Monday, September 04, 2006

Unity 08 -- Searching for civility

Joe Gandleman points to an effort to find moderation and civility as the next election cycle comes around.

He illustrates the need by pointing to pronouncements by the Secretary of Defense carefully modulated to sound reasonable and well-intentioned while contaminating any political opponents with the rhetorical equivalent of avian flu.

Rumsfeld and the Bush administration seemingly believe "unity" signifies weakness, something that only empty-headed, naive political wannabees talk about — a concept reflecting a misunderstanding about how politics and retaining power really works (you must demonize and divide to retain power).

Even a bell pepper at Stop & Shop in Woodbridge, Connecticut could read the newspapers, watch TV or (better yet) read a weblog and realize that the administration has quickly shifted its political mantra as we're heading into an election season.

The "T" word (for traitors) isn't being used. Nor is the "E" word (for enablers). But the implication is quite clear:Those who dare question the administration's war in Iraq — not just going into it but the way it is being administered and whether there is a long range goal and end-game plan — are basically being painted as being like those who were dumb and/or weak enough not to stand up to Adolph Hitler, and to pre-World War II fascism in general.

In a letter to Congress's top Democrats, Rumsfeld said recent remarks he made during a speech in Salt Lake City were misrepresented by the media, including by the Associated Press. Rumsfeld said he was "concerned" by the reaction of Democrats, many of whom called for his resignation and said he was treading on dangerous territory."

Consider this....

"I know you agree that with America under attack and U.S. troops in the field, our national debate on this should be constructive," Rumsfeld wrote Friday.

During his speech before thousands of veterans Tuesday, Rumsfeld said the world faces "a new type of fascism" and warned against repeating the pre-World War II mistake of appeasement. He alluded to critics of the Bush administration's war policies in terms associated with the failure to stop Nazism in the 1930s, "a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among the Western democracies."

Without explicitly citing Bush critics at home or abroad, he said "it is apparent that many have still not learned history's lessons." Aides to Rumsfeld said later he was not accusing the administration's critics of trying to appease the terrorists but was cautioning against a repeat of errors made in earlier eras."

Thought and careful preparation went into what I said," Rumsfeld wrote in the letter. "It is absolutely essential for us to look at lessons of history in this critical moment in the war on terror." I was honored by the reception my statements received from our veterans.

Gandleman has more to say, but this jumped out at me.

Many of us have do not agree with those who seek an immediate pullout but we have serious questions about the way the war is being run and what kind of plan there is in place to achieve goals and eventually leave. The administration gives us few if any answers — except more slash and burn demonization of those who ask questions and don't pledge total loyalty to place their trust in The People In Charge.

When we see those on the left or right who have questions about policies...and us also us, by implication ...being told that if we were adults in the 1940s would have let Hitler have his way, we then begin to write off the words of those whose mouths seemingly cannot debate issues without sneeringly discrediting those in a democracy who have every RIGHT to DEMAND answers or changes in policies.

Accusing opponents of being isolationists (even if they're not) or being soft on fascism (even if they're not) has worked before. And so it's being used as an election year tool again — to once again divide the United States in order to arouse passions of hate and concern in the GOP base so the base will go to the polls in droves 2006 to checkmate the portrayal and characterization of the administration's critics. The portrayal offered by the administration.

But this year many independents, independent-minded Democrats and even independent-minded Repubicans may think: Divided government is what's needed. And maybe votes cast in 2006 should be towards that end.

Donald Rumsfeld has been in high White House posts for many years in various administrations. He KNOWS how to put a sentence together.

He KNOWS what he said and what he meant. The political technique of taking some of it back later and letting the original allegation hang out there is older than Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones ...

Many of us independent voters — even many of us who supported the war — know what Rumsfeld really meant.

Having read that, go now to the Unity 08 website and see what you think.

Me? I'm too old to do much more than point.
Too tired from years of watching the good guys finish near the top, but not AT the top. But for what it's worth, I hope they have a chance.


mw said...

"But this year many independents, independent-minded Democrats and even independent-minded Repubicans may think: Divided government is what's needed. And maybe votes cast in 2006 should be towards that end." - hoot

I could not agree more. In fact I was pre-agreeing when I wrote this last May:

To support the documented benefit of divided government by voting Democratic in the 2006 election, is not the same as "finding a home" in the Democratic party. It is simply tactical support to obtain an immediate and desireable result: Fiscal restraint and better federal governance through the mechanism of divided government. To continue to support Republican single party control of the Federal Government in the face of what has actually transpired over the last five years can only be read as a naked appeal to "pay attention to what Republicans say, but ignore what they do."

In fact, by achieving the result of divided government through the support of Democratic candidates in 2006, the independents will have a stronger foundation for supporting either the Republican or Democaratic (or 3rd party) presidential candidate in 2008 as a divided congress is a divided government by definition.

The benefits of divided government is more than theory. It is historical fact. Niskanen and Ritter show that spending is always greater and budgets grow faster when you have single party control of the legislative and executive branch. This adminstration proved it with Bush'single party Republican control over the last five years blowing away even the LBJ Great Society/Vietnam single party Democratic control. The dynamic of divided government accomplishes the desired objective of better governance, not the individuals or parties that make up that divided government state, or even what they say or believe. Democrats (or Republicans) do not create the result. Divided government does.

Republican vs. Democrat is a false choice. Single Party vs. Divided Government is the real choice.

Hoots said...

Uh, that was Gandleman you quoted, not me. But thanks for visiting and commenting. I think you are on the right track with this "divided government" theme. I'm not sure how the tactic will mesh with the "red vs blue" framing that seems to have caught the popular imagination.

I havc been in favor of divided government all my life, as expressed by Will Rogers' remark that "I'm not a member of any organized party -- I'm a Democrat."

Over the past several years I have been more concerned with US isolationism in the world coupled with what the rest of the world sees as the emergence of an American Empire. This toxic expression of chauvinism is underscored by the emergence of a professional warrior class (with roots and runners in the civilian sectors of government) unknown in our short history.

The Permanent GWOT has become a blank check for the military-industrial complex that Ike warned about half a century ago.