What was most disappointing about the year now ending is that, in the aftermath of the American people giving the Democrats majority control of Congress, the Democrats showed so little will and ability to fight.
In making that assertion, I may be committing the proverbial error "fighting the last war." But I don't think so. The face-card Bushites may leave office, but the Bushite forces behind them are not going away. Remaining to bedevil any Democratic president will be the Murdocks and the Limbaughs and the corporate thugs who think our democracy should serve as a tool for their own private greed. There will still be those other forces in the Republican Party that make acting like a fascist the preferred campaign strategy of almost every major Republican candidate.
What we do not need, in the face of such forces, is a Democratic leader who will recapitulate the strategies of capitulation that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have enacted so cravenly this year.
My main purpose here is not to engage in candidate endorsement. But this is how this criterion --that we need a fighter-- sorts out the field for me.
Obama has made it a hallmark of his campaign to sound the note of reconciliation, of bringing people together. In many situations, I would applaud this. But to talk about reconciliation when there's still a war going on, and when the enemy is still dominating the field, takes a spiritual virtue and converts it into a sign of faulty judgment. We need a warrior now, and if Obama cannot understand that this is a moment to fight, then he's not our man.
Of the three candidates who seem to have a reasonable shot at the nomination, only Edwards has spoken like the fighter we need. As I mentioned in a commentary to an earlier piece, I am still wondering what it says about his judgment and his capacities as a warrior that Edwards refused in the general election campaign of 2004 to be even as tough as too-wimpy John Kerry wanted him to be, and to tackle Darth Cheney head-on in those debates. But the John Edwards we see in the campaign these days, and who made his fortune as a courtroom warrior, might conceivably have the guts and the skills to tackle the dark Bushite forces in the coming general election campaign and thereafter from the Oval Office.
Among the other candidates Dennis Kucinich has been reliably feisty, and Chris Dodd this month played a heroic role --countering Harry Reid-- in blocking that Bushite-protecting FISA legislation. These men are fighting the fight. But they do not appear to be real contenders for the nomination.