The Nation's Thin Line in the Sand


So The Nation has roused itself from its Dem-symp slumbers and laid down this following fatwa against go-along pols in the Donkey Party:

We will not support any candidate for national office who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq a major issue of his or her campaign. We urge all voters to join us in adopting this position. Many worry that the aftermath of withdrawal will be ugly, but we can now see that the consequences of staying will be uglier still. Fear of facing the consequences of Bush's disaster should not be permitted to excuse the creation of a worse disaster by continuing the occupation.

We firmly believe that antiwar candidates, with the other requisite credentials, can win the 2006 Congressional elections, the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries and the subsequent national election. But this fight, and our stand, must begin now.

Good for them, in stating principles baldly and openly. But I wonder if (and almost certainly when) anti-war Republicans make the scene–a Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel perhaps–will The Nation back them over pro-war Dems? Or will, say, candidates' positions on the minimum wage or evolution be seen as more important than the goddamned war? And what exactly can this line mean:

More recently two other presidential contenders, Senator John Kerry and former Senator John Edwards, have begun to call for a shift in policy, though still in vague and reticent terms. More typical, however, are the other presidential hopefuls, Senators Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden and Evan Bayh, who continue to huddle for cover in "the center." They offer little alternative to Bush's refrain "We must stay the course!" Nor do the party's Congressional leaders and its head, Howard Dean, once a leader of antiwar sentiment. Can such politicians, who cannot even follow a majority–in the Democratic Party, a large majority–really be considered leaders?

Huh? Leaders who can't follow? Followers who can't lead. Whatever. Whole thing here.

Let's try to remember this pledge come the midterm and 2008 elections. Because The Nation has a well-worn habit of pussing out at the moment when an actual election is on the line and a Democrat–any Democrat–might lose to a Republican–any Republican. Because, you know, when you're supposedly representing the left, it's more important to elect party whores rather than show your affiliation with an actual leftist.

Hence, the mag's truly pathetic consecutive election-eve messages to Ralph Nader–with whom they agree on 99 percent of everything.

In 2004, The Nation pleaded:

Ralph, this is the wrong year for you to run: 2004 is not 2000. George W. Bush has led us into an illegal pre-emptive war, and his defeat is critical. Moreover, the odds of this becoming a race between Bush and Bush Lite are almost nil. For a variety of reasons–opposition to the war, Bush's assault on the Constitution, his crony capitalism, frustration with the overcautious and indentured approach of inside-the-Beltway Democrats–there is a level of passionate volunteerism at the grassroots of the Democratic Party not seen since 1968.

That makes you think they might have endorsed Nader in 2000, right? Yet on the eve of Bush vs. Gore, they reasoned:

When our insurgent values have accumulated more momentum and self-confidence, we might see things differently. This time around, we believe the practical priority of keeping the Bush squad from winning power takes precedence, while we also urge that, if possible, progressives help Nader score a blow to the status quo. For the larger progressive community, the tension can be resolved by following the logic of Texas columnist Molly Ivins. Her rule: Vote with your heart where you can, and vote with your head where you must. In states where either Gore or Bush has a commanding lead, vote Nader. In the states too close to call, vote Gore. In either case, the imperative is to end Republican control in Congress by electing Democrats, also vital to the prospects for progressive change.

More on that here. If the left is truly an anemic in American politics, it's at least partly because it continues to play along with a Democratic Party that knows red-diaper types aren't going anywhere else.