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Columns > Dan Greenhaus

Published: 2005/09/08
by Dan Greenhaus

A Political Screed (Opportunity Knocks)

Site editor’s note: I named this column, Dan did not
It has been a terrible month for both the President and his administration. Cindy Sheehan has, thanks to the medias obsession with her message, altered the public discourse in this country, half through a legitimate message, and half the result of bungling on the part of the Administration. And while a strong case can be made that her message has been corrupted through various associations with far left wing organizations, the fact remains that a grieving mother whose son was killed in an increasingly unpopular war has taken the President to task recently, and has further enraged the debate over a war seemingly gone wrong.
At this stage of the game, only about a third of the country approves of the war, and one has to wonder what they know that the other two thirds do not. No matter what you thought prior to the invasion (I was in favor of it), one has to question the handling of this war by the President, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Myers and the other prominent members involved in its planning and execution. Whether it is the topic of troop levels, WMD, post-war planning or the constant search for an ever-more-difficult-to-find silver lining, the Administration seems to have been wrong significantly more often that it has been right. And as a result, the Presidents approval ratings haven fallen to dramatically low levels.
Remarkably though, Democrats have been unable to fully capitalize on the administrations failures. While they have made great inroads by stopping the Presidents attempt to privatize Social Security in addition to increasingly highlighting the failures in Iraq, they have yet to form a cohesive platform of their own. They have yet, as a whole, to form an opinion on where to go from here. Any idiot can stand up and say Thats wrong. But it takes real leadership to say This is how you do it right.
For all their missteps and short sightedness, the Republicans, at least the majority of them, are right on one thing; a complete and total withdrawal from Iraq at this point is out of the question. Doing so would not only leave a failed state behind, one that would surely be overrun by insurgents in a matter of weeks and would present a serious strategic threat to US interests abroad as well as at home. But a far more devastating outcome would be the result. The United States will have publicly and clearly admitted defeat at the hands of thugs, criminals and terrorists.
So with the midterm elections around the corner, its time for Democrats to stand up and show theyve learned from past mistakes. Thanks to miscues on the war, judicial nominations and social security, the public is frustrated with Republicans and they are crying out for alternative leadership, and Dems have yet to deliver. While there is still a need to continue taking the President to task for his missteps, an additional weapon should be added to the Democrats arsenal. They, as a whole, need to be more vocal in criticizing Republicans for not doing whats necessary to win this war by refusing to deal honestly and openly with world leaders, and, unfortunately, for not undertaking a discussion surrounding putting more troops in Iraq. Where the Democrats are failing, is in their reluctance to highlight the fact that the Presidents refusal to admit mistakes and his inability to shift on the fly has partially led to the problems we currently encounter. And these adjustments may include the addition of troops.
At first it may seem, at a time when people are calling for total withdrawal that discussing increased numbers of boots on the ground is an unpopular idea, and it very well may be. But just because an idea is unpopular does not necessarily mean it is wrong. Just ask gay people in this country. But whatever the agreed upon platform, it needs to be more than just The President is wrong on everything. That has been the platform for five years and it has gotten Democrats nowhere. People are tired of that and while vocal and strict opposition appeases the crowd, it doesnt win elections. People follow leadership, and leadership means making tough decisions.
Unfortunately, thanks to the Administrations failures, additional troops may be the only option left. We have to win.
Opportunity is knocking for Democrats. For the countrys sake, they better answer.

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