Thursday, May 26, 2005

William Rivers Pitt, who writes for the online magazine Truthout, describes how the overweening tactics of movement conservatives (read, fundamentalist activist Christian base of the GOP) is splitting the Republican Party on half a dozen fronts simultaneously. The neocons have been using movement conservatives as "useful idiot" shock troops, but now, acting on the belief that they alone delivered the election to Bush, evangelicals are overstepping their bounds, determined to reap payback. Their two point men, DeLay and Frist, started the evangelical campaign to seize control of our government with the Schiavo debacle and handed Democrats a public relations coup. Many old line conservatives, otherwise known as moderates, were embarrassed and angry at being lumped in with the fundies over that fiasco and also over being pressured to support--count 'em--the filibuster, the federal ban on stem cell research funds, the Bolton nomination, and Social Security "reform". They've been breaking ranks on all these issues. And there's one more major issue where they might be persuaded to desert the fold: Iraq. They're aware that our invasion there has been a blood-bath catastrophe.
Pitt suggests that "those who have watched the White House and Congress run roughshod over the best traditions and ideals of this nation can do two things while this fight unfolds: Sit back and enjoy the rift, or exploit it." Pitt votes for Option B, specifically for exploiting the rift over Iraq:
The time has come to mount a bull-throated charge to get American troops out of Iraq. Eleven U.S. troops have died in the last 48 hours, bringing the total to 1,647. Billions and billions of taxpayer dollars have been poured into the sand to no avail. The public dialogue on Iraq is paralyzed, locked between those who believe we have to stay and those who think slogans like 'Out Now!" with no plans to augment the sentiment are the only proper response. It is Vietnam all over again.
Rather than leave the dialogue stuck in this rut, the time has come to develop an intelligent, effective plan for the removal of troops from Iraq and the delivery of that nation back into the hands of the people who live there. Democratic leaders Reid, Pelosi and Dean must be made to see this as the only intelligent choice. More to the point, Republican old-schoolers who are disgusted with the neo-cons and their 'useful idiot' movementarian shock troops can be brought on board as a part of their insurgency against their rotten leaders.

Sounds good to me, and to further Pitt's suggestion that we think constructively about how to leave Iraq, two postings next week will be summaries of opposing articles on that question from The Progressive Magazine, one of which recommends staying and the other leaving quickly. Both articles have arguments that merit attention and that could contribute to a reasonable plan for our exit.

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