Monday, August 07, 2006

Sharing the Despair

Bilmon has been getting some grief for what some feel is his overly-pessimistic tone, in posts like these for example. And I think Bilmon's wrong to downplay the impact a Democratic executive, a branch or two of Congress and Democratic appointments to the courts could have in at least helping to slow the march towards American theocracy and authoritarianism, at least for a time while we hope saner minds prevail.

But I have to admit I've been sharing the Whiskey Bar's mood these days. Take for example, Joe Lieberman, and his enablers in the press and pundit world. I've tried to downplay Lamont's prospects tomorrow, but even I'd forgotten just what a real cancer on the body politic Joe Lieberman is until I read these essays by Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone. And the truly sad thing is, Lieberman is probably not even the worst of the bunch. And maybe Lamont will prove no better over time, should he win tomorrow. As Bilmon points out, Lamont at the very least share's Lieberman's and the conventional U.S. view on the Lebanon-Israel conflict. So how different he'd be relative to the general level of silliness that's going on now concerning U.S. and the neocon's posturing towards Syria and Iran, and their defense of presidential signing statements and NSA wiretaps, etc, I don't know.

But along side of the problem presented by corruption and hypocrisy in Congress, it also seems to be the case that the fever pitch being worked up by neo conservative agitators in Washington and by their supporters in right-wing evangelical pulpits is, despite the abundance of counteracting evidence shining brightly from the Fiasco in Iraq, if anything only increasing.

And although I felt it necessary to slightly poo-pah Glenn Greenwald's essay on neo-conservatism and realignment a few weeks ago, basically everything that's gone on since then has only buttressed his view that a new alignment hinging on neo-conservative international politics is driving and shaping our national politics, subverting at least for a time, even the hot-button domestic issues like abortion, gay rights, etc that have been so prominent even throughout the first years of the Iraqi excapade.

Thus it has been highly ironic to hear from Joe Lieberman and his supporters the complaint that Democrats shouldn't oppose Lieberman based on his vote for the Iraq war. While this canard has been dispensed with by other commentators, I think Digby's post here on the nature of the opposition to Joe Lieberman probably captures it as well as any:

"This article lays out all the gripes that Connecticut, a liberal state, has against old Joe and it's quite an indictment. But what it comes down to is that he's always tried to have it both ways. He rhetorically reinforces all the destructive GOP memes, hedges his bets on important votes and even though (like most politicians) he generally votes with the party he's effectively working for the other side a good part of the time. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that being a member of the minority party in the Senate for most of his career means that he's had a lot of free votes that don't mean diddly.

Rhetoric, on the other hand, is one of the few powers a minority party has as it tries to persuade the country to come over to their side and put the opposition on the spot. Helping the majority make its case is one of the most destructive things Joe does. Democratic partisans have been complaining about it for years and so apparently have his constituents."

Lieberman and the DLC aside, though, I've actually been far less concerned about the saber rattling concerning Iran than seemingly many other commentators have. My reasoning has been that despite all the talk and apprehension about pre-emptive wars and one-percent doctrines, and bellicose threats from the likes of Newt Gingrish, Bill Kristol and Max Boot, the neo-conservative administration basically had one military-force card to play, and that was in Iraq. If the neo-cons really thought Iran was a serious threat, they could have continued with the containment of Iraq and mobilized for Iran instead (or North Korea). But they didn't.

In any event, Iran and North Korea are not countries that, it seems to me, are going to be persuaded or changed by air power alone--substantial ground forces would need to be committed for any plan to invade Iran, and I don't see that happening, since a draft would be needed to provide the forces for such a misadventure.

But now I'm not sure if there isn't more to worry about. More than a few evangelical leaders with mass followings--and contacts at the White House--are sounding apocalyptic warnings about Iran, and the general level of "debate" has been such that I wonder if there hasn't been a point of no return already crossed. In that case, some sort of military action, however limited to air attacks it might be, and however unsuccessful those attacks might be, would seem to be necessary to let off the steam being generated by the press and the president's party's fan base.

And of course, rising gas prices are probably not going to relieve the tension clouding the war talk either.

So, I'm not optimistic about the future, even if Democrats take one or both branches of Congress this fall. The mess that's already been created, the expectations that have been built up around the "global war on terrorism" and "world war III/IV/V" will need considerable political skill to navigate, and I'm not reassured that the Democratic leadership and intelligencia is equiped to handle it. Considering that some faux Democrats are more aligned with the Republican neo-cons than their reputed party, my lack of faith is even more understandable.

1 comment:

KCinDC said...

I think the flaw in your analysis is that you assume these people are members of the reality-based community. There's a substantial faction within the administration who think that all we need is the will to confront Iran, and I think that faction has grown in power since we went into Iraq.

I hope I'm wrong, but remember that we did invade Iraq with absolutely no plan about what to do after we got there. There is no reason to believe competent people are in charge.