For the past few weeks, I have made a concerted effort to cease all attacks on Republicans. (See my article "Target Landrieu, not Limbaugh," for more.)
As progressives, the governing problem we face right now does not come from the relatively powerless Republican minority, but rather from conservative Democrats and an often too timid leadership. In fact, taking a page from the Blue Dogs, it is actually through real threats to side with Republicans that progressives might be able to win real bargaining power in Congress. (See my article "The Progressive Block" for more.)
However, in response for Republican calls for Americans to take a more active role in supporting the Iranian protesters, tonight I am going to make an exception. More in the extended entry.
|Republicans seem to want President Obama to start making public statements in favor of the causes of the Iranain protesters, and not just their right to protest. They suddenly want us to be like France, too:
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and others noted that Western leaders, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have demanded a recount or more forcefully condemned the government crackdown.
"I'd like to see the president be stronger than he has been, although I appreciate the comments that he made yesterday," McCain said. "I think we ought to have America lead."
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said a slow or muted U.S. response risks undermining the aspirations of Iranian voters to change or question their government.
"If America stands for democracy and all of these demonstrations are going on in Tehran and other cities over there, and people don't think that we really care, then obviously they're going to question, 'do we really believe in our principles?'" Grassley said.
The single most effective way to quash the protest movement in Iran, and to strengthen the Iranian theocracy, would be for President Obama to start demanding a new election in Iran. To demonstrate this, McCain and Grassley should take a refresher course about what happened when foreign activists tried to play a role in the 2004 presidential election in the United States.
In a campaign dubbed "Operation Clark County," the left-leaning Guardian in the UK organized readers to send in letters to residents of Clark County, Ohio. The goal was to convince undecideds in the uber-swing state to vote for John Kerry. After streams of hate mail decrying foreign meddling were sent back across the Atlantic, here was the predictable final result:
The most significant stat here is how Clark County compares to the other 15 Ohio counties won by Gore in 2000. Kerry won every Gore county in Ohio except Clark. He even increased Gore's winning margin in 12 of the 16. Nowhere among the Gore counties did more votes move from the blue to the red column than in Clark.
To no one's surprise, voters in Clark County, about one in five of whom received a letter from overseas, became more supportive of the Bush administration as a result of this campaign. If the Obama administration were to start making vocal support for the causes, and not just the rights, of the Iranian protesters, it would have exactly the same effect in Iran.
That Republicans are missing this fairly obvious point is enough to make you think that they actually want to strengthen the Iranian theocracy. Then again, given both the invasion of Iraq and the bellicose language directed at Iran during the Bush administration, it has seemed for a long time that Republicans wish to actively prop up the Iranian theocracy.
Or, rather than wanting to support the Iranain theocracy, maybe Republicans just find it frustrating that we are unable to take direct action that would benefit the protesters. That is kind of frustrating, actually. However, it probably seemed frustrating to most of the world that they were unable to reshape the American government under the Bush administration. In fact, Bush won a second term significantly due to American resentfulness at the rest of the world.
Or, maybe Republicans just said something stupid while ineffectively trying to score political points, and we should all refocus our attention on how to pass progressive legislation. I'm going with this one, and returning to my regularly scheduled attacks against Democrats and advocacy organizations tomorrow.