Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Random Thoughts on Politics and Race

Like most everyone of a certain age (and a certain number of hard knocks), I know that every convergence is not necessarily harmonic. At the apex of our national celebration of the life and legacy of MLK, we bore witness to an intersection of events that included a former president being told to "chill," a black Democratic candidate getting "smacked down" for acknowledging the singular appeal of a white Republican president (even as said candidate has modeled his campaign on the Reagan revolution), and Democrats continuing to ready the moving vans for a precipitous retreat from Iraq.

During last night's CNN/Congressional Black Caucus debate in South Carolina, Sen. Hillary Clinton condemned President Bush regarding his plans to maintain the stability established by our military in Iraq. By doing so, she ignores the contradictions inherent in her position. Sen. Clinton (and John Edwards) knowingly and willfully voted in support of the President's invasion of Iraq - even in the face of predictions from then-Army Chief of Staff, Eric Shinseki regarding the need for "several hundred thousand" troops as opposed to the approximately 150,000 that were deployed. When things began to unravel, Democrats then cited Gen. Shinseki's remarks in order to question the wisdom of a war that they initially advocated. Congressional Democrats then opposed the troop surge, and now the would-be Democrat nominees are all calling in unison for all military personnel to be withdrawn from Iraq.

If none of this makes sense, it shouldn't. Withdrawing from Iraq in order to "force" the Iraqi parliament to meet entirely arbitrary political benchmarks makes about as much sense as the U.S. leaving the Korean peninsula in order to "force" North and South Korea to come to their own political reconciliation. What also doesn't make sense is why progressives now choose to ignore one of their former poster children who said in a recent Washington Post op-ed that "whether we like it or not, Iraq is central" to the fight against Islamic extremism. Now that retired Gen. John Batiste seems to be on board with the Bush strategy for victory in Mesopotamia, Democrats choose to turn a deaf ear to his admonitions.

We cannot walk away from our strategic interests in the region. Iraq cannot become a staging ground for Islamic extremism or be dominated by other powers in the region, such as Iran and Syria. A premature or precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, without the requisite stability and security, is likely to cause the violence there - which has decreased substantially but is still present - to cascade into an even larger humanitarian crisis.
As for that overheated former president, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) indeed suggested that Bill Clinton surely needs to "chill a little bit" on his attacks on Sen. Barack Obama. With Clinton attacking Obama on anything and everything, Obama would be forgiven for feeling besieged. And with CNN reporting "a huge shift among African-American Democrats from Clinton to Obama," the Clintons might be forgiven for their repeated hits below the political belt.

What is not forgivable, at least to the rabid Democrat base, is the idea that Barack Obama would even appear to bestow begrudging praise or even acknowledgment upon Ronald Reagan. How interesting is it that the "transracial" candidate is being verbally assaulted by his fellow liberal progressives for the unforgivable sin of being obliquely complimentary to a white Republican. This from the party that intends to unite Americans such that we can all move beyond political partisanship.

To be sure, none of this surprises. Nor am I entirely surprised that all of this occurred on or about MLK Day. Democrats flagellate themselves in a vain effort to appear slavishly devoted to their African American supplicants. All the while, their actions vis-a-vis race bespeak a barely disguised contempt. It will not be enough for blacks to simply vote for a new type of Democrat. In order to move closer to the fulfillment of Dr. King's aspirations, all of us - black, white and otherwise - will need to recommit to the equally just and achievable goal of equality of opportunity as opposed to an unattainable equality of result.

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