"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
My last post generated a couple comments about my referring to the "stupid U.A.E. port fiasco" as "xenophobia gone wild".
The comments were good, and I probably do need to back off the last bit -- but not off the first.
I do think that race is a significant issue with the port story, but it was hyperbolic to phrase it in a way that intimated that anyone who was concerned about it was racially motivated. But race is an issue with this. Some things are true even if Karl Rove says them (not that that's even his motivation!). I would guess that the majority of Americans who are upset by this don't care as much about specific polices of the U.A.E. as they do that "we're turning our ports over to a bunch of A-rabs." At least that's the view from middle America.
And, no matter what percentage is racially motivated, the whole thing is doing nothing to improve our already rock-bottom image in the Arab world . (witness this article in the Palestine Chronicle)
But in a lot of ways that's splitting hairs. Whether we are outraged by this for legitimate reasons (as some are) or by racially motivated reasons (as some are) or by some combination of the two doesn't really matter ... because it's just more of the same stuff that has been and will continue to be completely ineffective.
And it's what is continuing to ruin the Democratic Party.
What the Dubai port scandal is -- besides something for 24-hour cable news to obsess over (and that's what this really is, what the Dick Cheney shooting is -- kernels of things that might actually be worth caring about overhyped to the point of working people up into a frenzy) -- is just the latest chapter in a pattern of behavior for the left that is utterly pointless and that will get us nowhere.
We have become the party that is against Bush. And that is all we are. And it is killing us.
It's not that any one of these instances -- the Dubai port, the Cheney shooting, the Katrina video, fill in the blanks with a hundred of them -- isn't important to some degree, isn't deplorable to some degree, isn't something that is evidence of a president/administration either completely out of touch, devoid of a substantive center or ethically deficient. We should be concerned about these things. But where is that concern getting us?
I regularly get emails from people and organizations calling for President Bush to be impeached. I delete them immediately. Not because doing things like lying to get us into a war shouldn't be impeachable offenses but because it's just never, ever, never gonna happen. Like it or not, the president is going to serve out the rest of his term. And in 2008, the Republicans will run someone who will be able to effectively embrace what is still liked about him while distancing himself from what isn't.
And yet, the Democratic party -- and liberals in general -- continue to spend huge amounts of energy flailing away at the president even though *he's not going to be impeached *his track record shows that repentance or reflective consideration followed by ammendment of life is probably less likely than impeachement *the next guy is going to be able to dodge the bad stuff.
But even this seemingly futile flailing would have a point if it were followed immediately by a coherent, cohesive, compelling alternate vision for our country. And it is the lack of that that is killing us. Because without it (which is where the Democratic Party is), we end up looking like the kid in class who keeps pointing at the kid in class who always is bad but never gets caught saying "See! See! George is doing it again! Make him stop! I'm telling!"
And that's what the Democratic Party and liberals in general have become. We've become master's of third-rate, third-grade diatribe. We've been reduced to pointing and shouting "liar, liar, pants on fire" and "Ummmmm ... he said a bad word" and "Look! Look! He did something bad!" Our whole identity has been consumed by a fanatical desire to expose President Bush for what he is and make him ... or anybody pay.
And I really understand it. It's been an incredibly frustrating 5 1/2 years ... and looking forward to 2 1/2 more seems more than we can bear. We've all spent enough time staring at the TV seeing vapidity and great gaping moral and ethical voids and rhetoric that would insult the intelligence of my 7-year old. We're tired of him getting away with the inconceivable, so we've taken to shouting at every opportunity -- partly out of a blind, mistaken hope it will do some good and partly because it just feels good to shout.
But it's killing us. Because as long as we continue to put our energy into tearing Bush down (who at a 34 percent approval rating can STILL get the Patriot Act through Congress), we will never develop what we really need -- an alternative vision, an identity of our own that isn't just an identity in opposition. Because that's what we need. We need the other way. And there is nobody in the party who is coming forward with that right now.
So that's why I think the Dubai ports fiasco is stupid. It's stupid because instead of pointing our finger at the President and saying "isn't he stupid ... he's turning our port security over to people who support terrorists! Look! Look! Did you see him do that!" we should be saying "Current port security is unacceptable and, frankly, more than just a security risk but a national embarrassment. And here's what we need to do. For starters, we need to make sure that even though more and more things in a global economy get outsourced, that critical security doesn't just go to the lowest international bidder -- that we revamp our standards and practices to make sure that a higher percentage of incoming loads are inspected. And here's what else we need to do:"
Should U.A.E. get port security contracts? Maybe yes (Jimmy Carter seems to think there's no security risk, and he hasn't exactly been soft on the Bush administration and tends to know his stuff globally) and maybe no. But that's not what this is about. This is about the left looking for anything it can to hammer the President with. And as long as we keep doing that instead of using that energy to develop a vision for America and find someone with the charisma and leadership ability to communicate it, we will continue to be the gang that can't shoot straight.
So no, the port story is not "xenophobia gone wild" -- though I think Ian and Linda underestimate how much of this really is racially motivated -- but it is stupid and a waste of time. Not because the issue itself isn't important but because the way the left is dealing with is a dead end street we keep going down again and again.
| Mike at 3/07/2006 10:48:00 PM
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."