One of the less-than-thrilling perqs of being a member of such a high-profile blog as Wizbang is that I get added to a LOT of mailing lists. Folks from all over the political spectrum think that I just can’t possibly survive without knowing their thoughts and observations — and don’t bother to ask first to see if I might be interested, because of COURSE I’ll be delighted to be the recipient of their insights and wisdom. I’ve blocked a few, excoriated a couple (including one rabid anti-abortion kook who inspired new-to-me levels of venom when he simply WOULD NOT QUIT), and sighed and trashed scores more.
But every now and then, I am reminded of just why I don’t get rid of them all.
At some point, someone decided that I needed to be included in the inner council of some of the country’s top Democrats. I ended up on the mailing lists of Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Howard Dean, and the Democratic National Committee.
Yesterday, I received a breathless missive from a fine fellow named Tom McMahon, who happens to be the Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee. Mr. McMahon is upset about something Dick Cheney said last week, and wants all of us to share his outrage and let everyone know we’re not happy with Mr. Cheney.
Mr. McMahon wants all of us to write letters to the editors of our local newspapers expressing his — I mean “our” outrage. And to help us properly give vent to his — I mean “our” — feelings, he includes this link to a handy list of talking points. And by filling in my ZIP code, I also get a handy list of those local newspapers.
I needed a good laugh, and Mr. McMahon, you gave me one. In fact, you gave me several.
First, who the hell reads letters to the editor any more? Newspapers are a dying breed, and I don’t think even the editors read letters to the editor. They’re free content, fluff that fills up space without any real effort expended by the staff.
But that’s just the appetizer. Let’s MoveOn to the real substance of the meal, the talking points.
Vice President Dick Cheney and others in his Party have smeared people who disagree with Republicans.
Let’s see. A Republican official has said mean things against his political opponents. That does it. I’ll never vote for Dick Cheney again!
These patently untrue smears are meant to scare Democrats and the American public away from legitimate criticism of how the Bush administration is handling national security and the war on terror.
The Democratic Party welcomes a fair debate on the war on terror and our homeland security, and will no longer stand by while our candidates are needlessly skewered by the unbalanced media coverage of the war and upcoming elections.
Mr. McMahon, this is the reality: we are engaged in a war. There are many ways of fighting the war. The debate about how to fight the war is going to be unpleasant, and the essence of the argument is going to be the same for both sides: “our way will make you safer.” The logical extension of this is “their way will make you less safe.” That is the crux of the situation, Mr. McMahon, and whining about it is hardly a good way to impress people with your strength and resolve.
The Democratic plan: fight the war on terror by taking the target off the backs of American troops in Iraq; capture or kill Osama bin Laden; and be ready for threats to our safety and security here at home, whether it’s terrorism or hurricanes.
OK, three points here. First, the “taking the targets off the backs of American troops in Iraq.”
Mr. McMahon seems to think that those trying to kill our troops are dedicated to that goal — killing our troops. They are not. They are dedicated to killing. That ain’t gonna change. They’re the same ones — in spirit — as those who struck on September 11, those who nearly sank the Cole, those who fired the missiles and rockets into northern Lebanon, and so on.
Right now, they have pretty much eased up on killing American soldiers in Iraq. This is because they’ve found it’s pretty damned challenging. American soldiers shoot back — with far more accuracy. They’ve shifted their focus to Iraqi civilians.
And here’s where I get a bit brutal and seemingly insensitive. Our forces are all volunteers, and one of the key reasons they do so is they believe that they want to put themselves between their family, their friends, and their fellow Americans and those who wish to do us harm. Consequently, they are the best-trained, best-prepared, best equipped among us to meet such threats — and withstand them. They are the sweet-smelling glue of the “flypaper” theory — and they know that and accept that. More than that, they willingly embrace that burden.
We are the targets. All of us. We are not the only targets, of course, but we are the biggest. And simply moving the targets out of their easy reach will not change that in the least — it merely means they’ll start shooting closer to our homes.
“Capture or kill Osama Bin Laden.” Oh, that’s nice, but not really significant. Bin Laden is not THE enemy. He is, to be blunt, yesterday’s news. He’s been irrelevant for several years now.
More importantly, Bin Laden himself is a form of “flypaper” for us. If we focus our efforts on him, we run the risk of thinking that once he’s gone, everything will be sunshine and flowers. He is not the major threat. He was, briefly, but his day is gone. The real enemy is, as President Bush most recently described it, “Islamic fascism.” Bin Laden is one head of the Hydra, one tentacle of the octopus. To get rid of him does not mean victory.
Also, just how do the Democrats plan to catch or kill him? Where the hell is he? As another commentator pointed out (I’ve misplaced the link), finding one individual in this world is pretty damned hard. Look how long Eric Rudolph stayed at large, and he was caught only a few miles from his home. Ted Kaczynski stayed at large for years, occasionally sending out his little ticking presents. And Whitey Bulger, Boston gangster extraordinaire, spent years subverting the local FBI and running organized crime until he was tipped off that his indictment was finally coming down — and he’s been on the lam for almost 11 years now.
Finally, “be ready for threats to our safety and security here at home, whether it’s terrorism or hurricanes.”
Mr. McMahon apparently has not heard of the concept of “posse comitatus.” That ain’t the job of our military, and it shouldn’t be — except in direst emergency. Their job is to keep such threats away from our shores — we have other agencies and means of dealing with domestic problems.
I’ve said before that much of the world only likes America when we’re on our knees — knocked down by an attack, or begging for forgiveness. I’m starting to wonder if the Democrats — as exemplified by Mr. McMahon, their Executive Director — only like our military when they’re doing anything but their primary function: killing people and breaking things.
So thank you, Mr. McMahon, for your suggestion I write a letter to the editors of my local papers, and the helpful list of things to bring up, but if I feel the urge to utterly waste my time and resources, far more entertaining options spring to mind. In fact, I feel the urge to do one of them right now — my toenails need clipping.
(Full text of Mr. McMahon’s letter below)
Dear Fellow Democrat,
Here’s what a CNN Headline News anchor asked a Washington journalist on Friday during an interview about the British terror arrests:
“How does this factor into the Lieberman-Lamont contest in Connecticut? Might some argue, as some have, that Lamont is the al Qaeda candidate?”
You would expect this kind of disgusting and inappropriate suggestion from someone more like Dick Cheney. In fact, it was Dick Cheney who said last week that electing people who question the Republican war in Iraq encourages “the al Qaeda types”.
The anchor later apologized to Lamont for misquoting Cheney — but then went on to question Lamont about the same ridiculous accusation. He’s not alone — commentators and journalists have mindlessly repeated Cheney’s remarks over and over again, reporting on it or inquiring about it over the past week as if it’s a real question for debate.
Journalists have a responsibility to do more than regurgitate the most desperate and most extreme talking points. When journalists allow these defamatory and un-American suggestions to infect their coverage of the news, we have to act swiftly to call on them to stop it.
Democrats offer a new direction. We’ll do a better job of fighting the war on terror by taking the target off the backs of American troops in Iraq; we’ll get serious about capturing or killing Osama bin Laden; and we’ll be ready for threats to our safety and security here at home, whether it’s terrorism or hurricanes. We’ll sit down with journalists and answer the tough questions about our nation’s security any time — but there’s no excuse for resorting to repeating desperate Republican talking points.
Write to your local newspaper and let them know where Democrats stand, and that we’re not going to allow our party and our candidates to be smeared.
The American people have woken up.
Everywhere people are saying, “Enough is enough” — rejecting the extremist ideology and total incompetence of the Bush administration, and rejecting their desperate, scorched-earth political tactics.
Democrats are energized and ready for change. We want this administration to get serious about protecting America, our troops and our citizens.
It’s deeply irresponsible for journalists to repeat these ridiculous smears. Democrats are going to do a better job at keeping America safe, and you can tell them so in your own letter:
Executive Director, Democratic National Committee