Jewish World Review Oct. 10, 2002 / 4 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Silence more despicable than seditious noise | In their vileness, there is a kind of integrity in Reps. James McDermott (D-Wash) and David Bonior (D-Mich) that many of their Democratic colleagues lack. In an interview broadcast from Baghdad, McDermott said Saddam Hussein can be trusted, and President Bush cannot.

Bonior and McDermott represent a fringe opinion in the Democratic Party. But it's a large fringe, which probably explains why so few of their Democratic colleagues have uttered a word of criticism. Their silence may be more despicable than the seditious noises coming from the mouths of Bonior and McDermott, which at least have about them the ring of honest conviction. Honest conviction has been conspicuously absent from the pronouncements on Iraq by former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass), the Washington Post noted in an editorial Oct. 2.

"One striking feature of the criticism of President Bush's Iraq policy is the absence of suggested alternatives," the Washington Post said. "These leading Democrats argued the President should do exactly what he is doing...only not now, or not so fast."

With a few honorable exceptions, Democrats have treated the most important issue of our time as an unwarranted intrusion into their midterm election strategy. War and peace may be important. But not as important as electing Democrats to Congress.

Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn) was the Senate's most outspoken dove in 1991, tirelessly crusading against war with Iraq. This year, he has been so silent on the subject that antiwar protestors held a sit-in in his office in St. Paul.

Wellstone in his silence could be more true to his principles than other Democrats in tight races. Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga) is running ads proclaiming he "supports President Bush on Iraq." Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-Mo), proclaims in one of her ads: "I voted for President Bush's defense budget."

Cleland, who was severely injured while serving in Vietnam, probably means it. Carnahan gives the impression of being hawkish on defense without actually taking a position on the critical issue.

The unwillingness of Democrats to stand up and be counted on Iraq, one way or the other, reached ludicrous proportions when Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) tried to postpone a vote on a resolution authorizing the president to use force against Iraq until after the election. It is astounding that a leader in a democracy would assert that voters should go to the polls without knowing where their representatives stand on the most important issue facing the country.

Bonior and McDermott inadvertently did their nation a service. The adverse publicity their trip generated probably forced House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo) to declare earlier and more forcefully where he stands. Gephardt was among the beaming faces in a large, bipartisan group at the White House Wednesday to endorse the resolution the president favors on Iraq. Gephardt's presence guarantees the vote in the House will be prompt, and overwhelming.

Gephardt's stand puts heat on Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), whose own position on war with Iraq is difficult to determine from his weasel words to date. Daschle voted against the first Gulf War, but voted for a resolution in 1998 authorizing President Clinton to take military action against Saddam. No one has yet asked Tiny Tom why he thinks Saddam is less dangerous now than he was four years ago. Someone should.

For someone who puts political considerations above all else, Daschle has dug his party a hole, and it's too late now to put the shovel aside.

Democrats could not prevent Iraq from being the number one concern on voters' minds. But had Democrats embraced a month ago the resolution Gephardt endorsed Wednesday, they could have kept Iraq from being a partisan issue. Now, if Daschle winds up voting for the resolution, he'll look spineless. If he votes against it, Republicans can take it to the bank.

What to do about Iraq is the most important issue this fall. But the subtext is: Can a political party which puts pursuit of power above all else be trusted with power?

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10/08/02: Bu$h and the bu$ine$$ of war
10/01/02: Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination
09/25/02: Schroeder may find the fruits of victory sour
09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
09/13/02: If you never served in the military, you have no right to an opinion
09/10/02: Why the 'air marshals' will fail
09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly