There are, obviously, distinctions between 1968 and now. Hillary Clinton is not a commander-in-chief in charge of a tragic war (or the No. 2). There is yet no sizeable antiwar movement, as there was in 1968, for Feingold to use as a base. Edwards is not the vacillator that Kennedy was—although like Kennedy, he does raise poverty as an issue. But it sure seems possible that the Iraq war—if Bush does not achieve his complete victory there in the next two years—has the potential to dominate the Democratic contest and to split the party, as the Vietnam war did in 1968.Update: and 263 comments on it so far at his blog.
For now, the party is repressing those potential differences. Look at the Democrats’ recently released "Real Security" platform. Iraq is covered on page three of the three-page statement. And the plan offers little: "ensure" 2006 is a year of "significant transition" to full Iraqi sovereignty and of "responsible redeployment of U.S. forces"; "insist" that Iraqis make political compromises to unite their country and defeat the insurgency; "strongly encourage" allies and other nations to play a "constructive role." That's not much. The plan says nothing about what should be done if the problem in Iraq is not a self-contained insurgency but a civil war—or something close to it. Should the United States keep 130,000 troops in the middle of a sectarian conflict? Should it pick a side?
Clinton is straddling, not leading, and much of the leadership of her party is essentially doing the same. That might help Democrats in the coming congressional elections by providing on-the-ropes Republicans with little to attack. Then again, it might not. But the conflicts and dilemmas posed by the Iraq war will probably persist. If so, Democrats could find that their biggest challenge is not the Republicans but themselves.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
David Corn: 2008 Looking Like 1968
Maybe David Corn reads my blog. I've been saying it a while now here, here, and again here.