I've been having an exchange with a dang fine guy, Steve Zemke, Majority Rules Blog. He's a good guy and not only would I stop and give him a ride if I saw him with his thumb out,
I'd go out of my way to drive down the road to where he was stuck if he called me.
He writes a a blog where his blogroll looks pretty much like mine. We are on the same team.
We're active at PNW portal. And we'll remain on the same team.
But we disagree about how to support an incumbent senator and our disagreement comes from deep
and powerful places of emotion and experience.
Our exchange took place on my own blog (thanks Steve for driving up my hit counts). What
he had to say in taking exception to what I've been saying reflects and maybe summarizes the on-going disagreement about the
Cantwells, Wilsons and Dixons who make up the pool from which we'll nominate a senate candidate for November. Steve had responded
with a comment to a diary I wrote in Willapa View 3/24/06
After all the strategizers terrified of McGavick
I responded with a comment as did Chad Shue , The Left Shue, a Dean man whose blog and links are on my "read-regularly" list as well. Chad is also on the
It's a pluralistic system we live in and that implies a plurality of opinions rather than a
limited "plurality" of opinions which are dictated to the rest of us pluralitarians as wisdom from those who think they know
more than we do.
It's a system that starts from square one in every election cycle. Square one - appropriately
named "primary" - means that every citizen has an opinion, a vote and the duty to express both.
From square one in election cycles, the incumbents have a maybe-or-maybe-not advantage in that
they have to run on their record. However, incumbents are no more entitled to that office than the next guy and it's a majority
of primary voters who'll decide whether or not the incumbent has earned another chance.
It is from that place and the current moment in time that I speak.
I have a perception that those who support our senator with henney-penney arguments are suggesting
that we must tiptoe thru the tulips and keep quiet. An insurance CEO masquerading as a republican goliath who might be a shoo-in
if we are not careful is putting up a roadblock ahead.
This again seems to assume that Cantwell is the only one to meet McGavick in the street and
outshoot him - that we who are an active and publishing voice will have no impact; that McGavick cannot be defeated by a democratic
team that is not flagshipped by Maria Cantwell.
Are we that afraid of McGavick that we have no confidence or would not be able to work hard
against McGavick if we didn't have Maria? Activists who do more than blog in their pajamas have demonstrated the power of
the keyboard. Ask KOS, ask Goldy ask any of those on the Portal Blogroll. We are not irrelevant.
Some seem unwilling to recognize that anxious to defend Ms. Cantwell, they praise her in ways
that resemble the struggles republicans have in defending Bush and his administration credibly by somehow talking around and
avoiding open discussion of what has got everybody upset. That's why, over the years, "apologist" became a synonym for
"speaking from a place of weakness."
Goofy objections and false constructs are not what is fueling resentment of Maria Cantwell.
Personally, I don't think Cantwell has done a good job overall in six years and I yearn for
someone more a leader as I understand leadership.
On the other hand Maria's supporters feel that she has done a good job, really leads and has
lead well for six years - and therefore deserves renomination.
From my point of view that argument seems to admit a terror at the prospect of losing to McGavick
- thinking that an incumbent is a campaign's bird in the hand no matter how many democrats are upset with her.
We can't help but feel frustration for the position in which we as Democrats in Washington find
ourselves. Hiding behind a strategy-based fortress that threatens us with becoming disastrous duplicates of the perceptual
villainy of the Nader campaign in 2000 is not helpful - not in a political society that is truly pluralistic.
We are all agreed that we don't want a republican victory over our party's senatorial candidate.
I also assume, we all want the strongest candidate with the strongest message.
We seem to have the strongest candidate already in place. But we also seem to have an incumbent
candidate whose message addressing those things that arouse supporters, bring out voters and light fires under non-voters
is seriously lacking.
It's okay to get mad and it's okay to talk tough talk if you really mean it - if you are not
bluffing or posturing. We don't want tough talk that is mere posturing and opportunism because our republican opponents in
this state have modelled that behavior for us so precisely well for some time now, demonstrating a failed tactic.
If republicans had not screwed up our country so badly we might not have such a critical need
to throw as many of them out of office nationwide as possible. It might not be so vital to do everything in our power to achieve
elected majorities at the Federal level.
But they HAVE screwed up the country which makes of Senator Cantwell an extremely valuable political
asset - by virtue of her party affiliation - regardless of any real demonstrated leadership.
It's also my opinion, with all due respect to and regardless of Cantwell's challengers who have
been willing to make the effort to run, that we do not have a stronger senatorial candidate as an alternative.
Neither announced challenger seems to know or have a dynamism that attracts positive attention,
positive press and makes people want to stand up and shout "That's my candidate!"
I suspect that although it's not a matter of pure giftedness, it IS an artful skill and a politician
should learn how to do it before launching a campaign.
... Like Scoop Jackson did for me in the late 70's, like Reagan in the early 80's when I was
a dumb republican, and like Dean in 2004. Real leaders take stands and stand by their takes.
Last night I watched and listened to Biden on Bill Maher's show. I've written mostly critical
diaries about Joe Biden, but if the presidential primary had taken place today, Biden would have gotten my vote ... simply
because he repeatedly made powerful declarations without resorting to neither rhetoric nor the carefully crafted bland Kerry-style
soup. He got mad. He spoke while he was angry. He did not sound less statesman-like in his indignation because his indignation
was legitimately and justifiably righteous.
We haven't seen too much of that from local or national Democratic leadership. (I personally
lay a lot of blame at the feet of the DLC)
Biden was aroused and repeatedly let slip declarations that revealed legitimate indignation,
embarassment by our president and offered powerful logic from both the "get-out-of-Iraq-now" and the "we-can't-just-walk-away-from-this-mess-yet"
points of view.
Kerry soup? As good as Kerry's recent speak-out was, it's a weak third to what Murtha has been
saying all along and what Biden said last night.
Because his fire and statesmanship do not appear to come from his guts, but rather just as it
appeared in 2004, from his handlers.
Because those latter two speak to the problem. They don't hide their unwillingness behind
a refusal - pretending to some sort of wiser-than-thou knowledge that is not apparent, not perceivable and makes them look
hesitant, indecisive or cowardly.
Murtha has a history of supporting the administration from early on - a deserved reputation
as a Democratic Hawk. He IS a legitimate Hawk whose votes at times legitimized the self-serving military claptrap coming from
Chicken Hawk Heaven.
Murtha's not talking like a dove now but he is speaking directly against what happened as a
result of how he himself voted early on. Because of that a day doesn't go by in which he doesn't earn more and more respect.
More than any other politician, Murtha's speaking out - after voting repeatedly with Republican
Hawks over the years - is the model. It's the model we have every justifiable right to expect from our own elected officials.
It is not unreasonable when so much disapproval of our military venture into Iraq has manifested
itself in this country.
It is not unreasonable when Iraq is the singular primary reason why Bush's polls are down in
As much good as she has accomplished in her first term, Maria Cantwell has not earned the right
to ignore those who question some of her decisions.
No politician has that right.
If a decision later on down the road needs to be re-examined or justified anew, a leader - a
courageous and patriotic country-loving politician ought not to hesitate to square it with constituency.
If there were a returned Iraq War Veteran running for the Senate in Washington do you really
think Maria would hide behind silence and exert this kind of extortion that says in effect, "You have no viable alternative
to me and so I don't have to risk anything by taking a stand?"
And, since historically I come from at least partial republican leanings, had I known that Ms.
Cantwell would behave in such an adamant stubborn and evasive way, ignoring that portion of her constituency that is now asking
"Why?", I wouldn't have had one of my "Scoop Jackson" moments. I would have heard no bell, seen no light and felt no fire.
I would have voted for Gorton back then.
I've declared before that I'll be voting for and campaigning fiercely for whoever our nominee
is and we all have a good idea as to who that will be.
But I'm not giving her a free pass because of slick editorials and arguments from her apologists
that make it appear that the "smart" kids on the playground who say it's better to give your lunch money to the bully than
to challenge him and risk being hurt even more are right.
© Arthur Ruger 2006