What a Rut, no?

John Bresnahan on 5 rhetorical moves that can stifle Democrats’ initiatives towards turning Iraq* around. I admire the Dems’ initiative, and their determination to make the war a matter for public debate even after the Senate failed to do so – they’re showing a sense of procedural craft that impresses me, at least.  But the effort is all for nothing if such a debate never takes place. It also’ll all be useless if the Dems lack a coherent platform when this debate comes around. You cannot defeat the “support the troops” gambit by showing how you actually do support them. An entirely different discourse is necessary, though I sympathize with Democrats’ desire to dispel that tripe.

* Of course, when one evokes ‘Iraq’ on the television or in a press room, one is more often gesturing towards a complex of domestic effects more than the geographic, demographic venue upon which our government enacts spectacular imperial terror. And that’s a big part of what’s fucked – not that the politics of war is fought primarily on discursive fronts, but that the Democrats often fail to act as if this is the case! How you could confuse Washingon (or anywhere else) with a Habermasian** “ideal speech community” is beyond me. Show us something here, Democrats! We know you’re working hard… but how about “working smart”?

** Our soon-t0-be-last-best-hope is himself releasing a book on Reason come May, which ironically might prove useful in a popular context. While there’s nothing sexy about enlightenment rationalism, power obtains to s/he who can claim the mantle of “common sense.***” Juxtaposing laboratory smarts to Abu Ghraib might be particularly useful if one is taking on the man whose city hosted the Abner Louima nightmare.

*** Reason guiding political strategy = crap

Reason as Democratic identity discourse = (possibly) not crap

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One Response to “What a Rut, no?”

  1. Dave3544 Says:

    my question is why the Dems do not have a clear counter-response to GOP bullcrap on Iraq.

    “We must face them there, so we don’t face them at home.”

    Iraq is in a state of civil war, it is highly unlikely that the Sunnis and Shites are going to come to the US to fight out their battle.

    Everytime we hear “at home”, this should be the automatic response that come out of every Dem mouth, but of course we don’t hear that because Dems still want to be for and against the War.

    Also, if the Dems want to be the grown ups in the room, we need to start talking about Iran. If we can’t pull out of Iraq because then Iran will take over, we need to have that conversation–out loud, not just whispered among those with brains and attention spans. Of course, a Dem has a hard time talking about Iran without the base accusing them of encouraging more War. Which means that we end up with no one speaking honestly about the hell is going on over there. The Bushies can pretend that 20K more troops will do it and the Dems can just oppose that without coming up with anything other than a bring them home slowly over an unspecified period of time.

    In other words, American troops and Iraqi civilians will continue to die at least until Nov. 2008, with both parties trying to make the tragedy work for them politically.


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