Saturday, August 06, 2005

Democratic Leaders: Get to the Point

Over at MyDD, Scott Shields offers this contrast between a speech in Iowa by Evan Bayh with a letter to the editor of the WSJ by Wes Clark:
I'll admit that Bayh's got a point when he says that our party has an image problem. But the image problem is just that -- an image problem. A recent letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal from Wesley Clark went after this same perception.
Here's Clark's letter to the WSJ:

'Resolve' on Iraq Is Fine, but We Also Need a Plan

Letter to the Editor
Wall Street Journal

In your June 30 editorial "Wanted: A Constructive Opposition," following the president's speech on Iraq, you chided me and a number of other Democrats for simply critiquing the president's plan rather than offering our own. Your criticisms are both incorrect and misplaced.

I and others have offered our plans again and again. We called for a diplomatic strategy in the region -- rather than relying wholly on threats and warning -- more and better equipped U.S. forces focused on training the Iraqis, and a more intensive effort to promote political and economic development in Iraq. I first articulated my plans in my 2003 book, "Winning Modern Wars," and continued to propose a better approach throughout the presidential campaign.

But no matter: It is the duty of the president to propose a plan that works, and to explain it and win the support of the people. Instead, as casualties mount and Americans begin to doubt, all the president does is call for "resolve."

I'm all for resolve -- I lived it during my tour in Vietnam. But Americans are beginning to understand that success in Iraq requires more than just resolve: It requires an effective plan, sufficient resources and effective execution of political, economic and diplomatic efforts, not just great "soldiering."

We in the loyal opposition are doing our duty by pointing out shortfalls in the president's approach.

Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark
Washington

Shields sums up the difference between Bayh and Clark:
Bayh gives weight to GOP claims of a weak, idea-less Democratic Party by repeating them and handwringing over how to neutralize them. What he doesn't do is simply refute the claims. By contrast, Clark's strategy is to take the charge that Democrats are "fringe" and lack "backbone" and upend it. No, you're wrong, here's why. And that is what we need more of from party leaders -- not a nervous shift to the right to appease the Republican Party.
This is probably why Wes Clark is so well regarded among the netroots. Wes Clark and Paul Hackett (who since Tuesday is being touted for Ohio governor or senator in 2006) are similar in that, secure about their national security credentials, they get right to the point in criticizing Bush's foreign policy.

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