Saturday :: Dec 10, 2005

The Crack In Political Space-Time


by pessimist

Sometimes, Mother Nature has a way of graphically illustrating current human events. I found the juxtaposition of these three articles very interesting [color-coded for simplicity - I hope!]:

Scientists say new ocean in formation in Ethiopia

Ethiopian, American and European researchers have observed a fissure in a desert in the remote northeast that could be the "birth of a new ocean basin," scientists said Friday. Researchers from Britain, France, Italy and the U.S. have been observing the 60-kilometer (37-mile) long fissure since it split open in September in the Afar desert and estimate it will take a million years to fully form into an ocean, said Dereje Ayalew, who leads the team of 18 scientists studying the phenomenon. The scientists plan to set up an observatory to watch the split and see how it develops.
Internet researchers have observed a fissure growing within both American political parties that could be the "birth of a new political alignment" in the United States. It may take years to fully form, says one Web pundit studying the phenomenon. The bloggers plan to set up an observatory to watch the split and see how it develops.


Why the Right is Embracing McCain
by James Joyner

Byron York [at Fortunate Son] tries to explain, "Why the right is embracing McCain" [subscription required - ed] as a presidential contender for 2008.
[Byron York's view] It has never been entirely clear just who makes up the Republican establishment--businessmen? evangelicals? freepers?--but it is clear that they've never liked John McCain.

[Now,] GOP establishment types are warming to the man they once rejected--and who rejected them.

[James Joyner's view] [T]he "Republican Establishment" and the Republican nominating electorate are not necessarily the same people. While McCain has scored points with his fealty on the war, his constant grandstanding at the expense of his party has earned him undying enmity among many of the faithful. Probably not enough so to keep them home if it's a McCain-Hillary Clinton election in November.

But for that to happen, McCain will have to win with primary voters against other Republicans first.


Right-Wing Spin In the House Democratic Caucus
by David Sirota

Never underestimate the willingness of some Democrats to regurgitate right-wing lies and undercut their own party's message. Even in the seemingly smallest settings, we see it all the time.

Take the current race for Vice-Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. This is basically a powerless, but symbolic position, yet even in this venue, some Democrats are self-servingly spewing out GOP talking points, just to get themselves ahead.

So THAT is what the GOP meant by setting the moral example in Washington!

Take one of the candidates, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), who is running against Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). Schakowsky has consistently fought for the progressive agenda, while Crowley (who was once a promising Member of Congress) has become a sad example of a politician who has gone Washington in the worst sense. According to the Associated Press, "Crowley suggested in an interview that Schakowsky may be too liberal to do the party any good where it really counts."

Perhaps more disturbing is the unsaid commentary of it all: namely, Crowley's assumption that by doing that, he might actually get himself votes from fellow Democrats in Congress. The fact that that assumption even exists among any elected Democratic official tells us what kind of sad, pathetic struggle is really going on among Democrats in Congress.

Across the aisle, there is another sad, pathetic struggle underway:

[Byron York's view] With his war hero credibility, McCain is able to dismiss the calls of some of his fellow lawmakers--and fellow veterans--who want to get out of Iraq.

* John Kerry, McCain says, doesn't have "the strength to see it through."

* John Murtha is "a lovable guy," but "he's never been a big thinker; he's an appropriator."

Using language that Bush never could, McCain tells me that Murtha has become too emotional about the human cost of the war. "As we get older, we get more sentimental," McCain says. "And [Murtha] has been very, very affected by the funerals and the families. But you cannot let that affect the way you decide policy."

[James Joyner's view] Remember, too, that McCain did "well" in 2000 mostly because a sitting vice president ran away with the Democratic nomination early and Democrats were free to cross over and vote for McCain either out of mischief, to tweak the GOP establishment, or because of genuine affection. The Democratic field in 2008 will likely be stronger and more competitive.

The only problem with this observation? 'Stronger' only refers to the aromatic stench that is the Democratic Party today, and 'more competitive' only refers to the lengths that opportunistic Democratic party members will go in their efforts to watch out for their own interests:

What's perhaps most disgusting about this struggle is the attempt by those in [Crowley's] camp saying they represent more "electable" or politically mainstream positions - even though polls consistently show the public is far more progressive in its outlook than the political Establishment wants us to believe. For instance, Crowley claims his record means "I can go to other parts of the country and turn red seats to blue. I don't think Jan can do that."

Really? Is that right? Rounding up corporate lobbyists to pass a credit-card industry-written bill resonates in red states? Allowing the president to send troops to war based on lies shows strength in conservative parts of America? Helping companies rip off workers' hard earned pensions resonates out here too?

Incredible.

Here is a guy [Crowley] who represents a working-class district in New York City actually berating a good progressive for being progressive, and then saying - without a shred of proof - that being a good progressive doesn't "help" the party.

What a complete joke. Is it any wonder that polls show the public thinks many Democrats truly are out of touch with the American heartland?

Polls have the GOP worried as well:

[Byron York's view] More than any other issue, the war is the reason why Republicans thank McCain for standing by Bush. As the level of public approval for the war goes down, and some Republicans worry that they have to accommodate Democratic calls for withdrawal, McCain's hawkishness looks better and better to those in the GOP--still a majority--who want to stay the course.

McCain is their man; he has a way of talking about the war that simply sounds right to Republican ears: stronger, clearer, and more direct than Bush himself. "We cannot afford to lose it," he tells me. "Just read Zarqawi. We lose it, and they're coming after us."

[James Joyner's view] The other reason McCain seems so "popular," though, is that he's not actually running for anything. Abortion and other hot button domestic issues largely on the sidelines at the moment. The war is the foremost issue right now but that likely will not be the case during the 2008 primaries.

I agree. Domestic economic issues will take their place, and certain Democrats aren't helping already:

On one side of the struggle are people like Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the House Minority whip who is doing everything he can to ridicule Democrats' anti-corruption message, split apart Democrats on core national security/economic messages, and undermine the House Democratic leadership.

Hoyer is tight with people like Crowley, who you may remember is the guy who got himself newspaper headlines for coralling business lobbyists to help him round up Democratic votes for the Bankruptcy Bill. He's also the guy who voted for the Iraq War. And, he was one of only five Democrats to vote against protecting workers from pension rip-off schemes.

This is the kind of nonsense that the Democratic Party has to forcefully put an end to - it is time for Democratic leaders to speak out when their own colleagues literally regurgitate Fox News-style B.S. for their own selfish purposes.

The GOP is known to have selfish purposes as well:

[Byron York's view] A look at the coverage of McCain's 2000 presidential primary campaign reveals hundreds of instances in which the Arizona senator is depicted as waging heroic battle against the GOP establishment, and the establishment is depicted as fighting back just as hard, if less heroically.

The establishment's efforts "to kneecap the hated McCain," wrote Joe Klein after McCain won the 2000 New Hampshire primary, "are likely to grow uglier as the South Carolina primary approaches."

Indeed they did, and McCain went down.

Unlike the GOP, however, there are signs that the growing rifts are generating action within the Democratic Party:

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) set down a good marker in this direction today, when he rightly laced into Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) [MP3] for being a White House apologist about the war.


It's time for more leaders like Reid to speak up, and call out people like Hoyer, Crowley and others who are so self-absorbed they are willing to undercut their own party just to promote themselves.

Over on the GOP side, desperate for a winner in 2008, those seeking to promote their self-interest over that of their country are outlining why McCain should be their man - despite their past history of animosity:

[Byron York's view] First is the loyalty McCain showed toward Bush in the last election. Second is his stand on the war in Iraq. Third is his hard line on federal spending.

And the fourth reason is not an issue, but the absence of one: In 2008, McCain, having won his fight for campaign finance reform, will no longer be showcasing a cause that most Democrats loved but most Republicans hated.

"This is unprecedented in scientific history because we usually see the split after it has happened. But here we are watching the phenomenon," said Dereje of Addis Ababa University.
"This is unprecedented in scientific history because we usually see the political split after it has happened. But here we are watching the phenomenon," said our Web pundit.
"It’s amazing," the BBC quoted one of the Afar researchers, Cindy Ebinger of the Royal Holloway University of London, as saying in San Francisco. "It’s the first large event we’ve seen like this in a rift zone since the advent of some of the space-based techniques we’re now using, and which give us a resolution and a detail to see what’s really going on and how the earth processes work."
"It’s amazing," continued the Web pundit. "It’s the first large event we’ve seen like this in a political rift zone since the advent of some of the space-age techniques we’re now using, and which give us a resolution and a detail to see what’s really going on and how the American political processes work - or don't."
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The preceeding was an experiment. Did it work for you? Add your two cents about it in the comments.


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