Have conservatives abandoned Burke? By Peter Beinart
JOE BIDEN IS THE REASON Barack Obama was smart to run for president. He’s a textbook example of why lengthy service in the U.S. Senate makes it harder to win the White House. Once upon a time, Biden—elected to the Senate at age 29—was a politicalup-and-comer. He was brainy but blue-collar: a Catholic from a state that is more culturally conservative than it seems. And he was eloquent. People forget, but Biden is one of the best speechmakers in the Democratic Party. When he ran for president in 1988, passion was his forte. Sure, he was undisciplined, but so was Bill Clinton.
LAST WEEK, I ARGUED that Barack Obama could be elected president partly because he defies white people’s stereotypes of blacks (“Black Like Me,” February 5). As it happens, I think Hillary Clinton is electable, too, but partly for the opposite reason: because she confirms people’s stereotypes of women. Let me explain. The research on female electability is surprisingly rosy.
IN IRAQ, SADLY, the troop surge planned by George W. Bush probably won't make much difference. After all, the United States has already surged—the military sent several thousand more troops to Baghdadlast summer—and the violence only got worse. Moreover, theintellectual architects of a new surge—retired General Jack Keane and the American Enterprise Institute's Frederick Kagan—say itwill require 30,000 more troops over 18 months to have a chance of success.
I can't even imagine Iraq anymore. It exceeds my capacity to visualize horror. In a recent interview with The Washington Post's Anthony Shadid, a woman named Fatima put it this way: "One-third of us are dying, one-third of us are fleeing, and one-third of us will be widows." At the Baghdad morgue, they distinguish Shia from Sunnis because the former are beheaded and the latter are killed with power drills. Moqtada Al Sadr has actually grown afraid of his own men. I came of age believing the United States had a mission to stop such evil. And now, not only isn't the United States stopping it--in
Now that they have taken the House (and probably the Senate), Democrats should start acting like Republicans. I don't mean theRepublicans of today; I mean the Republicans of the late 1990s. Inits behavior during Bill Clinton's final years in office, the GOP offers a template for how Democrats should approach the final yearsof George W. Bush's presidency. In Clinton's concluding years, the GOP played a brilliant game of good-cop-bad cop. In Congress, the Gingrich revolutionaries wagedan all-out effort to emasculate the Clinton presidency.
A few weeks ago, the Republican Party faced a choice. It was not between victory and defeat in this fall's midterm elections. That choice had already been made, half a world away in Iraq, where the daily carnage of a failed war had stripped the GOP of its national security bona fides, leaving it politically naked. It was a choice between losing with dignity and losing in disgrace.
In Washington today, there are two debates about Iraq. The first is loud and fake. It consists of flag-draped speeches in which President Bush says things like “The party of Harry Truman has become the party of cut and run.” It looks like a debate about foreign policy, but it’s not. It’s a debate about national identity—about the kind of country we want to be: a country that retreats and loses or a country that fights and wins. The Democrats stand accused of defeatism; the Republicans demand victory.
Last week, I went searching the liberal Web for discussions of Idomeneo. The Deutsche Oper, a Berlin opera house, had recently canceled the Mozart classic because it feared Muslims would react violently to a scene featuring Mohammed's severed head. Germans declared that free speech was under siege. The New York Times covered every wrinkle. Right-wing websites buzzed. And, on the big liberal blogs, virtual silence. If pressed, most liberal bloggers would probably have condemned the opera house's decision. But they didn't feel pressed.
Last week, the United Nations hosted a debate on the meaning of freedom. George W. Bush, in town for the opening of the General Assembly, made his usual pitch: The United States wants a world "where ordinary men and women are free to determine their own destiny." Then Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the podium and insisted that the United States wants no such thing.