'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Non-Pissy Post About Where Ritter Goes Wrong 

You know, I was all set to post something pissy about this Scott Ritter piece, but then I read it and found that I actually agree with much of what he wrote, so instead I'm writing this (I hope) non-pissy post.

I think I can be accurately characterized as a member of the "impeach now" crowd but I have to admit I see some truth in the following:

The “impeach now” crowd reminds me of a football coach, late in a season which has produced only loss after loss, imploring his team to throw a “Hail Mary” pass over and over again, all the while suffering sack after sack of its quarterback as the offensive line fails to effectively block and the receivers fail to get open. The season is lost, and instead of pursuing futile and ineffective tactics designed to produce a meaningless score, the coach would be better off seeking to return to the basics so that his team might perform better next season. Only when the basics of blocking, tackling, running and ball handling are mastered can one expect to mount a campaign designed to produce a winning season.

I'm all for impeachment. In fact I think we need it. We need to impeach Bush to cleanse our collective American soul; however, if the increasingly unlikely eventuality occurs and the US withdraws a significant number of troops from Iraq before the next presidential election, I will bet you a thousand bucks that that eventuality coming about will have had nothing to do with Bush getting impeached.

That said, where Ritter goes wrong when he starts talking about antiwar strategy is where he places the blame for the lack of success thus far. The problem with Cindy Sheehan isn't that she's a loony lefty. The problem with Cindy Sheehan is that she shouldn't be the defacto leader of anyone's antiwar movement: she's got spirit, she's got heart, but she's not particularly cut out for the job. Who should be the defacto leader of the antiwar movement? Oh, I don't know -- maybe some Democratic politician who is running for president? Or if it's organizations and lots of ordinary people who drive movements, one must ask which organizations and which ordinary people. How about MoveOn.org? How about the Democratic Party?

Ritter's criticism of Cindy Sheehan reminds me a lot of old DailyKos threads like this from 2005 in which a bunch of partisan Democrats get together and bitch about the fact that a gigantic march on Washington was just ruined because it was organized by ANSWER, a front group for an orthodox Marxist organization. The funny thing about threads like the above is that those participating seem to be completely oblivious to the irony of their complaints: the reason it's hard left organizations doing the work is because liberal left organizations aren't. It's like if you helped someone move into a new apartment and they complained because you got mud on the floor.

Democrats, it turns out, aren't organizing gigantic marches on Washington, aren't very vocally opposing the war in Iraq, and thus a lot of people to their left are trying to compel them to do so. It's unfortunate that John Conyers and Nancy Pelosi and Scott Ritter view these people as "the fringes of America's political left" spewing an "ideology so far removed from the mainstream as to be virtually unrecognizable", to quote Ritter, but the fact that the so-called mainstream views them as such is endemic to the situation.

The antiwar movement, to the extent that it exists, has many problems but the big problem isn't that Cindy Sheehan threatened to run against Nancy Pelosi in California because Pelosi isn't initiating impeachment proceedings. If that increasingly unlikely eventuality that I mentioned above occurs it will be because a lot of people put a lot of political pressure on Democratic politicians -- and, yes, Scott Ritter that even means the "good" ones like Rep. John Conyers.

(Actually this came out kind of pissy after all ...)

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