Monday :: Jul 5, 2004

Did We Fall Through The Looking Glass?

by pessimist

The has got to be one of the strangest campaigns on record in American History! First one early front-runner is destructed by a media bombardment of a manic moment, then the opponent who managed to capture enough votes to win the nomination is reportedly hard at work recruiting a member of the other party to be his running mate. Curiouser and curiouser!

What's going on here???

I don't have a solid answer, but if I had to guess, there just might be signs that the third party I have been espousing for years is attempting to burst forth unto the world like the creature from Alien - from within the existing body politic.

Such a third party, if I divine the poultry entrails correctly, is seeking to establish itself as the moderate 'centrist' party, assuming that a position between the Right-wing DLC Democrats and the neo-con Nazi Republican Party can even be considered 'centrist'.

But let's play along for a moment. What would this mean in real terms?

As I see it, after consulting the political crystal ball, this would mean the return of what the Republican Party once was - a right-of-center organization of fiscal conservatives, who ally with center-left social conservatives (can't think of a better description right now), whose political goal is to attempt to retain Traditional America and its values. Each half of this coalition feels left behind by the parties to which they belong. Just as much as the traditional Republicans are outraged by the excesses of the BFEE/PNAC Petroleum Pirate Posse, the traditional Democrats are haunted by the legacy of McGovern, Dukakis, and Carter.

I see the traditional Republican complaints as being legitimate (natch), but I feel that the Traditional Democrats are seeing ghosts long since exorcised. But that is another issue.

I read this following article, and a few ideas came together. Senator Hagel has been SAYING a lot of anti-Bush things over the last year or so, but then votes straight GOP when it's time to tally. Could he have been testing the waters to see if he dare jump a la Jim Jeffords?

I can't say for sure, but the more I hear about Hagel's activities and position statements, the more he's starting to sound like John Anderson did - unhappy with the existing party politics and reluctantly severing his ties - back in 1980:

Republican Senator Hagel rips Bush on Iraq strategy, says war hurt U.S. in terror battle

Sen. Chuck Hagel, an influential moderate Republican from Nebraska, sharply criticized the Bush administration in an interview here Tuesday, saying that the war in Iraq appears to have hurt America in its battle against terrorism. In a sharp critique of the leader of his own party, Hagel said he believes the occupation of Iraq by the American military was poorly planned and has spread terrorist cells more widely around the world. "This put in motion a new geographic dispersion" of the terrorists, said Hagel, 58, in an interview before delivering a speech to the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles. "It's harder to deal with them because they're not as contained. Iraq has become a training ground."

He added that although it is too soon to judge how the war in Iraq will ultimately influence the war on terror, in the short term it has created more terrorists and given them more targets -- American soldiers. Hagel, a politician sometimes mentioned as a future presidential contender, also said the United States is going to have to consider restarting the draft to maintain its many military commitments abroad.

Hagel, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, said he agrees with President Bush that the duration of the war on terror might be measured in generations and that to sustain the badly overstretched military for the struggle, a new draft may be needed. "We are seeing huge cracks developing in our force structure," he said. "The fact is, if we're going to continue with this, we're going to have to be honest with the American people."

Hagel is clearly trying to carve out a role for himself as a leading moderate voice within the Republican Party, particularly in foreign policy. He has given a string of speeches over the past year advocating a cooperative approach in foreign policy, and he wrote an essay in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, a policy journal, in which he spells out his principles for a more internationalist and pragmatic Republican foreign policy.

A two-term senator, Hagel is regarded as a pragmatist who is ideologically out of line with the conservatives in the Bush administration. There were even reports recently that he had been courted by Sen. John Kerry, the likely Democratic nominee for president, as a vice presidential candidate. Asked if he had been approached or if he would consider the offer, Hagel said he is a diehard Republican "and I'll stay in the Republican Party."

But after finding his moderate views largely ignored by the president, Hagel said he feels that Bush, who has taken a strong unilateral approach to foreign policy, is now being forced to embrace positions much closer to those Hagel and other moderates have advocated. Hagel has pushed for the United States to work much more closely with the United Nations, NATO and America's principal allies in Europe. The president has been in Europe this week offering a more conciliatory face to the allies, and Hagel said the harsh reality of the war in Iraq has forced his hand.

"It's a whole different administration approach," Hagel said. "There is a newfound humility, a newfound realism" in the Bush administration.

I remember Anderson taking some similar stances against the issues of Ronald Reagan's day, stating that the GOP (of 1980) was going the wrong direction and that Reagan was not heeding his message, but still pledging his affiliation to the party - a pledge which got weaker each time Anderson's messages were ignored - just like Hagel today:

In another area in which Hagel's views differ sharply from the president's, he suggested that the best way to ultimately win the war on terror is to earn the trust and respect of foreigners, especially younger people in the Arab world and other parts of the globe. The best way to do that, he said, is to make the United States more accessible to them and more open to immigration. "We are pushing away our friends, our allies, the next generation around the world," Hagel said.

Just like with Anderson in 1980, Hagel is saying some things I can agree with (the current situation in which the Iraq Quagmire and BushCo hubris and incompetence is increasing the terror threats to our nation daily) and some things I oppose (the need for a draft - there are still other avenues we might pursue to alleviate the problems besides going to war yet again). As that wise Yankee philsopher once declaimed, "It's like deja vu all over again!"

You can see a lot by observing!

I've been expecting both major parties to split under the strain, and I believe I see signs that this is happening. What say you?

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pessimist :: 4:14 PM :: Comments (6) :: Digg It!