July 28, 2006


Pander and Run (Peter Beinart, July 28, 2006, washington Post)

It's jingoism with a liberal face.

The latest example came this week when Democratic senators and House members demanded that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki either retract his criticisms of Israel or forfeit his chance to address Congress. Great idea. Maliki -- who runs a government propped up by U.S. troops -- is desperate to show Iraqis that he is not Washington's puppet. And the United States desperately needs him to succeed because, unless he gains political credibility at home, his government will have no hope of surviving on its own.

Maliki took a small step in that direction this week when he articulated a view of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict quite different from that of the Bush administration. His views were hardly surprising: Iraq is not only a majority-Arab country; it is a majority-Shiite Arab country. And in a democracy, leaders usually reflect public opinion. Maliki's forthright disagreement with the United States was a sign of political strength, one the Bush administration wisely indulged.

But not congressional Democrats. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid demanded that Maliki eat his words or be disinvited from addressing Congress. "Your failure to condemn Hezbollah's aggression and recognize Israel's right to defend itself raise serious questions about whether Iraq under your leadership can play a constructive role in resolving the current crisis and bringing stability to the Middle East," wrote Reid and fellow Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin and Charles E. Schumer on July 24.

How, exactly, publicly humiliating Maliki and making him look like an American and Israeli stooge would enhance his "leadership" was never explained in the missive. But of course Reid's letter wasn't really about strengthening the Iraqi government at all; that's George W. Bush's problem. It was about appearing more pro-Israel than the White House and thus pandering to Jewish voters.

Reid's letter is not an anomaly; it is part of a pattern.

The one thing the Democrats have going for them is they can say any asinine thing they want because no one takes them seriously anyway.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 28, 2006 12:30 PM

The Democrats seem to be under the impression that they can put on a dog-and-pony show blasting al-Maliki in front of the TV cameras one day, while contradicting their own supposed position a day later in the Bolton hearings and think none of the swing voters out there will be smart enough to figure out the contradiction. With a strategy like that a devistating Cat 5 hurricane in a major population center and petrochemical refining industry hub sometime in October remains the Democrats' best home for regaining power in Congress (and at least for now, Karl Rove controls the weather machine...).

Posted by: John at July 28, 2006 1:45 PM


They can. No one is listening.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 1:49 PM

Beinart should just give up and begin wooing Ann Coulter.

Posted by: ratbert at July 28, 2006 2:38 PM

Peter Beinert is the author of The Good Fight: Why Liberals -- and Only Liberals -- Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again if they Thought we were at War and Wanted to Fight and Didn't Think America was a Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, Fascist, Empire That Could Use Taking Down A Peg Or Two.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 28, 2006 5:03 PM