Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Strategery trumps principle

You can get a good look at just what's wrong with the Democratic Party by perusing Joan Vennochi's latest offering, which takes Russ Feingold to task for his proposed censure of President Bush:
Bush will never again be on an election ballot. Republicans in Congress will, as will a crop of presidential candidates whose last name is not Bush. Shouldn't they be the Democrats' focus? Those in Congress can be held accountable in 2006 and 2008. At this point, Bush answers to history.

One would gather from this line of reasoning that, once he wins his second term, any president is immune from accountability. Why, he can run amok if he chooses.

Sure. Just ask Dick Nixon and Bill Clinton if that's the case.

But Vennochi -- after the obligatory sniff at "lefty bloggers" -- continues:
Current polls and surveys show people think as little of Bush as they do of Congress. Democrats should be thinking of ways to change that. They need to increase their own favorability ratings at the expense of the opposition. Handing the opposition a weapon to use against Democrats is counterproductive. But censure, even impeachment, are seductive.

At this point, Democrats appear to understand the danger of pouring kerosene on the politics of Iraq and national security. Democrats thinking about running for president are another story. In the Senate, Feingold has been on his own.

You would gather from this that the Boston Globe columnist has been living in a cave for the past decade, or else has been viewing the world through a Rove-A-Scope.

Or perhaps she just failed to notice that no matter what Democrats do, Republicans will use it as a weapon. Meanwhile, inaction simply plays into their hands.

When will Democrats figure out that simply sticking to their guns and principles is the only way to deal with this?

Pearl-clutching, salt-sniffing liberals like Vennochi are all about strategy -- which is, frankly, the chief cause for their disempowerment.

Voters do care about principles. Democrats for the past two decades have been about strategy. Republicans, for better or worse, have been clear about at least creating and sustaining the image that they are about principles. Conservative principles may be utter horseshit, but they are principles nonetheless. Republicans thus at least appear to stand for something.

Democrats, well ... they can't even seem to recognize that the president nakedly and defiantly breaking the law regarding the wiretapping of American citizens actually is a principle most voters care about.

When they turn their backs on the Russ Feingolds, they demonstrate all too clearly that deep constitutional principles are really just talking points for them.

Which is why their strategies are doomed to failure. All the strategy in the world can't overcome an empty core. Democrats will not begin winning again until they can demonstrate that they actually stand for something.

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