I got an email this morning from a New Dem friend alerting me to the column by Al From (CEO) and Bruce Reed (President) of the DLC on the Wall Street Journal editorial page.
The essence of their argument is that Democrats must put back into play most, if not all, of the red states if they're to have any hope of winning presidential elections or again becoming the majority party. Some of the particulars I agree with; others I don't.
I first considered printing the exchange my friend and I had, but quickly realized that expurgation would rob it of its meaning.
Suffice it to say that I asked my friend whether he thought From and Reed were fully aware of the 'optics' of running such a 'Dems get your house in order' piece on the Journal's editorial page. He said yes, they did and that they enjoyed the optics of it. I responded, yes, I knew that; but still really didn't think they quite 'got it'.
Let me explain what I meant and didn't mean. I didn't mean that Democrats should boycott the Journal OpEd page or restrict their writing to house organs -- plenty of liberals write pieces there and that's fine; I wouldn't want it any other way. Nor do I mean that Democrats shouldn't air their dirty laundry. They should. And now, frankly, as far as you can get from an election, is the time to do it.
But to advise Democrats you've got to be a Democrat, part of the Democratic party. And what that means is a certain threshold level of lack of contempt for people who, day in and day out, are the Democratic party. I don't mean 'the base'. I mean everyone -- right, left and center, the volunteers, the funders and the intellectuals, the issue activists and the occasional voters. And this shows a basic unwillingness to do that -- even in the most simple symbolic ways, indeed, a delight in not doing so.
I've come to expect this sort of thing from Al From, but I was more surprised to see it from Bruce Reed, who, from personal experience, has always struck me as a different sort of player.
My disgruntlement over this, I should add, is not rooted in an opposition to the DLC, but a belief in how much most of those associated with the organization have to offer the Democrats. On most issues, I probably see more eye to eye politically with my friends there (who, for the purposes of this post, I will mercifully leave nameless) than I do with those in "the base" of the party. (The last 9-to-5 job I had I basically got run out of for being -- allegedly and rather ridiculously -- a DLC plant. But that's another story.)
But for folks who often, unfairly, get charged with being Democrats in name only, they manage to find awfully good ways of playing the part.
I've gotten a bunch of questions asking why I've yet to weigh in on the debate about Peter Beinart's piece -- "A Fighting Faith" -- in the current issue of The New Republic. It's not for lack of interest. And there's no implied judgment from the lack of comment. It's rather that the issue is so near and dear to my heart that I've been mulling what I think and considering the pros and cons of Peter's argument.
I should mention that the PPI is putting on a panel discussion about Peter's article Friday at 12:30.
Don Rumsfeld responding to complaints from troops that they're forced to dig up scrap metal to fashion make-shift armor for their vehicles: "If you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored Humvee and it can be blown up."
If ya think about it ...
With bad effects on policy, but some advantages for clarity, most of our political debates about North Korea are driven by screaming CNN headlines like "NORTH KOREA ADMITS TO MAKING MANY NUKE BOMBS" or "WHITE HOUSE: NORTH KOREA'S URANIUM PROGRAM ON VERGE OF COMPLETION."
But a new article (set to be released tomorrow, but linked here now) from Foreign Affairs argues that the evidence for a North Korean uranium enrichment program (in violation of the 1994 'Agreed Framework') is far more tenuous than the administration has led us to believe.
The piece is written by Korea-watcher Selig Harrison, Director of the Asia Program and Chairman of the Task Force on U.S. Korea Policy at the Center for International Policy.
Precisely what Harrison argues is difficult to summarize in 'they got'em' or 'they don't got'em' terms. But the essence of it is that in early 2002 the White House feared that the process of detente between South Korea, Japan and North Korea might be slipping from its control.
As he writes, the initial confrontation over the North Koreans' alleged uranium enrichment program "seems to have been inspired by the growing alarm felt in Washington in the preceding five months over the ever more conciliatory approach that Seoul and Tokyo had been taking toward Pyongyang; by raising the uranium issue, the Bush administration hoped to scare Japan and South Korea into reversing their policies."
Harrison doesn't say that there was no evidence of a program for producing highly-enriched uranium (HEU). There was some, and some of it dated back to the Clinton administration. But prompted by these geopolitical considerations, the White House portrayed ambiguous evidence as rock-solid proof in order to scuttle the Clinton-era Agreed Framework which had been the basis of rapprochement for the previous several years.
(This argument about political calculations is not novel; but it takes on a new dimension in light of Harrison's arguments about the weakness of the intelligence for an HEU program.)
So what do the North Koreans really have in terms of HEU? The analysis is technical and lengthy -- and if you're interested in this subject, I strongly recommend reading the piece. But, in brief, he argues that it is possible that the North Koreans never had a bomb-related uranium program, more probable that they made some attempts but didn't get very far, and very unlikely that they have or had a program anywhere near as advanced as the White House has led us to believe.
(Harrison's discussion of these various scenarios is inherently speculative, and may in some cases give the North Koreans too much of the benefit of the doubt. But, by my reading, the case Harrison makes for their not having any sort of advanced program -- intentions aside -- seems pretty strong.)
Now, he argues, that focus on an HEU program, which may not even exist, is making it impossible to come up with a deal or solution to the Plutonium-track production which certainly does exist and is the greatest danger that North Korea poses.
If you're interested in this issue, read this article.
Because I was busy spending time on planet earth I hadn't noticed that there are more than a few conservatives now claiming that Sen. Harry Reid must be a racist because he said on Meet The Press that he would consider voting for Justice Scalia for Chief Justice but not Justice Thomas since the latter had been an "embarrassment" as a member of the court.
To these folks, I suppose, both men are equally well-respected "conservatives," and thus favoring one over the other can only be a function of race prejudice.
(Tonight I even got one of the inevitable 'you're a hypocrite because you don't give Reid the treatment you gave Sen. Lott' emails.)
Perhaps someone can help me out here by sending in a clever witticism noting how those most eager to shape jurisprudence to demand proof of racist intent to justify remedial action are also the quickest to toss around the most risible accusations of racism to cover for their own mediocre Justices.
Ed Kilgore (aka New Donkey), Policy Director, Democratic Leadership Council: "I came to believe strongly that the real agenda of the people closest to Bush--including his political advisors and much of the Republican congressional leadership--was not only dishonest, but deeply cynical and irresponsible: a drive to simultaneously wreck the federal government and to perpetuate their control over the wreckage as long as possible through the exercise of the rawest sort of institutional power and corruption. And moreover, this belief made me angry at even those Republicans who did not share that agenda, because they were helping to promote it against their own best instincts ... I think today's Republican Party, and its leader, are built on a foundation of fundamental dishonesty about who they are, what they want, and where they are taking the country. As a Christian, I will endeavor not to hate them for that. As an American, I will endeavor to respect those who voted for Bush, because after all, they have as much right to the franchise as I do. But until they demonstrate the ability to walk, or perhaps I should say swagger, in a straight line, I will continue to hold the president, his advisors, and his allies in Congress in minimum high regard. That did not change on November 3."
Krugman to the rescue on the Social Security "crisis," explained simply and elegantly, as only he can.
Thank President Bush (from the FT...)
Oil exporters have sharply reduced their exposure to the US dollar over the past three years, according to data from the Bank for International Settlements.
Members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries have cut the proportion of deposits held in dollars from 75 per cent in the third quarter of 2001 to 61.5 per cent.
Middle Eastern central banks have reportedly switched reserves from dollars to euros and sterling to avoid incurring losses as the dollar has fallen and prepare for a shift away from pricing oil exports in dollars alone.
Private Middle East investors are believed to be worried about the prospect of US-held assets being frozen as part of the war on terror, leading to accelerated dollar-selling after the re-election of President George W. Bush.