November 08, 2006

Blue Dog Day Afternoon

One of the most dedicated civil servants in American history, Donald Rumsfeld, has fallen on his sword as a direct result of yesterday's elections. But before Democrats get too exited about advancing any kind of far left leaning agenda, they might want to take notice of the fact that many of the Democrats who won seats yesterday did so because they embraced conservative values. In fact, yesterday’s elections ironically amount to a reaffirmation rather than a repudiation of conservative principles. Many ousted Republicans met thier demise because they failed to live up to their conservative obligations of ethical standards of behavior and fiscal conservatism. And on the other side of the coin, it was the "Blue Dog" Democrats and centrists like Lieberman who attained success because they find themselves closer to the political center than the modern day "progressive" far left leaning Democrat.

In a largely symbolic gesture, Rumsfeld has been thrown under the bus, and it is time for all Democrats to put up or shut up. Perhaps now we can hear something resembling leadership from the Democrats, and not just Bush bashing. Looking forward, I genuinely hope that the Democrats can bring something to the table other than vitriol against the President and cut and run in Iraq.


JD said...

I like your style. Rumsfeld is a great American and a Patriot! He will be missed. Let's hope Bush does not loose his nerve and go for the good poll numbers in his last two years. He needs to go out like a patriot, same as Rummy....

I bookmarked your page. Take a look at mine if you like.



Chris said...

Hey Jaz, saw you on Kent's blog and thought I would stop by here to say hi. Not much I can disagree with you here, not that I came here to disagree at all. I think we would agree on a lot of stuff.

Of course, unlike you, I am happy to see Rumsfailed go. I think he should have left two years ago but that's for a different comment section.

While I'm here, I will say that I don't believe the Dems elected on Tuesday are really all that conservative. In large part, that all depends on what we consider "conservative" to mean. And, in my own opinion, I don't believe the Republican Party has a monopoly on modern conservatism. I'm a conservative Democrat-- always have been and I know thousands just like me. Fiscal responsibility and ethics hardly deem someone to be a conservative, right? Plus I will add that Joe Lieberman is far from a centrist. I personally know Joe and have for over 6 years, and he is anything but a centrist. Next to Kerry and Kennedy, Lieberman is one of the most left of center persons in the Congress.

Yes some centrists were elected on Tuesday, but that doesn't make them "conservative" in the sense that they are really Republicans. Of the new 27 Democratic House members who unseated 27 Republicans on Tuesday every one supports a raise in the minimum wage, a change of course in Iraq and oppose efforts to privatize Social Security. 25 of the 27 support embryonic stem cell research and all but five are pro-choice. Hardly what we would consider to be belonging to a conservative agenda today. Again, I guess it depends what we consider conservative to mean. Maybe we are talking about two different things here.?.

Have a safe weekend Jaz, good to see your site still up.

Jaz said...

JD, thanks for the comment and support. I've added a link to your blog in my "Allies" section, and I'll be stopping by to comment. Have a good Veterans Day.

Jaz said...

Great to hear from you Chris. I appreciate the thought provoking comment, as usual. You are a walking talking example of disagreeing without being disagreeable. I’ll be addressing your remarks in detail next, after I’ve completed some additional research. Have a good Veterans Day.

Jaz said...

Chris, I can’t yet determine if discarding Rumsfeld was a good or bad move. As Rumsfeld himself intimated, history will be the judge.

Before we get into the ideology discussion, I would love to know how it is that you embed a link into a comment. When commenting, I’m only ever allowed to use limited HTML tags such as bold or italics. I understand if you want to keep that move a secret.

Perhaps I overstate my case when I say that Democrats who won embraced conservative values, but I think that it is fair to say that many of the Democrats who won were moderate enough to be palatable to a center right to conservative voting population. I believe that Karl Rove is still correct as to the fundamental majority of American voters, and it was in fact the Democratic mastermind of the last election cycle, Rahm Emmanuel who observed this fact when he handpicked “moderate” Democrats to run in some of the various tight races. I read the Media Matters piece and found that as usual with the left leaning advocacy group posing as objective media watch dog, that they don’t tell the whole story. In fact they don’t even make a counter argument to the supposition that Democratic victory was brought about as result of an ideological shift away from the far left “progressive” Democratic platform. The counter argument would have to be that in fact no, Democrats won because they moved further to left and embraced full on liberal ideology. Conservative or not, Democrats did not win because they moved further to the left. One of the only things approaching an argument that media matters put forward is an incomplete and somewhat misleading list of which way the 27 new democratic congressmen would vote on some hand picked issues. They say that, “Only five of the 27 candidates describe themselves as pro-life." If they were truly objective, they might want to point out which winning candidates consider themselves to be pro life. Something tells me that the 5 pro lifers were involved in very tight races and probably mostly in the narrowly controlled senatorial race. Admittedly, that is my own conjecture which I wouldn’t have to make if media matters had told the whole story.

To me, conservatism boils down to the belief that the government is usually the cause of problems rather than the nanny state answer to them. The bedrock of modern conservatism, as far as I know, is the notion that the government is involved in too many areas of private life and that more should be left to individuals, private companies, and private institutions. I do admit that this does get somewhat confusing, for example, what is the difference between a conservative democrat (as you describe yourself) and a liberal republican? I suppose Jim Webb who defeated Allen is the former, and Lincoln Chaffe of Rhode Island is the latter. In that narrow comparison, the “conservative” prevailed and the liberal republican R.I.N.O Lincoln Chaffe lost.

On election night I listened carefully to the words of democratic strategist, Kirsten Powers, who pointed out that it was this adoption of “moderation” if not conservatism that was the deciding factor as to why Democrats prevailed. When I cross-reference this information with what Rahm Emmanuel stated as his strategy for victory, I conclude that at the very least, Democrats did not win by moving further to left. So I stick with my fundamental assertion that this election cycle was certainly not a victory for “progressive” liberalism. And when liberalism is a liability rather than source of strength, it is a victory for conservatism.

About Lieberman, I will grant that not much is made of the various liberal stances that he apparently holds, which I was made aware of after reviewing his wikipedia page. He is anti gun, and pro choice. He is pro environment, pro affirmative action and pro gay rights. These are all liberal positions, you are correct. However, he is balanced out by being critical of the entertainment industry, a member of the gang of 14, which led to the approval of two conservative supreme court justices, and he is very much a pro Iraq war/pro Israel hawk when it comes to foreign policy. It is on this last topic where I draw my conclusion that at the very least he is not a member of the far left. I suppose that he is a domestic liberal but surely he departs from modern day progressive move liberalism when it comes to foreign policy and terrorism, which are the two most important and pressing issues. So I perhaps incorrectly call him a centrist because he is not a liberal on the most important issues of the day. In fact it was precisely because of this that he was essentially unceremoniously dumped by his own party earlier this year. Wasn’t it Ned Lamont who was the darling of the far left? In the end it is difficult for me to consider Lieberman a liberal when he was ousted from his own party for not towing the liberal “progressive” party line on the most important issues of the day.

To conclude, I believe that Rahm Emmanuel employed a form of triangulation that ends up muddying the waters between all of the various labels that people like myself, for purposes of discussion and clarity, love to utilize. Chris, you say, “Yes some centrists were elected on Tuesday, but that doesn't make them ‘conservative’ in the sense that they are really Republicans.” This goes to my overall point whereas even many Republicans were not effective conservatives as one of the reasons that they lost. I suppose I’m getting trapped by own categories, but ultimately it is my belief that the Democrats were successful on November 7 because they moved away from liberalism and put forward candidates that share at least some of the stances held by conservatives on the most pressing issues of the day. Thankfully, the result is that now Democrats do not have a mandate to cut and run in Iraq, they have a mandate, as Charles Krauthammer says, “to be unhappy about Iraq” which, as you must realize, does nothing to solve the problem and/or win the war. Modern day conservatism is alive and well, and the Democrats ignore this at their own peril. If Democrats want to win the white house in 08’, they will have to reconcile and essentially muffle those elements in their own party who are desirous of advancing a far left leaning liberal “progressive” agenda. In short, conservatism: up, liberalism: down.

young_activist said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
young_activist said...

You sight the Blue Dogs as being conservative Democrats but, all that the Blue Dogs are is a group of fiscally conservative Democrats. Most of these are moderate to conservative but, not all fiscal conservatives are conservative in other areas as well. If you ever read my blog you would learn that I'm a fiscal conservative, in fact I even have a link to the Blue Dogs and I doubt you would consider me a conservative Democrat.

Chris said...

Jaz, I have no internet coding secrets. I barely know how to type text onto the page. I'll tell you what I do, which may not be the most effecient way to do links, but I have a hyperlink button on my toolbar that allows me to hyperlink any word or phrase. I use mozilla/firefox with a google toolbar. I've just picked it up along the way. It does make hyperlinks much easier than pasting html codes.

Hope that helps. Sorry, but I'm not the best html person. Just remember not to add double http:// to the link-- happens to me all the time.

Give me a little bit to read your reply and I'll get back with ya. That and I'm going to go drink some beer :)

And also, again, thanks for your kind words in your first reply.

Chris said...

Jaz, it is my contention that removing Rumsfeld is a good thing. I’ve been saying for two years that he needs to go. To me he is the epitome of all that has gone wrong in Iraq. Our men and women in Iraq don’t have time to wait for history’s answer to the Rumsfeld question like you suggest.

I agree that you overstated your case when you said that the “Democrats who won embraced conservative values.” But I am curious to know what conservative values are, because the term itself only implies that those who are not conservative do not have values, which I don’t think is true. Also, there is a difference between being liberal and being progressive. It is also perfectly legitimate to be a centrist and progressive. The two do not negate each other. I do not think the Republican Party or conservatives in general, or whatever we’re talking about here, has a monopoly on the American moderates. Nor do I think the Republican Party that we have seen in the last five years has been anything close to moderate.

It would be correct, like you mention, “that Democratic victory was brought about as result of an ideological shift away from the far left ‘progressive’ Democratic platform,” if we were to forget that we had at least 232 Democrats win on November 7 and not just 29. Not one single incumbent Democrat lost reelection either. That means that 203 incumbent Dems, some liberal, some moderate, some conservative, some very liberal, didn’t run away from anything and yet still won. Of the 29 new Dem members of the House 27 were surveyed by Media Matters, a group that you principally disagree with and that’s fine, but of the 27 they did survey all supported a largely progressive agenda. That doesn’t make them liberal, but it surely doesn’t make them conservative in a neoconservative sense. And if they have values like you say it only proves that neither party has a monopoly on mainstream views. It’s silly to think that only conservative Republicans are true mainstream Americans.

I won’t get into the objectiveness of the MM survey, because I’m not sure how or what else MM can do other than send out surveys and ask candidates to mark their answers. It’s not like MM was answering the questions for them. You can read more about who answered what here.

Yet all this goes back to what we consider conservative to mean. Of those who answered the MM survey I don’t see how they are anything but a progressive supporting lot. It’s certainly true that an increase in the minimum wage and support of stem cell research were progressive issues in this election. But what else do we have to go by?

Your summation of modern conservatism is a handy model to use indeed. If conservatism is the belief that government is not the answer and instead routinely the problem (i.e., big government), such only leads me to believe that personal responsibility is the answer-- according to your answer of modern conservatism. If that were the case then I would argue that such a notion of conservatism doesn’t apply to modern Republicans at all. George Bush has increased the overall size and responsibility of government more so since FDR. Bush has also taken the largest surplus in history and turned it into the largest deficit in history (Reagan certainly was no fiscal conservative either). Fiscal responsibility must be included in the same surmise as personal responsibility, for without one we don’t have the other. And none of the above applies to the Republican party of the last 30 years. Indeed it only demonstrates to me that the group or party who is shifting/running away from the center is the Republicans and not at all the Democrats. If personal responsibility, fiscal conservatism, small government, moderate leadership is modern day conservatism, then definitely the Republican Party has not a very good track record of delivering such leadership. It sounds like to me those who are reveling that the Democrat victory is proof positive of modern conservatism are really only trying to escape the complete failures of their party.

To maybe give my own summation here, I think it’s extremely important that both parties pull away from their wings, be it liberal or neocon, because both factions are way out of whack with mainstream America. But, by the new Democrats running more moderately does not make them modern day conservatives at all. If anything, it makes them smart, because I being a conservative Democrat am glad to see my party moving away from its left wing faction. As of right now I don’t see the same thing happening in Republican circles. Again, I think the MSM and Republicans are confusing progressives with liberals and moderates with conservatives.

I don’t think either one of us are completely wrong here, or entirely right. I have always believed that Democrats were never as liberal as the media made them sound, so I’m glad to see some moderation come back into the party, but that doesn’t mean that the Blue Wave we saw on Tuesday was a result of Democrats embracing conservative Republican values either. It means that the Republicans had five solid years of complete government rule in which to legislate their modern day conservative agenda and the people didn’t like what they saw. Thankfully now they've been stopped.

I wish I had more time today to make this whole thing make more sense, because I think I have made myself more confused with typing this thing out, or maybe it’s from the beer last night. Anyways, good to have a civil debate with you Jaz. You’re a classy guy.

Kent said...

Rummy is indeed a stud and a great American.

Our country has been made better because of men like him.

Jaz said...

Chris, I don’t disagree with much that you have put forth here about the American voters disappointment with the Republican Party. It is no secret that Republicans have not acted consistent with what conservatives would want. Herein lies the reasons as to why they were ousted. You say, “...the group or party who is shifting/running away from the center is the Republicans and not at all the Democrats.” This is half true. The Democrats are moving closer to the center in order to get elected. They have finally figured out that in order to win they must stifle the more radical left elements within their own party. On the other hand, the Republicans have been governing like Democrats for the last several years and in turn they lost support from some conservatives and independents that may have preferred that the Republicans act like they are supposed to rather than morphing into a second version of modern Democrats. Unfortunately for many of us, neither party, at the moment, is all that conservative, certainly when it comes to spending. Hopefully Mitt Romney can revive conservative principles, which, by the way, is what I mean when I say conservative values.

I do I enjoy these discussions of political philosophy and ideology no matter how confusing they inevitably become. If one thing is clear, it is that many of the labels and categories that usually could be relied upon to classify politicians and parties are not nearly as reliable and clear cut as they used to be before the 06' elections. As Howard Dean said, "Liberal, Conservative... I don't know what these words mean any more". I'm not sure I share that opinion, but I certainly understand the sentiment.

Chris said...

Well said, and I agree almost entirely except where you state, "Republicans have been governing like Democrats for the last several years and in turn they lost support from some conservatives and independents that may have preferred that the Republicans act like they are supposed to rather than morphing into a second version of modern Democrats."

I don't believe that to be the case at all.

Republicans have been governing like Republicans fair and square. They have had the reins for almost 6 years now (more powerful than any previous government since WWII). What we witness today, the policies we have in place, are all a result of a Republican controlled government and have nothing to do with behaving like the minority party who couldn't put a bill or policy in place even if they wanted to. Sorry to say Jaz, but the current situation, faults and all, is a product of a neocon controlled Republican Party.

If everything was going great and the Repubs held onto Congress, I seriously doubt they would be saying that they are governing like modern Dems. If I recall, in 1994 the Republicans did not inherit the largest deficit in American history like the Dems will in January.

Jaz said...

Then let me qualify by saying, Republicans have been governing like Democrats did when they were in power. It is basically a restatement of the old axiom that absolute power... corrupts absolutely. In the last six years, the Republicans in power became the very problem that they were sent to Washington to fix. They became complacent and fat cattish. It is almost refreshing now to have a Republican party that needs to be bold and aggressive in order to regain control of congress. Republicans have been successful in the past when they aggressively advanced the philosophy of conservatism. When they get away from that and pass spending bill after spending bill, something usually associated with the Democrats, they water down their own conservatism and become indistinguishable from their opposition. This is why I say that the Republicans have been governing, as Democrats would have liked to, rather than governing like the conservatives that the voters imagined they were sending to Washington.

However this observation is not an evasion of responsibility. You are correct when you say, “…the current situation, faults and all, is a product of a neocon controlled Republican Party.” It is just that the version of the Republican Party that got ‘thumped’ in 06’ is not very close to what centrist conservatives like myself would like it to be. Complacency and Fat cattery are not the qualities of a party that I would whole-heartedly support.

Which brings us full circle to the Blue Dog Democrats. If Republicans cannot be relied upon to advance a conservative agenda, then perhaps the Blue Dogs can be. After all, as we have seen with the 06’ elections, the composite of congressional leadership has become more conservative on both sides of the aisle. A greater percentage of Democrats can be considered to be conservative than before the elections as well as the Republicans, with the ousting of some of the moderate and/or left leaning Republicans such as Lincoln Chaffe. So I stick with my original assertion, that the 06’ elections were not a repudiation of the philosophy of conservatism as much as they were a repudiation of congressional complacency and yes, a signal of displeasure with the war in Iraq.

Chris said...

"So I stick with my original assertion, that the 06’ elections were not a repudiation of the philosophy of conservatism as much as they were a repudiation of congressional complacency and yes, a signal of displeasure with the war in Iraq."

And again, that all depends on what we consider conservative to mean...but I gotta hand it to you, this reply of yours is one of the best I've ever read.

I think that I will agree with your notion that the congressional leadership composite has become more conservative, well, I'll say more center/moderate, but I will only add that it's also become more progressive. You think?

Very good writing...I only wish your reply was mine ;)

Chris said...

I think blogger is eating some of my comments on here. I remember commenting on your Kramer post and I thought I had also linked you to one of my replies on Kent's blog.

Jaz said...

Chris, thanks for the words of encouragement.

I recently moved to the new version of blogger beta, which does have some significant upgrades and some minor flaws at present. Perhaps their was a flub with the posting of some of your comments due two the vagueries of newborn programming associated with blogger beta. Please try again, and I'll weigh in on that other discussion when I've rallied my resources/arguments.