Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Beinart on Lamont

Peter Beinart says that Lamont and his supporters are more opportunistic than principled. This is meant to puncture the McGovern-Lamont comparison and to encourage Democrats to think in a principled way. I fear, however, that if they find principles, they won’t be Beinart’s, but rather McGovern’s. (In other words, I don’t take as seriously the vaguely hawkish noises that punctuate the cut-and-run chorus.)

For a somewhat different view, focusing on how narrow the gap in 2008 will be between any two administrations, see this post by Power Line’s John Hinderaker:

As a practical matter, I question how much the Democrats’ apparent tilt to the left will matter in policy terms. It’s true, in principle, that a hard liberal like Feingold will be less inclined to use American military force in post-Iraq situations than a more conservative Democrat, or a Republican. But the reality is that no administration that takes office in 2009, Republican or Democrat, will have any appetite for another ground war in the Middle East. For the foreseeable future, that isn’t going to happen, no matter who inhabits the White House.


That leaves Iran, and the prospect of using force short of an invasion to prevent or deter Iran from becoming a nuclear power. What the Democrats intend to do about Iran is a dark secret, and, if they have their way, will remain one until 2009. Their only strategy at present is to be well-poised for second guessing. But it looks increasingly as though Iran can’t wait until 2009. One way or another, that problem will have been addressed by the time the next Presidential election rolls around, and the debate will have shifted in ways that we can’t now foresee.


So I think the most that can be said is that an antiwar Democratic administration will be somewhat less likely to use military force, as a general matter, than a Republican administration would be. But, given our experience in Iraq, that gap may not be very wide.

His assumption seems to be that events will compel GWB to come as close as possible to finishing the job before his successor assumes office.

Discussions - 13 Comments

What makes you sure that a) Iran is close enough to an operational weapon to warrant this action, or b) that the category of "force short of an invasion to prevent or deter Iran from becoming a nuclear power" isn’t an empty set?

The current administration’s plan is not any clearer than that described in the perpetual funhouse mirror of Hinderaker writing on the Democrats.

I’m not confident that anything short of force will actually forestall the development of an Iranian bomb. I’m also not confident--if that’s the right word--that anyone will use force to do so. On the other hand, I don’t want to be put in a position of responding to the radioactive rubble of Tel Aviv or, more likely, a nuclear, anti-Western Iran dominating the region.

We have no good options. But to be clear, saying that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq would have/could have balanced Iran is not now and never, I think, was a solution. To aggressive and unpredictable nuclear powers next door to one another is not a prescription for stability or peace.

I thought Hinderaker’s optimistic analysis of national security being run by Democrats a bit chilling. I mean, didn’t the country fall fast asleep with the previous Democrat at the wheel in the White House? Doesn’t Hinderaker recall how the resulting crash was so unnerving? Ho hum, nevertheless, there’s little difference between the two parties.

If Republicans cede control of national security to this bunch of Democrats, we’ll have only our own selves to blame. Yet, I feel like we’re all Churchills now.

This blog seems to have an unhealthy obsession with Lamont. Ever thought about running this fall on the Republican record for the past 6 years when you controlled both houses and the White House? Oh wait a minute, now I see your concern....

That’s the problem with a good, cerebral blog like NLT: the chickenbrains find it and pollute it. Ask neo-neocon.

As a child of the sixties and someone who smiles on his brother, I have to say something good about Abbie Hoffman:
Voters right now really do have a very, very low opinion of both the record of both the Republican president and the Republican Congress.
Claiming that the Democratic party IS Lamont is not a credible way of turning that problem around. For one thing, nobody at this point outside of NATION readers really believes that jerk is going to be a U.S. Senator. We need to start saying some good things about the president’s record.

Abbie and Peter, isn’t there the awkwardness of "trust no one over thirty!"?

As for Peter’s analysis and recommendation: my rough-and-inprecise analysis of 2008 is: most of the Republican "base" is very disaffected with the President and the Party; they are waiting to see who the Dems nominate (and how serious that candidate/ticket is); they will (pretty much) rally around the eventual GOP candidate, but depending upon who he (or she?) is, certain segments will be tepid and certain segments could be plucked by a credible Democrat. Of course, what happens in 2006 will impact things (and hence my framework), as well as any future terror attacks or Supreme Court decisions.

Paul, You’re right that studies show that trustworthiness doesn’t correlate well with chronological age. The 2008 election may or may not be about Bush and Congress: it depends the Republican nominee. That’s why we should look for a genuine outsider (which is different from someone who has made a career of styling himself "above politics."). But the 2006 election will be about Bush and the allegedly do-nothing Republican Congress, and I bet (not really knowing) that many of your friends are about to engage in some ill-considered negative voting.

Peter and Paul:

A prediction from, and about, the "Base". I/we will huff and puff about our disaffection and even anger over many of the President’s decisions. The huffing and puffing will be even more focused on House Repubs because of their unbridled spending. But in the end the Dems won’t nominate anyone(s) serious about well, much of anything, and we’ll quietly vote Republican. Bush has done VERY well with his SC nominations (helped by "the Base" in abandoning the Miers debacle.), and that represents the "crown" of the culture/political wars for many of us. So, hanging on by a thread, Bush and the Repubs are still "my guys". But, man, do they p*** me off a lot of the time! I’m not sure the Dems have it in themselves to "take advantage" of my disaffection. It would require they change their most fundamental stripes. I don’t think they will.
I wish there were a viable third party, but there isn’t. At least not yet. But if Peggy Noonan keeps writing those superb "something important is deeply wrong, and the political class in D.C. is tone-deaf to it" columns, then perhaps a third-party might be organized. On so many fronts and issues, it seems we’re on the cusp of fundamental political alignment. I’d waste a few thousand dollars in political contributions to a serious, capable (even though *currently* quixotic) third-party candidate if I thought he/she would elevate the debate. The "race to the bottom" for votes by bringing home pork really has me dispirited.

Vox Garii, vox populi. Or, a bit more directly: Gary votes Republican because of his "values," he’s not a life-long, died-in-the wool Republican. It would be interesting knowing what percentage of "the base" folks of his sort constitute. (Don’t get me wrong, in speaking so about my bro: that’s what I am, too!)

Thanks for having my back Peter...(the occational bad joke aside) I honestly come here to see what is on the mind of my fellow (conservative) Americans and to (try to) respectfully voice my opinion. I agree with more that I expected when I first found this blog, but have some strong disagrements here and there. Sorry if you don’t like that Tom.

But the 2006 election will be about Bush and the allegedly do-nothing Republican Congress...

There’s certainly no pleasing some folks. To wit, this "do-nothing Republican Congress" even surpassed LBJ’s "fabulous 89th" Democrat Congress in it’s spending habits. So I think we ought to re-phrase that to the allegedly do-too much Republican Congress.

Of course, even then, some folks get left out of the entitled goodies grab, and thus scream, "Down with the do-nothing Republican Congress!"

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