Michael: Sheehan a Problem for DLC DemsI seldom agree with Pat Buchanan on anything, but I think he nails the problem that the Iraq war and Cindy Sheehan presents to the Democratic leadership.
...Sheehan has helped turn the focus of national debate back to the war at a moment of vulnerability for the President. According to Newsweek, support for Bush’s handling of the war has fallen below 40%, to 34%, with 61% now disapproving of his leadership. Put bluntly, the bottom is falling out of support for Bush as Commander-in-Chief...
Why is this not good news for the Democratic Party?
Here’s why. Cindy Sheehan clearly has the courage of the liberal Democrats’ convictions. In their hearts, many of them never believed in this war in Iraq, though their leaders voted for it...
Why is no leader in the Democratic Party giving voice to the antiwar cause with the perseverance and passion of Cindy Sheehan? Why are they all hiding in the tall grass, or making statements about how they support the war and the troops, but just disagree with how Bush has managed it. If polls are to be believed, half the nation now agrees with Cindy Sheehan.
She is temporarily filling a vacuum in American politics that been unfilled since the Iowa caucuses, 18 months ago, when the wheels came off a Dean campaign most pundits thought would take him to the nomination.
The problem for the Democrats is this: All their potential nominees -- Hillary, Biden, Kerry, Edwards, Warner, [ed.-- don't forget Clark] -- supported the war in 2002. All support the war today. One day soon, a national Democrat, a Gene McCarthy [ed.-- can you say Russ Feingold?], is going to break publicly with the DLC crowd and the party establishment on the Hill, stand up and say, “Enough! It’s time to bring the troops home.”
When that happens, the antiwar movement and its new leader will split the Democratic Party right down the middle between “Stay-the-course!” hawks and “Bring-the-boys-home!” doves, just as it did during Vietnam. And if memory serves, Vietnam eventually did far more damage to the Democratic Party than it ever did to the Party of Nixon, Reagan and Bush.
And that's the problem. The Democratic leadership is far to the right of their electorate regading war in Iraq in an effort to court non-existent moderate independents. Over 70% of independents disapprove of Bush's handling of the war. Or are DLC pols trying to win Moderate Republicans? I've got news - there basically aren't any left. 85% of Republicans support their boy king despite all his foul-ups, and even the remaining 15% would rather cut off their voting arm than vote Democrat. They'll vote for McCain or Hagel, depending on the view of the war, or just stay home.
What this country needs is opposition leadership that is not afraid to question to dubious Conventional Wisdom that our presence in Iraq is vital to our national interests, which the Bush Administration has built. If this debate happens now, instead of in the heated rhetorical environment of a Presidential primary campaign, there is a chance to educate America and lead public opinion toward a solid majority for withdrawal. If we wait, or allow the same bozos who have led Democrats to slaughter for the last few election cycles to stampede us into the 'defeat is not an option' corral, we will lose seats in 2006, when we should gain, and lose the Presidency in 2008, when we should hand the GOP their collective asses on a platter.