don't have to get elected to a bloomin' thing. And I don't have
to do things that are politically correct. The hell with everybody.
I'm free at last."
going to miss Fritz Hollings, the 81 year old Senator [D-SC] who
on August 3 that he won't stand for re-election. Not that I agreed
with him on every issue, or even a majority of them. There's no
one in Washington I can say that for, save Ron Paul. That said,
Hollings, like no one else in the Senate except for Robert Byrd,
was in the habit of speaking his mind.
The Charlotte Observer recently compiled an all-too-brief
selection of Hollings' quotes,
and I spent last night reading them to everyone who visited my
apartment for cocktails. A few highlights: in 1983, he spoke for
more people than not when he referred to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow
Coalition as the "Blackbow". In 1996, Hollings claimed
that President Clinton was "as popular as AIDS in South Carolina";
when Clinton's poll numbers rose, Hollings tartly amended his
remarks, saying that if Clinton's approval rating breached 60%,
then Clinton "can start dating again."
has been around for generations, and someone with that tenure
not only sees through cant, but calls out charlatans for the public
record. Typical of Hollings' acid tongue was when he referred
to former Senator Howard Metzenbaum [D-OH] as "the Senator
from B'nai Brith." As a political animal, Hollings knew South
Carolina well enough to know that he was undefeatable, and has
carried himself throughout the years as a principled, statesman-like
figure, worthy of the legacy of men like John C. Calhoun.
what does all this have to do with foreign policy? Howard Metzenbaum,
surprisingly to this column, is back in the news. The "Senator
from B'nai Brith" has put his chips down for 2004, and he's
Howard Dean, despite fellow Buckeye politico Kucinich being an
outside of a larger context, that's not very interesting news.
Dean does have momentum, if one believes the polls, and funding
that has materialized "from the internet" [hopefully,
his fundraisers aren't Nigerian]. Metzenbaum claims to like Dean
because the former governor of Vermont "is the only one standing
up for the principles of the Democratic Party and exciting Americans
about the political process."
only one! Metzenbaum's word is good enough for me; I'm no Democrat.
That said, what are those "principles"? And which Americans
are becoming "excited by the political process"?
Forward, a political magazine written in both English and
Yiddish, is no stranger to taking strongly-worded positions. An
example from the
most recent issue:
simmering dispute over Israel's so-called West Bank separation
fence includes more than enough hypocrisy to go around on all
sides. The Sharon government, after two years of ideological obstructionism
and bureaucratic foot-dragging, has finally yielded to overwhelming
public opinion and begun an earnest effort to fence off Israel's
scandalously porous eastern frontier. Now come America, the West
and the Arab world and declare themselves shocked shocked!
at the project. After more than two years of ceaseless
moralizing over Israel's iron-fisted efforts to crush terrorism
at its source, they've managed to work themselves into fits of
righteous indignation as Israel undertakes the one other measure
that can stop the terrorists. "
what you will about the Forward's position, but at least
it's clear; that may have been the most energetic defense of what
some are calling an "apartheid wall" yet.
bring the Forward up because they conducted an November,
with Candidate Dean that bears mentioning, given the support Dean
has gotten from both poll respondents and the corporate media.
Back then, Dean was still a "lower-tier candidate",
jousting for poll position with the Sharptons of the Democratic
field. This interview, I believe, grants insight into why Dean's
national profile has increased so dramatically in the last few
title of the November 2002 piece says a lot: "In Prexy Bid,
Vt. Gov Taps AIPAC Vet Married to Jew, Courting Others".
The title is refreshingly blunt, implying that Dean even then
was quite willing to "go the extra mile" to strengthen
quotes in the Forward article are worthy of examination;
here are a few. Howard Dean refers to himself as an "internationalist"
who accepts "AIPAC's view" of foreign affairs. As President,
Dean would endeavor to "bring democracy and freedom to Muslim
nations". Those endeavors, one would expect, would be influenced
greatly by "AIPAC's view", as Dean feels a "visceral"
attachment to Israel.
spoke with the Forward shortly after naming Steven Grossman,
a former head of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
and ex-chairman of the Democratic National Committee, to a top
campaign fundraising post." Dean told the Forward
that he was "traveling to Israel for a week at the end of
[November] with the American Israel Educational Foundation, AIPAC's
educational arm, to meet with Israeli officials and Arab leaders."
cynic might suggest that former long shot candidate Dean's collaboration
with AIPAC indeed, his aggressive courting of the lobby's
support enhanced his national visibility more than any
other position he's taken. "In order for him to be totally
credible to the Jewish community in issues, people will want to
see a well-developed foreign policy on Israel and the Middle East
and be supportive of Israel's effort to maintain its qualitative
edge," Grossman said to The Forward. "He will
have to address this and no doubt will. Based on private conversations
I am absolutely confident about where he is ideologically and
substantively in bringing him to the American Jewish community."
Dean "totally credible"? He certainly seems to have
made the effort, and it certainly looks as if that effort has
paid off to this point in the campaign season; he is now treated
less like LaRouche-lite and more like someone Who Can Win.
people who should know better than to hitch their stars to an
all-too-unknown commodity like Dean are doing so. Pat Buchanan
and Bill Press, on their MSNBC program, rarely go a day without
mentioning the Vermonter's campaign. Scott McConnell, of The
American Conservative and this site, claims that Dean's "remarkable
fundraising surge, his unusual ability simultaneously to galvanize
liberals, intrigue non-liberals, and say 'no' to core Democratic
constituencies without alienating them renders him the odds-on
favorite to win the Democratic nomination", though he adds
that "it's not clear what Dean's actual political coloring
is." [Dean, in the Forward, claimed likewise that
"I'm very loyal to my friends", adding that "nobody
should read anything into my ideology"].
Justin Raimondo, the main writer here on Antiwar.com, has extolled
Dean's virtues. Raimondo claims
that Dean's greatest opposition comes from the "war party",
adding that Joe Lieberman's depiction of Dean as an "extremist"
is nothing short of a "viciously subliminal implication."
Arguably, though, Raimondo saves his strongest advocacy of Dean
for the conclusion of "Dean Vs. Loserman":
smearing of Howard Dean is part of a continuing attempt by the
neoconservatives of both parties to make sure the American
people never get a chance to veto our policy of global intervention.
Bush 43 ran on the merits of a 'humble' foreign policy – and
look what we got. The Dean campaign is a populist movement
against the War Party's political monopoly: quite apart from Dean,
the personality and the politician, the insurgency inspired
by his candidacy is a harbinger of hope."
harbinger of hope? As the old saying goes, piss in one hand, hope
in the other, and see which one fills up the quickest. Aside from
Dean's position on the Iraqi war, I don't see much in his candidacy
that makes me feel hopeful, but then again I take AIPAC very seriously,
having seen what they've done to politician after politician who
didn't toe their line. A cynical observer might argue that Dean
recognized early that the road to the Presidency runs through
AIPAC headquarters, and that he's doing whatever is necessary
to make that passage as smooth as possible.