Curry's False Question On Warner
Tom Curry of MSNBC writes a decent piece today on Mark Warner, with the exception of his question as to whether Warner hates Bush enough to satisfy the base. Curry has already received some flak on this from Peter Daou, and rightly so, because the mainstream media all-too-easily accepts the GOP storyline that opposition to Bush stems from hate, rather than a deep-seated distrust of the man and opposition to his style of divisive government.
As I have said previously, Warner is trying his best to run prematurely as a general election candidate ("I'm electable; let's move forward"), when in fact he has to get through the primaries first. He has to navigate through a base that wants to hear about accountability, and where he stands on the Iraq decision, before they will accept his "let's all get along and move forward" message. It really isn't that hard to say "I didn't vote for that mistake, nor would I have made it in the first place." Critics routinely assume that Iraq is a nonstarter for the base because the base is pacifist. Wrong. The primary reason the base cares so much about Iraq is because a decision to take a country to war is a matter of judgement and temperment, and Bush and those who support the war resolution to this day have flunked this test. As such, Warner needs to demonstrate to the base that he has what Bush doesn't: a clue on how the real world works in a post 9/11 environment. Talking tough on Iran while avoiding any discussion of how we got into Iraq isn't going to cut it.
The challenge for Warner, which he and his advisors have yet to meet, is to develop a message on Iraq that gives just enough to the base without compromising his moderate "let's not be angry about Iraq" theme. They haven't done this yet, and as Curry notes, they seemingly even water down whatever pointed message they offer on Iraq if they know the national media will be paying attention (like he did apparently in Vegas). Until they meet this challenge, Warner will not gain much traction with the base, and may not break through as the center-right Hillary alternative, as both Evan Bayh and Joe Biden are already trying to stake out that turf for themselves.