Ouch! Michael Kinsley in todays Washington Post has an op-ed about Pelosi and what we can look for if the Dems win the house. Kinsley, a liberals liberal talks about the Democrat platform "A New Direction for America," and he is far from impressed. No wonder he waited till now to give his opinion instead of a week or two ago. I have never been a fan of Kinsley but he is usually a level headed columnist and I do read him often. I wish everyone had read this column prior to the elections.
What would a Democratic House of Representatives under Speaker Nancy Pelosi be like? The Republicans have been painting an unattractive portrait of Democrats roasting young children on a spit in the Capitol Rotunda and whatnot. Hoping for a more encouraging view, I picked up "A New Direction for America," a 31-page manifesto released to little acclaim by House Democrats in June. By all means read it. But do me a favor and vote first.
The document is full of bromides, of course, and like all good bromides, they come in threes. The Democrats promise "security, prosperity, and opportunity" in "diverse, safe, and vibrant communities." Not to mention "integrity, civility and fiscal discipline." They will "protect Americans, secure our borders, and restore our country's position of international leadership" through "homeland, energy, and diplomatic strategies." And we're only up to Page 3.
He is not easy on Bush and company by any means but even he is having a hard time swallowing the Democratic agenda. He concludes with this little jaw dropper.
Get out there and vote.
Honesty is not just therapeutic. Fiscal honesty is a practical necessity. "New Direction" quite rightly denounces the staggering fiscal irresponsibility of Republican leaders and duly promises "Pay As You Go" spending. But in the entire document there is not one explicit revenue-raiser to balance the many specific and enormous new spending programs and tax credits.
Competence, of course, brings us back to Iraq. Apparently and unfortunately, President Bush is right that the Democrats have no "plan for victory." (Neither does he, of course. Nor, for that matter, do I. But I don't claim to have one. And I didn't start it.) For national security in general, the Democrats' plan is so according-to-type that you cringe with embarrassment: It's mostly about new cash benefits for veterans. Regarding Iraq specifically, the Democrats' plan has two parts. First, they want Iraqis to take on "primary responsibility for securing and governing their country." Then they want "responsible redeployment" (great euphemism) of American forces.
Older readers may recognize this formula. It's Vietnamization -- the Nixon-Kissinger plan for extracting us from a previous mistake. But Vietnamization was not a plan for victory. It was a plan for what was called "peace with honor" and is now known as "defeat."
Maybe "A New Direction for America" is just a campaign document -- although it seems to have had no effect at all on the campaign. My fear is that the House Democrats might try to use it as a basis for governing.