Hopeful Signs of Democratic Leadership

This just in — there are Democrats out there actually thinking about solutions to problems that don’t end with blaming Bush:

This month they published a fascinating book that lays out what the foreign policy of a winning campaign by one of those Democrats — or perhaps Hillary Clinton — could look like. Sponsored by the Progressive Policy Institute, which is an outgrowth of the Clinton-friendly Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), it’s called “With All Our Might: A Progressive Strategy for Defeating Jihadism and Defending Liberty.”

Like most of its authors, editor Will Marshall, a DLC founder who now heads the policy institute, sees himself as reviving the foreign policy of Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy, who formulated the Democratic response to the totalitarian menace of communism. Jihadism, Marshall says, requires a similar exercise of intellectual muscle. “Democrats have always been at our best when we have defended democratic values against illiberal ideologies,” Marshall told me last week. “When we do that we can appeal to a broader public, not only at home but globally.”

This is a hopeful sign for Democrats, who, generally speaking, are better at crafting policy than they are at politics. Far too much of the Dems’ reaction on Iraq has been political, which is why they don’t appear to have any viable alternatives. Simply put, they haven’t offered any.

A carefully thought-out strategy of committing the resources to secure Iraq, and then eliminating the blatant double standards from our Middle East policy (by not coddling the Saudis or Egypt), could lend real momentum to Democratic efforts to retake Congress. More importantly, they would represent a genuine exercise of leadership – something desperately absent from national politics for too long. We’ll see if the Democrat’s political heads have the stomach (or the brains) to move forward in this direction.


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