clap clap blog: we have moved

Wednesday, April 09, 2003
As a result of several bizarre and unforeseeable contingencies -- such as the selection rather than election of George W. Bush, and Sept. 11 -- the foreign policy of the world's only global power is being made by a small clique that is unrepresentative of either the U.S. population or the mainstream foreign policy establishment.

Great, great article in Salon about the neo-con movement that's much meaner that what I'm used to seeing. The author makes a lot of astute points, like about the neocons' connection to Likud philosophy and techniques (apparently they got future Iraqi overlord Jay Garner to sign a letter approving of the IDF's conduct in Palestine in 2000, which isn't worrisome at all, is it?), how Powell got snowballed into his little UN-minding corner of the foreign policy establishment (Cheney headed the transition team and stacked the administration's deck with hardcore neo-cons, especially in deputy positions), and how exactly the movement evolved from anti-Stalinist Trotskyites into what we see today.

Most important, though, is the point that they are not representative of anything approaching the mainstream. The author uses a British comparison at the end, but a good leftist American comparison would be if ANSWER started dictating who was going to have positions in the new Kerry-Chomsky administration. So this implies both further bitching about their legitimacy, and a hope: a centrist Democratic candidate with a vision and a will to stand against some of their extremist positions can have a chance in 2004.

So here's what I'd say the DNC right now: first thing is you have to realize that the administration's policies are not in the American mainstream. You can show me any poll you want about how many people support the policies, but the reality is that they just support the way the policies have been presented. Attacking Iraq? Revenge for 9/11! Cutting dividend taxes? Giving the taxpayers a break! Gutting civil liberties? Protecting us from terrorism! They are very good at this. But here's the thing: from all indications, it's the only thing they're good at politically. Certainly you can stack up the blunders over the war, PATRIOT, Enron, etc., and given half a foothold by the press, Ari Fleischer's technique of "just fucking lying" is going to break down. So what we have to do is be better at that than them, and we have the advantage of actually being right. But it's important to look at Iraq and see that one of the reasons we got blindsided by it was that it wasn't like welfare or education or Israel, because it wasn't even on our radar. The left didn't have a good response to Iraq for a while because it just wasn't an issue for us. So we need to find those chinks in the GOP's armor--the issues they don't care about presently but other people do--and play them to the hills. Then we need to start chipping away at the public perception of their key issues, and then we can win.