The Disaster Scenario In 2008

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Feb 01, 2008 at 10:21

I realize that I need to provide a lot more context to the pessimism of my previous post. So, in the extended entry, I provide a quick timeline of recent major political events since the Democratic takeover of Congress, and explain how the progressive movement is in serious jeopardy in 2008 unless we can reverse the current trends of the debate on the Iraq war:
Chris Bowers :: The Disaster Scenario In 2008

At this point, the most likely--but hardly guaranteed--outcome to the 2008 elections is John McCain winning the Presidency over Hillary Clinton, while Democrats make decent gains of 10-15 seats in the House and 3-5 seats in the Senate. If this comes to pass, the failure to win the Presidency will be squarely placed on several major pillars of the progressive movement. will be blamed for losing Iraq. Howard Dean will be blamed for the Michigan and Florida situations. Progressive activists in the blogosphere and on the ground will be blamed for pushing the party too far to the left, dividing the party, and denying Hillary Clinton an earlier nomination that could have helped her against McCain. The Village and the more timid, pro-corporate, centrist elements on the Democratic Party will both remain in total command of their respective power centers. McCain and the Democratic Congress probably pass a series of compromise measures on major issues like global warming that give the appearance of tackling the problem, but ultimately fail to make serious inroads to impending catastrophes. The potential for even further damage to our republic and long-term exhaustion within the ten-year old, contemporary manifestation of the progressive movement will be very real.

That, in a nutshell, is the disaster scenario we face on the electoral front in 2008. The central cause of this scenario is timidity on Iraq. John McCain would not be the Republican nominee, and neither Clinton nor Obama would be losing to him, if Iraq had not been taken off the table and if the "escalation is working" narrative had not taken hold. And yet, if this scenario comes to pass, the Democrats who allowed that narrative to take hold will find their relative power increased, while we will find ours relatively decreased. In a very real sense, this has already happened, given the strained relations both and Howard Dean have with congressional Democrats. Not only has Iraq been taken off the table, but our two strongest voices within the establishment are being taken out of the equation.

Obviously, this can all be prevented by a series of electoral victories in the Democratic presidential primary, in the key congressional primaries of IL-03, MD-04 and IA-03, and, most of all, through general election victory for the eventual Democratic presidential nominee. However, we are now facing uphill battles in all three of those areas, making our chances of pulling all three of them off much more difficult than the task was just a few months ago. The simple truth is that, starting with the explosion of blogosphere traffic during the invasion of Iraq and with the rise of Howard Dean's presidential campaign in 2003, over the past five years, the rising and declining fortunes of the contemporary manifestation of the progressive movement have been inextricably tied to winning and losing the Iraq debate nationwide. Right now, because we are losing that debate, we are losing pretty much every other fight, too. Until we start winning that fight again, our fortunes will not reverse. As long as the Iraq war continues, winning that debate must always be our number one priority.

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No. (4.00 / 1)
Absolutely not. The most likely scenario is NOT John McCain winning the Presidency, over Clinton or anybody else.

Let's not miss the forest for the trees here. I don't give a crap what some McCain v Clinton poll says 9 months before the election. I say this in the spirit of greatest objectivity: After Bush being this unpopular, for this long; with the - as you point out - still very unpopular Iraq War ongoing; within a recession almost certain, fer chrissakes - no Republican is at anything but a very, very strong disadvantage in the general election.

Agree with your basic point, though. (0.00 / 0)
Very nicely laid out.

[ Parent ]
It is the Zarkosy strategy (0.00 / 0)
McCain is doing very well among those Republicans and independents who are dissatisfied with Bush. He is capitalizing on dis-enchantment with Bush more than our candidates. That is also how he can win the general election.

Until we change the CW on Iraq, and until McCain is viewed as tied to Bush, McCain will and should be considered the favorite to win the general.

[ Parent ]
But (0.00 / 0)
It's not like he's been running against Bush on the war. He's the, like, standard-bearer of Bushian messianism in the Middle East. Beyond that: just being a Republican ties him to Bush. How can he be more of the anti-Bush than the Democratic nominee?

[ Parent ]
His 'maverick' image (4.00 / 4)
McCain, in the eyes of the press, and most of the public, is a straight shootin' maverick who's going to tell you how it is.  He's tied to no one except himself.  The key to defeating McCain lies in destroying this image.

[ Parent ]
I think (4.00 / 1)
the strongest character attack is that he's irrational and unstable.  There's plenty of evidence of it in his disputes with other Senators, and it turns the "maverick" image around on him. It also fits in nicely with his, um, "advanced" age.

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.

[ Parent ]
I agree (0.00 / 0)
I think if the Dems can straighten out a rational sounding position on Iraq (see my comment below), then all the Dem candidate needs to do is stand next to McCain and talk like a rational person. McCain gets a waked out pyscho look in his eye when he talks. If I were the Dem candidate I would also try to get as many opportunities to literally stand next to McCain. He is old and hunches over, no offense to anyone else hunching over out there, but when he is on stage he looks like he needs a walker. I think you can kill him on both being crazy and on being infirm. Obama especially would look great next to him because Obama is so tall. But I think Hillary can do a great job at this as well.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
Be careful (4.00 / 5)
He can't stand up straight because of his years in the Hanoi Hilton. 

I think this has to be done very carefully.  He is old, and that will show.  But I'd stay away from the "unstable" stuff or anything overt about his health.  We really don;t need a candidate who will stop at nothing; we need a candidate who knows how to run smart and when to stop.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Destroying McCain's image (0.00 / 0)
Geez, that should be hard at all.  He's got lots of flip-flop stuff on video, and then there's "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" and that devastating picture of his nuzzling Bush's neck in a big embrace.  Yikes.

Question is, which of the two candidates we have is more likely to go for the jugular on the guy.

[ Parent ]
Conventional Wisdom favors us (0.00 / 0)
The conventional wisdom on Iraq is that the war wasn't worth it, the surge hasn't helped, and we need to get out. When 60% of the public believes something, I'd call it "conventional wisdom."

[ Parent ]
One of the key demos that McCain can capture (4.00 / 1)
is indies and even some Dems who have been against the war, but because they feel that it's been waged wrongly, not because they're inherently against it.

We tend to forget that the anti-Bush, anti-war segment of the population isn't uniform in WHY it's anti-Bush and anti-war. With the illusion having been successfully created that the "surge" has worked (I hear it all the time in the establishment media as if it's obviously and undeniably true, uttered by people who either don't know what they're talking about, or else are simply sticking to the approved narrative because it's the easy way to stay in good stead with their fellow Villagers), a lot of people, I imagine, are slowly starting to either be less anti-war, or actually pro-war. And these are people who will naturally gravitate towards McCain.

Dems need to initiate their own anti-war "surge" in congress and elsewhere to remind the public that whatever its transient, minor and mostly illusory "successes", the "surge" has been a failure, not only in terms of its larger political goals, but even militarily, since the relative "peace" that it's brought to Iraq is still highly unstable and violent, and not likely to last very long if not matched by meaningful and sustainable political progress, which doesn't appear at all likely. If they don't do this, then they will lose this segment of the electorate to McCain--i.e. the "All we are saying is give war a chance" low-information demo.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
According to the latest LA Times poll... (4.00 / 1)
Only 26% of independents and 8% of Democrats support McCain's "as long as it takes" position on Iraq. And only 61% of Republicans agree with him. Everyone else (63% of the general public) wants us to get out.

The public is still overwhelmingly anti-war. McCain can't win the general election with (at most) 39% of the vote.

[ Parent ]
blaiming MoveOn will be the peak of irony (0.00 / 0)
But I dont know if I believe that will happen or not. maybe. I don't see it through, if there is perceived "success" in Iraq and McCain defeats Clinton, I think the focus will be off Iraq, and on "More people hate Hillary Clinton". Usually we blame someone when something goes wrong; seems like too many hoops to blame MoveOn for Hillary losing to McCain because the Iraq war is "going well". Also I think if Hillary loses there is going to be an intensity of infighting the Dem party with the standard bearers receiving a lot of blame for nominating two duds in a row. Or put otherwise, the nascent progressive resurgence does better with a Clinton loss than an Obama loss.

Since where we go from here is open to speculation, i shall indulge myself. While I think the surge thing is not an accurate reflection of the problems and risks in Iraq, I think trying to fight its success message is DOA. I think its a loser because subconsciously calling it a failure does not make sense. I think the winning angle is to say, great, the violence is down - its what the Iraqi government does under these conditions that matter and Dems are going to hold the Iraqi's to account better than anyone. I think Edwards had a killer position on this which was: Iraq you have 10 months to get your shit together or we are out of here. That's a position to can fight for. And you can HAMMER the GOP on lack of accountability the last 4 years. I would also emphasize doing more oversight of our consultants, like Blackwater. I wouldn't say take Blackwater out, I would say, lets make sure they are doing the job we pay them good money to do, and do it without breaking laws. To say "less violence is not a success" is a tough sell, I wouldn't want to be the deal with a lot full of those cars. The more Obama and Clinton try to pursue that the more they leave it to McCain to sound reasonable.

Also I would keep putting focus on the economy. 8 years of GOP rule and its a mess again. Just like after Reagan and Bush 1. Keep working on the GOP does not know how to run the ship. They can't be trusted to run Iraq and they certainly can't be trusted to run the US economy. They can't run the economy, the environment, disaster management agencies, etc. You can even use China here - where is the oversight of crap coming from China - the GOP has done nothing.

And, in my.$02 I think Obama has a better chance at selling it because of his future forward message combine with HRC's general negative numbers. But again, if we're going to lose I think we're better off with HRC taking the blaim. But I say, lets play to win.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
US Economy & Housing Bubble (0.00 / 0)
The Housing Bubble has only STARTED to play out.

The US Economy is a major plus for a non-status quo election. 

BHO or HRC will make McCain's candidacy a Bush "3rd term."

Sure, you are correct on Iraq, however. 

[ Parent ]
McCain's appeal (4.00 / 1)
I think there are 3 elements.

Most importantly, he is the only real national figure among the GOP candidates.  Romney was as plausible as Bill Clinton as Governor of a (relatively) small state, but his constant flip flops and Mormonism made him seem less palatable.  Giuliani was exposed as a fraud when he actually campaigned, and none of the rest have any real stature.  Huckabee has a following, but he wouldn't win a national race and his grasp of foreign affairs was pitiful.

Therefore, as GOPers started to focus on the race, only John McCain seemed to have real national stature, and he is the next in line, always a favorite with GOPers.  So support for McCain comes now in spite of his support for the war and his cozying up to Bush.  It's just that there really isn't much choice.  A few 30 second spots of Bush and McCain cutting the cake while New Orleans drowned, or walking in Baghdad with 100 soldiers saying everything is fine and his "1,000 years is fine with me" statement will kill him.  Obama especially could steal the maverick mantle from him pretty easily.

I agree that people (especially on the left) are fed up with Congress, but I can't see how that translates into support for McCain.  It just makes it even clearer that we need a Dem Pres for anything positive to get done.

Granted, if Hillary is the nominee she will try to outhawk McCain, and the Dems will lose their advantage on the war.  That should be a big reason for supporting Obama.

But at least neither of our nominees will have to explain why they didn't fight in Vietnam.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Why do you keep saying this? (0.00 / 0)
"Granted, if Hillary is the nominee she will try to outhawk McCain"

Truly, I don't get it.  She's made it plain as can be she wants the war over and the troops out.  How can that possibly "outhawk" a guy who says we need to be prepared to be in Iraq for 100 years?  Seriously.

Clinton, Obama and Edwards all have made it clear they would keep some troops at least in the region. I'm not happy about that, but if all three agree on that point, particularly Edwards, I figure they likely know something I don't.

So what's this "outhawk McCain" stuff?

[ Parent ]
Edwards rejected the war on terror frame (0.00 / 0)
This is was a significant distinction between Edwards and Clinton (i dont know about Obama). E said in a nut shell that the war on terror was a just a trap for selling ongoing wars. Clinton in contrast sells herself as best to fight the war on terror. Her vote for the Iraq war sure seemed like a political calculation to position herself as hawkish, as did her vote and sad defense of Kyl-Lieberman the Iranians are terrorists bill. I have every expectation to hear her ratchet up her hawkishness if she clears Obama.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
This election has a long way to go (0.00 / 0)
I do have to urge people not to be entirely-US centric in thinking about this. The US is not all powerful in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere. Other actors, friends and foes, will be doing whatever they do. Their actions can throw domestic calculations off.

Who knows what either candidate will be facing in September. McCain can be beat. We may not do it, but it is possible and we don't yet have anything like a clear picture of the terrain.

Can it happen here?

[ Parent ]
Interesting Analysis (0.00 / 0)
I think it's possible, though I'm not sure; Jerome seems to disagree though...

We haven't lost the Iraq debate (4.00 / 1)
Regardless of what the pundits in DC want to believe, the public is still very much against the war and very much wants our troops home ASAP.

NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by the polling organizations of Peter Hart (D) and Bill McInturff (R). Jan. 20-22, 2008. N=1,008 adults nationwide.

"In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job that George W. Bush is doing in handling the situation in Iraq?"  Half sample, MoE ± 4.4 (Form B)

Approve: 28%
Disapprove: 67%

"When it comes to the war in Iraq, do you think that removing Saddam Hussein from power was or was not worth the number of U.S. military casualties and the financial cost of the war?"  N=1,008 adults, MoE ± 3.1

Worth It: 32%
Not Worth It: 59%

"Do you think the recent increase in troop levels in Iraq is helping the situation there, is hurting the situation there, or is not making a difference either way?"  Half sample, MoE ± 4.4 (Form A)

Helping: 39%
Hurting: 15%
Not Making a Difference: 42%
Hurting + Not Making a Difference (Not Helping): 57%

We have won the debate on Iraq. Even with the media going on and on about the "success" of the "surge", the public is still anti-war and still on our side. McCain cannot win in this environment, and if the numbers haven't changed yet (they've actually gotten worse for the Republicans), they're not going to.

you overestimate the electorate (0.00 / 0)
McCain cannot win in this environment

Sure he can. If the average low-info mildly-anti-war voter finds him more personally appealing than the Democrat, they'll ignore his war position or, worse, suddenly decide they agree with him (as they did all along, of course).

[ Parent ]
I don't see that happening. (4.00 / 1)
Iraq is too big of an issue to ignore. Even with the tanking economy, Iraq is still either the number one or number two issue.

If there isn't a monumental shift in the public's perception of Iraq (and there hasn't been yet), then McCain cannot win. The public has stopped listening to Republicans and the media on Iraq and they have made up their minds: It's bad, and we want out. Even the testimony in September didn't change any minds. McCain can't win if 60% of the public is against the central tenant of his campaign.

I will be very shocked if there is a dramatic shift in support for the war in the Republicans' favor. I've seen no evidence that that kind of shift is possible.

[ Parent ]
it's the economy stupid (4.00 / 1)
If McCain is exposed for being a front man for the likes of Henry Kravis, a notorious private equity corporate raider and destroyer of companies, jobs, and Carly Fiorina (no American has a God given right to a job anymore) and pushing precisely what these multinational corporations want in terms of hollowing out the United States economically, I'm sure he can be beaten.  Of course the key is to obtain true Progressive (and I am sorry open borders or comprehensive immigration reform bills loaded with guest worker Visas and so bad that the AFL-CIO tries to get them defeated! are NOT Progressive policies) trade, economic and labor policies that most Americans, including conservatives are desperate for.

When Romney sounds better on economic policy than a Democrat, you know something is really wrong.  He's talking about outsourcing and how it is a threat to the US middle class...Dems, not even uttering the phrase!  

The Economic Populist

Or as Pat Buchanan says, (4.00 / 4)
McCain is the one who says the jobs aren't coming back, the immigrants aren't going home and the war will last forever.  That's a winning message?

This is way too pessimistic.  As I explained above, mccain is winning because there is no real choice on the GOP side.  Offered a Dem who is coherent and reasonable, common sense and not divisive, he will become smaller no matter what the Press says.  His message of more wars! more wars! just isn't going to sell, and he admits he doesn't really understand economics, so his message will be more tax cuts for the rich, because that's all the GOP has.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
If a Democrat Loses... (0.00 / 0)
And I think that is highly unlikely because:

1. Democrats are motivated.
2. Republicans are not.
3. McCain can't move to the center without risking his base.
4. Democrats have the money to compete, Republicans don't.
5. The electoral map probably favors Democrats.

But IF the Democrat loses, the blame will fall on the primary voters. Half of the party will say they picked the wrong candidate. Whomever loses will make the other look stronger, wiser, more able to fight, etc.

A Obama loss will make everyone say "Why pick a candidate inexperienced in foreign policy in the middle of two wars?"

A Clinton loss will make everyone say "Why pick someone with so much baggage who will unite the Republican field?"

The funny thing is it would probably rile up Democrats even more.

Sad to see this analysis (4.00 / 1)
However, In the past few years, I've seen no-one that's been better with advice - in the party or the blogosphere - than you, Chris. So I urge all commenters to suspend their candidate partisanship in their responses and debate your points on the merits.

Here's mine:

1) Kennedy, MoveOn and others have decided that inspiration without a proven record is worth gambling on, as opposed to a proven record that's been uninspiring in the past dozen years.

2) The Democratic Party, though, has yet to figure out how to get the blue-collar working class folks back that supported Reagan.

3) Obama's inspiration offers us the lesser healthcare plan and a commitment to get the troops home by midsummer 2010. Why should anyone feel inspired by such tedium?

4) The Fed is supportive of GOP candidates. If they can get the economy to go up and down this year - effectively horizontal overall - they might mitigate the pain long enough to get McCain elected. But 2009 will feel like the 1982 Reagan recession no matter who wins, because the Fed's magic can only stretch so far.

5) No matter what happens, I think Reid and Pelosi deserve replacement. And the mess created by the schedule adjustments in the primaries was mostly the fault of state party orgs, more than Dean, yet he'd be departing anyway, win or lose, as is standard.

6) Hillary and Barack can only change things if they start making clear distinctions between themselves and McCain, instead of so much against each other.

7) I still believe Bloomberg's a big wildcard and will get in if Hillary's the nominee by mid-March. And I think he'd do more damage to McCain if he does so.

8) Sure, progressives and liberals get blamed for everything, but the party has not been pushed too far left. Our two leading candidates are waffling on Iraq. All the Dem leaders are waffling on the economic stimulus package and they should be fighting Bush tooth and nail on it.

9) I don't know who'll win but I expect a close election either way. Unfortunately I no longer care as the two issues I care most about - Iraq and healthcare - aren't being championed well enough by the Hillary or Obama. They both seem too DLC. And the party - still controlled by the Villagers - remains stale.

10) I'd much prefer a cataclysmic loss than what we're likely to get. If we're going to have a two party system then let's have the GOP and some new party that offers alternatives, not two flavors of Republicanism.

11) Ultimately, Moqtada al-Sadr and the US economy could prove disruptive to all predictions. But Chris is right... there's a vivid lack of leadership emanating from the party leadership that's unsettling and dispiriting. Most voters will react to their own perceptions of who'll aid their own wallets, and to the best proposals for ending the Iraq occupation. And the two Dem candidates have yet to impress that they offer substantive benefits over the GOP candidate.

It's a sad state of affairs and I don't project any change forthcoming by any of the players. They'll just try to respond to fires as national events unfold.

Re: 6 (4.00 / 3)
Nancy Pelosi gets way too much flack.  Getting rid of her puts Hoyer or Emmanuel in power. Getting rid of them would give her a lot more room to push a progressive agenda.

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.

[ Parent ]
And (0.00 / 0)
by 6, of course, I mean 5.

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.

[ Parent ]
Agreed! (4.00 / 1)
Pelosi may or may not be a great leader.  She hasn't had a chance to show us either way, because Hoyer and Emmanuel are so diametrically opposed to her, as is the dominant media narrative.  Give her another 20-30 Democrats to add to her majority, a few well-placed kicks to send the message that evil deadwood can be gotten rid of, and then, but only then will we be in a position to see what Pelosi can actually do.

Reid is another matter.  The Senate is a lot smaller body, and the Majority Leader--well, it's changed since LBJ held that spot, but it hasn't changed that much.  The Senate rules still put a lot of power in his hands, and Glenn Greenwald, for one, has pointed out repeatedly how he has used that power for Bush, rather than for his own party, the Constitution, or the American people.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
re:7 (0.00 / 0)
Totally agree! Bloomberg is in if Hillary is the nominee. I don't think he would get in with Obama because a) Obama's negatives aren't high enough - eg with Obama Dems are less likely to look for an alternative. b) gender advantage with Hillary, he'll pull more males from the Dems which is where Hillary is weak. I also agree he does more damage to McCain, which is why his running is contingent on the Dem - it all depends on how much he can skim off the Dem vote.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
blue collar voters (4.00 / 1)
Hey, Kevin :)

2) The Democratic Party, though, has yet to figure out how to get the blue-collar working class folks back that supported Reagan.

Has the party even tried to do this? 

[ Parent ]
If you want to win the Iraq debate, nominate Obama. (0.00 / 0)
Seriously, as much as I'm upset over the health care hit peice his campaign put out today, the only choice is Obama if we want to win the debate on Iraq. I'm sorry, but Hillary as the nominee will be destroyed in the Iraq debate. She has no credibility on the issue. Frankly, she deserves no credibility on the issue.

I'm sorry, but (0.00 / 0)
only the left is obsessed with Hillary's AUMF vote.  Everybody else in the electorate is hearing her talk about ending the war and bringing the troops home.  It's just myopic to think that our purity tests are shared by the rest of the voting public.

[ Parent ]
A possible scenario, but unlikely (0.00 / 0)
Simply because ALL scenarios, with so many dependent "if-then's", are unlikely.

Clinton seems to have the current edge for voting on 2/5, but that can change, is changing.

If Obama ties, or is close (again, a big if, who knows), he is favored in later Feb states.  Maybe enough to bring him even (again who knows)

So to use your handicapping, 25% of Obama victory, 75% Clinton, though in my heart of hearts, I think it's more 45/55 (but that isn't based on data.)

At any rate, given the general environment, hard to say that McCain would DEFINITELY win.  McCain can be beaten by either candidate (although yes, having a person who can inspire like Obama would be MUCH MUCH better.  Also better contrasting the grumpy old man, with the inspiring young man.)

The point is, far too early to hang one's hat on any particular "electability" argument.

Still a good analysis of the disaster scenario though.  However, it's still an open question whether "iraq off the table" would be making a difference.  Iraq, because of the reduction in deaths, is in the minds of a lot of voters already off the table.

Secondly, you ignore the very real possibility, that the Bush administration was willing to go all the way on Iraq.  EVEN if Congress had voted to defund, Bush and Co. would have LEFT the troops there, then screamed bloody murder as troops don't have food, weapons etc.  Or, Bush might have moved money from, I don't know, social security payments, into paying for the troops.  Done something equally crazy/scary.

I hate that Congress backed down.  But I don't think it would have been the "clean winner" that you have suggested, in the eyes of americans and voters.

I agree with Chris. The scenario is not (0.00 / 0)
so far fetched.  The violence continues in Iraq.  It no longer is front page news or makes the evening news.  More soldiers are getting killed.  There is no political movement.  We need pictures of body bags.

Where the f**k is the anti-war movement?

Anyway, the DLC types will blame Dean and progressives for the defeat.  They will regain control of the party apparatus.  Schumer and Emmanuel will launch a new group of wealthy hacks to run for office--number one criteria support for wall street.

We are in a precarious position.  If the truth about Iraq and economic inequality are not the focus of Democrat's campaign, we lose.

I live in a true blue state--I will have a choice in November

I don't think so (0.00 / 0)
Democrats turned out in greater numbers in SC than Republicans.

The "optimistic" scenario (4.00 / 2)
I don't deny that the scenario above is possible.  McCain is their best candidate.  I also hesitate to call what I'm about to write an optimistic scenario, because it involves a lot of bad things for America.

1.  I've seen Iraq fade from the media before.  It inevitably returns because things are not really getting better.

2.  Regardless of #1, I believe that polls support the (perhaps counterintuitive) result that the public as a whole is even more favorable to leaving Iraq if things are going well.

3.  The percentage of people who think Iraq is not worth it has continued to steadily increase, despite what the media says. 

Conclusion:  McCain's repeated statements in favor of staying forever are not going to win him votes.

4.  The economy is tanking, Bush is responsible, and McCain has no message on the economy at all.  Clinton and Obama plainly do.

5.  McCain does not come off at all in his appearance and debates the way as the likeable straightshooter the media says.  Just as Hillary comes off much better than people expect, McCain will come off much worse.

6.  The conservative base is genuinely very divided and unhappy.  McCain has won this nomination through the failure of others, and by flying under the radar.  Many think of McCain as like Bob Dole. 

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

Agreed (0.00 / 0)
I think all the factors you site are relevant, and should put a Dem in White House.  But they don't address the profound political weakness that put us in the position that Chris describes.

Two failed political parties can be worse than one.  Especially when you're still the last superpower standing, and China's still not ready for prime time.  (Go, Mia Farrow!)

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I Think You're Spot On About The Political Failure Here (4.00 / 2)
But I don't think the outcome is foreordained, not by a long shot.  For one thing, a good part of the reason Iraq has receeded is that the economy has gotten too bad to ignore any longer--and that's not good for the GOP, either.  The larger picture behind this is that the Democrats may not win the White House in 2008, but the GOP is still likely to lose.

However, I think there's an even deeper problem, if we do win the White House, as we should--and that's closely connected to why the Democrats have been so bad on Iraq.  The reason is simple: They are not clear on what's wrong with Bush's Iraq policy because they are not clear about what's wrong with his GWOT policy, and they are not clear about an alternative.  Nearly 7 years after 9/11, they still have not figured out how to talk about how disasterous Bush's response has been, or what we should be doing instead.

As a result, if we do take back the White House, it's going to be very difficult to change US foreign policy sufficiently to actually effectively combat terrorism.  It will be relatively easy to sharply reduce Bush's tendency to make things much worse.

But as with Jimmy Carter and the Shah of Iran, years of bad policy has laid all sorts of booby traps along any possible road toward a genuinely sane alternative that will actually make positive progress, rather than simply cutting back on making things worse.

Thus, I'm more optimistic than you are in the medium run, but I'm very pessimistic beyond that.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

Hopelessness (0.00 / 0)
I don't think that's the reason why Iraq is no longer a top priority for the public. I think Iraq is no longer a top priority because the public voted clearly, on no uncertain terms for Democrats in 2006 so that they could end the war. Democrats failed. So now the public thinks that the war is unstoppable. So why bother? It's all rigged. The decisions have already been made. The dice have been rolled. There's no stopping it. The war machine is too big.

You only make a thing a priority if you think you have a fair shot of achieving it.

[ Parent ]
Turn it around (4.00 / 1)
  If Hillary Clinton gets the nomination and loses to John McCain, as is likely, it will be completely, totally, and utterly the fault of the DLC nexus.

  Hillary Clinton is the DLC candidate. She's the one they want. She's the one they've been bankrolling and plugging every step of the way.

  We've had other, non-DLC candidates available, some of whom, like John Edwards, polled extremely well against McCain. The DLC crowd did its best to bury them.

  The Democrats' performance in Congress has been a DLC wet dream -- no challenges to Bush, complete capitulation on Iraq, and even tepid, timid obseqiousness to the Republicans on economic issues. Throw in gratuitous condemnations of progressives like Pete Stark and MoveOn, and the Dems in Congress have been following the DLC playbook to the word, syllable, letter, and punctuation mark.

  The Dems have done NOTHING that could be remotely construed as "progressive" since allegedly taking over Congress. Absolutely NOTHING.

  And this is all to "remain electable in 2008". Or so the DLC crowd claims.

  So if Hillary loses in November, it will be a complete, fatal failure of DLCism. Just like in 2002, but with far less excuse. And that's the way we need to frame it. We did it all their way, and we lost.


"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

The DLC Lost Both Houses Of Congress In 1994 (4.00 / 1)
And did they pay a price for that?

No. Not at all.  Instead, "triangulation" became the holiest of holies.

So, while I agree 100% with what you're saying, hanging the blame where it belongs is a lot easier said than done.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Where can they triangulate TO? (0.00 / 0)
  The DLC has nothing left in common with traditional Democrats. They're Republicans, in every way -- pro-war, anti-Constitution, anti-labor, supply-side/free-trade fetishists.

  They can't possibly move any further to the right and retain ANY credibility as Democrats. At that point, even low-information voters are going to notice.

  We weren't around in 1994 to influence the narrative. But we are now. The DLC crowd can make spurious claims that the DFH's ruined everything, and we'll have a mountain of evidence to show otherwise.

  So this might play out differently this time around.

  Or, we could nominate Obama, and render this all moot.

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
It McCain Can Triangulate, THEY Can Triangulate (0.00 / 0)
Oh, ye of little faith! One who truly believes can always triangulate.

If not with anything else, then always with their own shadow.

(Cue T.S. Eliot!)

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
You're more or less expressing the rationale (0.00 / 0)
For why some Democrats don't like to see contested primaries and want to "clear the decks" for chosen candidates.

If you truly want the Iraq debate to be the focus, then you should take the line that differences on Iraq trump differences on health care or immigration or any other issue.  If it's the priority, then prioritize it.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

So what to do? (0.00 / 0)
Shart term: go all in to get Obama nominated. Persudae Stoller and every last person on earth we can contact.

That takes care of item one and two since his movement coattails are powerful all the way down to the Congrssional District level (and below).

Then, longer term, help him beat McCain.

We need to just face the pragmatic electoral facts and work.

Visit DebateScoop for political candidate debate news and analysis.

I'd rather be us than them (0.00 / 0)
Your timeline contributes nothing to lead to your conclusions. McCain will be nominee because he's the last man standing, not because Democrats failed to torpedo him.  His position on the war is the only thing his party likes about him.  And the economy is getting worse by the day.  It was going to be the dominant issue in the fall regardless of our feckless strategy on Iraq.  McCain has huge problems on both fronts.

Sure. All possible. (4.00 / 1)
But -- out of another context -- "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Let's get through the damn primary season with as much unity as we can preserve, then take stock.

Can it happen here?

It Should be About Iraq, Stupid (0.00 / 0)
The Democratic leadership is like the chess player that never attacks but simply waits for the other player to make a mistake. These players win some games but they never are champions.

Iraq is a disaster, but our leadership is scared to tell the truth about it. They are treating Iraq like it is a past disaster, not a present one.  

John McCain doesn't care about Vets.

Electability (0.00 / 0)
The Clintons wouldn't run unless they knew they can win. They must have experts on this kind of thing.

If she's the nominee, she should tell bloggers what her strategy is, including strategies on voter outreach and GOTV.

Scary scenarios, though.

Banned for posting five straight diaries.


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