Thursday, May 26, 2005

Almost There

Big Media Matt circles around the point:

Politics and policy aside, I think those of us who'd classify ourselves as being among the more "hawkish" brand of liberals have a media strategy problem. Roughly speaking, a lot of Democratic voters don't like us very much. What we need to do is convince more liberals that they should like us. That means spending more time trying to convince liberals of the merits of our views, and less time re-enforcing the impression that we're just opportunists searching for votes out there in some ill-defined center.

Well, look, the reason why a lot of left of center types don't like the "'hawkish' brand of liberals" begins, of course, with their support of the Iraq war. Nice move that turned out to be. Then, you know, that group tended to think monitoring liberals for insufficient enthusiasm for painted schools and turning-the-corner-lights-at-ends-of-tunnels was more important than pointing out the obvious clusterfuck that was unfolding in their pet war. Once regret set in and the election passed we were told that the real reason we lost the election was because Fat Michael Moore and the Move On crowd were insufficiently enthusiastic about blowing shit up generally and supporting more George Bush led wars, and these "softs" tainted the Dems so much so that they should be purged from the party.

I'm all for Dems being associated with being the tough guys because I do think pandering to the ill-defined center does actually win votes. I'm all for the Dems being perceived as serious about foreign policy. A little "those guys would really blow some shit up if need be!" attitude goes a long way. Whatever his other flaws as a candidate may have been, Howard Dean actually had that but he dared oppose them and their pet war. Peacenik!

As far as I can tell the liberal hawks have mostly offered a series of op-eds telling Dems to get serious about foreign policy and telling people who were against the Iraq war to get out of the party.

This shouldn't be too surprising - even more than domestic policy, it's rather difficult to have a coherent foreign policy when your party is out of power. But, it neither helps the country get a decent foreign policy nor does it win any votes to carp about how everyone else in your party is a big wimpy hippie peacenik loser all the time, while proudly proclaiming that you, unlike Move On and their ilk, understand that their are Serious Problems And Bad Men in the World that Serious Men With Big Chests Understand.

While many "liberal hawks" have in one way or another admitted that their support for the Iraq war was perhaps misguided, few if any have confronted the fact that the mess they helped make isn't just the mess in Iraq - it's the mess of the incoherence of Democratic foreign policy. The perfect chance to establish a "tough but different" foreign policy stance happened when CooCoo Bananas decided to manipulate the country and the gullible press into going to war. It would've been right on the merits and right on the politics to oppose that obviously bad idea.

So, liberal hawks, it's your mess - figure out how to clean it up...

The primary conceit of the "liberal hawks" has been and is that only they are "serious" about the security of the nation. Support for the Iraq war demonstrated that seriousness, no matter how misguided it was. The truth is concern for our national security was a very real reason to oppose the Iraq war, and the primary reason for lots of its opponents.