Is Karl Rove Laughing his Head off at Washington’s Progressives?

Of course! If Karl Rove wanted to misdirect progressive Democrats away from the national strategy of taking control of the U.S. Senate and/or House, what better way than to have the Democrats fighting each other over, of all things, Bush’s never ending War in Iraq.

It’s time for those Democrats who question Senator Cantwell’s position on Iraq to realize that Iraq is not her war. She did not start it but she is part of the dialogue looking for a solution. She is a member of a minority party. Republicans run Washington, not Senator Cantwell or any other Democrat.

Democrats are fighting amongst themselves about a war they didn’t start and about which they and the American people were lied to by Bush. Meanwhile these same Democrats ignore other things the Republicans and Bush are dismal on, like not raising the minimum wage over the last 10 years or not fighting global warming or not aggressively working for energy independence from foreign oil or Bush’s giving tax breaks that only increase the share of the money the very rich have.

This issue was discussed several weeks ago in MSNBC’s Newsweek Politics.Rove’s Trap
The president’s strategist is politicizing the Iraq war for partisan political gain. Will the Dems figure out how to fight back?

Lets pick just one quote from that article : “….It’s very Rovean; they’re trying to turn a weakness into a strength.” Another Democratic strategist noted the irony that after four years of no accountability on the mistakes made in prosecuting the Iraq war, the administration was hanging Democrats out to dry. This strategist called it “reverse accountability” shift the blame to those not in charge.”

shift the blame to those not in charge” Can it be any clearer?

Left wing peace and progressive Democrats in Washington State are falling into this trap. They are doing Karl Rove’s dirty work by attacking Senator Maria Cantwell on Iraq. They are dividing the Democratic Party because she is not willing to sign off on some left wing purity test which one commenter on my previous blog post phrased as having her say “she was either duped, pressured or just flat wrong” when she joined 29 other Democrats in the US Senate who voted in 2002 to give Bush authority to invade Iraq.

Frankly I don’t know what this would do to get us out of Iraq. As I’ve said before this is George Bush’s war. Republicans control the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate and the Presidency. Democrats are the minority party and do not control any committees and can not conduct any hearings on the Iraq War.

And yet some progressive Democrats continue to attack Senator Maria Cantwell like this is her war and she has some kind of stronghold over what happens? If Senator Maria Cantwell suddenly changed into a Russ Feingold Democrat, what would that do to end the war? Nothing – because it does nothing to change the fact that the Democrats are the minority party and do not have the votes to do anything. Congressman Jay Inslee has commented in the past how Democrats in Congress are not even consulted on bills the Republicans run – there is no bipartisanship going on in Washington DC. We have a one party government and that is a Republican Party controlled government.

For the life of me why aren’t these progressive Democrats putting pressure on Mike McGavick about his position on Iraq. Am I missing something here? Because if there are some of you who do like you say and won’t help Cantwell get elected and won’t vote for her then you are supporting McGavick for Senate and are acting to support Karl Rove and George Bush and the Iraq War as it now stands.

Strategic thinking is important. What is it you want to accomphlish? Will you do that by the tactics you are using or are you falling into a Rovean trap?

Lets look at what Cantwell’s opponent says on Iraq.

Going to McGavick’s website there is scant information on Iraq: I could find only these two written statements.

The U.S. cannot retreat from the War on Terror or countries like Iraq will turn into the worst hotbeds of terror the world has ever witnessed.

U.S. forces will come home from Iraq when the job is finished. Setting a timetable for troop pullout gives the advantage to America’s terrorist enemies.

These statements say very little except that McGavick supports Rove and Bush and Rumsfeld. The reality is McGavick is a vote for Bush’s War in Iraq. This is the alternative to Senator Maria Cantwell?

Some people are upset that Mark Wilson is no longer challenging Senator Maria Cantwell in the Democratic primary. I would argue that there really was not much of a challenge going on in the first place. Wilson publicly stated on the David Goldstein show on KIRO 710 radio that he never really intended to file for the Democratic Party primary but was trying to give a voice to opposition to the war. Huh?

While I can appreciate Wilson trying to raise important issues in the Democratic Party – maybe he was just a little bit dishonest in trying torepresent himself as a serious candidate for U.S. Senator. Or maybe he is just trying to put a face saving spin on the fact that his campaign didn’t get the support he needed to run a successful race and he didn’t want to be known as the Democrat who helped Mike McGavick get elected.

But to anyone looking at the state Democratic Convention in Yakima last month it was obvious that Wilson never stood a chance. While I support progressives and consider myself one, there really is no organized unified progressive movement in Washington state. That was obvious when the “Progressive Caucus” met at the state convention.

There was no organized game plan of how to increase the influence of progressives in the party and when volunteers were asked to help recruit more, the hands raised were few. Mark Wilson attended the caucus but he did not seem to have a vision of how to organize the state. It appeared that he was waiting for others to put it together.

I mention this because any organized movement is difficult. But it does need leaders and it does need a plan. It needs vision and it needs people ready and willing to help. I saw well intentioned good people involved but it was not going to help Mark. He was on his own.

As a result Mark Wilson never was a really viable candidate, having neither the money or volunteers or widespread backing to run a statewide campaign against the incumbent.

I believe it’s time for progressives to move on. A few vocal voices and bloggers do not make a movement. We need to not make Washington a swing state in the Senate race, so national Democratic resources need to be directed here, at the expense of other Democratic candidates.

Besides helping Senator Cantwell get re-elected, we need to assist in races where new Democrats can win – like Darcy Burner (WA-8) and Peter Goldmark (WA-5). Picking up seats in Congress to give Democrats a majority in at least one branch of Congress will be the best strategy to end the War in Iraq.

Asking Senator Maria Cantwell to submit to some progressive purity test right now won’t mean anything if Democrats don’t win control of the U.S. House and/or Senate.

This election is certainly a referendum on Iraq for Bush. Unfortunately if Democrats don’t pick up seats in Congress, it will be used as an confirmation by Bush that the American people support his position on Iraq. And we will have missed our best opportunity in 6 years to change American politics for the better.

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