Cheney "Met With Nearly Complete Silence"
Hat tip to Needlenose for
the Cheney/Pombo photo
This afternoon, the Los Angeles Times published its account of Vice President Dick Cheney’s fundraising trip through California on behalf of three Republican Congressional candidates, including Richard Pombo. It contained the following report from inside Stockton’s Fox/Bob Hope Theater last night:
Cheney stuck to his practiced role as administration cheerleader and stiletto-wielding partisan. He lauded the economy's performance under President Bush and said the country is a safer and stronger place thanks to Bush's "sound decisions" over the past five years. He called the administration's warrantless wiretapping program "absolutely vital in saving American lives."So what are we to make of this stony response by the hard-core, big-buck Republican donors in CA-11?
And he all but accused Democrats of lending aid and comfort to terrorists, saying advocates of "a sudden withdrawal from Iraq are counseling the very kind of retreat that Osama bin Laden has been predicting and counting on."
The response was strikingly subdued, given the loyalties of his audiences. In Stockton, there were cheers and whoops as Cheney reeled off a tickertape of upbeat economic statistics. But his lengthy defense of the war in Iraq, his insistence "we are on the offense" and "have a clear plan for victory," was met with nearly complete silence.
Way back in October, Steve Filson addressed the San Ramon Valley Democratic Club and said, "It's about electability. If we wave the anti-war flag, we will lose. If we are too progressive, we will lose again." Now, there has been considerable debate since then, on this blog and elsewhere, over the question of whether Democrats in historically conservative-leaning districts should dare to call for either immediate or timed withdrawal from Iraq. Arguably, Filson has predicated his entire candidacy on his unwillingness to withdraw troops from Iraq until there is a “functional, inclusive, non-sectarian Iraqi government with an Iraqi military force able to quell domestic threats.” I mean, the ostensible raison d’etre for Ellen Tauscher, Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC to have inserted Filson into this race was the calculation that his “moderate/centrist” political views would appeal to conservative voters in CA-11. Since, in reality, just about the only substantive ideological daylight to be found between Steve Filson and Jerry McNerney is in their differing approaches to the Iraq War, we must assume that it is Filson’s refusal to “cut and run” that defines him as a “moderate."
But implicit in this debate has been the conventional wisdom that a majority Republican district encompassing a considerable portion of California’s Central Valley would be reluctant to support a candidate who was opposed to the continued indefinite presence of American troops in Iraq. Conventional wisdom has told Democrats that in order to win in a Republican-leaning district, we must camouflage our values. But what if the conventional wisdom is not just a little wrong, but a lot wrong?
Let me repeat this just for effect: “[Cheney’s] lengthy defense of the war in Iraq, his insistence ‘we are on the offense’ and ‘have a clear plan for victory,’ was met with nearly complete silence.” Silence from Republican supporters who had just paid $500 to be in the room with Cheney and Pombo. Now, if the Republican fat-cats are unhappy with the status quo in Iraq, where do you suppose the regular Republicans and the 15% Decline to States stand? Folks, it could be a whole new world out there, especially if Democrats find the courage to stand strong for their core beliefs and ideas instead of watering them down in the vague hope of broadening their appeal.