September 30, 2002

ANDREW SULLIVAN joins the list of those who regard Bonior and McDermott’s statements as near-treason:

At a time when the U.S. government is attempting some high-level diplomatic maneuvers in the U.N., when Saddam is desperate for any propaganda ploy he can muster, these useful idiots play his game. I think what we’re seeing now is the hard-core base of the Democratic Party showing its true colors, and those colors, having flirted with irrelevance and then insouciance are now perilously close to treason.

I wonder about this whole thing. We saw Gore’s speech last week, which was roundly denounced, followed by Daschle’s overheated speech, followed by this. A bunch of my readers think this is a cleverly orchestrated plan. I’m not sure about the “cleverly” part, but what could the plan be? Are the Democrats’ tracking polls so bad that they think they’re going to lose everyone but the Nation/NPR hard core among their base, so they’re just trying to energize that regardless of the cost among swing voters? This seems hard for me to believe.

The other possibility is that these guys are just idiots, and there’s no organizing principle beyond generalized hostility toward America.

This is a risky game. It’s likely to do a lot of damage in the coming elections. And if there’s another big terror attack, it’s going to kill the Democrats for years. What are they thinking? Are they thinking?

UPDATE: Reader Brian Jones emails: “‘We’ve lost on the war, so we’d better pray the war goes badly so we can look all prescient and stuff.’ That’s what they’re thinking.” How very patriotic.

Bob Bartley’s take is a bit different:

A good many Democratic Party cadres cut their teeth as anti-war protestors marching against Vietnam. Passion still runs too hot among many liberals, Democrats and intellectuals to allow mere political calculation to stand in the way.

I’m inclined to agree that it’s knee-jerkiness rather than calculation. Whether knee-jerk behavior that undermines American diplomacy at a crucial moment (and hence makes war more, not less, likely) is better or worse than calculated behavior that undermines American diplomacy at a crucial moment (and hence makes war more, not less, likely) is a matter of opinion. My opinion, to paraphrase a line from The Beverly Hillbillies, is that to me, they’ll always be jerky.