The news this morning is full of stories about Mexico and the border. With the Mexican election now officially in dispute, the attention the immigration debate in this country will get - and its salience in the fall election - will continue to grow.
To me how America responds to the immigration challenge says a great deal about what kind of nation we want to become in the 21st century. I'm proud of Harry Reid and the Democrats for not taking the easy enforcement-first road. We've stuck to our guns, and argued that to solve the problem we need a comprehensive approach - tougher border enforcement, tougher sanctions on US employers of undocumenteds, a modest guest worker program and an earned path to citizenship that puts the undocumenteds at the end of the current immigration line. Many Republicans, including the President and John McCain, agree with this thoughtful approach. Today's Post has a good editorial re-iterating their support for this path.
But the Republican House doesn't agree with this sensible path forward. They've passed a bill calling for the arrest and deportation of the 11-12 million undocumenteds living here. And now they are openly working to undermine the broad bi-partisan Senate consensus around comprehensive immigration reform by moving only a piece of the plan, tougher border enforcement.
Democrats have stood firm and offered a plan to solve a vexing national challenge. The Republicans are offering a plan to solve their own vexing internal political problems. But this should come as no suprize, as little the Republicans have done since they came to power in 1994 has been about effectively solving problems or meeting the new challenges of the emerging century. Think deficits, Katrina, Iraq, shorting of funds for education, no action on pensions, health care and energy costs, no conversation or strategy about declining wages, rampant warantless spying on private American citizens. As a spent and failed governing party, the Republicans are doing the only thing they are good at - playing politics, and focusing on staying in power. While benefiting them, this approach is not helping America effectively understand or tackle the challenges of our time. For the majority party it has all become about them and their needs, and not about us, the America people or the country.
That's why this immigration battle matters so much. It is a test of whether we still have the capacity to tackle important challenges. That's why NDN has worked so hard on this issue - in an unprecedented bi-partisan coalition - for the past year. It is a test of the governing party's capacity to do what is right for us, and not for them. And of course as of today they are failing this test in a dramatic and disapointing fashion.
The likely next President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, at his first news conference yesterday criticized the militarization of our common, peaceful border and pledged to find a better way. The lead anti-immigrant spokesman, Republican Tom Tancredo, fired back that his comments were "insulting."
- The Post's top editorial today speaks to this era of the conservative movement, one we call here at NDN the "gee, governing is hard" phase. Global trade talks started in 2001 have collapsed, again, as the United States simply cannot do what it takes to get a deal done. As the Post writes...."THE BUSH administration faces a dilemma in the wake of last weekend's breakdown of world trade talks. It can allow the hope of freer trade to die....[and] risks being blamed if trade talks fail -- as now seems likely." More evidence that the main theme of the 2008 elections will revolve around the cleaning up of the Katrina-like mess left by the Bush years.
- Calderon is declared the winner in Mexico, but we all know this thing isn't over yet. EJ Dionne has a nice piece comparing this election to our own contested election in 2000.
- Watched most of the Lieberman-Lamont debate last night. Joe was commanding, and at times looked like the national leader he has been. However, he seemed more passionate about attacking Lamont then he did in making his case for what we will do for the next six years. Lamont was fine, but unconvincing. He simply looked like he was a few levels down from Joe, though a nice and good guy. All in all Joe probably gained more from the debate, as he effectively planted seeds of doubt about Lamont, and Lamont did not do enough to make himself look like a viable and serious alternative to Joe. And what is the deal with Lamont not releasing his tax returns? Seems like such a rookie mistake, and shows how hard it is for first time candidates to win a race at this level.
I offered a my advice to Lieberman yesterday in a long post. I still believe it is his race to lose, and I hope he ends the race by talking about his vision for where he wants to take the country, and what he has done for Connecticut. It is all about Joe now. He should turn away all these folks coming into the state to campaign for him. Everyone knows the Democratic establishment supports him. After all he has the State Party, the DSCC, the US Senate leadership, Labor, Planned Parenthood, the environmental groups - everyone - with him.
Lieberman's least compelling lines these past few days has been his assertion that there is no room for someone like him in the Democratic Party. Come on Joe, the whole organized Party is behind you. There is plenty of room in the Democratic Party for someone who supported the war. That is not the issue - the issue is whether you have become too much a defender of a failed Administration, and left your Democratic roots. This is an easy one for you to take on, as you did, last night (not so effectively I thought, by the way).
- In other news of the day the decision to keep DeLay on the ballot in Texas seems like sweet justice. Not sure we all should be excited by what is happening in Gaza, as the body count rises and the endgame is hard to discern. Reminds us that the Administration's approach to the Middle East seems to have not worked out all that well. Gay marriage suffers a set back in New York, indicating that this may be a long and drawn out struggle.
- Finally, the World Cup. Yahoo's FIFA World Cup site is excellent. Among the best things you can find there is video of all the top goals. The first stage of NDN's five month long "mas que un partido" campaign ends this weekend with the final games of the World Cup, with our television ads running on Univision in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas, and our radio ads with Andres Cantor running in every market in the nation on Cantor's radio network. For more on our campaign visit www.ndnfutbol.org, and feel free to offer your thoughts here.
Initial reports on the ratings in the US have shown explosive growth for the World Cup in both Spanish and English. The strategy behind the campaign - finding a low cost and effective way to reach tens of millions of Hispanics in the US - certainly seems justified given the extraordinary performance of the Cup so far.
As I wrote the other day, Joe Lieberman is an old and good friend of mine, and I am supporting him in the Democratic Primary. He and I come from the same county in Southwestern Connecticut, where most of my family still lives, and he was instrumental in helping me get NDN off the ground ten years ago.
His decision this week to seek an independent line on the November ballot has hurt his chances of coming back to the Senate next year, but I still believe that he has the tools at hand to win the Democratic primary outright. He has had a sizable lead in the polls, a tremendous record of service, a demonstrable mastery of Connecticut politics, an inexperienced opponent and is as many know a good and thoughtful man. If he closes strong and speaks to the concerns Democrats in Connecticut have about him - starting tonight in a debate with Lamont - he will win the primary and cruise to victory in November.
But the key to victory is for the Senator to show a better understanding of what has created the anger towards him in Connecticut and around the country. From his comments he believes it is his support of the war in Iraq. I disagree. Many of us who support the war, and continue to believe setting a date for a troop withdrawal is not a good idea, have not generated the opposition the Senator has. His troubles began late last year when he scolded the Democrats for not rallying around the President's questionable performance in Iraq. He attacked John Murtha publically, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal re-iterating his attacks against the Democrats and became a weapon used by the Republicans to pummel other Democrats. Many, myself included, felt this brief but biting campaign waged against his own Party was over the top, gratuitous and undermined Democratic efforts to create a much needed debate about Iraq. Harry Reid, had to take the extraordinary step of repudiating Senator Lieberman, and asked him to refrain from such attacks in the future.
In talking to Democrats in Connecticut, including my relatives, it is clear that it is not his stance on the war alone that has generated the anger towards Joe, it is a sense that he is no longer interested in working with Democrats to oppose what they see as a dangerous and failed Administration. The photos showing up again and again on the blogs are versions of "the kiss," a shot from the State of the Union when the Senator embraced the President. This image has nothing to do with the war and everything to do with betrayal. His decision to go independent this week only reinforced this core sense among Democrats that he is no longer on their team.
This is a much more searing, and much more powerful indictment of the Senator and his character than saying he was wrong on the war. Unlike his position on the war which he will not change, the impression that he is now working too closely with a failed Administration is something that he has the power to address and fix through his public statements and his paid advertising in the final month.
How? He needs to make it clear that he agrees with the two-thirds of the American public and more than 90 percent of CT Primary voters that the country is going in the wrong direction, that he is disappointed with the way the President has governed the nation, and that he will spend the next six years working to put it all right.
This overwhelming majority of Americans who have come to believe that the President is weakening the nation are correct in their assessment. Average families are making less money today. Deficits have ballooned to historic levels, and the tax burden is shifting from the wealthy to the middle class. Health care and energy costs have soared. Poverty, personal bankruptcies and crime are rising. As Katrina showed our Homeland is not secure. It has hard to argue that with the chaos in Iraq, and the election of militants in Palestine and Iran, that the Middle East is better off today. Afghanistan and Somalia are heading in the wrong direction, the Russians are acting irresponsibly, North Korea has fired missiles and anti-Americanism is surging in Latin America. Our hard-earned liberties have been violated by this Administration, in ways that a GOP controlled court declared unconstitutional last week. And of course, it is been during this time that Republicans have presided over the greatest set of criminal scandals in its history.
If the Senator wants to win he should make it clear that he believes the Republicans and Bush have failed our great nation. Additionally, he would be smart and tactful to acknowledge that even though he believes that the outcome today in Iraq has been worth the the money spent, the lives lost and the long-lasting damage to the image of America around the world, he understands that a majority of Americans and an overwhelming majority of Connecticut Democrats see it a different way and that he respects their views; and that while he believes that pulling out of Iraq would be a mistake, he has been heartened to see democracy work as it was intended. We are having a debate about a very serious matter facing our country. Reasonable people can disagree about Iraq, and have, very publically. And it is through this debate - required of a nation like ours - that we will achieve the best outcome, and ensure that the interests of the American people are served.
Though he has through his own mistakes opened the door for an inexperienced newcomer like Lamont, Lieberman has time to right himself, address the concerns many have, and remind all of us why he had become so popular and respected in the first place. More than anything else he must state simply and clearly that he believes the President of the United States has failed us, and that he will work to find a better path. All of this seems easily within his power to do.
Finally, the group of people who should be most worried by what is happening in Connecticut are not Democrats, or moderates, but Republicans. For the lesson of this race is that embracing a failed President and his deeply unpopular government could cost many at the polls this fall.
- The Post has a front page piece laying out how the world seems to have gotten much more troubling of late: "From deteriorating security in Afghanistan and Somalia to mayhem in the Middle East, confrontation with Iran and eroding relations with Russia, the White House suddenly sees crisis in every direction." Republican foreign policy expert Richard Haas sums it up: "The danger is that Mr. Bush will hand over a White House to a successor that will face a far messier world, with far fewer resources left to cope with it."
With wages down five years in a row, our Homeland Security efforts still a mess, our defecits skyrocketing to historic levels, the world itself growing more menacing and global trade talks breaking down there can be little doubt that the Bush and the Republicans have left America much worse off than they found it.
- Every paper covers the immigration debate, with the Times weighing in with an aggressive editorial against the border-enforcement only approach. Kudos to Senators Specter and Kennedy for working in a bi-partisan way to promote the most effective, and sensible solution out there, the current Senate bill. The DNC joined the fray with a new Spanish-language radio campaign, calling on the GOP to get serious about solving the immigration problem and stop playing politics. The new ad echoes the themes established in NDN's spring radio campaign that aired with the support of NDN's members across the country.
- France and Zidane continued their remarkable run in the World Cup, beating a spirited squad from Portugal 1-0. Spanish speakers can hear NDN's radio ads this weekend during the final two games across the country on Andres Cantor's radio network, and on Univision in El Paso TX, Albuquerque NM, Denver and Colorado Springs CO, Las Vegas NV, Phoenix and Tucson AZ and Tampa and St. Petersberg FL. To see and hear our initial round of ads in our "mas que un partido" campaign, visit www.ndnfutbol.org, where you can also order NDN's cool, attractive t-shirts, jerseys and soccer balls.
If we missed anything else important feel free to write it up in the comments section below. Have a good day.
It has been said that the greatest tragedy of our failure in Iraq has been how it has weakened our capacity to project power aboard, and tackle emerging challenges and threats. Today we are witnessing what should be considered a series of routine challenges emerge - the provocative threats of Iran and North Korea, the faltering of Afghanistan, the corruption of Russia, the growing anti-Americanism in Latin America, the sorrow of Sudan, the slide of Somalia. Is it me or does America seem to be more bystander than leader in all these cases? Watching, waiting, buying time as our attention continues to be on Iraq? Has the world lost the America it knew for much of the 20th century, benelovent superpower, counted on to put things right?
Will be interesting to see how the Administration handles the contested Mexican election. Given the way they won ugly in 2000, not sure they have will have the moral upper hand here.
The Times reports that the Republicans may have found a way to unify their party on immigration. It is classic Republican play - long on politics and marketing, short on solving the problem. Look for more on this vital issue in future days here and at NDN's immigration site.
And in honor of the World Cup, don't forget to order your cool NDN soccer gear at www.ndnfutbol.org today!
My family and I had a wonderful day today. Our DC neighborhood, the Palisades, has been hosting a small town style parade for 40 years. It is a spirited, old fashioned parade with a 21st century twist - floats, candidates, marching bands and South American dancers, candy for the kids and the new thing this year little plastic wristbands. It was hot as always, too hot, but somehow it makes it all that much more a community thing, this suffering together.
We read the Declaration of Independence together for the first time together last night as a family. I enjoyed it. Reading those magic words outloud was a pleasure. It is a little long for young kids, as my two boys left the room soon into the reading. But my 11 month old daughter Katie of course made it through the whole thing.
This afternoon, we watched Italy outlast Germany in a fast-paced but still somewhat unsatisfying World Cup game. Given how disapointing the American team was this year, we should all take consolation that they outplayed Italy in their 1-1 draw, and now Italy is heading to the finals. Keeps reminding us of the saying, on any given day....
Finally, on to Joe Lieberman's suprising announcement yesterday that he is petitioning to get on the November ballot as an independent. I am supporting Joe, and hope he wins. But like Hillary Clinton I feel I must support whomever the Democratic nominee is for US Senate in Connecticut, a contest to be decided in early August.
Joe Lieberman has been one of the most thoughtful, serious elected officials I've ever come across. He was able enough to get on the ticket on 2000, survive the incredible anti-Democratic wave in 1994 and beat Lowell Weicker in a remarkable upset in 1988. He is not just a thought-leader, he is an accomplished pol. Therefore I will give him the benefit of the doubt that his move to start collecting petitions will help him return to the US Senate, but from where I sit it sure makes his task look a whole lot harder.
I will have more thoughts on the Lieberman race over the next few weeks.
Thanks to Mike for getting the new blog up today. We are all still learning how to use it, but expect much more content on it from NDN and our friends across the country. All part of a new, more distributed content creation system we will putting into place over the next 6-9 months.
Feel free to offer suggestions, comments, and help us make this and various other sites more powerful tools to advance our brand of politics.
In a serious piece in the Washington Post today, Peter Bergen makes a compelling case that Al Qaeda itself - not copycat organizations - is gaining strength once again. Osama himself has been more vocal in recent weeks than he has been in years.
This story reminds all of us what an utter failure Bush's foreign policy has been. In less than four years after Pearl Harbor, FDR defeated Hitler and the Japanese, and put into place global building blocks that kept the world relatively peaceful and prosperous for two generations. In the nearly five years since 9/11, Bush has spent more than a trillon dollars and what do we have to show for it? A Middle East perhaps more dangerous than when he came to office; rising number of terrorist attacks around the world; enemy number one Osama still on the loose, and gaining strength; Afghanistan has become a troubled state again; as we saw with Katrina and even in the last few days with the flood-related closure of the IRS and other government buildings we are not ready; important international institutions that allow the world to act together when needed have been weakened; and as of this week, the intellectual and legal basis of a great deal of the war on terror has been found unconstitutional by a GOP-friendly Supreme Court.
It is time for the nation to come to grips with the fact that our foreign policy has utterly failed to produce the results we need to feel more safe, and must find a better path. In my mind, the mistakes have come to some degree from this administration's narrow notion of our mission in the world. Bush has argued that America's pirmary foreign policy goal should be to wage and win the war on terror. But is that really the right aspiration for us? Shouldn't it be to work with allies to foster liberty, democracy, free markets and the rule of law? The war on terror should be seen as a tactic in this greater struggle, not an end in itself. It is simply not a large enough ambition for this remarkable and just nation.
Five years, trillions spent, and we are no safer. What a contrast to FDR, who in just four defeated the greatest threats to our way of life in our history, and created the building blocks that created that Pax Americana that has kept the world marching towards democracy and free markets.
History will not be kind to the tenure of Mr. Bush.