Monday, October 20, 2003
Where did this come from?: While I don't agree with everything in it, today's New York Times has a surprisingly reasonable editorial calling on Democrats to take a position on American foreign policy post-9/11 that is something more substantive than: Bush is wrong.
The candidates also need to tell Americans where they stand on the larger issue of preventive war. The prewar intelligence failures in Iraq and the failure, so far, to find threatening unconventional weapons strike at the basic premises of Mr. Bush's alarmingly novel strategic doctrines. What alternative ideas do the Democratic contenders have for handling threats like North Korean, and possibly Iranian, nuclear weapons programs and for dealing with countries that give aid and sanctuary to international terrorist groups? And what would they do to keep Afghanistan, the scene of America's first post-9/11 war, from falling back into chaos with a revived Taliban?
It is in the nature of modern campaigns to offer sound bites rather than substance. But voters have a right to ask for more and to press the Democratic candidates to present real alternatives to Mr. Bush's policies in Iraq and beyond.
I'd be interested in hearing answers to those questions too. The American people deserve at least two serious parties, and right now the Democrats couldn't be any more unserious.
The editorial also makes another important point:
Last week Congressional Democrats challenged Mr. Bush's request for $20 billion for reconstruction in Iraq. One of their leading demands, converting some of the money into loans, picked up enough Republican support to prevail in the Senate. Unfortunately, it's a terrible idea. Turning aid into a loan dumps more debt on a country that is already sinking in it. It's also the worst kind of election-oriented pandering that only serves to hide the true costs from voters.
When you're getting hit on this loan idea from the left and the right, then maybe it's something you might want to reconsider. It shouldn't make it out of conference, but if it does, Bush hasn't been known to use his veto -- ever. This would be a good first one for his presidency.