NDN Blog

My advice to Joe

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.      

Morning Roundup

- 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. 

Morning thoughts

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!

July 4th roundup

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. 

Excited about the new blog

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. 

5 years later Osama is still with us

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.

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