Monday, January 31, 2005

Rational Exuberance

The Moose celebrates a step toward democracy and a rejection of nihilism.

The results of the Iraqi election are the first significant good news from Iraq since the end of the initial invasion. After over two years of chaos, turmoil, terror and Administration triumphalism and incompetence, the Iraqi people and our brave soldiers have achieved an advance for democracy in a part of the world that has only known tyranny.

We should not fall victim to either sour pessimism or irrational exuberance. As the Moose pointed out yesterday, the outcome of this struggle is by no means certain. Iraq will not soon, if ever, enjoy a Vermont type town hall democratic life - hopefully it will not lapse into a Putin like authoritarian state or an Iranian style theocracy. Nevertheless, for the Arab world, what transpired Sunday is profoundly important. Millions braved threats and attacks from fascist terrorists to cast a vote for a democratic future.

Meanwhile, Administration sycophants could be guilty of unrealistically raising expectations over this first stage of voting. Iraq has a long, long way to go to enjoying stability and liberty. We have already suffered through enough Bushie triumphalism with the landing on the Lincoln and after the capture of Saddam. Enough already.

The truth is that war is far from over. Much blood and treasure will still be sacrificed. Progressives should continue to press that this sacrifice be more equally shared by the comfortable in our society. We should neither enact more tax cuts for the wealthy nor deepen the deficit through social security privatization while we have a war to win against radical jihadism.

Unfortunately, the President will offer a domestic program in his State of the Union address that will serve the narrow and partisan agenda of the Republican Party to comfort the comfortable and crush the domestic opposition. This President is completely incapable of a politics of national unity or greatness even amidst a long twighlight struggle against our terrorist foes. The donor class must come first.

However, in light of this weekend's success, intellectual honesty compels progressives to acknowledge two difficult propositions. First, despite his myriad mistakes, President Bush deserves credit for pressing forward with the elections. Second, despite his enormous contributions to progressivism for which we are all indebted, Senator Kennedy committed a severe error by suggesting a withdrawal of our troops on the eve of the elections.

Last week, the Senator stated, "The U.S. military presence has become part of the problem, not part of the solution." No, our troops are for the time being the only defense against Iraq falling into the abyss. That was the wrong message at the wrong time.

Yesterday, we witnessed an awe inspiring expression of liberal values - and liberals of all people should unequivocally and unambiguously embrace this development. Liberals stood with union organizers in the '30s against company goons and with the Freedom Riders in the '60s against racist thugs. How can we not today be firmly on the side of Iraqis braving the terrorist scourge?

Consider this passage from the Washington Post,

"The young man wore a winter jacket over his explosive vest and approached the polling station with his hands in the pockets.

"Take your hands out of your pockets," said Ali Jabur, the Iraqi police officer in charge of patting down voters on the street outside. The young man obliged by throwing his arms wide, and blew them both to bits.

"Three hours later, in streets still littered with the bomber's remains, some very determined voters streamed into the Badr Kobra High School for Girls, intent on casting the ballots that they called a repudiation of the terrorist attacks meant to scare them away.

"I would have been happy to have died voting at the time of this explosion, because this is terrorism mixed with rudeness," said Saif Aldin Jarah, 61, a balding man with white hair who leaned on his daughter, Shyamaa, as he shuffled into the afternoon sunlight after casting his ballot.

"Terrorism mixed with rudeness" is the enemy of us all. If progressives do not make it unambiguously clear that they support victory over the fascist terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere, history will not be kind to us - nor should it. Progressives should never mute their dissent to the plutocratic policies of the Bushies. They should never silence their opposition to the Administration's arrogant and irresponsible alienation of allies. However, the democratic left should never cede its tradition of supporting democrats against tyrants that was bequeathed to them by FDR, Truman, JFK, Carter and Clinton.

The Moose feels quite strongly about this because seared into his memory is the despicable partisan opposition of Tom DeLay and his gang to Bill Clinton's intervention to stop genocide in Kosovo. Progressives should now not fall victim to Left-wing DeLayism.

The democratic left should follow the example of Tony Blair, not Michael Moore.

As the Moose has stated before, the justified fervent opposition to the Bushies should never allow those on the left to surrender their own principles. Then, our political adversaries have truly triumphed and we have betrayed our ideals.
-- Posted at 8:37 AM | Link to this post | Email this post