In a traditional active primary campaign of, effectively, three to four months -- a new proposal can be launched and well received with little risk of having to endure a long shelf life. But a new idea put forward a year before primary voting risks not only providing more than sufficient time for an opponent's research team to find and publicize the flaws in the idea (and communicate to and activate the interest groups who would be harmed by the proposal), but also runs the risk of becoming stale and, most dangerously, of letting events overtake the proposal.But I think we as the voting public should dismiss this reasoning a little. While detailed policy proposals are not needed, some general idea of themes of campaigns, of bundles of issues can help define the candidates of both parties a little better. I don't see myself voting for Obama or Clinton, but that doesn't mean that I might not like some of their ideas. Then there is the problem of attack and defense of candidates.
Thus is lost one of the great advantage of challengers -- that their ideas are fresh, appealing and plausible, but not public long enough to be measured by events and considered judgment -- which is the inevitable plight of incumbents and their party successors.
I suspect that the insatiable public maw of freshness-hunger will prove a vast challenge to the wordsmith and media shops of all the campaigns. Do they save their best for last, or use them sooner when they see their candidate slipping in the polls in April, June or September? On the negative side, when do they launch their killer negatives on the front-runner -- in spring, summer, fall or winter? A lethal attack two weeks before the election might well be recovered from if launched five months before the votes are cast.Right now campaigns that will go on this long are going to get sucked into the gutter and they may not be able to recover.
And yet, can a front-runner such as Clinton, McCain or Giuliani risk slipping to second or third in the public polling, even for a moment, without emptying both barrels of their mud guns? And how in the name of all that's holy does a campaign manage the timing and points for their media buys?
2. John Hawkins has a good comparison of Carl Levin when a Democrat controlled the White House and when a Republican controls the White House. Comparing words spoken by Levin in 1999 when dealing with the situation in the Balkans and dealing with Iraq today, one is struck silent by the reversal. Now I know that people can change their minds about military interventions, but these kinds of reversals make it a little hard to swallow skepticism.
3. Philip Mella discusses the appeasement strategy of the Democrats when it comes to the War on Terror.
Somehow, the lens through which the liberal sensibility perceives the world translates blatant threats into a language of victimology where compassion and understanding are the operative words rather than confrontation. Indeed, the Democrats inhabit a world where evil is a fiction fabricated by Republicans for political gain, which leads them to advance the case for withdrawal from Iraq without regard to events on the ground.Appeasement is probably the nicest term one could use. I would call it the Ostrich Syndrome, if you bury your head in the sand long enough your problems will go away--you hope. The problem with current Democratic strategy is the it is based upon a flawed assumption, that they came to power because they were anti-war. They are learning the hard way that most Americans, while not cheering the war on, implicitly understand that we just can't cut and run. Now, the Democrats are learning that they are in power despite their anti-war stance. As a result they have no plan, no leadership on the issue and a fair number of questions from the rank and file.
4. James Joyner asks the question, Is War Ever Worth It? In his post, he links to this essay, in which the writer, Hilzoy notes that war, the use of violence to achieve some political means, ultimately alters your destination and you need to be prepared for where that takes you. I think that in our current political context, we are seeing many Democrats, some Republicans and a fair share of voters, who five years ago supported the use of military force now backpedaling, in part because they don't like where we have come. Whether or not the use of force was necessary or justified, we as a nation have traveled down the path, perhaps willingly at first and now reluctantly.
Now our mission is to keep our eyes open and not succumb to the Ostrich Syndrome. The war has produced results we did not anticipate or like, but the results we see are predictable given the nature of war. Perhaps we as a nation have become accustomed to quick victory at low cost.
War is often worth the price in the long run. But short run costs can be steep, although arguably the current cost of teh war on terror is relatively low given the scope of the conflict. Keep in mind that the last people on earth who want to fight a war are the warriors themselves, for it will be their blood shed and their lives lost on the battlefield. Given the morale of our military now, should the question be, is quitting a war ever worth it?
5. This is not the kind of partisanship that is going to help the GOP. Sure Jefferson may be a criminal, but he is still a U.S. Representative and a Democrat. The Democratic caucus determines committee assignments as does the Republican Conference. If Jefferson is that bad, sooner or later he will screw up and then the GOP has real fodder.