Lower Your Rhetoric on Iraq; The Left is Lost

[Front paged: NM. Yeah, what is up with the dissing of the Left, we who do all that doorbelling?]

Last night I celebrated the great Democratic victory of 2006 at the annual Jeanne Kohl-Welles fundraiser. This year the fundraiser was held at Hale's Brewery in Freelard, which, as far as I'm concerned, was a great improvement over last year's event at the Seattle Center. Of course, this year's election was a great improvement over the last--how many elections? Part of the joy of the Kohl-Welles fundraiser is the chance to shoot the breeze with some old friends and meet a few new ones. The fundraiser also features a panel of "experts" who give their take on the recent election and answer a few questions from the audience.

Yours truly got the first question of the night: where will the $1 billion in new funds come from that Terry Bergeson says is needed to implement the Washington Learns K-12 proposals? A second question related to the role of rank-and-file Democrats in the recent election victory. The third question came from a friend on my left (literally) and concerned the Iraq war. After a couple attempts at humor from Dwight Pelz and Dave Ross, Blair Butterworth gave the serious consultant's answer: we will be in Iraq for a long time to come and we Democrats should "lower our rhetoric on Iraq."

Dwight came back with a more thoughtful response. He thought we'd be leaving Iraq sooner rather than later, and we'd be leaving for the same reasons that the Germans left Paris and the Americans left Saigon: because we're losing. He said that "The Left"--whoever they are--will have to find something else to talk about after the war is soon over.

After the panel discussion, I approached Dwight and, in my not-so-polite way, asked him to clarify his comments on "The Left." He said that "The Left is lost." Dwight apparently fancies himself a student of history and proceeded to explain how The Left's burning issue during the Progressive Era was to bring more working people into the middle class. This project continued for some decades until the Vietnam War, when The Left attempted to "blow up the Democratic Party" over the war. Now, apparently, The Left is still fixated with the issue of war, even as the Radical Right wages a war on the middle class. What's needed, in Dwight's view, is for The Left to worry about the middle class. Then they'll know where they are, which is to say, where he is.

Dwight admits that he's part of The Left, and he doesn't think he himself is lost. I admit that I don't have a good sense of direction, and perhaps I could have knocked on more doors for Darcy if I'd been able to make better sense of those precinct maps, but I don't recall having been outright lost. I also notice that my panel question was about education funding, not the war. Yet, the war was arguably the issue most--or second-most--on the voters' minds. One reason, among many, that Republicans did so poorly was because they didn't want to talk seriously about the issues the voters wanted to talk about. We Democrats will need to be more responsive than the Republicans were, or we won't last long in power.

Beyond that, I wonder about the need of the Chair of the Washington State Democratic Party to insult a group he belongs to--a group which just did its darndest to help elect some notable "moderates" to the majority. It's tempting to conclude that as a member of The Left, I shouldn't be knocking on doors because people who are lost ought to stay home where they won't get into trouble. If Dwight's head seems to have grown slightly since the last time I saw him, I think he should remember that the Democratic victory was not due to genius at the top of the State Party, but due to a combination of factors, including the enthusiasm and sacrifice of rank-and-file Democrats, some of whom are lost Leftists.

One of the lovely things about living in a country that still has free speech is that we get to talk about what we want to, even if highly paid consultants would have us "lower our rhetoric." If the folks who care deeply about the unfolding tragedy in Iraq want to talk about it loudly, then, by all means, they ought to. And if other folks--including Blair Butterworth and Dwight Pelz--want to put their giant strategic brains together and talk about the struggles of the middle class, that's their prerogative. I know I plan to keep talking about what I want to talk about. Today it might be about education. And tomorrow it might be about Iraq. But don't follow my lead: I'm lost.

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A few months ago, I attended an 11th District Dems meeting (cenral Distict area) to promote my UnCaged fundraiser. Dwight, who is a member of that district, ambled in; I overhead his response to a member's remark as: "I'm tired of the left."

I perked up my ears at that, surprised because in this state, a sizeable percentage of the party faithful would have to be included in that category, "The Left". Dwight is dissing a lot of WA Dems, isn't he?

The woman then gave him an earful [paraphrasing]: "I can understand you saying "I disagree because of XYZ, whatever" but "I'm tired of the Left"? That's just disrespectful...

Dwight answered: "Just listen to my speech."

I had to leave for rehearsal before this speech, so I never did hear his perspective. I imagine it was something like what you described.

Dwight isn't known for his tactfulness or sensitivity, and maybe that's not part of his job. But why create resentment  unnecessarily?

DWE, I'm with you. I wouldn't ignore the Iraq situation because some think politically it's not productive (maybe because the public HATES admitting we lost?) The class issues he prefers to focus on are are meaningful, but why is it either/or?

Or maybe I'm too clueless to understand any of this.

by dinazina on Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 07:14:13 AM PST

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Let us "lower our rhetoric on Iraq" and talk about Middle Class values and issues. Let us talk about education funding - oh wait, the money for that is tied up in that place we shall not mention. Let us then turn to healthcare; a middle class value for sure - oops, again, funding is tied up in "that place". Well, the middle class is concerned about good roads and bridges and other components of infratructure - damn!, those dollars and that pesky "place we will not talk about." Well there is the middle class issue of jobs; the ones that haven't been Free Traded away anyway. Oh yeah, that might include re-training which would fall under the heading of education and we have already discussed that.

Security...there's your middle class value. Keeping the Motherland; er, I mean Fatherland; oops, I mean Homeland safe is paramount.........except of course, we don't have the money to inspect containers or hire more border security, because of that pesky place which shall remain unspoken.

Wars of choice/convenience are not a Middle Class Value. They damn well should not be a Democratic value.
Chad (The <Lost?> Left) Shue

by The Left Shue on Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 07:22:32 AM PST

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And so do I, and so does everybody here. And when we do, we resort to terms like "the left" or "progressive" or "centrist" without a thought that sloppy labels such as these mean different things to different people.

In these cases, the message you might want to convey to someone might have the entirely opposite effect from what was intended. I do not know that this was the case here. That's not important.

It's not even important if Dwight, Blair Butterworth, or anybody else thinks people ought to shut up about the war. I hope nobody really thinks that might happen.

As for Dwight's comment that " 'the left' tried to blow up the Democratic Party over the Vietnam War," he has that wrong. The Democratic Party DID blow up over the Vietnam War. And people who refused to support Humphrey are the ones who gave us Nixon, which led to Reagan, and now the Bushes.

Nobody should shut up about the war. People should not demand that we all become ANSWER crazies, right now and to the exclusion of all else, but for the sake of us all, and out children, DO NOT shut up about this war. I know I won't.

If perception is reality, then the world must be flat and the sun must revolve around it.

by ivan on Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 08:31:31 AM PST

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seems to think that Iraq is just an issue among many, that if Democrats focus on healthcare, student loans, and rx drugs, we'll win seats.

This is the 2002 strategy, and how'd that work out?

"Lower our rhetoric"...  I don't want to pillory the guy, because he DOES have a point.  Democrats ought to be able to talk about the economic insecurity of Americans in real terms.  After, there are plenty of folks who are doing awful in this so-called 'robust' economy.

That said, Iraq is going to be a big, big issue for some time to come, and while Democrats SHOULD be able to talk about MORE than just Iraq, it should be noted that Democrats won in '06 because Democrats fought back on the 'war' issue.

David, you should continue to talk about Iraq for as long as it suits you.  Keep the heat on.  Even if the results you want are hard to come by, keep up the pressure.

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by Belltowner on Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 09:05:49 AM PST

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..Walk the Plank!

What else, as Ivan characterized, is Dwight and the Party still lazy about? Look at what's going on here, carefully, with a gimlet eye: It's the substitution of one issue for another one.

The Democrats have got to "get it" that it ain't about one issue, or the people who care about all of those issues will do what they've learned to do because of the uncaring of the people who should be leading: find some other way.

I know, I know, my good friend comrade SeaBos says we need to get on message. But the Democrats need a qualitatively different message than the Republicans: that message has to unwaveringly capture that there is more than one issue.

by m3047 on Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 11:49:06 AM PST

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Imagine, for a moment, if Dianne Tebelius, WSRP chair said "the Right is lost".  

If we're going to truly be the big tent party (and I'm not entirely convinced that can happen), then the roll of the party chair is to balance those factions within the big tent.  Welcoming former Republicans into the big tent is a worthy goal, but dissing the "Lost Leftists" won't help your goal of becoming the majority party.  

by Chris Bassett on Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 02:11:05 PM PST

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I have to ask (I'm being facetious - I do know who Pelz is), "Who's Pelz and who's Butterworth?"

Now look ... those who don't tune me out and avoid reading my stuff know that Lietta and I live in the boondocks ... the tules ... McRanium-kind-of-country so we're probably purty dang dumb when it comes to the nuance of political savvy, specially in King County.

But I'll tell you this ... when Switz and the gang were all telling us to shut the hell up about Iraq, leave Maria C. alone, and don't go there, you all were little ducks farting under the water.

It was obvious that Cantwell was not going to struggle with Mcgavick.

First time he opened his mouth and sounded like Barney Fife, I knew Maria would win ... in fact it made it easier to push her harder. If that sounds like I'm trying to say "I told you so," you might be right. But what I'm really trying to say is that we weren't so dang dumb all along and sure as hell ain't thanking Pelz or all the shushers at Washblog who were terrified of the Safeco Softy.

His ads and speeches only got dumber and dumber as the campaign dragged on. By the end he looked like he was going through the motions, using his own thinking and putting together some awfully shallow ads perhaps because the RNC had given up on his chances ... ar Ms. Tubeless is as shallow as Mike!

For the most part, Cantwell had no need to mud-sling McGavick cause he's such an obvious drop-kick anyway.

I said it at the time and I haven't changed my mind ... Cantwell was in no danger of losing that election unless she did something herself to her campaign.

I would also suggest that folks like Lietta, DWE, RMD, Chad, Kirkdorfer (and all the rest on Washblog who egged us on) ... AND  myself did more to nudge Cantwell only slightly in a better direction than Pelz's grandstand play with his whine about having problems within the party, fund-raising and volunteering.

I do not for one minute believe that Cantwell came to her senses and made the slight shift leftward because of Pelz's wise-sounding directives or public statements to the media. At that time, Lietta was getting more press and a more interesting news articles about Maria than Dwight.

I'd even venture to say so did I cause the dang TV and papers were calling me for my dumb thoughts too and when I get mad I write mad and when people write angry it's like Viagra to bored news reporters with nothing up.

Pelz sounds like he wants very much to take credit for Demo success in Washington State but if his genius is equal to his mouth then I'd like to hear what more he could have done to nudge Burner over the top. It's too easy to remain silent and preen about the good stuff when the party came oh, so close, on the election they should have been working on more than Mike! the doofus.

Why couldn't Mr. Pelz and the party help Dacry over those last few inches to the summit? I'd rather hear an in-depth discussion from the party chairman about that rather than prancing about and pretending to be on the same electoral genius level as Chuck and Rahm.

You sure you ain't staking too much on yer theories? Not enough common sense?

by Arthur Ruger on Sun Nov 19, 2006 at 02:55:30 PM PST

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which campaigns has this guy worked on?

I've heard his name for years and I've seen him popping up for years -

who is paying him?

He sounds like a card carrying member of the Dem chickenshit political class that stumbled into victory 2 weeks ago -

a victory that happened

  1. cuz everyone is so fed up with the thugs kelptocracy that the kleptocrats lies don't work anymore,

  2. cuz of the Howard Deans and Darcys and Testers and blogs and zillions of citizens ...

a victory that had


to do with these "lower your rhetoric" DLC Lite chickenshits.

in FACT, there are 2 reasons for the ravages of the kleptoacry in the last few decades:

(AND, by the way, the lack of PROGRESS on education, health care, defense spending and on and on and on)

1. they are kleptocrats who are just doing what kleptocrats do - letting people die so they can get fucking rich.

Is there something confusing or complex about that statement?

If there is, try this: Wake Up.

2. the Dem chickenshits who won't fight the kleptocrats cuz in 1994 ... they had their heads up their asses so they lost to the kleptocrats.

Hey Blair - we lose cuz of "lowering our rhetoric" chickenshits like you.

YOU could try something, but ...

being a chickenshit whose response to the world is to hide, what I suggest is probably far outta your comfort zone,

YOU and your class of losers could try creating such a compelling vision and such a compelling program and such a compelling message that the rhetoric of any faction would be irrelevant ...

or you can keep up with your snivelling chickenshit bullshit, since

as long as people are willing to pay you to hear it and to live by it,

it is easier to complain that other Dems are wrecking your hiding under the table small world than go beat the kleptocrats, isn't it?



by rmdSeaBos on Sat Nov 18, 2006 at 10:34:22 AM PST

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