Victory in Iraq? That's Sooo 2003.

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According to Eli Lake at the New York Sun, a "Mission Accomplished" banner is the closest we'll ever get to a smashing victory in Iraq.

A commission formed to assess the Iraq war and recommend a new course has ruled out the prospect of victory for America, according to draft policy options shared with The New York Sun by commission officials.

Currently, the 10-member commission—headed by a secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush, James Baker—is considering two option papers, "Stability First" and "Redeploy and Contain," both of which rule out any prospect of making Iraq a stable democracy in the near term.

The commission isn't supposed to report until after the midterm elections, which makes political sense. Except, you know, for the fact that its sorriest conclusions are getting leaked.

It's not much of a link unless you have a subscription, but here's James Fallows' Atlantic essay on how to declare victory in the war on terror—slightly different subject, but relevant here.

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  1. Although a bit shoprworn from years of repetition by millions liberals, this point bears repeating: democracy and liberalism can’t be imposed from the outside by force of arms. They have to grow organically from within. To the extent that we can help that happen in other countries, we probably should, but we must always recognize that the People have to be in charge of their own liberation, or there will never be democracy.

    The CIA has been telling us for years that the presence of the occupying forces is the primary force driving the insurgency, which is itself driving both the jihadist campaign and the civil war. Our withdrawal can be used as a tool to advance democracy and inter-group amity in Iraq, if we learn some lessons from the successes of the British in Northern Ireland over the past 15 years. We’re not going to win Iraq through staying the course, but we can at least try to avoid a complete disaster through some skillful negotiation, using the promise and reality of our disengagement as a tool to promote the political/peace process among Iraqis.

    But this is only going to happen if the direction of the war is put in the hands of people whose commitment to global democracy and the empowerment of the People has deep roots, and who are willing and able to use diplomacy among the nations of the world and among the factions in Iraq.

    If the only way our leaders know how to relate to a foreign country is to bomb it or ignore it, panicked withrdrawal probably does seem like the only alternative to “staying the course.”

    But it doesn’t have to be; this withdrawal, unlike Nixon’s, could actually be turned to our advantage. But the crew in charge cannot possibly achieve that.

    Whether democracy or peace is your biggest interest in Iraq, your only real choice is to vote Democrat this November.

  2. Only a fool would contend that the admin has done a good job handling the “nation-building” phase of Iraqi involvement.

    Furthermore, one could validly criticize the admin. for not fully understanding the invasion’s consequence of “uncapping” the sunni/shia ongoing conflict that Saddam was repressing.

    But, Weigel, your mocking of the banner misses that, when you’re in charge of a group, the group thrives on recognition of the completion of intermediate goals. They can’t be solely focused on the ultimate objective.

    “Mission Accomplished” was about the phase of the mission to reach Baghdad and defeat Saddam’s army. In fairness, Bush said during the speech on the deck ,that dangerous, tough work lies ahead, et al.

    Of course, “MA” is fair game for you and Maureen Dowd, et al to hammer…but it’s disingenuous for you to do so.

  3. Only a fool would contend that the admin has done a good job handling the “nation-building” phase of Iraqi involvement.

    Furthermore, one could validly criticize the admin. for not fully understanding the invasion’s consequence of “uncapping” the sunni/shia ongoing conflict that Saddam was repressing.

    But, Weigel, your mocking of the banner misses that, when you’re in charge of a group, the group thrives on recognition of the completion of intermediate goals. They can’t be solely focused on the ultimate objective.

    “Mission Accomplished” was about the phase of the mission to reach Baghdad and defeat Saddam’s army. In fairness, Bush said during the speech on the deck ,that dangerous, tough work lies ahead, et al.

    Of course, “MA” is fair game for you and Maureen Dowd, et al to hammer…but it’s disingenuous for you to do so.

  4. The best outcome for all concerned is for Uncle Sam to break out a giant bar of Lava soap right now and begin scrubbing his hands.

  5. Then why wasn’t the completion of the mission to take Basra or Kirkuk recognized, Bubba?

    The capture of the capital wasn’t just an intermediate goal. It was clearly considered to be the crucial aspect of the entire operation.

    It goes back to this administration’s lack of understanding of the real security threats in the world today. Even after 9/11, they continue to see state-vs-state conflicts (or even threats of conflicts) as by far the most important game in town, and stateless terrorism and intra-state conflict as minor concerns. That’s why they thought the capture of Baghdad was Mission Accomplished, it’s why the kept 30,000 troops in Kabul as Osama escaped from Tora Bora, it’s why Donald Rumsfeld said he was going to fire the next person who tried to talk to him about planning for the post-war, and it’s why they responded to 9/11 with an invasion of wholly-uninvolved Iraq.

  6. “Mission Accomplished” was about the phase of the mission to reach Baghdad and defeat Saddam’s army. In fairness, Bush said during the speech on the deck ,that dangerous, tough work lies ahead, et al.

    No, mission accomplished was marking the end of hostilities. It was clearly presented as the end of the worst. Tough dangerous work lied ahead, the speech said, but from that point forward it would only get easier.

  7. “”””Mission Accomplished” was about the phase of the mission to reach Baghdad and defeat Saddam’s army.””””

    I think your spining this for your own belief. The administrataion never said this was the reason. When asked, they shyed away, and even deined that they had anything to do with the MA sign. Later they claimed it was the ships idea.

    From this article http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/10/29/iraq/main580661.shtml

    “””””The “Mission Accomplished” boast has been mocked many times since Mr. Bush’s carrier speech as criticism has mounted over the failed search for weapons of mass destruction and the continuing violence in Iraq.

    When it was brought up again Tuesday at a news conference, Mr. Bush said, “The ‘Mission Accomplished’ sign, of course, was put up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished.”

    “I know it was attributed somehow to some ingenious advance man from my staff ? they weren’t that ingenious, by the way.”

    That explanation hadn’t surfaced during months of questions to White House officials about proclaiming the mission in Iraq successful while violence continued.

    After the news conference, a White House spokeswoman said the Lincoln’s crew asked the White House to have the sign made. The White House asked a private vendor to produce the sign, and the crew put it up, said the spokeswoman. She said she did not know who paid for the sign.

    Later, a Pentagon spokesman called The Associated Press to reiterate that the banner was the crew’s idea.

    “It truly did signify a mission accomplished for the crew,” Navy Cmdr. Conrad Chun said, adding the president’s visit marked the end of the ship’s 10-month international deployment.”””””””

    The MA banner was/is fair game, not because of Dowd el al, but because Bush wouldn’t admit to having a hand in it when it was obvious he did.

    Bubba, you seem to believe Bush had a hand in it, you make a great case as to “why” he would hang the banner. So why not critize Bush for not standing up and saying what you believe.

  8. joe! Our joint prediction of an all-Warner election is in jeopardy! Wake the neighbors and call the kids!

    Breaking: [Mark] Warner May Not Run In ’08.

    Ah, heck. There goes my own psychic hotline. I don’t even have a substitute choice for my mildly contrarian pick. I guess I’ll go with Richardson as the Democratic nominee.

  9. “Although a bit shoprworn from years of repetition by millions liberals, this point bears repeating: democracy and liberalism can’t be imposed from the outside by force of arms.”

    Yes it can, it’s been done before. Anyway, I don’t see that democracy (or liberalism) is being imposed by force in Iraq. The voting turnout in Iraq was in defiance of a promised violent retaliation. Whatever is fueling the violence in Iraq; occupation, foreign jihadists, bad religion, or the general disfunction of an ingrained third-world tribal culture. It isn’t a popular resistance to democracy. Voter turnouts would have been minuscule otherwise.

    And no, I don’t think the invasion and continued occupation of Iraq is worthwhile. Iraq is the Iraqis business, not mine. But the more appropriate question is if a liberal secular democracy can take in an Arab country, under occupation or not. The “democracy cannot be impose” canard avoids that ugliness nicely. Probably why its so tired.

  10. During that speech, Bush said “The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September 11, 2001, and still goes on.” http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/10/28/mission.accomplished/ (this was made immediately after he made comments about the “difficult work to do in Iraq”). He also said “In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/05/01/iraq/main551946.shtml. Most people would interpret this to mean that the Battle for Iraq was already victory, although the war on terror continues (elsewhere, presumably). While making that speech, the “mission accomplished” banner was prominently displayed behind him. If Bush intended to say that the war in Iraq was just beginning, then he plainly doesn’t know how to speak English (which I don’t rule out, but his advisors should have known better), and he has no appreciation of context.

    At best, Bubba, you could say that he was sending seriously mixed messages. At worst, this speech is a good representation of Bush’s delusional foreign policy. Can we honestly criticize that? Hell yeah.

    By the way, in the same speech he also said “We have removed an ally of al-Qaida, and cut off a source of terrorist funding,” but I’ll save that bit of propaganda for another day.

  11. pigwiggle,

    Elections aren’t democracy. You may have noticed that there have been a number of elections in Iraq, and yet its hopes for establishing a functional democracy are distant.

    Nor did I ever say there was “popular resistance to democracy.” The problem is, the lack of popular resistance isn’t enough. Democracy, the political system based around the concept that the People are sovereign, requires them to actively support democracy – not just by voting, but by agreeing to accept the outcomes of votes, and to collaborate and negotiate with those from differenct factions. Both the People as a whole and the elites need to actively support the establishment and operation of the democratic process as the legitimate means of settling political disputes, within the bounds of a constitution that defines and limits powers. Merely not opposing democracy, or even going so far as to turn out to vote for your faction, is not sufficient.

    This is why it was so pointless to try to liberate Iraq, while denying Iraqis their right to take the lead in their own liberation. Our founders had been comrades in arms, governed by a squabbling-but-unified Contintental Congress, for years before they established the government. In some places (New England town meetings, the election of colonial legislatures), the People had had decades, even centuries, of self-directed establishment and participation in democracy. WE overthrew our tyrant, and established our democracy, so it took root for us. The Iraqis did not do either – we did it for them.

    And I defy you to provide a single example of democracy being imposed by foreigners using force of arms, where it had not already been established by the People of that country. Hint: neither Germany nor Japan count, as both had had decades of democratic government prior to World War II.

  12. Also pigwiggle,

    “But the more appropriate question is if a liberal secular democracy can take in an Arab country, under occupation or not.”

    The transition from a monarchist/feudal political system to a democratic Constitutional monarchy with a parliament has been occuring at an impressive pace in Arab countries like the UAE and Kuwait for years, even decades. All of this progress has been self-directed by those Arab societies, without any attempts by foreign powers to impose democracy. There is also Palestine, but that situation is such a screwed up special case that it would probably be unwise to use it as a case study.

  13. pigglewiggle

    Example, please. Don’t bother with Japan & Germany. Both had functioning parliaments and multi=party elections prior to the rise of the Nazis in Germany and the militarists in Japan.

  14. Huh. Is it hard to impose anything on an occupied nation? Usually, and clearly that’s the case in Iraq. However, claiming that you can discount Germany and Japan because of their “democratic” traditions is weak. Neither country had come even close to giving up its existing authoritarian traditions before the war. It’s not the appearance of democratic functions that matters, you know. It’s believing in them, and having faith in their legitimacy. Neither of those things existed in any real sense in Germany or Japan.

    I don’t particularly want the U.S. to go around attempting to install democratic regimes by force, but the fact is that we were very successful for some reason after WWII. It might just have been that the opposition was so exhausted by the war that they were made more pliable. I imagine the frustration of the people with their regimes (if for no other reason than for losing the war) had something to do with it, too.

    Of course, even if there were some magic trick to doing it right, I still wouldn’t want to be in a constant state of war trying to save the world. We do better by our continued success. A number of countries have seen the light, noting how the U.S. and the western industrial nations seem to keep doing so well over time. Heck, the overwhelming economic power of the U.S. probably had a lot to do with the post-WWII “conversions”, too.

  15. Pro Lib,

    “Neither of those things existed in any real sense in Germany or Japan.”

    I don’t completely disagree – both repulics were in their toddler years – but I think you overstate the case. There most certainly were democrats and liberals in both countries, and liberal democratic parties, like the SDs and Catholic Center in Germany, and even less liberal republican parties like the Conservatives ran hot and cold on democracy. Absent the economic catastrophe and grating humiliation of Versailles, the good guys probably would have won.

  16. Japan is the weakest case–they were ersatz democratic. I agree that Germany was much closer to becoming a real republic. Without the Depression, the Nazis wouldn’t have come into power at all (even with the other factors tossed in). In fact, it’s amazing that they actually did ever make it, because so many things had to go “right”. Another positive influence on pre-Nazi Germany was its major trading partners–the UK and the US. Not to mention France, which, though an enemy, was an apparent success story after WWI.

    No comment on Warner? Come on, you’ve got to be as annoyed as I am. I had “Warner Brothers” jokes all lined up and everything. Darn it.

  17. aresen-

    “Example, please. Don’t bother with Japan & Germany. Both had functioning parliaments and multi=party elections prior to the rise of the Nazis in Germany and the militarists in Japan.”

    Japan is a legitimate example; it’s short lived legislature answered to a single unelected power (is that what you consider functional?), and it’s multiple political parties lasted, what, one or two decades before they were willingly dissolved and unified as imperial ‘support’? Hardly a strong democratic tradition, and unequivocally top down. Certainly not ‘organic’ or popular political reform.

    joe-

    I agree, voting is not sufficient, but it is necessary. And my point wasn’t that there was a whole and healed democracy functioning in Iraq, or anything close. The point is that there is no forceful imposition of democracy. Folks are willingly participating in democratic institutions at great risk. Period.

    As far as democratic reforms in Arab nations; you can’t have it both ways. Should democratic revolution start with popular support or should they be imposed? And what do you think Saudi Arabia would look like without the royal family?

  18. The Warner story is a surprise. I thought he’d have a real chance.

    I think this means Al Gore is running for the nomination, and is going to win it in a landslide.

  19. pigwiggle,

    “The point is that there is no forceful imposition of democracy. Folks are willingly participating in democratic institutions at great risk. Period.”

    Yes, I agree. I’m not making the point that the U.S. military is aggressing against individual Iraqis during the elections. We’re certainly not herding them about like Fatah, or using violence against voters. My point is about the development of a relationship between the public, the government, and the apparatus of state.

    The process by which nations develop into democracies – the struggles of the public and its various entities in support of their own liberation, the experience of how they come together to make that happen – is necessary for the nation to be able to keep that democracy functioning.

    “As far as democratic reforms in Arab nations; you can’t have it both ways. Should democratic revolution start with popular support or should they be imposed?”

    Wow, that really begs the question “Imposed by whom?”

    Your point, if I understand it, is that the internal reforms in those Gulf states didn’t look the Orange Revolution. They are largely the project of those nation’s ruling elite.

    Well, what else is new? Look at the Magna Carta. Heck, our own War of Independence was led by a collection of local plutocrats, who established a system of national government by people like them, that operated by the truths they held to be self-evident.

    There is certainly a conversation to be had about elites and the broader public in the development and operation of a democracy, but it would be a gigantic mistake to use the intransitive sense of the verb “imposed” to gloss over the difference between a local elite in peacetime vs. a foreign army that invaded and occupied your country in their capacity to collaborate with the general public.

    There has to be genuine collaboration with the public, from the beginning, in the development of any initiative, or they are never going to relate to it as something that is really theirs. This is true of a landcaped traffic island in the street in front of their houses, and it’s true of a political system.

    You seem to think that the existence of an insurgency is what is stopping the democracy; in fact, the lack of a genuine national movement responsible for liberating the country from Hussein is why the Iraqis themselves can’t control the insurgency. It doesn’t matter how much military power we direct at the problem, we will never be able to fill the political vacuum we’ve created, and the occupation is preventing anyone else from filling it, either.

  20. TrickyVic, what I believe is the Buchananite argument (holy shit, I can’t believe I’m saying I agree with Pat Buchanan) that the invasion if Iraq upset the international system set in place at the Cong. of Vienna.

    Again, the question of whether Rumsfeld “fucked up” the nation building is superceded by the question of whether the sunni/shia conflict should have been uncorked by invading in the first place.

    That said, “mission accomplished” was necessary and proper to tell the forces engaged: “Nice job in taking baghdad.”

    That’s how I read mission accomplished.’

    Joe’s correct about Gore, btw, he will come screaming from HRC’s left like a missile.

  21. “””That said, “mission accomplished” was necessary and proper to tell the forces engaged: “Nice job in taking baghdad.”

    That’s how I read mission accomplished.'””

    There is a big difference between how you read it (or anyone else, myself included) and how the administration meant for it to be read. There is little doubt is was meant to say to the world, we have accomplished our mission. Whatever the “real” purpose was, Bush having his press conference in front of the banner, knowing it would be televised all over the world, speaks clearly of Bush administration wanted to play it.

    I think your giving them too much slack. If your doing it for a specific purpose it’s easy to explain that purpose. They had problems explaining their actions. You only have that problem when you either don’t want to admit your actions, or your clueless about that action.

    I’ve been a Buchanan fan for about a year or so, I’m suprised about that too.

    The sad thing is we don’t really know why we are there, the flip-floping of the “reason” we invaded leads toward credibility problems. That leads to U.S. citizens losing the “will” to fight. Another sad issue is that the citizens, left-wing citizens, or democrats, (for Rush O’Hanity fans), are being blamed for losing the “will” to stay when it’s the administration’s inablility to convince us why we are there that has caused many to lose faith. It’s like they are saying “you don’t need to know the real reason, you just need to trust us”, and what fool would fall for that at the cost of treasure and men?

  22. Gore, huh? He’s moved away from the moderate position he held in the Senate (and even more so as VP), so he doesn’t look like a great choice for the general election. He also failed to beat a lightweight candidate in Bush, which can’t make the party entirely happy with him. On the other hand, he’s certainly a better candidate than most–Senator Clinton has no hope in Hades of winning the general election if nominated. Divisive candidates rarely get that far, though.

    I’m still leaning towards a Richardson breakout, though that’s a longshot at this point. I firmly believe the next Democratic president will be planted right smack in the middle, which seems to be the place where we want out presidents to be. The GOP race is no easier to call. McCain seems unlikely to go all the way. And Giuliani strikes me as, in some ways, the Republican equivalent to Senator Clinton. Not going to make it in the long run. Which is why I like the idea of John Warner sneaking through the cracks.

    Of course, none of them make me happy, and I’m unlikely to vote anything other than crazy LP. Maybe they’ll make me happy and actually run a good candidate this time. Maybe.

  23. Pro Libertate,

    “He’s moved away from the moderate position he held in the Senate (and even more so as VP), so he doesn’t look like a great choice for the general election”

    The so-called lefist positions Al Gore staked out for himself – the ones that led so many right wing bloggers to call him a crazy radical, out of step with the mainstream – consist of opposing the invasion of Iraq as far back as 2002 (largely because of the lack of post-war planning and the weakness of the case for “preemption”), and endorsing action against global warming. Oh, and he’s made some strongly-worded criticisms of George Bush.

    Those are three extremely popular positions right now, they’ll be even more popular in two years. Not only does Al Gore do them well, but he get credit for plugging away at them before it was cool.

    “He also failed to beat a lightweight candidate in Bush,” He beat Bush by over 500,000 votes.

    “…which can’t make the party entirely happy with him.” You should check out the liberal blogs. In DailyKos’s internet poll for the presidential nomination, he regularly pulls in 60-70%, with everyone else under 20. He even spanks Feingold. Maybe the DC lifer crowd doesn’t like him, but those people don’t matter very much anymore. There is enormous good will towards Al Gore among Democratic voters; he symbolizes both a return to the good times, and strong opposition to George Bush.

    But it’s still a long way off, and Democratic primaries are actually open affairs, where the winner has to actually compete with opponents and win on the merits. A good enough campaigner could still come along and beat Al Gore, but he’s the favorite. Hillary combines unelectability with too much support for the Iraq War.

  24. How far left, up, or down Gore has gone is in the eye of the beholder. On environmental issues, I’ll say only that he may have been hitting that note too frequently to keep the breadth of support he once had. Personally, I think he’s moved more to the left than you think, but that’s just an opinion. Most of the positions taken pre-campaign are provisional with these guys, anyway. He’ll most assuredly start sounding like Senator/VP Gore once things really get into motion (esp. if he wins the nomination).

    As for having 500,000 more votes, whether or not you approve of the electoral college, it’s the way we’ve been doing things for well over 200 years, and he failed to win on that basis. Even if Jesus came down and said he actually won by 10 votes in Florida, that doesn’t change the fact that he couldn’t win in a relatively good economy against a total loser candidate. Not good.

    I think any popularity that Gore might have within the party ties in more to the resentment over the 2000 election and the lack of a perceived “winner” in the pool of candidates right now. Also, this early, some weird names can be at the top. I see Giuliani and McCain polling well on the other side, but I think the reality is that both will lose the primaries early.

    I agree completely with your assessment of Senator Clinton. She’s sure to mobilize everyone with any conservative or anti-Bill feelings at all, and her pro-warish positions will just kill her with the left. Plus, there’s the number of political missteps she’s made, which I think clarifies who the “smart” Clinton really is (I know that I changed my mind about that point). And there’s some taint of corruption from the Arkansas days that will make her campaign an uphill slog through the mud. No way she stays in long term.

    So, all of that said, who do you (1) want to win and (2) who do you think will win? Given your previous comments, I’ll assume that you expect a Democratic president next time around, barring any weird stuff happening between now and 2008. I’m not sure that I think the country is as willing to embrace the Democrats as you do, but I do think the vulnerability for the GOP in the White House is quite high. And, either this time or next time, the Congress will be split. Which is a good thing.

  25. “””And Giuliani strikes me as, in some ways, the Republican equivalent to Senator Clinton. Not going to make it in the long run. “””

    I agree with you. Alot of Republicans think Giuliani is tough, so they assume his position on gun control. He is pro-gun control. Many outside of the tristate area does not know that. I think he will bomb. Republicans should NOT vote for him in the primary. He didn’t have the balls to tell his wife he got a new woman and had filed for a divorce. She found out through the media.

    A Giuliani/Clinton election would be lose, lose. A funnier point is that it would be an election between an adulterer and an adulteree. Now that’s politics!!

  26. Iraq cannot be “built” as a “nation” because it is nothing but a mess cobbled together by Britain for expediency’s sake. Absent a strongman ruler, it will not stay intact in the long run, or possibly the short run.

    Beyond that, how and at what point can one declare “victory” in a nation-building exercise? We probably should have hot-footed it out of there after the national elections, but I see the construction of permanent bases there as a sign that we intend to use Iraq as a staging ground, even if we no longer patrol the streets.

  27. One thing that will benefit Gore in an election campaign is the apparent stick-ectomy he got after losing the election. He’s a lot more likeable and natural-seeming after losing, and he even managed to be the funniest thing on Saturday Night Live in years, not that that’s difficult.

  28. Pro Lib,

    “As for having 500,000 more votes, whether or not you approve of the electoral college, it’s the way we’ve been doing things for well over 200 years, and he failed to win on that basis.” I know. I’m just pointing out that the statement “he lost to Bush” means less than meets the eye, especially as a statement about his support among the public.

    “that doesn’t change the fact that he couldn’t win in a relatively good economy against a total loser candidate.”

    First, I don’t think the benefits of incumbency necessarily translate to Vice Presidents. Second, the Bush campaign was the best run, most exhausive operation the country has ever seen. Bush is a loser president, but he was a fantastic candidate.

    “I think any popularity that Gore might have within the party ties in more to the resentment over the 2000 election” Yes.

    “…and the lack of a perceived “winner” in the pool of candidates right now.” No. There’s a deep bench of Democratic candidates. Feingold. Clark. Richardson. Warner (until today, anyway).

    I think you’re wrong about McCain. I consider him the favorite to win the nomination. Republican primary voters will appreciate his staunch support for staying the course through 2009 and beyond, but also see him as electable because of the treatment he gets from the media. Those BS sessions in 2000 are going to pay off for him on that front. But the man certainly does have the potential to blow it.

    You’re blowingin the wind about Hillary’s alleged corruption from her Arkansas days. First time that gets raised, Sidney Blumenthal says, “Maybe we can appoint Ken Starr to look into it” to the media, and it gets dropped like a hot potato.

    I want Kerry to win, but I think it will be either McCain (if he wins the nomination) or Gore (if he doesn’t). Barring any third party zaniness, which could happen, in which case all bets are off.

    Shem’s point is a good one. Gore would likely be a much better candidate this time around, less cowed by the professional election loser caste of Washington Dem consultants. But then, so would Kerry.

  29. I’m not convinced Kerry would. Gore had the benefit of two or three years of seperation from all that, whereas Kerry has remained steeped in it since the election. I don’t see the change in Kerry’s public persona that I do in Gore.

  30. My point about Hillary Clinton wasn’t so much that she’s necessarily guilty of anything. I suppose she probably is, given the nature of Arkansas politics, but who knows? But the truth isn’t the point. It’s the negative perception that even a number of Democrats have of the Clintons at this point. Will it stick? Not over the long term, but all it takes is for her to get completely trashed during the primaries.

    Gore certainly has a chance, I just think he has enough trouble to make a nomination difficult to win. I don’t think Kerry can get anywhere, because his loss will have been too recent and too keenly felt. Richardson could be a strong candidate, but he’s got to get accepted as a possible general election winner before he’ll get the votes. I’ve not been impressed with Clark. Feingold is okay, I guess, but I don’t see a lot of excitement about his campaign.

    Here’s one thing to gnaw on: Will the Democrats mobilize like they did last election? There’s no Bush or Bush heir apparent running this time, so a moderate GOP nominee could forestall any huge turnout. What’s interesting is that I think a Giuliani-Clinton matchup could get very high voter numbers. . .because people want so badly to keep one or the other out of office 🙂

    Sigh, if only I could use this political strategery for the poor, hapless, LP. Heck, I can’t even think of a candidate to recommend who would actually run as an LPer. I will if they pay me a million bucks to run, but no one knows me except y’all. . .which might be enough to get a record vote for an LP candidate 😉

  31. joe,

    You should oppose another Clinton presidency on the two grounds you always carp about the current administration here: 1) the office shouldn’t be passed among any particular family and 2) HRC will be wrung through the same wringer as her husband, but far, far, worse. You can’t seriously believe Sidney Blumenthal can protect her from the “vast, right-wing conspiracy.” God knows I don’t want to sit through another round of Clinton-bashing.

  32. rob, it won’t be the right that does her in at all. It’ll be her fellow travelers beating her up with truths, half-truths, lies, and statistics up to and during the primaries.

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