Not this time, Swift Boaters. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is reporting this morning that the rightwing smear machine is sputtering in Jack Murtha Land:
The political battle that has resulted from the war in Iraq was center stage across a busy street in downtown Johnstown on Thursday morning as two groups of veterans gathered, one supporting and the other against U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha.
On one side of Main Street, in front of Murtha’s district office, about 200 veterans held a rally in support of the Democratic congressman’s re-election bid and in defense of comments the longtime lawmaker has made in opposition to the Bush administration’s military policy in Iraq. Supporters brought in Max Cleland, a wounded Vietnam veteran and former senator, to speak on Murtha’s behalf.
Across the street, a much smaller group called Vets for the Truth convened for a news conference at which members denounced Murtha and announced plans for a national veterans rally to be held in Johnstown on Oct. 1.
Veterans who turned out to support Murtha blasted organized opposition to the congressman’s criticism of the Bush administration and singled out Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the national organization that formed two years ago to campaign against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
Cleland, who flew in from his Georgia home yesterday for the event, offered a scathing rebuke of those who have questioned Murtha’s patriotism.
“We need to end the Swift Boat attacks against men like John Murtha and wring their necks like a chicken,” Cleland said. “We’re not going to let them swift-boat John Murtha.”
Rumors continue to swirl around Senators Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton on both senator’s futures. The Washinton Note contends Reid has sent private signals to Clinton and other stalwarts of the party that he “would like to” step down from his post in early 2009. Reid has not stated definitively that he will — but he apparently prefers “whipping” the Party from behind and the side rather than serving as commander-in-chief on the Senate floor.
What Reid is offering Senator Hillary Clinton is his total, robust support to succeed him as Senate Majority Leader if she elects not to pursue the Democratic nomination for President.
Many are realizing that the electoral map is not something one can wave a magic wand over and reverse the views of 42% of Americans who believe that they know Hillary Clinton well and have strongly formed views of her and will not vote for her under any conditions — according to recent polls. Reports are that Senator Clinton herself knows this and that her own enthusiasm for running actually trails that of her husband, her advisors, and her staff — whose enthusiasm for the race is ranked in that order with Hillary the least enthusiastic.
Some Republican Senators have been privately queried — not by Reid but by high level Republican Party funders (Northeast Republicans) who are frustrated with Bush, unsure of McCain, and considering supporting alternative candidates like Mark Warner — what they think of Hillary Clinton serving as either Senate Democratic Leader, either in the Majority or Minority. Senators such as Senator Chuck Hagel, Arlen Specter, and Lindsay Graham have reportedly said that they would welcome Senator Clinton in such a role, albeit from the other side of the aisle.
Interesting, no? Sounds like heavy Republican hitters are considering crossing over and supporting a moderate Democrat (Mark Warner) in 2008. With many in the Democratic party unsure of Clinton’s chances for the presidential race though completely satisfied with her leadership in the Senate, this sounds like a sensible way to raise the Democrats’ stock for 2008.
And hasn’t Hillary been a joy to watch lately? From her vodka drinking contest with McCain reported last month, to the smack down she gave Donald Rumsfeld yesterday as he testified before a Senate hearing – a hearing Clinton reportedly convinced him to appear at:
…and here is a small portion of the transcript:
In Afghanistan, your administration’s credibility is also suspect. In December, 2002, you said the Taliban had gone. In September of 2004, President Bush said, “The Taliban is no longer in existance.” However, this February, DIA director, Lt. Gen. Maples said that in 2005, attacks by the Taliban and other anti-coalition forces were up 20% from 2004 levels and these insurgents were a greater threat to the Afghan government’s efforts to expand its authority than at any time since 2001. Further, Gen. Ikenberry made a comparable comment with respect to the dangers that are now going on in Afghanistan and the failure to be able to secure it.
Obviously, I could go on and on. The recent book, aptly titled, “Fiasco”, describes in some detail the decision making apparatus that has lead us to this situation. So, Mr. Secretary, when our constituents ask for evidence that your policy in Iraq and Afghanistan will be successful, you don’t leave us with much to talk about. Yes, we hear a lot of happy talk and rosy scenarios but because of the administration’s strategic blunders and, frankly, the record of incompetence in executing, you are presiding over a failed policy. Given your track record, Secretary Rumsfeld, why should we believe your assurances now?
Easily the most absurd statement I’ve seen in a while from the blogosphere was from DemocraticUnderground yesterday:
Let’s face it, the only reason Clinton was able to win twice was because of his charisma and charm. Conservatives who normally voted for the Repukes switched to Clinton because
1) He was socially conservative in many respects
2) He told funny jokes
For the total aburdity of that statement, for it being wrong on so many levels, and for creative far-left Democratic party historical revisionism, I’m presenting the person who wrote that stupidity the DonkeyDigest award:
And being the stickler that I am for historical accuracy and what the traditional place on the ideological specturm is for Democrats (its the center), I’m enjoying a little barb-trading among a couple of blogs on this very topic. NewDonkey kicked if off with this post about how the current left views Joe Lieberman and how that has skewed their historical perception of him – often resulting in inaccurate and distorted statements about Lieberman’s career.
Matthew Yglesias responds with a some great points himself:
Ed Kilgore’s latest post on Joe Lieberman is really pretty fascinating. It highlights what I think basically amounts to a generation gap in views of politics. That’s not quite the correct term, though, because it’s not exactly a question of age. Rather, I’d say that there were a series of events from 1998-2003 — the Clinton impeachment, the Florida recount fiasco, the Iraq War — which served to draw a lot of people into higher levels of political engagement, sometimes because we were little kids during earlier dramas, but often just because the people in question were doing something else earlier.
People who look to those years as their reference points just have very different ideas and perceptions about a lot of things… Ultimately, it basically comes down to a question of whether you regard the current era of partisan politics as the normal (if perhaps in some ways regrettable) state of affairs or whether you should think of it as a reversible aberration… Nevertheless, it’s obviously the sort of thing where your thinking is going to be influenced by when you started paying attention closely.
Kevin Drum at Political Animal then weighs in with this:
Matt Yglesias argues, basically, that young liberal turks who have only been following politics since the time the Republican Party went batshit insane (which would be either 1994, 1998, or 2000, depending on how you keep score) have a fundamentally different worldview than old liberal fogies who have been following politics for decades. Given the GOP’s recent history of using bipartisan charades as a thin excuse for back alley political muggings, the first group considers the whole idea of bipartisanship to be dangerously naive. The second group, conversely, continues to value traditional bipartisan comity as a way of getting things done.
Drum goes on to write that the Democratic party beating up on loony-lefty Dems in the 70s and early 80s was arguably necessary for the health of both the party and the country, but isn’t so now because the leftwing of the party doesn’t have that much influence. I have to disagree, though. In the 70s and early 80s, the “loony-lefty Dems” helped give the Democratic party its reputation for pandering to every special interest and for being weak on national defense. They were able to influence a lot of elected officials (resulting in Congress’ cold relationship with Jimmy Carter) and were able to sway the Democratic platform a little to the left in 1980 (some strategists believe it contributed to Carter’s loss that year), but those items were minor compared to what the left has done and is attempting now. Just ask Al Gore and Joe Lieberman how effective the leftwing is at swaying elections these days.
Coming full circle, NewDonkey replies to both Drum and Yglesias:
Let’s put aside the slur about “fogies” wanting Democrats to move “farther to the right.” I sure as hell don’t… And let’s remember why we are having this conversation. It’s not because hysterical centrists are scouring the political landscape looking for lefties to demonize or expel; it’s because there is a large and vocal body of opinion in the Democratic Party, some of it ideologically driven, some of it just partisan, that is deeply wedded to a particular interpretation of how the two parties got to their current condition.
This interpretation heavily relies on the belief that in the 1990s and the early years of this century, a centrist, Clintonian Establishment sold out progressive principles, refused to fight against a disciplined Right, happily gave up Congress and a majority of the states, and essentially conceded defeat, in the pursuit of power and comfort, and the praise of David Brooks and David Broder. This is, indeed, a narrative widely shared in the netroots, and it has helped energize netizens to enlist in a conscientious effort to cleanse the Democratic Party of the centrist malefactors who let this happen.
Its to the extent that this narrative is based on “facts” that some of us old fogies find to be empirically wrong…
Republicans are headed for their most serious midterm losses in decades. Larry Sabato and David Wasserman convincingly say so. And I’ll add the reason why: Just as the Democrats lost big in 1994 for their two decade move to the left, Republicans lose this fall for their suicidal leap to the right.
E. J. Dionne asks is conservatism finished?
Democrats are revising their Iraq strategy. Sure to make some on the left howl in protest that is the plan is too slow, and some on the right scream “cut and run,” Democratic strategists yesterday said a revised proposal to begin withdrawing some U.S. troops from Iraq by year’s end is a more appealing campaign position than an immediate pullout that draws little voter support.
Most Americans consider Israel’s bombing campaign in Lebanon justified.