OxBlog

Friday, May 28, 2004

# Posted 2:00 PM by Patrick Belton  

IDEA OF THE WEEK: SUCCEED IN IRAQ - The centrist Democratic Leadership Council (home of, for instance, hawkish moderate Democratic Senators Lieberman and Clinton, among others) offers a new idea to the Democratic party: succeed in Iraq.

In their weekly newsletter, after applauding Kerry's Seattle speech for resisting pressure in his party to cut and run, the DLC suggests several further steps for Kerry to take on Iraq. In the Seattle speech, saying that "the day is late and the situation in Iraq is grim," Kerry had called on Bush to use the upcoming NATO summit in Istanbul to convince Europeans to accept Iraq as an alliance mission; to work at the G-8 summit in Georgia next month, to expand international support for training Iraq's security forces; and to propose the creation of an International High Commissioner, Bosnia-style, to work with Iraqis in organising elections, drafting a constitution, and coordinating reconstruction. While the use of Bosnia's international governance structure as a model might raise a few eyebrows from people with experience in Bosnian reconstruction, that Kerry is even speaking along these lines shows the merciful ascendence of Democratic hawks such as Rand Beers within the broad tent that is the Kerry campaign.

The DLC goes on to suggest sending additional troops as necessary, doing everything consistent with security to transfer governing authority to the sovereign caretaker government on June 30, and accelerate an investigation into the Abu Ghirab prisoner abuses. Most controversially, they also call for a perfunctory expression of American penitence that 'mistakes were made' in the run-up to the Iraq war, as a sop to court closer allied cooperation in the post-war period. This might give heartburn to some...but their other stuff sounds so good, you almost want to give it to them.

For more on the moderate DLC's role in a presidential campaign when politics is increasingly coming to be played out between ideological extremes, see this piece:
When the once-mighty Democratic Leadership Council holds its annual "national conversation" Friday and Saturday in Phoenix, the highlight is unlikely to be the seminars about new ways of running government or the showcasing of centrist candidates.

Instead, topic A will be how to rally around John Kerry - the kind of Massachusetts liberal this group was created to counter - and how to make moderates matter in an election where they're being increasingly marginalized.

"Democrats are frustrated," [political analyst Stuart Rothenberg] said, "and they're not in the mood for the kind of nuance this group offers." DLC loyalists and officials strongly disagree, saying Kerry is making all the right moves so far.
Other past startling DLC ideas of the week include improving charter schools, making state procurement more efficient, simplifying the tax code, introducing smaller, more rigorous high schools into the inner city, and finishing the job on welfare reform.
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