Monday, August 29, 2005

Frank Rich, Bush appeaser?

The left is believing its own PR over Cindy Sheehan's success. Its leaders appear to fancy leading a Vietnam-like political/cultural tidal shift against the war, then riding it to electoral victory as Bush recedes, Johnson-like. This is a pipe dream. The country may be turning against the war and Bush, but that doesn't mean it's going to embrace the Michael Moore position on things. The left's incipient resurgence could drive a wedge through the Democratic Party and ruin its national political prospects for another decade.

This piece blasting Frank Rich for being insufficiently anti-war illustrates the aggrieved attitude of frustrated entitlement on the left. Its message is: We've been right all along. We ate it when Kerry ran. Never again.

Yes, let’s trash Frank Rich. No columnist has except Paul Krugman has so consistently devoted himself to ripping the Bush presidency, week after week, with a gusto that was quite entertaining before it got so f***ing repetitive. Rich’s focus has gotten so laser-like he has even dropped the forced, framing pop cultural allusions (low point: The Day After Tomorrow captures the national mood) in favor of all-out scornful invective!

Rich is accused of “triangulation,” the worst of Clintonian sins in the eyes of both hardcore liberals and conservatives - making this a shot across Hillary's bow as well. But triangulation is the only thing that might save the Democratic Party here – and the U.S. effort in Iraq. If some sensible pullout plan can be engineered that holds some promise of self-government and stability, it is the best course between the Bush’s mindless “stay the course” and the left’s strategically dangerous “get out now.” But as Rich notes, the right will tag any such policy, no matter how sensible, as cutting and running. How can the Democrats address this problem? With some grownup Republicans fretting over this, bipartsanship holds the most promise both for an actual withdrawal policy and for a political way forward for Democrats. Unless the left, flush with Sheehanesque righteousness, makes that impossible.