This post by Kevin Drum reminds me, again, that Mr. Drum is one of the smarter cookies in the five-pound Big Lots' Animal Cracker bag:
DEMS ON IRAN....Atrios is almost certainly right about this, but it still doesn't answer the question. At some point it seems likely that the choice George Bush will offer the nation regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions is either (a) leaky and ineffective sanctions or (b) air strikes. I don't like this choice, but that's probably what we're going to get anyway.
We can gripe and complain about the perfidy of Karl Rove all we like, but it's idiocy not to think seriously about a subject that's at least 50% likely to be a major campaign issue. And the sooner the better.
Better, of course, would be if the Demcratic leadership organically recognized that there are bad people in the world and that it's not automatically GWB's fault that they exist. (In other words, better it would be for the Democratic leadership to listen to Drum.) But, to indulge the Rumsfeldian turn-o-phrase, one doesn't go to the polls with the opposition party one would like; one goes to the polls with the opposition party that one has.
Iran is the next great challenge, and it is (and should remain) a nonpartisan one. But there is an initial question to answer. Do we believe that we can deter a nuclear Iran? Because, if we do not so believe, then nuclear weapons Iran must not be allowed to have.
UPDATE: Jon Henke offers some none-too-comforting thoughts, and this observation on the Democratic "strategy" thus far:
Meanwhile, on the domestic front, our poor options are only made worse by the events of the past few years. On the one side, we have the base of the Democratic Party, still smarting from the Iraq war, preemptively mocking anybody who argues that maybe Iran really is a problem. Unfortunately, as trenchant as sarcasm may be, it's not a foreign policy.
UPDATE 2: Whoops, I forgot the link to Jon Henke at QandO. It's fixed now.
UPDATE 3: It's not my day. First, it's Jon Henke, not "Jim" Henke, as I originally wrote. Second, I would encourage the readership to read Mr. Henke's piece in full. Mr. Henke, as I best understand him, is not attempting to absolve the Bush Administration of its sins (real or imagined). Rather, he's suggesting that attacking the Bush Administration for its sins is not much of a foreign policy. Long-time readers of this blog will recognize that such is a suggestion that I've echoed in the past.
My apologies, Jon, for misremembering your name.
UPDATE 4: Tim F., of Balloon Juice, writes:
Von at Obsidian Wings has noble and timely sentiments about Iran:
Iran is the next great challenge, and it is (and should remain) a nonpartisan one.
Then he links to a Q-and-O post which sniffs indignantly at lefty bloggers who’ve done some prognosticating about how the Iran imbroglio will pan out. In a classic example of rhetorical dishonesty Jim Henke identifies a single blogger as ‘the Democratic base’ and one Atrios post becomes ‘the Democratic strategy.’ Not that I want to single out Von personally, but this empty rhetorical gimmick is depressingly typical. Since when was Ward Churchill a ‘darling of the left,’ since never. Neither is the Democratic Party the ‘party of Cindy Sheehan.’ Is the GOP ‘the party of Pat Robertson?’ No, it’s not. People who concern themselves with precise language should pay attention to rhetorical flourishes that weaken their overall point.
I'm actually a bit baffled at Tim F.'s reaction, although perhaps it's merely a sign of the partisan times. Tim F. seems to think that our policy on Iran should not be used as a political football. I agree, and I think it's safe to say that Jon Henke also agrees. But Tim F. then blasts those who use the "empty rhetorical gimmick" of using a single Atrios post as a statement of Democratic strategy. Rhetorical gimmick it might very well be. But empty? Unfortunately, no.
What policy do the Democrats offer on Iran? Because I'm not seeing much from them but snarkettes in the mold of Atrios. I'm not suggesting that Democrats are incapable of offering a strategy: to the contrary, I thought I heard Chuck Schumer agree with Lindsey Graham on FNS today that one possible approach would be to strong-arm the Russians and Chinese to support a robust sanctions regime against Iran. (Such strong-arming might include threats of US sanctions against the Russians and Chinese themselves -- sanctions that will be costly to the US economy if actually carried out.) But Schumer's voice on this issue is new, and there's no evidence it commands a majority among Democrats. Republicans, on the other hand, are starting to divide between Graham's "get tough with the commies approach" and William Kristol's "we can be in and out in four days of military ops" approach.
If Democrats want to play the foreign policy game, they need to get in it. Sniping from the sidelines -- no matter how trenchant that sniping may be -- will get them nothing. And our nation will be poorer for it.
(Title by Henry Rollins, who would probably be embarrassed to be quoted by a warmongering fascist such as myself.)