Thursday, September 01, 2005

Do the Democrats have an obligation to lead?

I'll return to Katrina-related posting shortly, but I want to memorialize these comments about the need for Democratic Party leadership before I forget them or before they disappear behind the NYT new $ wall of sleep.

First, here's Gary Hart, op-edding at the Washington Post last week:

But what will history say about an opposition party that stands silent while all this goes on? My generation of Democrats jumped on the hot stove of Vietnam and now, with its members in positions of responsibility, it is afraid of jumping on any political stove. In their leaders, the American people look for strength, determination and self-confidence, but they also look for courage, wisdom, judgment and, in times of moral crisis, the willingness to say: "I was wrong."

To stay silent during such a crisis, and particularly to harbor the thought that the administration's misfortune is the Democrats' fortune, is cowardly.

And here's Frank Rich, writing from the NYT:

The Democrats are hoping that if they do nothing, they might inherit the earth as the Bush administration goes down the tubes. Whatever the dubious merits of this Kerryesque course as a political strategy, as a moral strategy it's unpatriotic. The earth may not be worth inheriting if Iraq continues to sabotage America's ability to take on Iran and North Korea, let alone Al Qaeda.

While Hart and Rich are writing in the context of Iraq, the same could be said for Katrina and the economic aftershocks already beginning but which are likely to get worse. And if the posts at the Washington Monthly and by Steve Gilliard are any indication, congress and the executive branch will soon be the justifiable targets of the federal government's failure to both protect the nation's gulf coast as well as to save the lives the area's citizens once the damage was done.

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