December 11, 2003

Al Gore's backing of Howard Dean gives Democrats back their voice

Another U.S. GI died in Iraq today...For what?

Sidney Blumenthal, writing in the Guardian: Gore now calls the rightwing media a "fifth column" within journalism, and he's raising millions to build a TV network of his own as an alternative. In his own
way, he's absorbed the lessons of the past three years
and become a representative Democrat. His endorsement
of Dean is his commentary on his campaign and the
conduct of his party since.

Show Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1104370,00.html

'If I had to do it over again, I'd let rip'

Al Gore's backing of Howard Dean gives Democrats back their voice

Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday December 11, 2003
The Guardian

Since the trauma of the 2000 election, the Democrats
have endured a history of loss and defeat, not only of
office and programme, but identity, self-confidence
and self-respect. As a congressional party that lost
its majority in 2002, it has seemed to be in a
nightmare that the party is incapable of escaping.
Republican bullying has been met almost inevitably by
Democratic cowering, the ruthless will to power by
timid retreat. Before this spectacle, Democratic
voters have felt themselves unrepresented and
voiceless. Until the presidential candidacy of Howard
Dean, their burning sentiments lacked expression. Now,
Al Gore's early endorsement of Dean dramatically
amplifies them and partly explains them.

Above all, Democrats are consumed with a rising sense
of injustice. They believe that democracy was
undermined when the votes were not counted in Florida
and the supreme court made George Bush president; that
the social contract in place since the New Deal is
being shredded; that internationalist alliances are
being shattered; that the president lied about the
reasons for war; that the Bush administration acts
with authoritarian impunity (refusing, for example, to
make public even the members of the vice-president's
energy policy panel); and that the media is being
overwhelmed by the din of a rightwing echo chamber
that masks itself as journalism.

In the face of constant provocation, Democrats see
their own party as hesitant, compromised, if not
complicit, and cowardly. "You're either with us or the
terrorists," Bush has repeated many times. The
Democrats supported the war in Afghanistan. Most
Democrats in the House and Senate backed the war
resolution on Iraq. Yet none of this prevents
Republicans from challenging their patriotism.

As recently as last week, after Senator Hillary
Clinton, who voted for the Iraq war, returned from
inspecting Afghanistan and Iraq as a member of the
armed services committee, a Republican party flunky
and Bush family retainer named Scott Reed was trotted
out to smear the former first lady as "un-American"
when she called for more troops and international
support.

The Democrats' feelings for their congressional party
are inextricably linked to their feelings for Bush.
They saw Democratic legislators vote for regressive
Bush tax cuts in the belief that it would insulate
them from Republican assaults in the 2002 mid-term
elections, only to see enough Democratic senators lose
seats to tip the Senate. Time and again, even liberal
lions such as Edward Kennedy have been bamboozled on
education and Medicare.

The congressional Democrats have been in denial about
Bush's conservative radicalism. They preferred to
believe that fundamental comity still existed even
when it was being smashed. They gathered no clue about
the simmering among Democratic voters from the
phenomenon of Senator Robert Byrd, a silver-maned
irrelevance suddenly elevated to cult hero for his
opposition to Bush on the Iraq war.

All the major Democratic candidates running for
president from Congress voted for the war resolution.
Only Dean - the sole non-congressional candidate -
stood against it. The late entry, the former general
Wesley Clark, flip-flopped on the war, in effect
turning himself into a congressional Democrat,
declared that he had voted for Nixon, Reagan and the
elder Bush, and volunteered that he's for banning the
burning of the US flag, a hoary Republican demagogic
device.

Gore's endorsement of Dean is the most important since
grainy film was shown at the 1992 Democratic
convention depicting President Kennedy shaking hands
with a teenage Bill Clinton. Gore's endorsement is not
the passing of the torch to a new generation, but
another conferring of legitimacy. For Democrats, he
personifies the infamy of the last election. He is not
another politician, but the rightfully elected
president, by a popular majority of 539,895 votes.

But the Gore of today is not the Gore of 2000. The
careful political figure trying to distance himself
from Clinton and contorting his personality to project
likability has been tempered by defeat. "If I had to
do it all over again, I'd just let it rip," Gore said
a year ago. "To hell with the polls, the tactics and
all the rest. I would have poured out my heart and my
vision for America's future."

Gore now calls the rightwing media a "fifth column"
within journalism, and he's raising millions to build
a TV network of his own as an alternative. In his own
way, he's absorbed the lessons of the past three years
and become a representative Democrat. His endorsement
of Dean is his commentary on his campaign and the
conduct of his party since.

Sidney Blumenthal is former senior adviser to
President Clinton and author of The Clinton Wars

Sidney_Blumenthal@yahoo.com


Posted by richard at December 11, 2003 10:43 PM