. I like him more and more lately, because he's one of the few that is telling it like it is. No fancy double talk about the war. He said it was a mistake from the beginning, and he's still saying it. Call it shooting from the hip if you want; at least he's a straight shooter. Consider this comment;

..."We have not spoken about moral values in this party for a long time," Dean said. "The truth is, we're Democrats because of our moral values. It's a moral value to make sure that kids don't go to bed hungry at night. . . . It is a moral value not to go out on golf trips paid for by lobbyists."
Here's an expanded version of what Dean is talking about, drawn from an interview he gave to Gwen Iffil;

GWEN IFILL: How important is it that you speak to voters who used to be borderline Democrats, for instance, religious voters or black voters, many of whom are conservative and are drawn to arguments against things like gay marriage, how do Democrats speak to them anymore?

HOWARD DEAN: Well, first of all we have to show up. The idea we're going to win by campaigning in 18 states is just not going to happen anymore. We need to be in Mississippi, in Utah, in Texas, and Oklahoma. I've been to all four of those states in the relatively brief time I've been chair.

Secondly, we need to speak about moral values. We really do. The Democratic Party I think has the kind of moral values that most people, particularly the religious community and particularly evangelicals like. I've had numbers of calls from evangelicals and discussions with evangelicals as well as high ranking members of the Catholic Church since I've been DNC chair.

We want to reach out to folks. You know, the Republicans talk about two issues: Abortion and gay rights. I don't think that most Democratic officeholders have been supportive of gay marriage, but I think we are supportive of rights for every single American. We may have some differences of opinion with the religious community on those two issues but the Democrats are much more in sync with the both evangelical Christians and others, Catholics and so forth, on helping the poor, on making sure that we have -- everybody has an opportunity. I am including everybody in the American dream.

Those are the real Christian values. And those are values that appear to be absent from the Republican platform. I jokingly say in my speeches that I have yet to see the biblical injunction that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom heaven. I have not seen that in the Republican Party platform.

So I don't think that the Republicans have any right to lecture Democrats about morals because our morals really are pretty biblical when you look at them. They really are about being good stewards of the earth that God gave us, they really are about helping children, helping the disenfranchised, making sure that everybody gets included. Those are pretty good values.
I agree with Sullivan that I'm not so sure Dean get's it, but at least he's beginning to identify the problem.

Progressive Christians; we've got some work to do. Howard Dean's goal may be to take back the nation. Our goal may include that, but let's be clear here. Our goal is to reclaim Christianity, and free our faith from the bloody hands of the modern day Crusaders.


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