ZenPundit
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
 
A TIPPING POINT OR A TURNING POINT?

Not only has the field changed with the 2006 election but so have the choices. The question for everyone is whether this watershed rebuke by the electorate represents a tipping point toward disaster a turning point for something better?

President George W. Bush has to face the fact that he has not only been sharply reprimanded by the voters, as often happens to the Chief Executive in midterm elections ,but he has squandered the lease on power the GOP had in controlling all three branches of government. Never has a party worked so long for such power, used it for so little lasting effect and lost it as quickly as have the Republicans.

How the Bush administration acts over the course of the next two years will weigh heavily in 2008 to determine whether the voters who deseted the GOP wil return to the fold. While I genuinely admire Rumsfeld and feel his accomplishments as SecDef are being ignored by those who once were heaping accolades on him not long ago, his position was untenable as of this morning. Even the Congressional Republicans disliked him and if someone had to go, Rummy was highest profile stand-in to atone for the president's mistakes. His departure - and the Democrats own weak position despite being flushed with victory -buys the administration a breathing space to reconsider their political strategies and style from top to bottom.

On the opposite side, the Democrats are to be congratulated for running a smart race in a technical sense and for avoiding their usual ideological self-destruction. The Democratic leadership talked moderate, walked moderate and ran moderates in GOP-leaning states instead of sacrificial lambs hailing from the lunatic fringe of liberalism. James Webb is literally a very conservative" Reagan Democrat" who, frankly, I am more comfortable with politically than his socially conservative Republican opponent. Two years ago, if somebody told us that Democrats would elect a James Webb, Rush Limbaugh would have been doing backflips.

If Pelosi and the Democrats listen to folks like Rahm Emanuel for the next two years and formulate a coherent and honest strategy on Islamist terrorism that actually involves fighting Islamist terrorists rather than patting down Scandinavian grandmothers at airports, they will be well-positioned for 2008. If the elderly liberal bulls, like Waxman, Kennedy, Leahy, Dingell and Conyers, who soon will be easing themselves into chairmanships, drive the agenda and wave " bloody shirt" leftist issues to the ecstatic ululations of the Moveon.org/DailyKos wingnut base, then 2009 will see the inauguration of President McCain.
 
Comments:
If Pelosi and the Democrats listen to folks like Rahm Emanuel for the next two years and formulate a coherent and honest strategy on Islamist terrorism that actually involves fighting Islamist terrorists rather than patting down Scandinavian grandmothers at airports, they will be well-positioned for 2008.

Hard as it may be to believe, "the Moveon.org/DailyKos wingnut base" also want a coherent and honest strategy fighting Islamist terrorists. But nice depiction of liberals as ululating - hmm, savages, perhaps?

-Mithras
MoveOn.Org 2004 Precinct Leader, Non-Ululating
 
I thought it was rather pithy myself ;o)

And even if you ululate you'll still be welcome here.
 
Bush's press conference performance was, for me, both sad and frightening. He was clearly besieged, but also clearly furious. The same heart-on-sleeve demeanor that has so benefited him in the past has made him seem like an angry man -- and also, a liar.

I.e., his Freudian slip concerning his 'white lie' to the reporters a week ago, about Rumsfeld, and his very weak excuse for the lie, will be used by his opponents to suggest that misleading the public presents absolutely no moral qualms for this President, who is all politics and little policy. To my mind, this was the most significant part of the Q & A. [Note: on a recent Charley Rose show, the leader of the faith-based initiatives, who had worked with the president, wrote a book saying much the same: that GWB used the religious right for political gain but had very little intention of following through.]

As for Rummy: the media is presenting the resignation as a victory not for the public but for the Democrats. I.e., Rummy's firing -- er, resignation -- was one of the Democratic demands, and in leaving he has given the Dems another feather in their cap. In this way, it would appear that the Democrats have, in one day only, accomplished something that so many years of GWB war strategy has not.

I do think that we must keep in mind something else GWB tried to communicate: The actual margins were very narrow. Add this to the fact that many local elections were decided by scandal, etc., and that many of the new Dems are centrist or conservative, and I think that we should, indeed, question whether this is a tipping point or a turning point.
 
As a follow-up, I'd like to add the thought that any 'turning point' will also almost certainly be attributed to the Dems. It started with Rummy's departure, and any real change in direction will be viewed through this lens. I think it's interesting that GWB stressed the bipartisan fact-finding mission (Baker's group) -- but this seemed like an attempt, similar to his fumbling description of the Rummy departure, to reclaim whatever good may ultimately come from the situation in Iraq.

In truth, my feeling, based on GWB's performance at the press conference, is that he's unlikely to budge whatsoever, except insofar as he can still appear to be the origin of changes in direction. This bodes ill for him, because I imagine the Democrats will drum in the point that whatever changes occur could only have occurred with a changing of the guard in the Congress. I think most Americans will realize this to be true.

Of course, if this is instead a 'tipping point', then all bets are off, since both parties will be judged to be responsible.
 
Hmmm. Why Scandanavian grandmothers? I'm not saying it doesn't work, it just made me stop and ponder.
 
"...but he has squandered the lease on power the GOP had in controlling all three branches of government. Never has a party worked so long for such power, used it for so little lasting effect and lost it as quickly as have the Republicans."

This is the part that I find most fascinating about all this. The conservative movement worked so hard for decades to be in the position they have had for the past 6 years, and then when they got there they wasted no time in abandoning the ideals that motivated that effort. Watching the Republican Party's actions over the past few years has been like listening to Radar O'Reilly play the bugle.

It will be interesting to see how the conservative movement digests the reality of this blown opportunity. But the real issue in 08 will be trust. If Republicans come out and say "We've learned our lesson. Give us control of Congress and this time we will implement the conservative agenda. We really mean it." Why would anyone believe that?

As a classical liberal but not a conservative, I have no attachment to the conservative movement. In fact I believe that in the long run the conservative movement will be incapable of implementing a small-government, pro-liberty transformation of government. This is both a tippping point and a turning point. As I have argued in comments in the past, I believe that we live in a unique transitional era. We have the opportunity to develop a 21st century, Information Age Classical Liberalism that can serve as the ideological core of new political movements over the next 100 years. Inertia will keep the conservative movement around for a while, but their freshness and energy and the confidence that they can really accomplish anything will be gone.
 
“As a classical liberal but not a conservative, I have no attachment to the conservative movement.”

Sorry Phil, but that make you a conservative. The new conservatives are the old liberals. It’s like I have been saying, Bush is a liberal not a conservative. His whole time in office has to been used to change America into what it’s never been. In fact he is trying to liberally bring democracy to all parts of the world.

If you have watched Bill Clinton and George W. Bush together you can see how much respect Bush has for Clinton. That is because Bush has carried on the policies (with a Republican slant of course) of Clinton; in many ways Clinton was Bush’s mentor.
So now if a person wants to conserve the values that used to represent America, we have to look towards the classical liberals because the conservative movement, through president Bush, has changed, their values have been liberalize.

I think where most of the confusion comes from is that you don’t have to be a leftist to be liberal. So now the liberal people, who are mostly on the right, are now the new conservatives. As can be expected, because of war, our country continues to become more conservative.

The problem I have, with all of this, is that, it seems, all the stories the conservatives have been saying about liberals are true. The Liberals are bad for our country; I just can’t imagine why they joined them, ha!

The real question might be: will the Dems also join them, you know, advance Globalization?
 
"Sorry Phil, but that make you a conservative."

Negative, Ghostrider. You sound like my liberal friends who are always accusing me of being a conservative. It usually takes a couple of bottles of wine to bypass their cognitive Maginot Line and convince them otherwise.

We recognize that there are real distinctions between conservatives and libertarians and among conservatives like Pat Buchanan, Bill Kristol, and Tom Coburn, so why can't I be a classical liberal and not a conservative? If it will make things easier, I'm willing to replace "classical liberal" with "super-groovy, dynamo-entrepreneurialist liberal". But somehow I don't think that will catch on.

The conservative movement is one vehicle for classical liberal ideas, the libertarians are another. But neither represent the entirety classical liberalism. Imagine a ven diagram with a large circle labelled "classical liberalism" within that circle is a much smaller circle labelled "conservatism" and an even smaller one labelled "libertarianism". Surrounding these two smaller circles is a vast space that has yet to be defined by a political movement. I'm interested in making an effort towards defining some new forms of classical liberalism that are neither conservative nor libertarian.

If people are willing to engage in creative thinking to imaginatively explore the possibilities of a speculative 5GW, why not apply the same kind of thinking to politics? We have inherited the conservative movement. But if we were starting a classical liberal political movement from scratch today, what would it look like? It wouldn't be a "conservative" movement, which is the relic of the 1950s. It would be something very different.
 
Interesting debate, Collounsbury draws the same distinction betwen classical liberalism and conservatism as Phil. If I was to opine on the difference between the two, I'd pick up Russell Kirk and Edmund Burke - though I'm not sure if that kind of organic view of soociety has much in common with GOP conservatives either.

Hmmmm, on Curtis points I wonder if we'd have been better off if we had kept Rumsfeld and got rid of Bush.

Takhallus - I've long been an advocate of a counterintelligence approach to preventing terrorism rather than our current boneheaded policies ( or an equally dumbed down version of racial profiling)
 
To complete the round-up of positions I consider myself a Whig: a liberal conservative.
 
Excellent post Mark.

Most interesting of all was the loss of Harold Ford in TN, the fact that he ran a campaign that was roundly praised from commentators of all political stripes but still lost to a terribly bland and empty suit like Bob Corker does not bode well for Sen. Obama's presidental hopes.

That means Sen. Clinton is the only Democrat with a real shot at the presidency, and she won't win because she's too anthema to too many people. To me its all just a question of who will be the GOP nominee that wins the presidency will be. McCain may not survive the primaries, there are far too many conservatives of varying stripes who dislike him passionately.

This all represents just another point of no return for intelligent US politics. Politicians still don't dare to tell harsh truths (i.e. legalizing some drugs, taxes must be raised to pay for the misadventures in Iraq and for real immigration reform that restores the immigration infrastructure that was gutted by Reagan's ilk in the 80's, etc) to the American people and our politial classes remain utterly incapable of seizing the opportunities and answering the challenges in today's world.
 
“It usually takes a couple of bottles of wine”

Phil? Wine? Wow, you are a classical liberal.

“The conservative movement is one vehicle for classical liberal ideas”

I think your statement underlines what I was getting at.
I think “super-groovy, dynamo-entrepreneurialist liberal” pretty much represents the true nature of the North Americans. With the disappearing of our boarders and the movement of resources into our country from countries with out those “values” has created a situation that is too complex for us to understand. Conservatism means liberalism and vice a versa. When I speak of conservatism, I mean to conserve, or go back, to those ideas that made this country great. Those values used to mean an independent nature, or as you say a super-groovy, dynamo-entrepreneurialistic liberal nature.

“Most interesting of all was the loss of Harold Ford in TN, the fact that he ran a campaign that was roundly praised from commentators of all political stripes but still lost to a terribly bland and empty suit like Bob Corker does not bode well for Sen. Obama's presidental hopes.”

Eddie, I am not sure I agree. I was impressed with Rep. Harold Ford and I can imagine that a black (I hope that is PC) man might have problems getting elected president. However, I think a black or white person who is single might have an even harder time getting elected to the senate. I guess what I am saying, Sen. Obama is not Harold Ford. If you have ever watched Sen. Obama walk through a crowd on the campaign trail, people, white or black, can’t keep their hands off of him. JFK, no I don’t mean Kerry, was much hated by the establishment; the people who loved him elected him. While Rove and crew worked on fear, love is an equally powerful emotion.
 
Post a Comment

<< Home
Zenpundit - a NEWSMAGAZINE and JOURNAL of scholarly opinion.

My Photo
Name:
Location: Chicago, United States

" The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances as though they were realities" -- Machiavelli

Determined Designs Web Solutions Lijit Search
ARCHIVES
02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 / 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 / 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 / 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 / 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 / 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 / 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 / 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 / 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 / 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 / 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 / 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 / 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 / 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 / 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 / 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 / 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 / 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 / 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 / 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 / 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 / 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 / 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 / 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 / 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 / 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 / 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 / 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 /



follow zenpundit at http://twitter.com
This plugin requires Adobe Flash 9.
Get this widget!
Sphere Featured Blogs Powered by Blogger StatisfyZenpundit

Site Feed Who Links Here
Buzztracker daily image Blogroll Me!