Democratic Convention 2008

The Truman Project

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No, that's not another unwanted movie sequel. It's a three-year-old outfit that bills itself as "the nation's only organization that recruits, trains, and positions a new generation of progressives across America to lead on national security." The idea is political pushback:

For forty years, conservatives have focused their efforts on building human capital. they have poured hundreds of millions into leadership development institutes and universities to train a generation of media-savvy leaders steeped in conservative policy and values, who repeatedly use the issue of national security as their primary weapon against progressives.

Italics theirs, to indicate just how pissed they are about it. Which is actually reflected in one of the biggest early differences between the Democratic Convention in 2008 and those in 2004 and 2000: Democrats seem to be engaging on foreign policy to a much more energetic degree. Right now, I'm sitting in the overflow room for an already large-roomed Truman Project-sponsored foreign policy discussion with former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig, and even the overflow room is overflowed. The National Democratic Institute panels are being attended by hundreds; similar gabfests the last two Democratic conventions might be lucky to attract 50 people.

And some of the discussion is good. Danzig, a big Obama foreign policy guy, talks sensibly about the dangers of Bush's "personalization" of relationships with countries such as Pakistan, and warns of John McCain seeing a threat behind every corner. Perry observes that the military has a serious readiness problem.

But. At every foreign policy confab, you will hear the following platitudes:

* We need to restore our leadership in the world.

* The Marshall Plan was awesome.

* We need to rebuild the military.

* We ought not start a new Cold War.

* We need energy security.

Well, yes! And the sky needs to be blue, and the women need to be above-average. You also need to get there, and not just confuse hoped-for results with the policies that produce them.

As an addendum: William Perry pillories George W. Bush for the Russia-Georgia crisis, and says "Russia really wants respect….We start off by treating Russia with respect."

That's not change I can believe in! (More on this topic to come.)

NEXT: Zhang for the Memories...of the Cultural Revolution

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  1. Danzig is probably the first Defense Secretary in an Obama administration.

    (Gordan England is likely the first one in a McCain one, depending on how long Gates would stick around)

  2. Danzig, a big Obama foreign policy guy, talks sensibly about the dangers of Bush’s “personalization” of relationships with countries such as Pakistan, and warns of John McCain seeing a threat behind every corner

    “I got a question: can you make the blood flow up the walls?”

    Whoops, wrong Danzig.

  3. Nobody’s going to screw with a Defense Secretery who can make the blood flow up the walls.

    You know we wouldn’t have to “rebuild the military” if we…deep breaths…will not rant.

    But, you know.

  4. I can’t believe the squirrels are still inserting that name.

  5. Danzig, a big Obama foreign policy guy

    I’m guessing the Obamas have never heard what Danzig is going to do when he takes their daughter out tonight.

  6. i was wondering how many posts it would take for someone to reference the other danzig. apparently, less posts than licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop.

  7. I don’t want a sequel, but I gotta say The Truman Show is one of the best damn movies evar…

  8. “For forty years, conservatives have focused their efforts on building human capital. they have poured hundreds of millions into leadership development institutes and universities to train a generation of media-savvy leaders steeped in conservative policy and values, who repeatedly use the issue of national security as their primary weapon against progressives.”

    This is pernicious nonsense. “Progressives” need to stop viewing foreign policy as a political problem and start viewing it as an important issue in itself. Otherwise they are doomed to feckless me-too-ism, which nobody should respect.

  9. I was really hoping Tim Kaine would be vice president, so we could use all those “Twist of Kaine” puns. But Secretary Danzig is even better. Also, he’ll help with outreach to the Satanists that make up 60% of America’s armed forces.

  10. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m pretty damn sick of big-government pinkos calling themselves “progressive”. They’re regressives, who want to take us back to the tyranny we rejected in 1776.

    -jcr

  11. Pinkos want to revive the British empire?

  12. British empire? In 1776? I thought they didn’t really have much of a worldwide empire until the 1800’s.

  13. Though I suppose they were assiduously working on building one in the 1700’s.

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