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