The challenge for Democrats today is not to find a different kind of presidential candidate. It is to transform the party at its grassroots so that a different kind of presidential candidate can emerge. That means abandoning the unity-at-all-costs ethos that governed American liberalism in 2004. And it requires a sustained battle to wrest the Democratic Party from the heirs of Henry Wallace. In the party today, two such heirs loom largest: Michael Moore and MoveOn.
I agree with Orcinus and other bloggers that this notion, previously endorsed by the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) is completely insane. First of all, you've got to work with what you've got. It's the very height of stupidity to say that the party must abandon a major component of it's constituency for any reason. If the constituency is that unbearable, for heaven's sake, change parties!!
To anyone who considers Beinart's insane ramblings to be any more than the mutterings of drunks in the alleyway, go join the Republicans! Don't waste any more time with the Democrats! Leave the party to us and we'll do our thing without you!
To say that MoveOn and the Howard Dean people are problems that stand in the way of getting a Democrat elected president in 2008 is to say that the party must cut off its' own balls and emasculate itself. The Democrats are being asked to toss over the side everything that made them formidable competitors to the Republican Party in the first place.
Orcinus talks about the very shaky and questionable case for the Iraq War and points out that the Democratic Party bigwigs (John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Tom Daschle, Richard Gephardt, et al) miserably failed Americans who questioned Bush's case for war. Personally, I went to a number of demonstrations sponsored by ANSWER (And a few sponsored by the more moderate and middle-class group United for Peace & Justice) and later signed up with MoveOn to push for Kerry for president. I absolutely refuse to offer any apologies for doing so as hey, we had to make do with what we had.
Beinart also talks about the War On Terror and how liberals have to get with the program and jump on board the bandwagon. That's an awful idea. I have pointed out in many forums that the Bush Administration has done an absolutely awful job of conducting this war, not least by getting the war against al Qaeda confused with the Iraq War. In order to effectively fight a campaign against those who use the tactic called "terrorism", Americans must take a cold, clear-eyed, comprehensive and sober view of just what terrorism is and how to beat those who use it. I can't see that there's anybody at the top of either the Democratic or Republican parties who have the foggiest notions.
Kevin Drum put the hypocrisy inherent in this position on display the other day responding to Atrios:
- And evading the issue by constantly implying that no one who supported the Iraq war is morally qualified to criticize those who opposed it doesn't really help matters.
What conservative, pro-war Democrats have to deal with is the fact that the anti-war people were right. The invasion of Iraq was illegal, immoral and unnecessary. The United States has accomplished nothing useful and has not pre-emptively protected itself from anything.