Sunday, November 12, 2006

My Sunday Comment - Disgusted by Today's Meet The Press



As we approach 2008, I suspect that the trend in the mainstream media will be to lead the American people toward a gooey center where conviction gets lost in a political mixing bowl of soft, inert, and easily soluable ingredients. I got that impression after watching the line-up of guests on Meet the Depressing Press today. I saw 2004 RNC Convention Bush-cheerleader John McCain continue to beat up on the losing 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (long after Kerry rightfully apologized for his weird joke) and Joe Lieberman making inexcusable excuses for his attempt to muzzle critics of the miserably failed Iraq war. These two men, McCain and Lieberman, seem so full of ego and ambition to me - so 2008 starry-eyed - that they seem perfectly willing to toss principle aside for popularity. Is that what Americans want from their leaders?

I am quite certain that the results of Election 2006 showed, if nothing else, that principle matters to the American people. After decades of the Republican majority-led perpetuation and support of a radical rightwing takeover of the people's government, it is the people who have worked their tails off to take their counrty back. It's ordinary citizens who have learned to overcome big D.C. lobbyists' campaign contriubutions and mainstream media misleading and inefficacy. The people have worked to take back their elections. They didn't work that hard to hand the power back to those who fail to take the people's convictions seriously.

We have a heck of a lot of work to get done - election reform, raising minmum wage, getting a universal health care plan, protecting Social Security, supporting and finding a new place for Labor in today's changing economic world, fair trade, a good education for all Americans children, an alternative energy policy that really works, getting America out of the President's mess in Iraq, and protecting our rights and freedoms. The question is - will men determined to be men of no strong conviction - being aroused by a strong and strange compunction to shy away from their party on issues if they appear to be "too partisan"...will they be the right men (or women) to lead us in the necessary swing back toward progress in our country? We have a long way to go and I believe we need a leader who is not afraid to say exactly what he (or she) means.

President Bush is a leader who has fiercely stuck by his principles, and his principles, if you are to judge by electoral results, are not in concert with the principles of the American people. If you noticed, Jim Webb didn't win Virginians over by shrinking from principle or the party with which he consciously chose to run. Most of the Democrats who were elected to power this time were elected by people (Independents, Republicans, and Democrats) who were searching for the kind of conviction that would be strong enough and reasonable enough to overcome and overturn the wrong-minded convictions of a President and his Republican rubber-stampers who've hurled our nation in what they believe is the wrong direction.

Listening to Joe Lieberman bragging about his win in Connecticut with 70% of Republicans voting him into power while only 33% of Democrats gave him their support made me wonder what this "Independent Democratic" ticket he ran on really means. He acted like a proud peacock for the fact that he could side with Republicans in the Senate at any time he personally felt like it. He called it speaking for the people of Connecticut, which is true, because most of the people of Connecticut who voted for him were Republicans. He was bold enough to infer that his new "Independent Democrat" status entitled him to still be a Democrat while acting as a perpetual threat to Democrats in the Senate to make things go Connecticut's way and I could clearly see it was because he is entirely beholden to the Republicans who carried him overwhelmingly to victory in his State. Joe can claim victory, but no matter what label he slaps on himself, he can't claim victory as a Connecticut Democrat. If you look at who brung him to the dance, Lieberman can only claim resounding victory as a Connecticut Republican.

Joe Lieberman is the embodiment of the "Democrat Lite" that we all bemoaned back in 2000. He is not a friend of the national Democratic party. He is far more of a threat. I believe that, in the light of truth and fact, that he is now and will have to remain a friend to the Connecticut Republicans who kept him in power.

If there's one thing I'll say about President Bush, it's that he's been a leader of strong conviction, as a leader should be. (Although we realize that a great leader should be a lot of other things that Bush is surely not.)

It used to be an accepted political adage that "strong and wrong" was better than "weak and right". That view changed in the court of public opinion when too many American troops began to die with no qualitative measure of progress in the Iraq war, which was revealed over time to have been an absolutely unnecessary and poorly executed national nightmare. Former President Clinton recently said that "Stop and think" might be the new and far more appropriate twist for conventional politcal wisdom.

What about "Stop and think"? John McCain boldly and proudly defended the leadership of President Bush in his speech at the RNC Convention in 2004 - a time when most Americans were already waking up to the fact that the Iraq war was a failure in the making. If these middle-of-the-roaders of weak conviction like McCain and Lieberman are such believers in patriotism over partisansip, why did Lieberman try so hard to muzzle critcism of the President when the Iraq war was not being properly led - - and why did McCain so vociferously defend and promote Bush as a great Commander in Chief in late 2004 when he (and we) damned well knew he wasn't? (It didn't take a rocket scientist.)

We Americans are sick to death of hypocrisy. McCain and Lieberman act as if conviction is some kind of a disease, for Pete's sake. These are two of the biggest political hypocrites on the political scene today. When Pastor Ted Haggard's hypocisy was found out, he was forced to step away from leadership. How do you explain to the American people the kind of political hypocrisy being practiced by egotists who prize the vote over conviction or principle? The average television viewer won't easily pick up on the hypocrisy when the Tim Russerts of the mainstream media hand the big fakes the gigantic megaphone in the very same week that the citizens of this nation cried out for a sea change in the power center of America that would reflect their own convictions. At a time when Americans were interested and should have been getting an opportunity to see and hear their freshly elected new Congressional leaders, Russert trotted out the old guard. What a snooze!

To me, Lieberman represents the kind of "change" that James Carville wanted to see when he recommended that Tenessee's losing Harold Ford (who I truly respect and wish would have beat Bob Corker) take Howard Dean's place as chair of the DNC. This suggestion did not reflect well on Mr. Carville for all of us Democrats who were inspired to get out the vote and to win by Howard Dean. Mr. Carville easily forgets that the Democrats - the real and everyday people of the party in their respective states and communities - voted Howard Dean into his position. Mr. Carville forgets that the Democrats actually won this time. Hello? We won! Seeing Mr. Carville immediately going out and drumming up division in the party is a move that I personally resent. Election 2006 showed that money does not necessarily equate to wins (although it certainly doesn't hurt.) I could hardly believe my ears when Mr. Carville made his insulting suggestion. To suggest tossing Howard Dean over money would bring all of us right back to the old network that lost so many elections for Democrats. The McAuliffe machinery was the most well-oiled of all time, but if I asked the Democrats to show me the victories from that period of time, they'd be hard-pressed. It wasn't Terry McAuliffe's fault - he was damned good at what he did (and a Syracuse homeboy to boot) - it was the strategists's fault. Without a strategy to motivate and inspire your grassroots people in local elections, all the money in the world will get you absolutely nowhere. When it came to motivating the real people and building up the party where it counts most - in the hearts of citizens in communities across the 50 states, make no mistake: Howard Dean was the man.

Joe Lieberman motivated a whole new Republican base in Connecticut. Is that where all the money generated by a non-Howard Dean will take us? If so, I don't wanna go, Joe.


5 comments:

Chancelucky said...

Jude,
I too am puzzled by much of the post-election analysis. I'm sure by now you saw the interview with Lieberman in which he wouldn't rule out a party switch (despite the way he campaigned in the general election) at some point in the future.

The media does seem tobe working very hard to talk about this "third wave" of moderate demo-pubs a lot, but I think it's largely because it makes a better story. For every Jim Webb and Heath Shuler, there are Mcinerneys and Sharrod Brown (hope I got somewhat close on the spellings) who also broke through last Tuesday.

Given that Tom Delay, Santorum, Frist, George Allen, etc. are now all gone and none were replaced by someone more conservative, I'd say that means that the obvious shift was leftwards.

Whymrhymer said...

I think the point is that there is a trend away from partisan politics and I, for one, am ever so greatful for that.

There are few politicians today with the guts to say what THEY think and feel -- not what their party wants them to think, feel and say, and you saw two of the best of these gutsy politicians on Meet The Press.

Also, the point is not that the media is working hard to talk about these moderates, the point is in election after election the people selected moderate over extreme because 1) they see the lack of progress from the extremists in both parties and 2) they are tired of the political bickering and name calling.

The Democratic majority now has the opportunity to work WITH Republicans to get something meaningful accomplished or they can just go on with business as usual and ignore the discontent that won them their majority.

Iddybud said...

whymrhymer,

While I understand your point, and while Joe Lieberman may seem "gutsy" to you for stating his belief that we need to pour more fuel on the fire known as the Iraq war with more troops, my point is that:

1. He doesn't look like a moderate to me, even though his lips keep repeating that he is. The way I see him, he's lost his touch on the pulse of the nation.

George W. Bush has made McCarthyism look like Communism. He and his foolish band of rubber stamping freedom thieves have pushed American politics radically right, and I think some Democrats have truly forgotten what the center should look like.

Seeing the media play into this "new center" is nauseating to a person who has followed politics as long as an old gal like me has done. I'm far more of a moderate than you might suspect.

2. A booming majority of Americans, including moderates, do not agree whatsoever with Lieberman's view on Iraq. Seeing Lieberman snuggle up to hawk McCain in an effort to spill more American blood in a land where we should be immediately redeploying is disgusting.

It is an undeniably divisive political atmosphere in which our elected leaders have been forced to legislate and if we think that will change now, I think we're naive. That division has consistently come from the top - from Bush who will now surely use his veto hammer based on what he calls "principle." In reality, "principle" has been Bush's consistent refusal to respect the will of the people.

How close the Republicans will cling to Bush now is anyone's guess, but even now - do you honestly expect that the GOP agenda will stray radically from the President's? Have they separated themselves from Grover Norquist and his weekly Wednesday meetings yet? No. They're still beholden to a corrupt agenda. That didn't change last Tuesday.

If we expect that the freshman in Congress will have the power change the polarization in American politics, (and overcome the instititionalized K Street corruption and corporate welfare) they will need the cooperation and assistance of the man who sits in the Oval Office. That would require a change of heart. I'm sorry, but I don't see that happening.

Joe Lieberman is a friend to Connecticut and a friend to his own ego. Ignoring the will of Democrats in Connecticut after he lost the primary and being voted into office by Republicans while still calling himself a Democrat is incredibly insulting to the sensibility of any person who has seen what the Republican s have done to create a canyon between the rich and the poor over the past twenty years.

Lieberman does not speak for me when he talks about Iraq, nor do I believe he speaks for most Americans if you look at any public polling result from the past two years.

I don't believe that, over the long run, Lieberman or McCain is ever going to tap into the pulse of the heartbeat of our young people. On issues that matter most to citizens, their center is off center.

As we get further into the new political/legislative calendar, we'll be watching these "neo centrists" with a lot of suspicion. If I thought they were looking less toward 2008 (with starry eyes) and more toward doing the friggen hard work that we all need to do to get our nation back on track, I wouldn't be writing this. What it will take to get our nation back on track will be people who will fight tooth and nail to repair the gashes made by an extremely corrupt right wing agenda in America.

Partisanship is not evil - not a disease - not a negative. The media would love for you to believe it to be so because they need to sell more Viagra, sleep aids sent by butterflies, Ford trucks, and Crest toothpaste.

The discontent that won the Dems their majority was too much carnage brought on by a wrong-minded foreign policy and an unnecessary war. The discontent that won Dems a majority was a lack of moral leadership on issues of social justice (as a Catholic - no wild leftist, I am on board with this view). Fixing that will not require a "leftist" agenda, nor will it be fixed by panderers to "the center" who refuse to do the right thing on the floor of the House or Senate because they've promised to "play nice."

Iddybud said...

Given that Tom Delay, Santorum, Frist, George Allen, etc. are now all gone and none were replaced by someone more conservative, I'd say that means that the obvious shift was leftwards.

And that "leftwards" shift will likely not even result in getting America back to the center that allowed for progress.

That's why I resent the media giving tepid bowls of pablum like Lieberman the big megaphone. It's like the media is being bought to keep the national agenda closer to the right wing.

We can see now that the bloggers', the grassroots', and the alternative media's work will never end.

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