Monday, September 26, 2005

"Heartless" trumps "spineless"; Bush still "Leader"

WaPo ran a Jennifer Moses column yesterday explaining why, despite hurricane, flood, overflowing homeless shelters, five years of Bush incompetence, and plummeting poll figures nationwide, Baton Rouge is still Bush country.

[T]he answer isn't that the folks in Baton Rouge are a bunch of racist ignoramuses. Rather, it lies in cultural and social identification, overlaid with a patina of Christianity and fueled by raw, largely social, fear.

It's a projection test. Referring to a woman known around the hood as "Saint Becky" because her heart is so big, Moses says:

But Becky also has eyes, and what she sees when she takes her kids to school or to the dentist is a whole neighborhood, just a few blocks from our own, where every third household exists on welfare, parents routinely abuse their kids, young men deal drugs, prostitutes ply their trade and rap music extolling the joys of gang rape and murder blasts out of every other car.

I suspect that when Becky, who isn't exactly rolling in dough herself, looks at the sorry spectacle of America's intransigent underclass, she simply wonders what happened to good-old-American, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps ingenuity. What Becky sees when she sees George Bush is a man who may not be a genius but who at least talks the talk, drawing a clear line between right and wrong. She looks at his face and sees her own staring back..

And what has the Democratic Party offered to counter that image? "Nothing but a blur," says Moses.

Because if under George W. Bush the Republican Party has become heartless, the Democratic Party has become spineless.

It's easy to say conservatives as a group are selfish and lacking in empathy. I have, and I'm not retracting. But at the individual level, not all are driven by greed and callousness. Some very decent people might be pried from their Imaginary Leader by a Principled Leader... even if that leader were a Democrat. Which is good news because we've got lots of principled Democrats.

Except that none of them will stay on message because they're afraid of being called traitors, or partisans, or obstructionists, or liberals, or weak on defense, or losers, or swing-voter-alienators, or any damn thing at all.

Buzzflash noticed this a few weeks ago:

The white Democratic senatorial candidates (including Biden and Clinton) wallow in their timidity and fear of assuming the mantle of leadership. They mistake supporting Bush's manufactured image of national security leadership with supporting the actuality of protecting the American people, which Bush fails to do at every inept step he takes.

If a Democrat can't stand up for trying to really protect the American public from terrorist attacks and the after-effects of disasters than what do they offer that is different than the incompetence of Bush? If Joe Biden really believes that the Iraq war is a worthy cause, then he is selling the security interests of the United States short, as is Hillary Clinton.

The acquiescence of the Democratic leadership to the conventional wisdom that they have to appear to be "tough" on national security is terminally flawed. To be tough on national security and to truly protect Americans requires a lambasting of the failures of the Bush Administration's foreign policies -- including the nightmare of the Iraq War -- and a corrupt, incestuous, partisan, ineffective Department of Homeland Security. We aren't talking about politics as usual; we are talking about protecting the American people, really protecting them, and not just playing a political game.

So how about it, dem leaders? How about standing up and speaking the truth, fighting for what's right instead of what you think they think we think we want to hear, and protecting the American people for real? Take a risk. You might lose a lot of fights but you'll gain immeasurably in respect. Trust us. Help us.


leolabeth said...

Ola Kate,
I see you're back with a vengeance. Democrats spineless? Yes. Yes. Yes.

The question is what to we do? Are you prepared to run for office? Who are the Dems running against Dana Dow, or Olympia Snowe for that matter?

I'm joyful at the mis-steps coming to the front in the Republican Party, DeLay's indictment especially, but am less than optimistic that any incarnation of the Left can take advantage of these golden opportunities.

If we can't even agree--a la the ongoing debate on dkos--on the purpose of a peace march, where the heck are we?

BTW, I've missed your sharp, clear view. Glad you're home.

Alna Dem said...

Hey, thanks, and hello!

We should have lunch and discuss our political and writing futures. Will give you a call after Oct. 20 when we get back from the West Coast!

leolabeth said...

I'd like that, Kate. See you then.

Give my love to the Pacific.