I am a person who believes that you have to choose your battles.
I also believe that left-leaning Democrats are making a huge political mistake by pushing for prosecution of Bush administration officials and their role in approving of torture of detainees.
The left does this again and again. We aim for the cerebral over the bread-and-butter. This is why we have difficulty winning presidential elections.
Now the left is wholly focused on torture and has forgotten about healthcare.
If we don't get healthcare passed in Obama's first term... if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of trying to prosecute Bush and Cheney, my prediction is we will see a candidate like Mitt Romney win the 2012 election. A competent, safe, white, can-do kind of guy who knows how to run a business and who will promise to lower taxes.
For the record, I believe waterboarding is torture. I do not condone torture. I think that Obama should make the lines very clear during his administration and he should outlaw torture.
But whether detainees are tortured is not a day-to-day, pocketbook issue. Torture is a moral issue for the left, much as abortion is for the right.
Moral issues are niche issues. Healthcare and taxes are bread-and-butter-issues.
The right has taxes as its bread and butter. The left used to have labor and unions, but with their decimation, now we have healthcare.
But once again, the Democrats are allowing the discussion to be framed by those on the far left or more intellectual portion of the party, and are forgetting about the vast center.
Remember the lunch-bucket Democrats that Hillary won so handily? Remember how Obama had to struggle to connect with those voters? Obama didn't win the blue-collar vote on stem cell research or net neutrality, he won them by promising to lower their healthcare costs and promising new blue collar jobs. Republicans win them by promising to lower their taxes.
I mean I totally get it. Healthcare is... well, it's a little boring. A bunch of sad-looking Americans testifying before Congress about how they lost their home to medical bills. Can't afford college because of medical bills. Sick people, women, children. Blue collar.
And what Democrat doesn't want to see the most reviled administration in our lifetimes trotted out before the masses? Cheney sweating under the klieg lights! (Because it's now really and truly payback time for all those years we were kicked around.) Shiny new toy... fun distraction. Sexy!
I have a brilliant idea. Why don't the Democrats do a media blitz...trot out Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, or how about Wesley Clark or John Kerry (they were in the military)? and they can talk to the American people about why torture is wrong! We'll get Rachel Maddow to be the commentator. Lefties will wet their pants with excitement!
The rest of America will turn the channel.
While we're airing long PBS-type discussions about torture policy memos, Hannity or Glenn Beck on Fox will have whipped their audiences up to an angry froth, with talk of coddling terrorists (complete with relentless footage of 9/11).
Let's just show the American people how wonky and intelligent and SMART Democrats can be. Let's compare prosecuting Bush and Cheney to the Nuremberg Trials. Don't you think the American people will see the connections between terrorists accused of killing 3,000 innocent Americans to the innocent victims of Nazi genocide?
I'm being sarcastic, but these are the arguments I'm reading from the left.
Are we that far removed from the rest of the country that we really believe this will play in Peoria? And if we lose focus on healthcare by moving it to the back burner, it won't get passed this go-round and we'll have to wait for the next Democratic president after wandering the desert for another 20 years. Because if Obama doesn't pass healthcare, he's Jimmy Carter and a one-termer.
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