Obama Finds That Bipartisan Nirvana He's Been Looking For-- Escalation In Afghanistan
Looks like Obama finally found the bipartisanship he craves so much more than just doing the right things for America. He is allying himself with the Republicans in the same way Clinton allied himself with them to pass the catastrophic NAFTA legislation. Except this time it's for a war that will completely undermine him and guarantee that he's a one-term president and that we're delivered back into the tender embrace of the hard core enemies of working families. Jeff Cohen's OpEd at today's truthout goes beyond the story of how LBJ's tragic and wrongheaded policies in Vietnam opened the doors to Nixon.
It was 16 years ago this month when Clinton assembled his coalition with the GOP to bulldoze public skepticism about the trade treaty and overpower a stop-NAFTA movement led by unions, environmentalists and consumer rights groups. How did Clinton win his majority in Congress? With the votes of almost 80 percent of GOP senators and nearly 70 percent of House Republicans. Democrats in the House voted against NAFTA by more than 3 to 2, with fierce opponents including the Democratic majority leader and majority whip.
To get a majority today in Congress on Afghanistan, the Obama White House is apparently bent on a strategy replicating the tragic farce that Clinton pulled off: Ignore the informed doubts of your own party while making common cause with extremist Republicans who never accepted your presidency in the first place.
...For those who elected Obama, it's important to remember the downward spiral that was accelerated by Clinton's GOP alliance to pass NAFTA. It should set off alarm bells for us today on Afghanistan.
NAFTA was quickly followed by the debacle of Clinton health care "reform," largely drafted by giant insurance companies, which was followed by a stunning election defeat for Congressional Democrats in November 1994, as progressive and labor activists were lethargic while right-wing activists in overdrive put Gingrich into the speaker's chair.
A year later, advised by his chief political strategist Dick Morris (yes, the Obama-basher now at Fox), Clinton declared: "The era of big government is over." In the coming years, Clinton proved that the era of big business was far from over - working with Republican leaders to grant corporate welfare to media conglomerates (1996 Telecom Act) and investment banks (1999 abolition of the Glass-Steagall Act).
Today, it's crucial to ask where Obama is heading. From the stimulus to health care, he's shown a Clinton-like willingness to roll over progressives in Congress on his way to corrupt legislation and frantic efforts to compromise for the votes of corporate Democrats or "moderate" Republicans. Meanwhile, the incredible shrinking "public option" has become a sick joke.
As he glides from retreats on civil liberties to health reform that appeases corporate interests to his Bush-like pledge this week to "finish the job" in Afghanistan, an Obama reliance on Congressional Republicans to fund his troop escalation could be the final straw in disorienting and demobilizing the progressive activists who elected him a year ago.
Cohen seems to have overlooked just one thing. The Democratic Party thug who delivered the crucial votes from anti-NAFTA Democrats was none other than Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who is already threatening dire consequences for Democrats who oppose the president. Notice that Donna Edwards suddenly drew a primary opponent after she voted against the June war supplemental.
Yes, let's all acknowledge that, gladly, that there are some differences between Bush and Obama and that Obama got dealt a three of clubs, an eight of spades and a queen of hearts. But no matter how well he's coming to a bad decision and how badly Bush came to the same decision, it's the same catastrophic decision, catastrophic for everyone concerned, except those in a position to profit from it.
David Phillips was the head of the State Department's Future of Iraq Department in the lead-up to the attack on that country. Charles Pierce introduced many of us to him in the pages of Idiot America. Phillips was no opponent of the war; he just wanted to get it-- and especially the aftermath-- right. In retrospect he realizes there was never any chance of that happening.
"[T]hey wanted the discussion to reach conclusions that were consistent with their prejudgment, which was that the Iraqis were desperate to be liberated, the Iraqi exiles could be parachuted in, that the U.S. could decapitate the Ba'athist hierarchy, install the exiles, and be out of Iraq in ninety days. Because the administration was dominated by ideologues, ideology trumped pragmatism."
...We went in blindfolded and believed our own propaganda. We were going to get out in ninety days, spend $1.9 billion in the short term, and Iraqi oil was going to pay for the rest. Now we're in a deep hole, and people are asking questions about how we got there. It's delusional, allowing delusions to be the basis for policymaking. Once you're told the big lie, you have to substantiate it with a sequence of lies that's repeated. You can't fix a policy if you don't believe that it's broken."
I'll be eager to hear what Obama and Emanuel have cooked up for Tuesday's address to the nation-- and what they plan to do to get Congress to go along with this gigantic and tragic mistake.