I am at a loss in trying to understand the
Democratic Party, while being a self-described conservative independent. One
might say I saw the light while supporting the Democratic candidate for the
Presidency in 2004 and 2008, but that would be an unwarranted assumption. A
better description would be a confused voter, not unlike millions in the last
two Presidential elections.
In 2004, the Presidency was ripe for the taking. The war in Iraq did not go as planned, and the American people were livid. Bush's popularity was so low just before the elections, about 41%, he could not be elected dogcatcher in Dallas. Unfathomable to this day is the selection of the Democratic Party and its constituents of its nominee in this crucial election, selecting a New England liberal with ties to one of the richest families in America not exactly a Harry Truman and a war protester to boot during a time of war as in Vietnam. He voted for the War Powers Resolution authorizing use of military force in Iraq in Oct. 2002. That is, after he was against it. Yet, Kerry still almost won. Had the Democrats chosen a less polarizing candidate, preferably not a member of Congress, how would history be different today?
One could argue that the Democrats and the electorate finally grew a brain in the 2006 Congressional elections. As a consequence to those elections Democrats claimed control of the House and won control of the Senate by the slimmest of margins. Then members of the House misinterpreted what they thought was an electorate swing to the far left and chose Nancy Pelosi as their Speaker. Conservative Democrats and independents who had swung slightly to the left to create a Democratic Congress were outraged. A San Francisco liberal the only thing worse is a New England liberal and Pelosi immediately polarized Democrats across the country. What were Democratic leaders in the House thinking? Were they thinking?
But change was in the air. Hope surged and many thought, finally, Congress is going to rein in Bush's disastrous economic, domestic, and foreign policies.
Unfortunately, nothing changed, it was almost as if the GOP had retained control of Congress. War appropriations for an extremely unpopular war (Iraq) continued unabated, almost like clockwork. Correspondingly, the National Debt rose, a direct consequence of wars without end and a bottomless pit called the defense budget. Bush virtually challenged the Democratic Congress to get in his way. The meek Congress did not and things worsened. The violence in Iraq grew exponentially in 2007 and 2008, and the death toll rose. During those two years, every American voter challenged the war in Iraq, for or against, and the conduct of the war in Afghanistan " except the members of the Democratic Congress in any meaningful way. In Dec. 2007, the Great Recession began, America's worse economic crisis since the Great Depression. As the campaign of 2008 rolled on inexorably, America was deeply divided, a nation torn apart. That continues to this day, largely due to the Presidential elections of 2008, where, once again, the Democratic Party made some bizarre decisions regarding its candidates in perilous times.
In many respects the election of 2008 was even more critical than in 2004. By 2008 the policies of the Bush administration had proven to be an unmitigated disaster due to the Great Recession and two long, endless wars costing lives and treasure. After the rueful Presidency of Bush the GOP, not wanting an invaluable and up and comer Republican to lose, knew the handwriting was on the wall. They knew they would lose the Presidency. So, they nominated an old man, whose time had come and gone, who had no chance of winning. John McCain knew he was dog meat. The election was a joke. Always a comedian, he chose a former contestant in a beauty pageant as his running mate.
At this critical time we needed a moderate, well-qualified man with a persona of power and prestige from the Democratic Party, dare I say it, a uniter not a divider, someone who could bring this country together. The election of 2008 provided a unique opportunity for the Democrats. All they had to do was offer up a qualified, experienced candidate, and they were a shoe-in.
In the end Democrats failed to offer such a leader. Instead, they preferred making Presidential history, offering up the first female President or the first black President, a noble set of ideas. Unfortunately, 2008 was the worst possible time for such a virtuous experiment. Nevertheless, well-qualified Democratic candidates fell by the wayside during a long campaign.
To bewildered voters the Democrats offered up Hillary Clinton. Her credentials included an eight-year stint as First Lady, a junior Senator from New York, and a load of baggage that could fill a mansion. So much so the GOP hoped she would win the nomination. If so, they thought they could actually win the election, and they might have done so if Clinton had won the nomination. Had that happened the clueless DNC would have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
The other equally confusing choice to voters was a black junior Senator from Chicago politics, Barack Obama, and one of the most liberal Senators on the Hill. In the midst of two long wars and rising military expenditures, Obama possessed virtually no military experience, this going along with his rookie status in Washington. As we have seen in the news lately, combined, the two issues provided a hindrance to his capability as Commander-in-Chief and leader of the executive branch. In Nov. 2008, even as I put my inkblot alongside Obama's name, I thought, this isn't going to work.
The result was highly predictable. Columnist William Rivers Pitt writes, "" since gaining the majority in Congress, the Democrats have been as limp and useless as a dead jellyfish, and never more so since Obama took office. The last two years have been agonizing to watch on any number of levels, mostly because these people can't seem to get out of their own way."
So, what do we have after 19 months of the Obama Presidency? Even more division, anyone surprised? Racism, long quiet, is raising its ugly head, some of it, unbelievably, caused by the White House. Xenophobia is rampant involving both Muslims and illegal immigrants. Our President is being accused of being a Muslim and not qualified for the office due to an imagined birthplace.
Because those who embrace racism and xenophobia are just plain wrong-headed, most Americans could accept all this if there was the slightest sign of leadership from the White House. On the domestic front Obama's "greatest accomplishment" is Health Care Reform. Considering the passage of the Health Reform bill a sellout to insurance and pharmaceutical companies, progressives hate the bill. Republicans, true to their questionable mantra of less government, detest the bill, and a majority of Americans are confused by it. This is no less true of Pelosi who achieved number one on the list of inane comments by a politician. "We have to pass the bill to see what is in it." Obama has done little to revive our economy, but, for this, he cannot be entirely blamed. There is a myth concerning Presidents and the economy. True, a President's policies can bring ruin to an economy Bush comes to mind but a President is highly limited in trying to revive an economy. So, Obama gets a pass on the stagnant economy in my book, knowing perfectly well that conclusion is highly argumentative.
This is not true of Obama's foreign policy, the Achilles' heel of his Presidency and one that was easily predictable when you elect a former community organizer and a junior Senator to handle the likes of the Bush holdover, SecDef Robert Gates, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Military/Industrial Complex, the latter profiting heavily from continuous war and arguably the strongest voice in Washington. The problem with that lack of leadership is it gets people killed. Also, with those entities in control the U.S. will be fighting wars for an eternity.
In Iraq, Obama's largest accomplishment was reducing the American footprint in August to about 50,000 troops. Touting the "end of combat operations," This was not much of an accomplishment since it was in compliance with the SOFA worked out between the Iraqi government and the Bush administration towards the end of 2008. The rest of the story is dismal. There is a seven-month impasse since the March elections to form a government. The Sunni resistant fighters have taken this window of opportunity to conduct operations against Iraqi security forces and government workers to illustrate how weak Baghdad really is. Shiite militias are once again becoming active, adding to mix of violence. Combat brigades remaining in Iraq, but are administratively no longer combat brigades, are still suffering losses. The "end of combat operations" sales pitch was tried by another President. It did not work then, and it is not working now. In any given war, one side cannot suddenly declare an end to combat " unless, of course, that side withdraws all troops, combat or otherwise. In the end, quite frankly, Obama simply looked foolish.
His policies in Afghanistan "the good war," he said during his campaign makes him look even more the fool, meaning a total lack of ability to rein in his generals. The generals now control policy in Afghanistan, not the President. Obama was duped by his generals into a surge of 30,000 troops into a war that cannot be won under the current ROE (Rules of Engagement), which is not likely to change. The generals took advantage of a political Commander-in-Chief with a naivete in the arena of military operations.
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