Animadversions.

The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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Anybody But…

February 19th, 2004 · 1 Comment · Politics, Rants

So we’re down to Kerry and Edwards. Last week, Clark threw in the towel and today, after a final round of utter trouncings, Dean has called it quits as well. With each withdrawal by a major Democratic candidate, I’ve heard one thing from all of the liberal folks I know.

Anybody but Bush…

Regardless of who they’d initially supported or how far removed from that chosen candidate’s positions the remaining candidates’ platforms happen to be, everyone fell lock-step into position with this mindset. While it’s not abnormal for people to toe the party line once the primaries end and the real campaigning begins, the single-minded dedication to doing anything at all to avoid a second term for Bush is uniquely unsettling.

Why?

Because when you adopt the idea that you will vote for ANYONE so long as they are not the incumbent, you’re making an exceptionally dangerous decision. You are, quite simply, giving the opposition candidate the freedom to do, say and stand for anything at all, without fear of serious repercussions of any kind from their supporters. In the most extreme sense, you set yourself up to vote for someone who is substantially WORSE than the current administration. While it seems unlikely that either Kerry or Edwards would unexpectedly turn into the second coming of Hitler, the mechanisms through which an exceptionally dangerous figure can come to power are put in place nonetheless.

In a more realistic sense, you remove accountability from the equation. Take, for example, the interesting appearance of Teamsters President James Hoffa Jr. on Chris Matthews’ Hardball earlier today.

When Hoffa comes on, Matthews goes to the issue of the Teamsters’ surprising support for Kerry - a man who, in the past, has loudly supported NAFTA and opposed drilling in Alaska - positions that are, essentially, entirely at odds with the issues of primary interest to the Teamsters.

MATTHEWS: Bill Clinton was for NAFTA. He was for NAFTA. George W. Bush is for NAFTA. His father was pushing it from the beginning. The Bushes basically are the godfather of NAFTA. And Bill Clinton and John Kerry signed aboard as consiglieres in that. How can you say that he is your guy if he on the other side of the main issue?

HOFFA: Because that‘s one of the key issues I asked him. I said, how can we vote for you after you voted for NAFTA and these other agreements?

MATTHEWS: And he said?

HOFFA: And he basically says, look, times have changed. When we voted for that, we thought it would work. He believes that it worked throughout the Clinton era. And now things have changed.

Now, I’m no conspiracy nut, but when a front-running candidate for the office of the President of the United States meets with the leader of the Teamsters Union - an organization that, under his father’s leadership, had notorious ties to organized crime - and there’s literally ZERO fanfare about it, something’s a little fishy. When it turns out that that same candidate, as a result of that meeting, is doing a complete reversal on a MAJOR domestic policy issue, I get a little concerned.

There’s more:

HOFFA: And he realizes something is wrong and he says he is going to form a committee. And I am going to be on the committee. In the first 120 days, we are going to review NAFTA, China and all the different deals.

Now we have Hoffa being named to a committee that will be, pretty clearly, dictating economic and labor policy to some degree in the event that Kerry is elected. This leaves Kerry free to completely skirt the issue until AFTER he’s in office, choosing instead to rally behind the banner of “anybody but” in the meantime.

And Kerry’s not just switching sides on NAFTA, he’s going to support ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) drilling.

MATTHEWS: How about ANWR? You guys want to see ANWR because you want to see guys working in your business. I guess there‘s a lot of Teamsters jobs up there lined up and organized, if you could put a pipeline up to the Alaska wilderness. He is against that.

HOFFA: Well, we talked about that.

He says, look, I am against ANWR, but I am going to put that pipeline in and we‘re going to drill like never before.

So Kerry is going to do something he OPENLY OPPOSES, simply to please labor unions. Not only that, but it’s going to be something that the Left has consistently and vocally criticized Bush for even CONSIDERING over the past four years.

And we haven’t heard a PEEP from any Democrats about it. What we ARE hearing are things like the following idea put forth by the frequently outspoken liberal musician, Moby, last week in the New York Daily News:

For example, you can go on all the pro-life chat rooms and say you’re an outraged right-wing voter and that you know that George Bush drove an ex-girlfriend to an abortion clinic and paid for her to get an abortion.

Now, to be clear, he wasn’t suggesting “breaking” a REAL story about Bush having paid for abortions in the past, he was advocating the use of outright LIES to confuse Bush supporters into not voting for him by convincing them that Bush had engaged in behavior they oppose.

You can almost taste the desperation from the Left. The lying, the scheming, the shady deals - all ignored in the name of “anybody but.” They’ve abandoned issues and ideology. They’ve turned on people that have long stood for what, supposedly, the “real Left” believes in.

Take, for example, the “open letter” that ran in The Nation in January, addressed to the venerable Ralph Nader.

When devotion to principle collides with electoral politics, hard truths must be faced. Ralph, this is the wrong year for you to run: 2004 is not 2000. George W. Bush has led us into an illegal pre-emptive war, and his defeat is critical. Moreover, the odds of this becoming a race between Bush and Bush Lite are almost nil. For a variety of reasons–opposition to the war, Bush’s assault on the Constitution, his crony capitalism, frustration with the overcautious and indentured approach of inside-the-Beltway Democrats–there is a level of passionate volunteerism at the grassroots of the Democratic Party not seen since 1968.

In other words:

“For the love of God, Ralph, please don’t muck up the Democratic candidate’s campaign by trying to introduce issues!”

While there’s something to be said for making strategic decisions, turning against the one man that most closely mirrors your own beliefs for the sake of supporting a candidate that is, in many important ways, no better than the man you oppose is absolutely shameful.

To be clear, I like Nader a great deal. I voted for him in the 2000 general election because, quite honestly, I saw no difference between Bush and Gore. In retrospect, I’m glad in many ways that we wound up with Bush because I seriously feel that Gore would have lacked the necessary gravitas, as it were, to steer the ship of state post-9/11. Bush, for all of his failings, at least gives you the feeling that you’re doing SOMETHING, even if that something seems to consistently go wrong.

In the 2000 primaries, I voted for John McCain and it saddens me to this day to know that the one man who I feel is most singularly qualified to be at the helm will likely never take another shot at the White House.

And in the 2004 primaries, my man was Clark. Perhaps I have a weakness for war heroes or maybe I just have fond memories of the last Rhodes Scholar from Arkansas. In any event, I felt he was the right choice for me.

Now, I’m not sure who I’ll vote for. I certainly don’t like Bush, but I can’t say I’m any more comfortable with the remaining Democratic alternatives. Part of me hopes that somebody - maybe Ralph Nader - will step in and, while they certainly can’t win, perhaps shine a little bit of light onto the state of things here on the Left before we go completely off the rails chasing “anybody but.”

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