Saturday, November 19, 2005

Hurricane Murtha and the Coming Deluge (Updated)

The flap over last night's vote in the Congress on a version of Murtha's proposal (or at least the way the "Arab Street," as well as our dedicated enemies, see it) reminded me of a theme I worked on for a short time last year. That theme concerned the extinction of the Democratic Party. The notion I had was that the Democrats would become so short-sightedly self-serving that they'd self-destruct, leaving the US a single-party coalition of sub-factions for the remainder of the Terror War. As I recall, I felt the denouement could be pushed out to the 2008 election, but Dan Darling (now with Winds of Change) felt it might hit sooner. Well, my updated impression is that either the Democrats or the nation itself will self-destruct some time between now and November, 2008. Ultimately there aren't two sides to history. If you're standing in the wrong place when the storm hits, you won't last long.

As I listened to Susan Estrich debate Gordon Liddy on FOX last night it occurred to me that the Democrats really don't get it. The vote recommending withdrawal of troops "immediately" was defeated 403 to 3. It was a brilliant play that might easily have been just as effective had it been introduced by a Democrat, but to hear them talk they bitterly resented being manipulated into sending Al Qaeda a message of opposition, and the Iraqis a message of support and succor (to say nothing of reassurance to our troops). Why wouldn't they be overjoyed? And by grumbling and adopting an accusational stance the message they're sending the American people is that their tightly negative agenda is more important to them than the interests of the country or the fortunes of democracy. Have they gone nuts? Essentially the Democrats have been captured by "bad philosophy": a bad philosophy of war and a bad philosophy of politics. They've simply lost the knack of governance and become the captive of a sophomoric and californicated "Marxisantism" that will be their undoing. (h/t Pat Conlon for the term.) And if the voters ever get a clear image of that situation then Dan and I will be proved right.

But it doesn't end there. Playing into that partisan dynamic is a clear bid for power by conventional media. If they can manage, by carefully avoiding reportage that attributes either success, or even a rational strategy, to our actions in Iraq, they will have demonstrated enough dominance for their ability to control the message to secure their status for at least a few more years. The gamble is huge. They've constructed a meme of "imminent failure," referenced numerous times by Congressman Murtha, that bears an ironic resemblance to their continued and oblivious promotion of the meme that Bush rested his case for invasion of Iraq on an "imminent threat." (I've lost count how many times this has been debunked.) Only this time the threat really is imminent, for if the levee they've built against the truth finally breaks The Deluge will follow.

Update: Fair notice: I'm a Democrat, or have been most of my life. I currently don't identify with a political party, but I'm not likely to ever identify with the Democrats again after this abysmal and ongoing display of bad judgment. My take is that the issues (though not the policy prescriptions) usually identified with the Democrats won't disappear, but will have champions within a much broader Republican Party, at least for the time being.

The Democrats escaped irrelevance in the wake of the Civil War, but just barely. And I think their time may have finally come to go the way of the Whigs. I've been waiting to see some sign that the Democrats were going to awaken, but most of coherent voices within that party are either moving in the direction of Michael Moore and or they're getting the heck out. It's clear at this point that they've been captured. And this could be the final stage in the McGovernization of the party that took place during the Vietnam era.

Well, we'll see if a hawk (relatively speaking) can win the nomination without groveling to the Marxisant wing. Clinton didn't say word one about Murtha, so she knows enough to keep her head down. But just how much do those candidates have in common with the rest of the party, since Murtha re-defined it as the "defeat is inevitable" faction. If there were a dominant Democrat who sees the logic of our foreign policy and defined it the way Newt has defined "The Long War" that person could play a role similar to Lincoln, establishing a third party that eclipses one of the majors. Not, mind you, that I think there is such a person in the Democrat ranks. There isn't. And there is already a party that champions democracy-expansion and nation-building, so we don't another. That is, unless the Republicans abandon the project at some point.

So the only thing that keeps the Democrats relevant at all is the set of social issues that the Republicans have, so far, failed to resolve. (Poverty and education being the main ones.) If a branch of the Republicans becomes "progressive" in the sense that it promotes an effective "ownership society" program then the last toehold of the Democrats will be gone. So far there are not many signs that the Republicans are willing to pay these issues much more than lip service, but the potential exists. (Think "Newt.") And once that happens the Dems will come crashing to earth with a bang.

Most people think a Hillary-Condee race would be interesting for its novelty, but the one I'd like to see is a Hillary-Newt race. That would have the potential to change the political landscape for generations. The race would be decided in the center, and odds are the Dems would not survive as an effective party.