So I Thought, Hey, I Haven't Visited InstaPundit For a While. Wonder What I'll Find There?

InstaPundit guestblogger Michael Totten offers some odd political advice to the Democrats:

As far as I'm concerned, social liberalism is the best thing the Democratic Party has going for it. They should keep that and drop the pacifism and isolationism instead. They'll get a lot more votes next time around if they do. Plenty of socially liberal people voted for George W. Bush on national security grounds.

The strange thing here isn't the suggestion that the way to attract a majority of voters is to attract the vote of Michael Totten. Plenty of pundits project their preferences onto the electorate. The strange thing here isn't the idea that John Kerry is a pacifist. He obviously isn't -- the man wouldn't even call for a withdrawal from Iraq, which you'd think would be point one on the pacifist agenda -- but it's no surprise to hear a hawk like Totten implying otherwise.

The strange thing is the use of the word "isolationism." Just last year the warbloggers were warning that Kerry would submit America's foreign policy to a nefarious "global test." The man and his party were damned for their excessive faith in the United Nations, multilateralism, and the power of the well-crafted treaty. And now they're supposed to be isolationists? Even in the alternate universe of the GOPintern loyalist, where the Democratic Party platform is indistinguishable from the films of Michael Moore, this would make no sense: Moore's first response to 9/11 somehow found room to complain that the U.S. had withdrawn from the Durban conference on racism and had rejected the Kyoto accords.

Last year it was obvious to anyone with eyes that the Democratic establishment was run by globalist hawks. The antiwar Dems were insurgents, and their insurgency collapsed in Iowa. The doves didn't have enough pull with Kerry to turn him against the war -- just enough to make his stance an incoherent muddle. If this is "pacifism and isolationism," then those words have no meaning.

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  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I'm already LOL and all I read was the headline.

  • ||

    This is a clear example of typing without thinking about what the words actually mean. If the Dems, those same dems who to this day excuse Billy for all his nation-building misadventures in Bosnia, Kosovo, etc., if THEY are "pacifists" and "isolationists", then, what does that make the GOP warmongors?

    Though, that's precisely what the neocon-right has done: they've subconsciously shifted the median, so that anyone who doesn't wholeheartedly hop on the warwagon, is thus a pacifist and an isolationist. In addition, people like Totten do the GOP an extra service by transcribing the extreme positions of a handful of "no war, no matter what, even in self-defense, NO WAR EVER!" hippies, onto the dems as a whole, even though, for the most part, it couldn't be further from the truth.

    Even if they were what he calls them, I think Totten strikes me as the kinda guy who purposely refuses to acknowledge that there is a difference between "isolationism" and "non-interventionism". "Isolationist", instead of being defined in its traditional sense (cut off from the rest of the world), now means "anyone who disagrees with whatever foreign intervention I'm supporting". Totten knows damned well they aren't what he calls them, but that doesn't matter.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Now here's a multilateralist-vs.-unilateralist riddle that I'd doubt anybody can answer: During one of the debates (the second one, I think), Kerry and Bush mixed it up over North Korea. Bush was sticking up for the multilateral talks with God's Ronery Man that he claimed were bringing great progress. Kerry was slamming Bush for those same multilateral talks, and saying that the U.S. had to go mano-a-mano with the Kimster to get him to knuckle under. As usual, Bush appeared to get the better of the argument, and made the Kerry position look like some creepy form of appeasement. But I couldn't understand what their arguments were. Kerry, Mr. broad coalition, was casting himself as the unilateralist, while Bush was making with the Gary Cooper impression on the basis of multilateral talks-and making it seem like anything else was for pussies. What's the idea? I didn't get it then and I don't get it now.

  • Jesse Walker||

    I think Kerry actually said we should have both bilateral and multilateral talks with North Korea -- which, needless to say, confuses people even more.

  • ||

    Tim- I've heard something like this in a presidential debate before:

    Jack Johnson: "Now, I respect my opponent. I think he's a good man. But quite frankly, I agree with everything he just said."
    John Jackson: "I say your three cent titanium tax goes too far."
    Jack Johnson: "And I say your three cent titanium tax doesn't go too far enough."

  • ||

    Jesse,

    I think you're right about Kerry's comments, but I also recall that Bush's argument seemed that by pursing individual talks we would somehow make _the Chinese_ feel snubbed, and we oughtn't do that. I guess I missed the swagger Tim recalls. I recall thinking it strange that Bush was so concerned about China's feelings.

    ANon

  • ||

    Jesse's totally right that Kerry's campaign wasn't isolationist on the whole, but he did make that statemement along the lines of "why are we opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them in the U.S.?" Agree or not with the substance, it sounds kinda Lou Dobbs-y.

  • ||

    John Kerry is not an issolationist....but to say that he didn't court the isolationist crowd durring the last election is a stretch...what the hell does "opening fire houses in bagdad but closing them here" supposed to mean if not a direct oveture to the isolationist vote?

    That said there are elements of the left who are dirrectly appealing to the isolationists...most notably would be Michale Moore.

  • ||

    what the hell does "opening fire houses in bagdad but closing them here" supposed to mean if not a direct oveture to the isolationist vote?

    It means that nation-building in Iraq is a less worthwhile way to spend national security money than shoring up things on the domestic side. One doesn't have to be an isolationist to appreciate that point.

  • ||

    Josh,

    There's a rather gargantuan divide between:

    1) The democrats are X

    and

    2) John Kerry courted supporters of X by paying minimal lipservice to X during the last election

  • ||

    "Last year it was obvious to anyone with eyes that the Democratic establishment was run by globalist hawks."

    No. It is obvious to anyone with eyes that the Dems were afraid to run on their own platform. The collapse of message and candidate was directly attributable to an obsessive targeting of 'electability' over consistency.

  • ||

    Responding to Tim Cavanaugh, here's the short version:

    The U.S. has some interest in preventing North Korea from manufacturing nuclear weapons (for use against South Korea or resale to nogoodniks).

    When they got into office, the Bush administration made a big deal of abandoning bilateral talks with North Korea about nuclear issues on the theory that negotiating with North Korea was for liberal wusses like the Clintons.

    At some point it dawned on the Bushies that unless they were willing to start a war on the Korean peninsula, they had essentially no leverage over the North Koreans other than what might be obtained in negotiation. (Note that North Korea has no functioning economy to speak of, and the leadership doesn't care if the people starve anyway, so sanctions won't work.)

    Having shat mightily all over the notion of bilateral talks, they couldn't very well go back to that. Some clever person came up with the idea that what we really needed were multilateral negotiations. That has been better than nothing although the other nations at the table aren't really sure why they are there. The Chinese are having some fun with it, I expect.

  • ||

    Perhaps I missed it but I thought that Howard Dean was the chairman of the DNC, Michael Moore was a honored guest at the Democratic National Convention, MoveOn.org was the most powerful and well funded Democratic PAC and Atrios and Kos were the most influential Democratic Blogs. Those damn NEOCONS, they can twist anything!!

  • Jesse Walker||

    Dean was not chairman of the DNC during the campaign last year, which is the period we're addressing -- and while he's opposed to the Iraq war, he certainly isn't an isolationist or a pacifist. (He supported the Balkans war.) Moore has zero influence within the Democratic National Committee, and anyway, as I pointed out in my post, he isn't an isolationist either. I very much doubt that MoveOn is "the most powerful and well-funded Democratic PAC" -- I'm not sure what is, but it's probably hooked up with the unions -- and while Atrios and Kos are among the most prominent Democratic blogs, (a) they aren't the only prominent Democratic blogs, (b) while they're opposed to the Iraq war, they aren't pacifist or isolationist, and (c) they have about as much influence with the DNC as InstaPundit does with the RNC.

  • ||

    alkali has it right.

    "pacifism and isolationism," then those words have no meaning

    I think they mean traitor.

  • Matt Welch||

    John -- Jerry "gays caused 9/11" Falwell was an "honored guest" at the RNC, and I'm pretty sure Rick "the CMA is the highest form of national security" Santorum is an actual *elected official* of some sort ... yet somehow the Republican Party muddled through the ignomy. Also, Michael Moore campaigned heavily for Nader in 2000. And Dean supported the previous four American wars.

    Which is not to say the inner-party tension between anti-interventionists & leadership hawks isn't real, or anything.

  • ||

    Jesse,

    Perception is reality. I don't think most people know what the nuances of Howard Dean's beliefs, whatever they are. Most people however do know that he is the crazy old aunt in the atic of American politics who professes the Osma Bin Laden is innocent until proven guilty, yet most Republican voters haven't worked an honest day in their lives and Tom Delay needs to report to prison in Texas. I would love to know one Democratic PAC that more than a few thousand people could name other than Moveon. If its not the most important one, its certainly the most well known. As for Micheal Moore, he is just the gift that keeps on giving. If the Democrats are such tough internationalists, then they have a serious image problem.

  • Matt Welch||

    John -- Do you think you have any personal responsibility to determine whether your own perceptions, or the ones championed by the politicians you support, have any factual *basis* in reality?

  • ||

    John,

    No, perception is perception. Confusing it with reality is foolish at best and can be downright dangerous.

  • ||

    I don't think most people know what the nuances of Howard Dean's beliefs, whatever they are.

    And the reason for that misperception has nothing at all to do with neocons twisting things, right?

  • ||

    Honestly, the world isn't an Andre Agassi commercial for Canon.

  • ||

    Matt,

    A majority of Democrats in Congress voted against the first Gulf War. The day after September 11th, Moveon had a conference call to start planning an antiwar movement before the United States ever did anything because they figured that the United States was likely to act somewhere as a result of 9-11 and they were going to be there to protest it. This is not to say that there are not serious people in the Democratic Party. Whoever the serious people are, they don't seem to get their voices heard very often. More importantly, what exactly is the Democratic position beyond the intense desire to have left Saddam Huisan in power and the desire to both go to war with North Korea when they feel like talking about Iraq as a distraction and paying off the North Koreans protection money, ala Clinton, on the other days.

  • ||

    I can only judge by what I see Howard Dean say in public and frankly he is a dangerous nutjob. Why anyone would want to make him the face of a major political party is beyond me, except to say a lot of people in the Democratic Party agree with what he says and really believe in those things.

  • ||

    If your party is so stupid as to elect a chairman who stands up on a major news network and says in 2004 that we don't know that Osam Bin Laden is guilty and that he is innocent until proven guilty and deserves a fair trial, the party is too stupid trusted with power regardless of how many tough internationalists are in it. Regardless of whether you really beleive that crap, its difficult to imagine how a statement like that isn't going to tag your party with the image of being pacifist and soft on terrorism.

  • ||

    I can only judge by what I see Howard Dean say in public

    I think you meant to say, "I can only judge Howard Dean by what I see Rush Limbaugh say in public."

    If your party is so stupid as to elect a chairman who stands up on a major news network and says in 2004 that we don't know that Osam Bin Laden is guilty

    If you are so stupid as to think Dean actually said that, then you're too stupid to be trusted with the right to vote.

  • ||

    Though, to ignore the partisan swipes, what sane person wants the other big-government party, the one with the serious bureaucratic fetish and no pretensions of limited government, to also be socially conservative?

  • Matt Welch||

    For punishment-gluttons, here are four things I wrote about the DNC & foreign-policy: 1, 2, 3, 4.

    John -- Whoever the serious people are, they don't seem to get their voices heard very often. If by "serious" you mean "willing to use American military force abroad," then the second Clinton administration was fairly serious. As I mentioned in this May 2004 essay, Madeleine Albright (who thinks we should have tried harder to win Vietnam) thinks America should have used much *more* force during the 1990s, and that the main problem was Republican isolationism. Kerry was surrounding himself with use-the-damned-powerists like Jamie Rubin and Richard Holbrooke; doesn't mean he automatically would have, but it suggests that his foreign policy team was squarely interventionist.

  • ||

    John,

    So you probably don't support the trial of Saddam Hussein either, eh?

    The day after September 11th, Moveon had a conference call to start planning an antiwar movement before the United States ever did anything because they figured that the United States was likely to act somewhere as a result of 9-11 and they were going to be there to protest it.

    Right after 9/11 many in the Bush administration started an effort to try to tie the attack's to Hussein's regime in Iraq.

    But as you've already stated, reality means nothing to you; its "perception" and spin that are more important apparently.

  • Michael J. Totten||

    Jesse,

    You're quite right that Kerry wasn�t an isolationist. Although I should add that Kerry did get an enthusiastic response when he complained that we are closing down firehouses in the United States while opening them up in Baghdad. That sounded to me like something Pat Buchanan would say and something Rush Limbaugh would have said had a Democrat been president. Still, I wasn�t thinking of Kerry when I wrote that, and I should have taken him into account. He did win the Democratic primary, after all.

    I wrote �isolationism� instead of �excessive multilateralism� because I�ve been hearing more complaints of that variety lately -- especially since the London attacks on 7/7. Bush and Blair are supposedly making the problem of terrorism against Westerners worse because we have boots on the ground in Iraq, not because the U.N. didn�t come with us. The multilateralist argument seems to have receded into the background.

  • ||

    Tim,

    "As usual, Bush appeared to get the better of the argument."

    Uh, yeah, that's how I remember the debates, too. Not.

    To answer your question, the five other parties in the six party talks wanted the US and North Korea to have direct talks, while the US was insisting on no direct talks. Agreeing to the framework that had broad international support was the multilateralist position, and insisting on the format we wanted, screw everyone else, was the unilateralist position.

  • ||

    Michael J. Totten,

    I think its pretty clear that you're a fine solipsist.

  • ||

    Biff,

    That is exactly what Dean said I watched him say it. I don't listen Rush Limbaugh or talk radio. Perhaps you might want to listen to Dean in person instead of what Air America tells you about him. I will ask again, what exactly are these tough internationalists position the Democrats are advocating? What exactly would the Democrats do to protect the United States from terrorism beyond saying that they are sorry we removed Saddam and turning the FBI loose to investigate it? What are they going to do about Iran and North Korea? A lot of Democrats voted for th war in Iraq until it was hard once we got there and now they want to go home. What exactly do the Democrats stand for beyond just trying to get back to power? If that is all they stand for, how can you blame their critics for pegging them with the worst views of their fringes?

  • ||

    joe,

    Remember, in the Alice in Wonderland world of Bushites that anything the "dear leader" says must be right. That's the cult of Bush for you though.

  • ||

    I am still waiting for all of you tough guys to give your plans and tell the world how George Sorros is weenie and how the U.S. needs play hardball in the world.

  • ||

    "Still, I wasn�t thinking of Kerry when I wrote that, and I should have taken him into account. He did win the Democratic primary, after all."

    Yes, Mr. Totten, after taking over the lead from isolationist NAFTA enthusiast Howard Dean.

    "I wrote �isolationism� instead of �excessive multilateralism� because I�ve been hearing more complaints of that variety lately -- especially since the London attacks on 7/7." And if the definition of "isolationism" was "opposition to the invasion of Iraq," this would make perfect sense.

  • ||

    Is there a program available with this thread for under five bucks?... doesn't even have to have color pix.

    Or is this thread just AntiWar.com-lite?

  • ||

    Joe,

    Its more like opposition to anything that might be hard or involve anyone getting killed. Everytone loves Afghanistan now and claims it was totally justified. That is only because it was fairly easy. Had it been hard, the Dems would be saying that it was immoral and mistaken. Again, the Dems stand for one thing, getting back into power.

  • ||

    John,

    What are they going to do about Iran and North Korea?

    The same thing Bush will do: nothing. We're headed toward two mini-Cold Wars with both countries.

    The Bush administration has, despite all its swaggering talk, no leverage in either country.

    What exactly would the Democrats do to protect the United States from terrorism beyond saying that they are sorry we removed Saddam and turning the FBI loose to investigate it?

    Well, it would have been helpful for us not to waste our time, money and lives in Iraq. Hawks just can't bend their mind around issues of efficacy, etc. when it comes to the war in Iraq.

    Of course, I'm not writing as a Democrat, but as a small "l" libertarian.

  • ||

    Yes Hakluyt,

    Abadon Iraq and tell every Jihadist in the world that all you have to do is kill enough Americans and we will go home. That is a hell of a start and exactly what Totten is talking about. I still looking for the tough internationalists to come out give me their plans for world domination.

  • ||

    It became readily obvious over a year ago that the Bush administration shot its load in Iraq and has really no other idea, plan, etc. (much less the resources) to replace what they did there. Honestly, if the Democrats have failed to be imaginative, so have the Republicans.

  • ||

    "what exactly are these tough internationalists position the Democrats are advocating? What exactly would the Democrats do to protect the United States from terrorism...? What are they going to do about Iran and North Korea?"

    Full funding of Nunn-Lugar to secure loose nukes, doubling the size of the Special Forces to allow for more tactical interventions against terrorists, increasing the overall size of the armed forces by 40,000 people, invading Afghanistan and overthrowing the Taliban, cooperative action among the global powers to compel new nuclear powers to cease nuke production, maintaining relations with allied powers to allow for better coordinated intelligence and antiterror programs, support for indigeneous liberalization, economic development, and democratization initiatives in the developing world. If any of this sounds familiar, that's because John Kerry mentioned them every time he got near a camera for the past two years.

    "What exactly do the Democrats stand for beyond just trying to get back to power?"

    www.dnc.org can answer that question

  • ||

    John,

    Abadon Iraq and tell every Jihadist in the world that all you have to do is kill enough Americans and we will go home.

    That's what is going to happen sooner or later barring a twenty-thirty year occupation by the U.S. Before the naive such as yourself start wars that are likely to lead to insurgencies you probably should understand the historical nature or dyanmic of insurgencies.

  • ||

    Hakluyt,

    I agree. These are tough issues and you may be right abot the Republicans running out of steam and creativity. I just wish the Chimpler crowd here on Reason would atmit how difficult these things are once in a while.

  • ||

    Oh, I forgot one:

    Avoiding the temptation to squander our forces, resources, and attention on ideological and personal hobby horses unrelated to the hard-headed advancement of our security.

  • ||

    "I still looking for the tough internationalists to come out give me their plans for world domination."

    That's because, being a neanderthal, you have no capacity to grasp methods of relating to others that don't involve dominating them.

  • ||

    John,

    To be more blunt, the truly tough-minded wouldn't be concerned about "transformation" in the middle east; they'd be more interested in cracking some fucking heads and teaching folks some lessons. It doesn't matter what form of government that Iraq has from that perspective, as long as its friendly to the U.S. and imprisons or executes individuals who might harm American interests. We could have gotten such a government at much cheaper price than what we are paying right now.

  • ||

    When did we decide isolationism was no longer popular with the American people? I think it's still there, very deep, right under the surface.

    The fact that the war in Iraq had to be sold as something that had to be done immediately before the mushroom clouds hit is a sign to me that they knew they had to find a line to push the war that could overcome the isolationist inertia. They most certainly did not sell it as some Wilsonian nation building exercise, bringing democracy to a place that hasn't had it in all of recorded history. Because even republicans would have laughed that out the room.

    Americans still don't have much taste for Empire. It's a hard sell and patience gets thin quickly, as demonstrated by Bush's approval rating getting ready to break through 40% on the way to 30%.

  • ||

    "I just wish the Chimpler crowd here on Reason would atmit how difficult these things are once in a while."

    You mean like when we said the invasion of Iraq was probably going to turn into a bloody, humiliating quagmire, and you people called us cowardly Saddam lovers?

    I wish people like you would realize that "it's hard work" BEFORE you kill 100,000 people and set our nation up to be humiliated.

  • ||

    Anyone who picked the over/under of 46 for joe's first ad hominem attack please collect your prize at the door.

  • Phil||

    Everytone loves Afghanistan now and claims it was totally justified. That is only because it was fairly easy. Had it been hard, the Dems would be saying that it was immoral and mistaken.

    You might want to look up the votes relating to using force in Afghanistan. You might also want to look up whether it's actually, you know, done. Or not.

  • ||

    Phil,

    See, for the intellectually lazy, its all about how they can spin the perception of things. :)

  • ||

    "To be more blunt, the truly tough-minded wouldn't be concerned about "transformation" in the middle east; they'd be more interested in cracking some fucking heads and teaching folks some lessons."

    While those truly committed to democratic transformation would have worked with Iraqi resistance, religious, and civil society groups to creat a genuine, viable liberal resistance that we could have supported as they struggled to liberate their country. As opposed to assuming that the obedient tools that are Middle East Muslims would simply obey Ahmed Chalabi because he had American backing.

  • ||

    Nathan: I might be being picky here, but that seemed more like a straw man argument to me. That's an entirely different bet.

  • ||

    Joe,

    The Irqi resistence is made predominantly of foreigners, mostly Saudis. The last thing they want is a liberal society. If you think working with the resisitence is the way to build a liberal society in Iraq, you are sadly mistaken. The best thing that can be said about the Iraq war, beyond the obvious point of ending Saddam's reign is that 1000s of radical Islamists who would otherwise be plotting attacks in Europe and the U.S. have met their end in the Iraqi resistence. But the idea that we need to work with the resistence rather than help the Iraqis kill them further illustrates Totten's point.

  • ||

    Hey, man, he asked for the internationalist plan for world domination. I didn't make that up.

  • Matt||

    Have eyes, but didn't see the hawks in charge of things among the Democrats last year. Joe Lieberman is no Chuckles the Clown but has as much personality as any of the other non-Dean candidates did, the reason he finished back in Moseley-Braun territory was his hawkishness. The Dem platform in five words was "Iraq War Bad; Remember Florida!"

    You can certainly be in favor of a muscular foreign policy generally and oppose the Iraq war, but I'd hardly call running on how immoral, mismanaged and ill conceived the war that was going on during the campaign was being a "hawk."

    And am I reading this correctly to say that the hawks had enough influence in the Kerry campaign to... make his position an incoherent muddle? That's how hawkish the campaign was? Hardly a Teddy Roosevelt hawkishness you're talking about, there.

    Anyway, the "isolationist" thing, that was silly.

  • ||

    John,

    "The Irqi resistence is made predominantly of foreigners, mostly Saudis." It is now. It wasn't it 1992, it wasn't in 2001, and it didn't have to be in 2004. You're describing the status quo post bellum, while I was talking about the status quo ante bellum.

    Which changes things somewhat. It's amusing that, in a part of the world overrun with dictators, the word "resistance" immediately calls to your mind international jihadists, rather than the people filling the squares of Beirut, Kiev, and (until the Iraq War started) Tehran.

  • ||

    John-For starters, we could have actually done the work to go find terrorists where they were rather than setting out trillion dollar flypaper in Iraq. We also could have made an honest attempt to figure out an alternate energy source while cutting back on our use of oil so that we could take the fight to the government who is more our enemy in the war on terror than anyone else; that is, Saudi Arabia. Not to say that Kerry would have done the second, but I kinda figure that he would have done a better job with the first, mostly because it's simply not possible for anyone, anywhere to do worse than the Bush administration has done. And this is coming from someone who voted for Badnarik because the prospect of voting Kerry made my eyes bleed.

    And, newsflash, everybody liked Afghanistan because Afghanistan *gasp* actually harbored terrorists. Real, bomb the US-type terrorists, not Baathist thugs more interested in ruling their own little corner of hell.

    You also mischaracterize terribly what Dean said in 2004. He wasn�t saying that Osama Bin-Laden was guilty, just that when we catch him (assuming that he doesn�t die of old age in the interim) he deserves a trial just as much as anyone else. I must say that I'm troubled by your belief that the ideals of due process; ideals upon which our nation was founded, are quite dispensable when it's someone we find to be �bad� enough. The world's freedom survived Nuremberg and the trials of Nazis who murdered millions in camps with cold-blooded efficiency. Why exactly does the trial of a punk who doesn't even have the guts to own up to his work pose so much more of a threat?

  • ||

    Please excuse the formatting errors. I missed a few in preview.

  • Matt Welch||

    I've been trying to get these links posted, but with no success.... here are URLs to stuff I reported last year about the DNC & foreign policy:

    http://www.reason.com/conventions/2004/07/foreign_policy.shtml#006168 http://www.reason.com/conventions/2004/07/the_deaniacs_de.shtml#006212
    http://www.reason.com/conventions/2004/07/have_you_really.shtml#006305
    http://dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=5&article_id=7457

    Also, this sum-up of the Dems' "Temporary Doves" may be relevant:
    http://www.reason.com/0405/cr.mw.temporary.shtml

  • Greg||

    Isolationists of the liberal variety favor words over action. They prefer a document signed by the dictators of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia over a war to remove a brutal dictator in any part of the world. Fortunately, Bill Clinton was not one of them. So of course it's logical that Kerry would be an isolationist - by stalling US action through endless "dialogue" with countries that have no interest in acting either on military threats or humanitarian tragedies. The point of isolation is to do nothing. Kerry's foreign policy would have done precisely that, unless he grew in office. I hope he and the party would become more Clintonian.

  • ||

    biologist

    I was referencing the Neanderthal comment.

  • ||

    Nathan:

    just joking around, no offense meant

  • ||

    John wrote: "Abandon Iraq and tell every Jihadist in the world that all you have to do is kill enough Americans and we will go home."

    Apparently John is channeling Field Marshal Haig.

  • ||

    Is R.C. Dean on vacation? He should have arrived by now to back John up.

  • Jason Sonenshein||

    I think Mr. Totten is right about social liberalism and the Democratic Party. In last week's special congressional election in Ohio, Democrat Paul Hackett received 48% of the vote in a district that normally goes at least 2 to 1 Republican. During the campaign, Major Hackett emphasized personal freedom, opposing gun control and the "Patriot" Act, and supporting abortion rights. Major Hackett didn't win, but he established himself as a viable candidate for office in Hamilton County or perhaps even statewide. Other Democrats who have been able to win in conservative areas while embracing social liberalism are Governors Brian Schweitzer of Montana and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.

  • ||

    There was very little space in the 2004 campaign to come out like a "hawk", unless the candidate agreed that the Iraq War was justified AND was being prosecuted in an effective manner. Had a Democrat done that, however, he would have handed the great issue of the election over to Bush and would have had nothing to set himself up against. After all, if the Dem candidate is going to praise Bush's leadership on Iraq are people supposed to turn around and say, "Well, I suppose Bush is doing just great on Iraq...Umm, why should I vote him out?" There wasn't an easy position for any Democrat to take unless that person had always been against the war. But, the other problem is that opposition to the war hadn't reached the depth it has now. There were moments in 2004 where opposition really soared - like the Abu Ghraib scandal - but by November 2, support for the war and Bush's handling of it had topped 50% again. More importantly, polls consistently showed much greater trust in Bush to handle Iraq than Kerry. I'm not sure if the same would be true now. Many people's patience is running out.

  • Adam||

    Jason - Hackett also repeated that tripe about George Bush being a bigger threat than bin Laden, and launched into some vulgarity to make his point. Kerry couldn't hide his radical leftism behind a uniform, and neither could Hackett. "Thanks for your service, gentleman, but back to your respective positions." I don't think I'm the only one who finds it disconcerting when a candidate resorts to name-calling in place of making arguments. "That sonofabitch in the White House" and "chickenhawk" are not solid policy proposals.

    As far as Kerry's concerned, he wasn't a pacifist. That's the problem: he wasn't a goddamn thing. He was a weathervane, blowing in the wind. He voted against Gulf I, yakked about a global test that (given his Gulf I vote) was impossible to pass, blubbered about diplomacy, voted for the war but voted not to pay for it when things were looking good for the anti-war Howard Dean, etc. etc. etc.

    Yeah, Totten was wrong about calling them isolationists. That's a slip of the keyboard. The Dems know they can win being more credible on national security and by running candidates that are at least consistent and reasonable. I certainly haven't written them off for 2008, but something's got to change. They should welcome constructive criticism, and if some of it comes with some points that are simply wrong, point it out, take what they can get, and MoveOn.

  • ||

    Adam-The particulars of Hackett's platform are less important than what the election says about the condition of that district. Hackett won 48% of the vote in an area which went overwhelmingly for Bush in '04 and whose incumbent gained 72% of the vote in his last election. And he did it against a candidate who more or less pledged to support the President's agenda however she could if elected. Which is more likely; those 48% didn't suppose that the President needed any help, or they didn't think his agenda was worth voting for again? Whether or not this has any meaning outside of that one district is something that we won't know until the midterm elections next year, but if a stronghold could sour that much, that quickly, it ought to be at least somewhat troubling for the GOP leadership.

  • ||

    ...He voted against Gulf I, yakked about a global test that (given his Gulf I vote) was impossible to pass...

    Comment by: Adam at August 9, 2005 01:26 AM

    not sure what you mean here, since there was a real coalition in Gulf War I

  • Adam||

    biologist - I mean there was a real coalition, and it was approved by the U.N.

    What "global test" could any action pass (to Kerry's satisfaction) if getting U.N. approval and the support of a real coalition didn't make the grade in '91? That's my point: no action could pass a Kerry Global Test. And he said so much other bullshit that he didn't stick to that I'm really, truly, honestly not convinced he would have bothered to rout the Taliban after 9/11, and that's not the kind of thing, or the kind of candidate, that I'm willing to roll the dice on. Bush may have an itchy trigger finger, but that's better than a paralyzed trigger finger, in my book.

  • Adam||

    And Shem - yep the numbers are interesting, and I'm sure they're scratching their heads at GOP hq. He was a unique candidate, though, with a libertarian streak (that the Dem leadership might also want to consider for their heartland races). I just see too many particulars in this race to extrapolate, but I'm sure the GOP is going through a helluva debriefing.

  • ||

    Adam - your critique makes sense if Kerry had voted against Gulf War I on those grounds. since, as you point agree, there was a true coalition for Gulf I, that couldn't possibly have been his rationale. what was his reason? in the absence of that knowledge, this seems like setting up a straw man argument. (unlike an earlier post, not joking about the straw man)

  • ||

    I think Kerry actually said we should have both bilateral and multilateral talks

  • ||

    John:
    That is exactly what Dean said I watched him say it.

    May be you should provide Biff with link so you can convince Biff and the rest of us.

    John:
    The Irqi resistence is made predominantly of foreigners, mostly Saudis.

    Got a link? Abizaid begs to differ (see below).

    Joe:
    "The Irqi resistence is made predominantly of foreigners, mostly Saudis." It is now.

    No it isn't.

    Link:

    Speaking to CNN�s Wolf Blitzer in Mosul, Iraq, Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, said most of the insurgents in the country are Iraqis, but �the percentage of foreign fighters over the past several months seems to have increased.�

  • ||

    Steve:

    "why are we opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them in the U.S.?"

    joshua corning:

    what the hell does "opening fire houses in bagdad but closing them here" supposed to mean if not a direct oveture to the isolationist vote?

    Michael J. Totten:

    Kerry did get an enthusiastic response when he complained that we are closing down firehouses in the United States while opening them up in Baghdad.

    Are you guys on the same mailing list?

  • ||

    i never wonder what i'll find here. it's always joe trolling dnc talking points. some libertarian.

  • ||

    a, good catch - I did a little mental shorthand there, reading "Saudis" and "foreigners" as "anti-democratic would-be dictators." The point I was agreeing with was that the existing Iraqi resistance is not a liberalizing opposition to tyranny.

    biologist, Kerry voted against the authorization of force bill for Gulf War I because he didn't think an invasion was timely at that moment. He wanted to give other pressures time to work. He also identified the coalition George HW Bush put together for that war as the model of how the US should operate, and contrasted it with how W went into Iraq this time.

    Also, paralyzed trigger-finger Kerry voted in favor of the Kosovo War and the invasion of Afghanistan.

    "Radical leftist" Kerry. Heh. I guess we can put that into the No Meaning pile along with "isolationist" and "pacifist."

  • ||

    That darn radical leftist pacifist is just a weathervane with no real principles. And he was only nominated because he was so electable. That's why he lost!

    Come on, fellas, get it together.

  • Jim Henley||

    Michael Totten is the idiot prince of the blogosphere.

  • Adam||

    biologist - here you have it. He supported Bush 41's deployment of troops but did not support his being able to use them. He accused Bush 41 of a "unilateral" rush to war, and apparently he has a history of failing to comprehend the definition of "unilateral."

    joe - he's not a weathervane? I'm sure you have a ready defense for this, from the above link:

    After the successful launch of Operation Desert Storm, Kerry�s position became so nuanced that his office at one point mistakenly mailed letters to constituents that positioned him on both sides of the debate. On January 22, 1991, Kerry�s office sent a letter to one man, tanking him for expressing opposition to the deployment of additional U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. �I share your concerns,� Kerry wrote, noting that on January 11, he had voted against a resolution giving the president immediate authority to go to war.

    On January 31, the same constituent received a letter stating, �From the outset of the invasion, I have strongly and unequivocally supported President Bush�s response to the crisis and the policy goals he has established with our military deployment in the Persian Gulf.� Kerry blamed the mix-up on a computer error and subsequently wrote in defense of his position on the Gulf War: �The debate in the Senate was not about whether we should or should not have used force, but when force should be used.�

    And this, too:

    Three months after hostilities ceased, John Kerry attended a meeting of local Democrats in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and conceded. �I�m not convinced,� he said, �given the nature of Saddam Hussein,� that a peaceful resolution to the Kuwait invasion had been possible. Then he attacked Bush for leaving Hussein in power: �This administration, having likened Saddam Hussein to Hitler, having committed troops in the war against him, actually sided with Hussein in the aftermath of the war. That is a disgraceful chapter.�

  • ||

    I guess it is time for me to enter this fray.

    The only reason that Hakluyt opposes Bush is that Bush exposed the weasly, cowardly, untrustable, surrender monkey French for what they are.

    And I guess that Hakluyt despises Bush for the same reason that all the Europeans seem to dislike and mock rebublicans, for their seemingly (though weak IMO) dislike of social welfare, and their also seemingly opposition to gun control. This is my major reason for liking republicans.

  • wellfellow||

    Kwais,

    Do you realize what you've done?! Prepare to be hak-ed.

  • ||

    Also let me add to this whole thing the often quoted sarcastic joke Thoreau likes to say

    "It would be worse under Kerry"

    For all his many, many flaws, and all the reasons that a libertarian has to dislike Bush, the above quote remains true.

    As afraid as Jennifer may be that Bush's Gestapo may force her to go to church and that Homeland Security may discover her drug supply the true statist threat is from the Democratic side. Bush's failure likes in him not having the spine (or knowing that it is a political loser) to stand up enough to the social welfare agenda of Kerry's democrats.

    I fear that Totten may be right the winning issue of the Democrats may indeed be; welfare, social security, affirmative action, disarmament of all who do not have a badge, tobacco regulation, and all other regulation known to man.

  • ||

    kwais-

    To be fair, the point of my "Kerry would be worse" line isn't that he wouldn't be worse. In many ways he would be. The point is that some people (not you, but some people) think "Kerry would be worse!" justifies any bad behavior on Bush's part.

  • ||

    More, I have more to say;

    Yes there have been many mistakes in the war. Most of them being from the odious State Department, and there have also been many mistakes as a result of the Army and the Marine Corps having been somewhat neutered by the Feminazis, and the mothers of America.

    But over all, I can think of things that I would have done differently to make the war effort more efficient, but they would be less humane.

    I can�t think of any decision that I can say for sure that was made at the presidential level that should have been different on the war in Iraq.

    Iraq had to be done. France was on Saddam�s side (just ask an Iraqi), so we couldn�t wait for their assistance. Going about it this way was really the only sensible thing to do IMO (of course Ruthless�s idea of nuking Baghdad on 9/12 would probably have been an easier more efficient way, and unlike this success would be more guaranteed).

    All of the newspapers and Kerry talking about what is done wrong, has always been about getting the antiwar vote, and to cause a rift in the pro-war vote. Kerry never had a better way of doing anything.

    His idea on North Korea is to continue to bribe and subsidize the creation of nukes in North Korea. We bring the Chinese into the equation, because they have pull, and they aren�t going to stand for being hoodwinked like Clinton and Madeline Notsobright. We tell the Chinese, if North Korea builds nukes, Japan has no choice to get their own. Do they want that?

  • ||

    It is still a funny line Thoreau, sometimes.

  • ||

    Adam, did you even read the quote you clipped?

    "The debate in the Senate was not about whether we should or should not have used force, but when force should be used."

    If this sounds familiar, it's because that is what Kerry said at the time; it is what he said when asked about his vote subsequently; it's what he said when asked the question during the presidential debates; and it's what I told you he said in my 9:37 comment.

  • ||

    "The only reason that Hakluyt opposes Bush is that Bush exposed the weasly, cowardly, untrustable, surrender monkey French for what they are."

    Allies who guarded our skies and helped us topple the Taliban and rout Al Qaeda's bases of operation in the weeks after 9/11?

    People with an accurate perception of the threat Iraqi WMDs posed to us?

    I'm not sure what you're going for here, kwais.

  • ||

    "Most of them being from the odious State Department..."

    That would be the State Department that advised agains turning the entire Iraqi armed forces into disgruntled, unemployed gus with automatic rifles; that was shut out of the stabilization, governing, and reconstruction efforts after the fall of Baghdad, and that voiced the loudest dissents from the administration's assertion that Iraq was working with Al Qaeda and had ongoing WMD programs?

    That State Department? Those mistakes?

  • gaius marius||

    I'm not sure what you're going for here, kwais.

    mr kwais doesn't respect anyone who doesn't drink the blood of children out of a chalice fashioned of his dead enemy's skull, you know, mr joe. i'm surprised that you lack clarity on this point, given the reams of commentary mr kwais has devoted to the insinuation of that point, as a good american militarist zealot.

  • ||

    "there have also been many mistakes as a result of the Army and the Marine Corps having been somewhat neutered by the Feminazis, and the mothers of America"

    Actually, the performance of the armed forces in theater has been pretty much the only aspect of the whole operation that's gone well.

  • gaius marius||

    Abizaid begs to differ (see below).

    lol -- why would facts, mr a, get in the way of a good lie that makes american militarist moral desolation look better?

  • drf||

    "...drink the blood of children out of a chalice fashioned of his dead enemy's skull"

    oooh. graphic image. and we can use their shin bones for pencil boxes :)

    and why haven't you RSVP'd for the reason get together (including not responding when i emailed?)

    i tell you what - it's the decline of civilization when an invitation gets ignored :)

    (see you there)

    cheers,
    drf

  • ||

    "That darn radical leftist pacifist is just a weathervane with no real principles. And he was only nominated because he was so electable. That's why he lost!"

    To be fair, joe, these are arguments from different people. This would be like me lumping joe-isms and gaius marius-isms together and looking for a coherent story simply because you both didn't like the war.

    I don't know if Kerry was a pacifist or not. I do know that his absurd foreign policy message was the result of him trying to appeal to base and to moderate Republicans at the same time with contradictory positions. He did not lay out a position and stick to it; he took this approach because he thought it would make him more electable; and he was wrong.

  • ||

    Jason, those arguments are not together by intellectually honest, intelligent people.

    There have been considerable numbers of Kerry-detractors who have made them together, though.

    His foreign policy position was based around knowing what the hell he was talking about and putting out solutions that might work in the real world, which made them perfect fodder for the bumper sticker mentality of his opponents.

    "he took this approach because he thought it would make him more electable; and he was wrong" Actually, by the end of the campaign, Kerry was beating Bush on foreign policy in general, and Iraq policy in particular, by several percentage points in most polls.

    Kerry lost because he ran against an incumbant, and because he's not particularly likable.

  • gaius marius||

    (including not responding when i emailed?)

    you emailed me, mr drf? not that it's an excuse -- i caught your note on my blog. :)

    truth is, my lovely and suffering wife is about two weeks from delivering our first baby girl (the true continuance of civilization :) ) and so i have my hands full. i declined tickets to wrigley recently, so you know i'm being honest. my apologies, of course.

  • wellfellow||

    Gaius,

    Are you sure you're not going because of a nasty case of techne? ;)

  • gaius marius||

    a nasty case of techne

    lol -- if i didn't have one of those already, mr wellfellow, i have now after spending last night assembling a baby carriage that looks for all the world to me like an suv, with as many component parts.

  • ||

    "His foreign policy position was based around knowing what the hell he was talking about and putting out solutions that might work in the real world, which made them perfect fodder for the bumper sticker mentality of his opponents."

    If the DNC still thinks this way, I forecast a grim future for Team Donkey. Kerry's message was not so nuanced and true to reality that fools in red states couldn't put it on a bumpersticker. It was incoherent and at times absurd. In particular, the whole bit about getting a coalition together to include those countries currently hostile to committing troops was a bit much to ask people to accept. Especially since it was premised on the charm of John Kerry.

    From the outside, and as completely without bias as I can manage, I think the DNC needs to get a few things straight before the next election:

    1) More people voting does not ensure a Dem victory.

    2) It is unclear that the Dems 'own' pocketbook issues in the way they assume they do. Why is a good question.

    3) When going against a guy who sticks to message, it is insufficient to call yourself the realist and move on. It is not the case that having a message implies narrow views, and it is not the case that lacking a message implies realistic complexity. Dean would have been better along these lines.

    4) Reflexive appeals to organized labor are beginning to hurt more than help. If you have to stretch as far as Kerry did to sell the "I'll protect American Jobs" angle, maybe you shouldn't go down that path. Instead, focus on retraining or regional economic development to create new jobs.

  • ||

    After the recent election Move on declared that the DNC was theirs. Bought and paid for.
    It doesn't take a genius to do the math.
    Move on = pacifist.
    Move on = DNC
    DNC = pacifist.

    It doesn't matter that Kerry was a War hero, he was hamstrung by his party. He couldn't offend his base and funding.

    And please, do you really think that being involved in UN committees assigned to form committees to investigate Human Rights, Darfur, Bosnia, WMD, Terrorism, etc., etc. makes one a multi-lateralist? The finest way to be an isolationist is to commit to a process where you never need to commit to anything.

    There are plenty of people out there, like me I think, who put up with the RNC's bible belt so that we have some grown ups in charge of a realistic muscular foriegn pollicy, and hope for lazie fare economic and regulatory policy.

  • drf||

    ALL THE BEST TO YOU AND YOUR EXPANDED FAMILY, GAIUS!

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    YEAAAAAA. That is wonderful news! Please let us all know how Mommy and Baby turn out! yeaaaaaa.

    Catch you at the next one, then?

    Congratulations again,
    drf

  • ||

    Jason,

    I think you've got a lot on the ball with Numbers 1, 3, and 4, but look at the Social Security debate. Look at polling from the campaign - by the end, Kerry was beating Bush on every economic category, INCLUDING TAXES fer chrissake.

  • Jason Sonenshein||

    Hackett also repeated that tripe about George Bush being a bigger threat than bin Laden, and launched into some vulgarity to make his point.

    He was right. As dangerous as Bin Laden is, he can't destroy American freedom without our government's help. By pushing for further expansions of government powers and holding suspects, including American citizens, without charge, President Bush seems to be doing all he can to provide that help.

    Kerry couldn't hide his radical leftism behind a uniform, and neither could Hackett.

    Intemperate rhetoric aside, Major Hackett is quite moderate. Support for gun rights and opposition to setting a fixed timetable for withdrawal from Iraq don't seem like "radical leftism" to me.

    He was a unique candidate, though, with a libertarian streak (that the Dem leadership might also want to consider for their heartland races).

    That's pretty much the point I was trying to make. It's good to see that we agree on something.

  • ||

    "mr kwais doesn't respect anyone who doesn't drink the blood of children out of a chalice fashioned of his dead enemy's skull,"

    Come now Gauis,

    When joe comes over to sip out of the old chalice, and he only wants to drink the blood of 18 and overs, I still respect him. So that statement is blatently false.

  • ||

    "Actually, the performance of the armed forces in theater has been pretty much the only aspect of the whole operation that's gone well."

    Of course Joe, "the most moraltastic force to ever walk the face of the planet" or something like that right?

    But still, there are times they have failed. The leadership has failed. There have been shootings that shouldn't have happened and did, and there have been non shootings where there should have been shootings.

    The technology and the bravery of individual Americans has surpassed my expectations many times. But there are a few times where I thought the leadership was lacking. Very lacking. Criminally lacking.

  • ||

    When exactly did the percentage of posters who were caricatures of themselves get so high? Was it always like this?

    Congratulations to Gaius Marius! It can't be that bad if the prophet of civilization's decline is still having children, can it?;)

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