Alex's Outlook

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

The Self-Destruction of the Liberals

I have already hypothesized that the turn for the better in Iraq, which the Deaniacs have dreaded so much, will not derail Dean's steamroller towards the Democratic nomination. The superb blog Power Line agrees:
The excellent blog Captain's Quarters follows up on my ruminations about whether Dean is Iraq-proof among Democrats. It concludes that Dean's tone-deaf comments about Saddam will not cause him to suffer much among Democrats, not because Dean is Iraq-proof, but because the passionate left hates Bush more than it hates Saddam. It then provides a characteristically insightful comparison of the left's demonization of Bush and the right's demonization of Clinton, noting that, in both instances, the hatred is hard to explain rationally since both presidents have governed essentially from the political center.

I agree with some of what the Captain has to say about the parallels between the Bush haters and the Clinton haters (myself included). However, I don't think that Bush hatred provides the underlying explantion of the left's position on Iraq. As I tried to argue in my earlier post ("Other Things That Didn't Matter To Many Democrats"), liberal Democrats have been taking these sorts of positions since Bush was a Yale student and his father was a young Congressman. The reason why they do so, I believe, is a deep ambivalence about the exercise of American power and, for some, a deep ambivalance about America itself. The hatred for Bush stems, in signnificant part, from the same source. Bush personifies the unabashed exercise of American power. No amount of moderation, or indeed liberalism, on issues such as health care or education can overcome his stance on the more fundamental question of the meaning of America. In that sense, the left's hatred of Bush may not be all that irrational.

The 25% of the electorate that shares Dean's views is taking the Democratic Party into a political abyss. Dean's numbers have at the very least stayed the same since Saddam's capture; maybe Gore's endorsement canceled out any blowback from Dean's recent "We are no safer with Saddam gone" antiwar speech, but Dean is still the runaway favorite for the Democrat nomination.

I have no problem with the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" running off the 04 cliff like a tribe of lemmings, but for the sake of the two-party system I am glad thatthe more anti-idiotarian elements of the Democratic Party are biting back at Dean:

Lieberman, the most fervent supporter of the war among the Democratic candidates, was especially harsh in his response to Dean's remarks. Calling Hussein a "homicidal maniac," "a brutal dictator" and "a supporter of terrorism," Lieberman said in a conference call with reporters that if Dean "truly believes that the capture of this evil man has not made America safer, then Howard Dean has put himself in his own spider hole of denial."

He added: "I fear that the American people will wonder if they will be safer with him as president if Howard Dean cannot understand why the capture" of Hussein has made America safer.

Lieberman has finally realized that only by distinguishing himself as part of the sane wing of the Democratic Party can he have a prayer of winning the nomination; he can't out-Dean Dean. I think it's too little, too late though; maybe if a more viable candidate like Edwards takes the gloves off, we could have a real liberal catfight on our hands.



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