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

Friday, August 29, 2008

Obamas use Darcy Burner's Iraq framing

There was much to appreciate in the many, many speeches of the Democratic National Convention. But for me, what stood out were two lines delivered by Michelle and Barack Obama in their respective speeches.

Both Barack Obama and his wife Michelle talked about bringing the war in Iraq to a "responsible end". Before Darcy Burner put together the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq, the debate was all about the majority of Americans saying "we have to get out!" and the Bush administration saying "we can't get out, chaos would descend upon the earth!"

Their straw-man argument was to suggest that since they couldn't find a responsible way to end the war, that no such way existed and therefore we had to stay. No matter how long. No matter the cost in lives or the debt incurred to our great great grandchildren.

Darcy Burner was one of the only ones to stand up and say what most Americans were already thinking. 'No. I dont' accept that. There has to be a responsible way to end this war.' And she went out and found one.

She convened a group of serious experts on the subject - people with military, legal, and economic expertise as well as experts in the religions and cultures of the region - and put together a detailed plan for how to end the war responsibly, without leaving the Iraqis in the lurch.

She went out and created something Bush, McCain, and the rest of the neocons have claimed couldn't exist. (Although to be fair to John McCain, he at least seems to admit the possibility that the war could end after another hundred years.)

After the Responsible Plan was unveiled, the dialogue about the occupation shifted. In part because Darcy had the uncommon good sense to give the plan a clear, descriptive name, she gave people and pundits alike new language to frame the whole Iraq debate. No longer was the debate about ending the occupation or not, it was about whether we should end the war responsibly or irresponsibly. In that framing, the choice is as obvious as any choice on anything can get.

Since publishing her plan, the plan has been endorsed by a slate of fifty six candidates for the U.S. House and four candidates for U.S. Senate.

They won't all win elected office, but in this year's climate of political change you can bet that a whole lot of them will.

What Darcy has done is unprecedented: put together a formidable caucus of people who will be in a position to do something about ending the war. And she's done it before she or any of them are even elected.

To hear both Michelle and Barack Obama use Darcy's language, her new framing of the Iraq issue in terms of responsibility, tells me that Obama knows about the Responsible Plan and at least tacitly endorses its central themes even if political reality prevents him from co-sponsoring it himself.

This is what Darcy has done. She has shifted the national debate on what is arguably the most important foreign policy problem America has faced since World War II in a direction which aligns with what the majority of Americans want.

And she's not even elected yet.

Poor Dave Reichert. He's already got quite a problem with his "slacker congressman" image, what with not having done a darned thing to earn his pay and congressional health coverage these past four years.

He's been rated less influential than the non-voting house member from Guam. And hearing both of the Obamas echo Darcy Burner's Iraq framing in their speeches, it is equally clear that he is less influential than his un-elected challenger.

November 4th simply cannot come soon enough.


Blogger Rusalka said...

"Occupation" and "war" are legally, diplomatically, politically different. As impressed as I am with Darcy, I'll be a helluva lot more impressed once this plan internalizes that understanding.

August 30, 2008 8:05 AM  

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