Sunday, September 17, 2006

Take a 'tougher stance,' already!

Barack Obama disappoints me. Considering the promise with which he ascended to the national political stage in 2004, the man has failed to perform with much distinction. For someone mentioned as a great presidential hope in 2008, he blends disconcertingly well into the crowd of Democratic wannabes who will never occupy the Oval Office.

Take, for example, Sen. Obama's admonition to Democrats regarding the political meta-issue of the early 21st century: national security.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., warned Democratic activists Sunday that the party must take a tougher stance on national security if it wants to succeed in the November elections.

"What Democrats have to do is to close the deal," said Obama, the keynote speaker at Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin (news, bio, voting record)'s 29th annual steak fry. "We have got to show we have a serious agenda for change."
Democrats need to take a tougher stance, huh, Sen. Obama? Then, take one! Attack the president and the rubber-stamp Republicans with the kind of take-no-prisoners language that fires voters up and makes them want to storm the halls of congress. Inspire us, senator!

Call Bush out as the complete failure that he is. Demonize him. Say outrageous things. Explain that Bush is the best thing that ever happened to Osama bin Laden. Every time you get in front of camera or a microphone, ask why we're still not scanning cargo containers at American seaports. I don't mean do it one time. I don't mean do it twice or three times. I mean do it every single time you open your mouth in public. Demand to know why Bush and the rubber-stamp Republican congress have failed to force the chemical industry to implement stronger security measures. Demand answers to that question every time you get in front of a microphone. Run ads about it. Go on Meet the Press, This Week and Face the Nation to talk about it.

I could go the rest of my life without hearing another Democrat lecturing his or her party about the need to attack the Republicans on national security. Attack the Republicans on national security! They failed to do it in 2002. They failed to do it in 2004. Finally, in 2006, with Bush abandoned by all but the most sycophantic authoritarian followers on the right, Democrats are beginning to attack him and the Republicans on national security and Iraq. But the strongest attacks are coming mostly from young turks such as Ned Lamont and James Webb. They are inspiring voters with their willingness to boldly go after Bush on the issue that is his perceived strength. This could have been the party's stance from the moment Karl Rove announced his intention to politicize 9/11. Rather than cede the issue to the GOP, the party could have fought it out in the trenches and held its ground.

But, see, here's the thing. The "Democratic Party" really can't do anything in and of itself. The party is what Democrats make it. If Sen. Barack Obama, D-IL, presents a compelling case against George W. Bush's national security agenda, and inspires other Democrats to join him, then guess what? The party will have taken a tougher stance on national security. Lecturing "the party" on what it should do, as if it possesses a will of its own, is futile. Every time Sen. Barack Obama fails to articulate a tough stance on national security, then that is one more missed opportunity for the "Democratic Party" to present a tough stance on national security.

Don't tell "the party" what it should say. Say it. We're listening.


betmo said...

here's a thought- why not have candidates set a platform that they actually believe in and let the people decide. stop trying to weasel votes through polls and the lot- and just stand for something. it is so ridiculous.