NDN Blog

Democrats call for Strategic Redeployment in Iraq

Congressional Democrats are working to put their stamp on this election.  Last week they offered their New Direction agenda and a well-done video companion. Yesterday they offered a plan for strategic redeployment of our troops in Iraq, a plan clearly inspired by CAP's foreign policy work. 

After the election we will look back at this decision to embrace "strategic redeployment" as one of the most critical decisions of the year.  I argued against it on a recent television appearance.  We know the Bush plan isn't working.  That staying the course when the course is failing isn't a good plan.  But is this strategic redeployment a better option? Or just an option? Whether this is good politics or not, are we ready to fight for this option on the world stage if we win back one of the Chambers? Are we ready to take responsibility at this moment for what will happen in Iraq when our troops begin to leave, as instability in the Middle East rises and the Iraqi Sunnis ask us to stay?

I wrote last week that I worried that the events in Lebanon had rendered obsolete the Democrats Iraq frame.  After reading the Democrats Iraqi letter I still feel that way.  That doesn't mean Democratic leaders aren't right about Iraq.  It just means that Democrats have now joined this debate in a very specific way, in a time of profound transformation and confrontation in the Middle East, and will have to stand and defend a position that somehow seems a little more spring than fall. 

Morning Roundup

In a recurring theme of this blog, it seems remarkable how on the sidelines of world affairs America sits today.  Tom Friedman hit this point hard on Meet the Press yesterday.  Brent Scowcroft in a Washington Post op-ed lays out a multi-pronged strategy for bringing peace to the Middle East.  While imaginable for the American government, its diplomatic maturity and complexity is unimaginable for the current "yo Blair" administration, one that has a hard time talking to the opposition party in its home country let alone adversaries aboard. 

Where the battle in Lebanon takes us next is hard to know.  Certainly the death of innocents yesterday - whether hezbollah used them as shields or not - has altered the game.  I have been very sympathetic to Israel's actions, believing that it was time to let Iran understand the consequences of their flouting of the international community.  Remember that in the early days of the Lebanon battle Sunni Arab states rallied to Israel's cause, pleased by the bloodying of the Shiite's nose. Perhaps Israel's actions have backfired now, causing a rallying for Hezbollah and the extremists.  But the current rise of Iran and Shiite extremists cannot be tolerated.  This didnt work out as well as it needed to.  Something else must be tried. 

But what is America's role in all this? Can we possibly take on Iranian-backed extremists, given our investment in Iraq's Shiite-led government? Can we suggest the coming to power, through elections, of extremist political parties with militias in Palestine and Lebanon, is a problem given that these elections were brought about with American urging? Can Bush publically state that rising oil prices are fueling global instability and needs to be tackled head on?

At a time of great global turmoil, America sits on the sidelines, without the credibility, resources, imagination or will to make a difference.  And the sidelining of America, in of itself, is contributing to global insecurity and instability. 

For more be sure to read Noah Feldman's excellent essay in yesterday's New York Times, and Henry Kissinger's op-ed in today's Post.   For more on these matters from NDN see here and here. 

An interesting piece on how Jane Harman handled her primary

McJoan from Dailykos has a very good piece on how Cong. Jane Harman successfully handled her recent primary challenge, and the differences with the way Lieberman has handled his.   There are many important lessons here for those trying to master the new politics of our new century. 

Times endorses Lamont

In what is going to be a long-talked about event, this morning the New York Times endorsed Ned Lamont.  The editorial is thought provoking and challenging.  And though I am supporting Joe, I think most of it is dead-on. 

I just got back from an extended trip to California to build support for our mas que un partido campaign, so haven't had a lot of time to blog.  But this editorial demands a robust discussion, and I hope to do my part in the days ahead.  Let's start by reviewing a memo I wrote to Joe some weeks ago, which mirrors a great deal of the advice I had been offering him and his people since last year. 

Revver

Met a very interesting guy this morning, Steven Starr, the founder and CEO of Revver.  What is Revver? Check it out.  A good place to start is the now famous Extreme Diet Coke and Memtos Experiment.  More on this exciting new idea soon.

Monday morning roundup

Most important piece I saw today was an op-ed from Arlen Specter defending his new bill to grant FISA the authority to declare an eavesdropping practice legal and constitutional. I don't always agree with Specter, but he is a smart man. On this one he doesn't really persuade me. Many newspapers had a related story about growing concerns that the President is remaking laws passed by Congress as he sees fit.

The Post has an indepth look at the fall elections today. And the Times has an interesting look at María Celeste Arrarás, a Spanish-accented Telemundo anchor who has been filling in for Katie Couric.

In the gee, this governing thing is hard category, we have three morning entrees: Pakistan ramps up its nuclear program; surprise, it is hard to recruit folks into the Iraqi police; and our tactics in fighting the Iraqi insurgency probably made it worse.

And if you haven't read it, check out the memo summarizing our new poll of Hispanics that has gotten so much attention.

Broder writes about our poll in his nationally syndicated column today

Even Republican Senator Mel Martinez agrees with our findings - the Republicans have been very seriously damaged in the Hispanic community this year. 

You can read his important column here.  For more on our poll visit www.ndn.org/hispanic

Not so much blogging this weekend

Am off on a trip with my family this weekend, so not too much blogging. 

More Monday. 

Friday Morning - the national landscape is changing

As inevitably happens, the national landscape of an election year in the spring gives way to a new and changed landscape by summer and fall.  The success of a political party or national campaign often comes from the ability to sense the change and get ahead of the other side.  It feels like we are in such a moment now. 

In the old landscape the Democrats had the wind at their back.  Iraq, Katrina, an economy not working for most, corruption, etc had produced an environment very favorable for Democrats.  My sense is that backdrop, that environment, and all the message plans, the polling, the strategies for media is about to change.  There is mounting evidence of an economic slow down, possibly making the governing party's economic positioning - always critical - even worse.  But how is the security environment going to change?  Not entirely clear.  But what is clear is it is very possible that the events of the world will make this conversation much more than about our failures in Iraq - the question for both parties is are they ready to adapt, to change, to anticipate, to improvise their way into the final fall messaging wave?

To me it is clear that the centrality of Iraq to the whole progressive enterprise is about to give way to a very different - and more complex - conversation about the Middle East, the use of force and the goals of American foreign policy.  Are we ready for this? Intellectually? Politically?

In the summer of 2002 Bush and Rove nationalized the election around Iraq and taxes.  It was around this time that they clarified their approach, went on the political offensive and defined the election.  The response from Daschle and Gephardt, I believe, cost Democrats the election.  They failed to adapt to the redefinition of the race, arguing that all the campaigns would be won on local issues, and did not offer any kind of national engagement on the two issues that defined every race in the country.  They held on to their spring plan.  The game changed. And Democrats got beat. 

4 years ago Bush and Rove ran a national campaign on the two most important issues of every election - peace and prosperity - war and taxes - that came together late in the summer.  Are Democrats ready to leave their spring gameplan behind and build a new one as the game is changed, knowing what happened the last time around?

Whether and how Democrats adapt - and how this changes their public stances and paid media strategies - will determine what happens this fall. 

Thursday Morning Roundup

Released a new poll memo yesterday looking at Spanish speaking Hispanic voters, and it had dramatic and unexpected results.  The degree of Bush's of fall with this group that voted 48% for him in 2004. and had always held him in high esteem, suprised all of us.  It seems clear now that immigrant Hispanics are holding him personally accountable for the tone and tenor of the immigration debate.  They have been become disapointed with a leader they believed held great promise, while also concluding that Republican government is not producing the results they hope to see.  You can find the poll and the companion PowerPoint presentation at www.ndn.org/hispanic

Hard to add to the saturation coverage of what is happening in Lebanon by all the major news outlets, other than to point out a very good piece in the Times today about how the Shiite-led government in Iraq is reacting to the global community's efforts to eradicate Hezbollah. 

With violence escalating, the Post offers a good piece on how Congressional Republicans are backing off their optimistic assessments of the "progress" in Iraq.  This one follows a must read piece yesterday about the growing disenchantment of the right with the failures of Bush's foreign policy.

And the Post offers another good one on how with Ralph Reed's loss in Georgia the rampant Washington scandals may effect the fall elections. 

A coalition of progressive think tanks and the DGA, led by the DLC, released an exciting new proposal yesterday to "Help the U.S. and the Middle Class Get Ahead By Producing One Million More College Graduates by 2015."  NDN is proud to be part of this coalition, and look forward to the a much bigger report to be released this weekend.   

Time has an interesting piece on how soldiers in Iraq are using YouTube to send video messages back home. 

Look forward to seeing many of you at our NPI lunch today at noon.....it has been a busy week, but a very productive one. 

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