Thursday, August 25, 2005

Unintended Consequences?

Mickey Kaus:

Recent multiple exposures to Westside L.A. liberals confirms that (as George Will and Kevin Drum suggest) Hillary Clinton is currently heading for a much bigger train wreck in her party than anticipated--a wreck all her cautious planning failed to anticipate, and probably exacerbated.

The same press drumbeat of defeatism about Iraq that has helped bring down Bush’s numbers has also emboldened the party’s mainstream left base (i.e., not just MoveOn or the DailyKos crowd). They hardly care whether Hillary is a member of the DLC. But they do not want to support someone who voted for the war, as Hillary did. Worse, they want a Democrat who is willing to break from the respectable Beltway Tough-It-Out Consensus now, publicly, in a way Hillary has been unable to do. They’re so desperate for a champion they’re even temporarily captivated by Sen. Hagel’s mere mention of “Vietnam.” Hagel/Dean for America! Or maybe Hagel/Gingrich. …

All of this dovetails with an earlier post of mine, quoting conservative pundits. With the liberal Kaus on board, the Democrat Trainwreck Theory now has bipartisan support.

UPDATE. James Taranto offers this analysis of the Kaus article:

Specifically, what are we to make of polls showing 55% or so of Americans think the war a "mistake"? It seems very likely that this group can be broken down into two distinct subgroups: those who opposed the war from the start (about 30% of the total, to judge by polls back then), and those who initially supported it but now have misgivings.

Now, there may be a few people who backed the war but have come around to the Michael worldview. But our guess is that most of those who've had second thoughts about the war have been influenced by that "press drumbeat of defeatism" Kaus cites. Their views could change if the tone of the news coverage changes, or if they are persuaded that the tone doesn't reflect reality. The point is that if they now think, or fear, that the war was a mistake, it is because they are afraid we may lose.

The other group--the antiwar core--consists of people whose priority is ending, not winning, the war, and some of whom actually want America to lose. This is the group that, as Kaus notes, is increasingly getting the attention of the media and asserting itself within the Democratic Party. That will make it difficult for the Democrats to offer a credible alternative to nervous voters who want to win.

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