Saturday, August 19, 2006

Thanks but No Thanks

One thing I don't presume to do is give advice to Republicans. As a Democrat, any advice I would offer would be laced with wistful thinking, such as suggesting the GOP be more honest with voters about Iraq to address Americans' skepticism about our presence there and the chaos it has wrought. I would not suggest that my sense of what the GOP should do would be the best strategic approach for the party, though it would be nice if telling the truth and focusing on good leadership were inherently winning issues.

Why then are members of the GOP presuming to give advice to Democrats about the Ned Lamont-Joe Lieberman matchup? After all, isn't their own interest in the race fueled by a conflict of interest, which is that their favorite Democrat, Joe Lieberman, faces a viable threat at the polls? Even Repulican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman and Bush and his press secretary, former Fox News guy Tony Snow have jumped into the frey.

For the worst example of unhelpful Republican commentary, check out David Brooks's pieces on the subject, the most recent in which he actually tries to compare Ned Lamont to Tom DeLay, from whom Brooks and fellow Republicans are trying to distance themselves faster than ABC did from Mel Gibson. Brooks is ironically inspired enough by the divisions his president exacerbated by invading Iraq to term Ned Lamont's approach as the "Sunni-Shiite style of politics."

Suddenly, according to Brooks, a "McCain-Lieberman" party is the answer, because the two are not polarizing political forces--except they are. John McCain is to the left only of Attila the Hun and Dick Cheney. That hardly means that he is not an extremist of the type Brooks ostensibly depolores. Joe Lieberman may be good at working with Republicans, but he has proven himself increasingly unable to work with his former party, the Democrats, even as they have been at their most united in recent memory on issues like the Iraq War.

It is moreover laughable but also typical that Brooks deigns himself a credible representative of the American voter who he assures wants a new style of politics that can only be encompassed by Joe Lieberman and John McCain, though Lieberman and McCain are hardly breaths of fresh hair, having served in the Senate for a combined 36-years. Brooks further writes off Democratic primary voters as "flamers" of "pulverizing rhetoric," rather than just plain old engaged citizens who are likely some of the most devoted participants in U.S. politics. To their detriment, these citizens do not vote how Brooks would like them to and therefore are part of a "jihad." (As you can see, Brooks goes a little overboard with the political Muslim metaphors).

Maybe I would appreciate David Brooks's political advice if I were a Republican, but the presumption of his coverage of the Lamont-Lieberman election, which is that he knows what is best for the Democratic party--and in a year when Republicans are poised to face great challenges from voters for their last six years of leadership, no less--is laughable. I would suggest that Brooks's time would be better spent advising his own party via his New York Times pulpit how to address the American people's concerns with their failed leadership rather than telling Ned Lamont and other Democrats how to lay down and roll over for the Republicans. Thanks but no thanks for the advice, David Brooks.

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