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Assessing the Electoral Aftermath

Commentary by Greg Lewis / NewMediaJournal.US
November 23, 2006

With friends like those who have expressed their approval of the Democrats' resounding electoral victory last week, does America need enemies?

Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, for instance, the putative leader of al Qaeda in Iraq — like so many Arab leaders, he also has at least one alias, in this case Abu Ayyub al-Masri — released an audio tape only two days after the election, something of a record for a prompt response by terrorists to an international news event.

Indeed, the term "news cycle" among Islamist enemies of freedom has a slightly different meaning than it does for civilized people, often, as in the case of Usama bin Laden, spanning many months. Sister news outlets Al-Jazeera and CNN tend to cut terrorists a good deal of slack on this issue, treating their invariably tardy news releases as if timeliness were not an issue.

In the referenced audio tape, al-Muhajir gives his particular branch of the terrorist group al Qaeda's blessing to the Democrats' victory in the recent U.S. elections. At the same time, he asserts that al Qaeda in Iraq currently numbers some 12,000 fighters and that they are achieving victory at a faster pace than had been anticipated.

He further assures the world that his minions will not rest until they have (and I think he means this literally, although I'm sure Democrats would dismiss the inferred menace with a shrug) bombed the White House. It was not clear if al-Muhajir's threat would hold in the event we elect a Democrat President in 2008.

Al-Muhajir — or al-Masri, if you prefer — wasn't alone among reprobates who approved the Dem victory. Iran's "Supreme Leader" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared that the Dems' electoral triumph was "a victory for Iran." What does that tell you?

The leader of the American insurgency, George W. Bush — who is also known as, uh, George W. Bush — has reached out to Democrats after their electoral victory, in which Dems took control of both the House and the Senate, and declared his intention to work together with them to insure that the likes of al-Muhajir would not prevail against western democracy.

It can be argued that, since al-Muhajir and many other terrorist leaders have thrown their support behind American Democrats, Bush may be fighting the same battle in trying to work with Dems as he is in trying to overcome the terrorist insurgency in Iraq.

In the wake of their electoral victory, Democrats have been strangely silent in articulating their plan to help America preserve its status as the champion of democracy in the world. John Murtha was nowhere to be seen among the Dems celebrating victory on election night.

And in the what-ever-happened-to-Democrats'-commitment-to-diversity moment of the month, Joe Biden's insistence that we need to partition Iraq into three regions based on religious and ethnic differences — Kurds, Shiite Muslims, and Sunni Muslims — has been met with something akin to stony silence among those Dems who, oops, now find themselves charged with actually developing a plan for turning the tide in Iraq rather than simply bashing, in the nastiest of terms, George W. Bush and the Republicans who have held congressional power since 1994.

Indeed, it may be that Democrats' greatest worries now focus on how they can manage what amounts to a potentially volatile coalition, based not so much on a positive, identifiable agenda as on that flimsiest of campaign slogans, "Vote for change!" (You'll recall that what passed for a Democrat platform published earlier this year made no mention whatsoever of the War in Iraq.)

Add to that the fact that a not-insignificant number of the newly-elected Democratic majority in both houses are not really classic leftist Democrats at all, but rather so-called "Blue Dog" Dems, people who support many conservative positions and espouse conservative values even though they identify themselves politically as members of the Democrat Party, and you've got a potentially dicey situation on your hands, at least if you're a Democrat Party leader trying to hold things together.

Newly elected North Carolina Democrat Congressman Heath Shuler, for instance, is a staunch Christian who opposes abortion-on-demand. And given the fact that he's an ex-NFL quarterback, one would surmise that Shuler might also, unlike his leftist Democrat cohorts, be pro-military.

Couple that with the resounding defeat in Connecticut of Democrat Ned Lamont, the poster-boy for Democrat leftism, by staunch Bush protagonist Joe Lieberman (now an Independent), and the message this election is sending starts to emerge.
American voters did, in fact, vote for change, but perhaps not the same change left-leaning Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid and Patrick Leahy and John Conyers might have envisioned.

It can be argued that, rather than abandoning the conservative values the majority of them hold, Americans actually voted in support of those values. While it can't be disputed that many of the Republicans ousted in this election fell simply because they were Republicans, the fact is that the American electorate reasserted its belief in fundamental American values.

Republicans had, as Americans saw it, abdicated their roles as members of the party of smaller government, of fiscal restraint, of moral rectitude. Knowing full well what their constituencies expected of them, Republicans nonetheless managed to champion a dramatic increase in government spending, including the ill-advised Medicare Drug Program, not to mention the more than 10,000 "earmarks" appended during the current congressional session to spending bills, the passage of which without their incurring a Presidential veto arguably confirmed for voters their Republican legislators' newly-espoused tax-and-spend complicity and contributed to their electoral rebuff.

Throw into the mix ethical lapses such as those which resulted in Tom Delay's resignation (never mind that the charges on which Delay was brought up were trumped up by a politically motivated judge) and the Jack Abramoff scandal, which almost certainly contributed to Republican losses of several seats, and you've got the beginnings of an electoral nightmare.

And don't forget to mention the rather innocuous (in the grand scheme of things) Tom Foley e-mail "sex scandal," which in the aggregate managed at least to taint several Republicans but which, more importantly, served to corroborate in the public's mind the broader Dem charge of a Republican "culture of corruption," and you've pretty much completed the picture of an electoral debacle.

Any number of questions emerge after the fact. Why, for instance, didn't Bush engineer Rummy's resignation in late August? Rumblings that Rumsfeld had wanted to resign were for more than a year bubbling just below the surface, long before the election season entered its final stage. When Rummy repeatedly asserted that he "served at the pleasure of the President," he wasn't saying that he necessarily wanted to continue to serve; rather, it appears, he was saying that until this President comes to his senses and asks for my resignation, I'm stuck in this thankless job.

In the event, it does seem as if Bush has handed over the strategic design of the resolution of the Iraq conflict to a committee of his father's cohorts, including his new Defense Secretary appointee, Robert Gates. It remains to be seen whether the Democrat-controlled House and Senate are going to acquiesce to this committee's recommendations — as their anticipated approval of Gates' nomination might seem to argue — or are going to try to cobble together a "strategy" of their own in its stead.

It does seem, also, that Nancy Pelosi, who will almost certainly become the new face of the Democrat Party, might be cowering somewhat at the prospect of her new job duties as House Majority Leader. While she seems to understand that her party is moving toward the center, and that the recent vote was not a mandate for radical leftist "San Francisco" values, she's nonetheless faced with a formidable challenge in trying to bring together the coalition of interest groups that the Democrat Party has arguably become.

Her recent smiling photo-ops with the President paint her as something of a "toady," a cowtowing, perhaps somewhat intimidated, left-leaning "leader" getting her first taste of what it means to have a say in "real" power. There's a hell of a difference beween standing on the sidelines and hurling insults at the powers-that-be, and actually sitting beside the leader of those "powers" in the Oval Office and having to contribute something substantial to the dialogue.

Pelosi's abrupt backtracking on her party's leftist positions recommending America's immediate withdrawal from Iraq would certainly seem to indicate that she is at least reconsidering her role. It appears that it may not be Nancy Pelosi we have to fear so much as it is the other older entrenched Democrat leftists.
The fact is, ultimately, that Democrats still have no idea whatsoever who they are or what they stand for. Their 2006 electoral "victories" may in fact prove to be their undoing. The foundation members — from Teddy Kennedy to Patrick Leahy to Charles Schumer to Charley Rangel to John Conyers — of their arguably fragile "coalition" represent at best a pale remnant of leftist Democrats' once vigorous socialist past.

You may recall, for instance, that in 1986, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Leahy leaked classified documents about a proposed military action against Libya on the grounds that he thought the proposed operation was "the most ridiculous thing I had seen." His actions caused the U.S. military to have to cancel the planned covert military strike against Libya.

But where Leahy's demonstrably anti-American, anti-democratic actions some two decades ago may have once been cited as stellar examples of internal resistance to America's global imperialism, today they can be seen as the actions of a misguided, not to say anti-patriotic, leftist activist against America's interests and in support of the cause of terrorism. (Leahy, by the way, was forced in 1987 to resign his position as Vice-Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee following an investigation that revealed a pattern on his part of other similar anti-American activities.)

The problem is, of course, that Leahy is still around, and he has not changed his anti-American, pro-terrorist tune. He has promised that he will, as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — a position he's due to assume in January as a consequence of the Democrat majority in the Senate — continue to work to insure that America's defenses against terrorist activity are weakened by, for example, vowing to see that the monitoring of cell phone calls from known terrorists to American citizens will only be possible if warrants have been granted in advance.

The Democrat Party has long resembled a big house where the parents are away for the weekend. Nor have Dems done anything recently to demonstrate that the parents have returned, that they're suddenly somehow mature enough to take on the daunting task of making policy in a world where western democracy is under direct attack.

Indeed, their responses to the threat of Islamist terrorism have on the whole been remarkably naive and childlike. Said responses have been characterized by the idea that you can actually negotiate in good faith with terrorists. Indeed, if former President Clinton's forays into international diplomacy are any example, Dems tend to send children — including, for example, Madeleine Albright and Jimmy Carter — out to do adults' work.

It remains to be seen whether Democrats, no longer under the gun of being on the outside looking in, will somehow manage to find within themselves the character and substance necessary to deal meaningfully with the very real threat posed by Islamist terrorists to western democratic ideals, ideals that Democrats themselves have supported in, at best, lukewarm and halfhearted ways.


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