I wrote last January…
Pseudo-liberals like Mickey Kaus proclaim to the audiences of Slate.com and NPR that most Americans don’t share liberals’ hatred of Bush. We have a hard time remembering a similar Conservative Cassandra in the late ‘90s warning Congressional Republicans to soften their approach on Clinton (which forgetfulness puts us in line with most Americans who seem to forget the intense hatred of Clinton stoked by the Right just a few short years ago when discussing “Bush Hatred”). But Kaus gets his spotlight from being the alleged liberal that criticizes liberals, and there is no such analog on the other side. That alone should inform.
Even if you accept that all of the mud flung at him hardly stuck to Clinton, at the dawn of 2004 we must ask how much of Clinton’s legacy is left. The vitriolic right took Congress, hamstrung Clinton’s circuit court appointments, and lubricated Bush’s 2000 victory on many levels.
Can anyone credibly state that the take-no-prisoners techniques of the Right are a failure? Can anyone therefore credibly argue that the Center and Left should take the high road and expect victory as a result? The answer is no. Non-conservatives from moderate Republicans to radical leftists need to do some soul searching. The Far Right agenda of the administration is not a majority position in America either, yet the passion of their beliefs has carried them into a governing majority; indeed, a near Constitutional-amendment majority. Everyone else needs to decide how seriously they believe what they believe and ask what they would do to win that victory. Untold thousands have given their lives for our freedom—is it too much to ask merely to lower one’s standards for the sake of all of us? Principled victory is only available against a principled enemy.
While this Magazine surely engages in analysis of policies and their logics (developing a new progressive agenda) that can result in criticism of liberal policies, unlike Mickey Kaus we find it hardly productive to give aid and comfort to our enemies because our allies are “making the sausage” in a way that turns our stomach. Call us Machiavellian; call us utilitarian, but we take our beliefs seriously enough to fight for them.
This is why we endorse Howard Dean for the Democratic nomination and the Presidency of the United States. We are certainly not taken by all of his policy planks, many of which smell “governorish” and will need tweaks on a national stage. But, if presidents were elected for their policy-savvy, Al Gore would have won in a landslide. Presidents are elected on their aura more than anything else.
It should be added that despite this endorsement, we find any of the Democratic candidates preferable to Bush. Indeed, even a Bush I-restoration would represent a giant step forward for America. General Clark is an admirable man with an impressive resume. John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich are also praise-worthy. But certain other Democrats have revealed an ego-mania that is sickening, hoping to put a hex a campaign that represents our best hope. The Liebermann and Kerry campaigns represent the lack of unity and prep-school arrogance that turns off so many voters to Democrats.
Dean, on the other hand, generates energy whenever he speaks. Dean is also a scrapper. And for these reasons, he is the enemy of the “reasonable” Democratic establishment who have “reasonabled” away our government to the Far Right.It is time for a fight. Later generations will wonder why the opposition stood by so idly, being practically the hand-maiden of those who killed the American dream. Even in defeat there will be more honor.