Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Some observers can't see the light, but eventually they will feel the heat

Following yesterday's vote in Congress to send George W. Bush a supplemental budget for funding the occupation of Iraq, local Republican commentators appear to be amused at the disappointment voiced by the progressive movement and the netroots community here and across the country.

At unSoundPolitics, Eric Earling writes:
Seems the "McGovernites with modems" are some kind of pissed that the Democratic Congress had to cave on Iraq war funding. While this latest twist in the Iraq debate gets a lot of headlines, it's hardly an isolated incident of netroots dreams not maturing into reality.
If we're "McGovernites with modems" then what are the crew who blog under the yellow banner with a squashed picture of the Space Needle? They connect to the same Internet. But hopefully their understanding of the information superhighway is better than that of Ted Stevens:
Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got... an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially.

[...] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material....
More importantly, though, Earling's contention that yesterday's development was "hardly an isolated incident of netroots dreams not maturing into reality" is completely bogus. We've never believed the occupation of Iraq could be ended overnight. That is why it was, and still is, such a colossal and strategic mistake.

Until America has a Democratic president, it will be difficult (if not impossible) to withdraw our troops from Iraq...and from harm's way. George W. Bush is so stubborn and so unwilling to listen to reason that he is prolonging the cost and misery of this unnecessary, immoral invasion.

Extracting our country from this mess is not a netroots dream, it's a wise course of action - something the American people want! Congressional Democrats, however, are under pressure to "fund the troops", which is also something most Americans want, if you believe recent polling.

Republicans in Congress won't support timetables or meaningful benchmarks even though polling also exists showing that likely Republican caucus goers support such accountability measures. Without GOP votes, Democrats in Congress can't override Bush's vetoes. Was this bill the most thoughtful response to the Bush stonewall? We don't think so. We think there should have been a better strategy.

Putting this Iraq bill aside, though, our dreams are not electoral victories or policy successes tomorrow or in the short term at all.

Our dream - our vision - is long term: a reinvigorated Democratic Party, a stronger progressive movement that can reframe our public discourse, infrastructure to support that movement, and elected leadership that believes in American democracy as well as our finest traditional values (freedom, protection, opportunity, prosperity, fairness, open government).

Eric and his fellow commentators are so eager to tease or make fun of us that they have not made an effort to actually understand what we're about. If they want to be ignorant, that's their choice. The right wing as a whole underestimates people powered politics at its peril.

Eric's post also relies on that old Fox Noise technique of twisting another commentator's words to present an implied statement he apparently doesn't feel comfortable making himself:
Some observers are again questioning whether the netroots are more bark than bite.
Emphasis is mine. And who are these people?

The agitated scribblers of Little Green Footballs? The top breeder of false political gossip, Matt Drudge? America's favorite cheerleader, Michelle Malkin? No, surprisingly, our expert is one Kevin Sullivan of RealClearPolitics.

Newsflash to Eric: we're running in a marathon, not a sprint. I wrote last autumn that November 2006 was the start of a new era in our country - a post that Eric excerpted. These are still the first days of that era. The 2006 midterms, and taking back Congress, were not an end, but a beginning. We are poised to add to our 2006 victories in this new election cycle.

Democrats are energized for change, while Republicans are demoralized about the disaster that is the Bush administration and its Iraq fiasco. Biconceptuals and independents have already abandoned the GOP. Republican leaders aren't even paying attention to their base, which is rejecting the neoconservative position on Iraq and unimpressed with the current crop of Republican presidential hopefuls. The political landscape is also increasingly hostile for right wing candidates.

We Democrats, on the other hand, are excited about our field (the polling agrees) whether or not Al Gore decides to run (and I hope he does, because we need his leadership). We have good candidates. In fact, I had an opportunity to talk with one of them yesterday - Governor Bill Richardson. I'll be posting on that later today.
Looking at the U.S. Senate electoral map, Republicans are defending far more seats than Democrats are in 2008. Strong progressive candidates have already emerged in states like Colorado (Mark Udall) and Maine (Tom Allen) while the GOP is having trouble finding challengers for Democratic incumbents.

As for the House, we'll be mounting strong challenges to a number of weak Republicans, such as Dave Reichert here in Washington State or John Doolittle in California. Other Republicans, tainted by scandal, like Arizona's Rick Renzi, are likely to find themselves struggling against strong opponents a year from now.

We won't have a Democratic president in office until at least 2009, but there are goals Democrats in Congress can achieve even with an obstructive Dubya. For example, creating the Wild Sky Wilderness, which the White House has said Bush will sign. (The legislation just left the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and now heads to the Senate floor where it should easily pass). That's certainly an example of getting something done - one of many.

Democrats can also shine sunlight into the dark corners of the Bush administration by exercising oversight, exposing corruption, and curtailing abuse of executive power. The probe into the U.S. Attorney firings is a great example.

When 2009 arrives, we will have a better opportunity to shape the direction of America. Think of a Democratic president and a Democratic congress working together to strengthen our nation, increase prosperity, improve the effectiveness of government, and ensure a better future for posterity.

Democrats in Congress ought to govern as wisely, fairly, carefully, and honestly as they can while patiently preparing for the arrival of a reasonable chief executive. The old adage that "Rome wasn't built in a day" applies - getting our country back on track can't be accomplished quickly. But we're on our way there.

Some observers will unfortunately continue to atttack the netroots community and misrepresent what it seeks to accomplish. They can't see the light now, but eventually they will feel the heat from our success.

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