Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Campaign 2008: Bayh Faces Tough Questions From Anti-War Crowd In Iowa Trip

Tom Curry, National Affairs Writer for MSNBC, has written an excellent article about Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and his pre-2008 tour through Iowa, which by all appearances, seems to be an attempt to gauge the pulse of the Democratic voters, in an important red state. (HT: RCP) Winning Iowa is extremely important for any candidate, for fundraising purposes.

I recommend reading it, especially if you are a Democrat that seriously wants to win back the White House. But whether or not he gets the nomination will highly depend on how well he is received by the anti-war left. But all indications are beginning to show that he will have a difficult time, because of the Nancy Pelosis, the Jack Murthas, and the John Kerrys. They are among the ones that voted for the authorization to use force in Iraq and now are doing everything they can to undermine that operation, at every twist and turn along the way.

During a campaign swing across the state this past weekend, the Indiana senator's mellow demeanor, folksy Midwestern charm and credentials as a governor and U.S. senator gave Bayh threshold credibility with most of the rank-and-file Democrats he met.

But Bayh has something else that’s not an asset, something that gives a reporter a distinct sense of déjà vu: his vote for the Iraq war resolution in 2002.

Ah, that haunting resolution has come back to roost, as a litmus test for 2008. A vote that was taken in October of 2002, now becomes the single most important issue for the future.

Here is one woman's complaint to Bayh at one of the forums he attended:

In a room at a community college in Osceola where a dozen people had gathered to meet the senator, Carole Waterman told Bayh that her son, a Virginia National Guardsman, had returned from a stint in Iraq. She didn’t want him or anybody else's son to be sent there.

“How are we going to get ourselves out of this morass? Killing our troops, killing the Iraqis, breaking our budget… It makes no sense to me at all,” Waterman told Bayh. “I’m wondering how you feel about that.”

Here is another complaint from a man:

At a living room event in Sioux City on Saturday night, former Woodbury County chairman Al Sturgeon told Bayh that rank and-file Democrats still feel “outrage over this incredible debacle in Iraq.”

Calling it “the biggest political and military blunder of my lifetime,” Sturgeon said to Bayh, “I’d like you to explain your vote on the war and why you gave the president a blank check to get us into this disaster.”

Sound familiar? Sure it does. (See: Cindy Sheehan)

But now, let's look at how Bayh handled these questions.

Carole Waterman:

Bayh replied with a long and subdued justification of his vote for the 2002 use-of-force resolution, along with an explanation that he has learned from his secret briefings as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee that if U.S. troops withdrew, a civil war and perhaps a regional war would erupt, with Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia plunging in.

“That would be bad for us,” he told Waterman.

Carole would have none of it:

With exasperation in her voice, she said, “I wanted him to say to say we were leaving Iraq tomorrow. At this point, I don’t care if there is a civil war in Iraq, because there already is a civil war.”

Carole must not know what the definition of a civil war is. But for argument's sake let's just say she is right. There are varying degrees of a civil war and this one is nowhere near as bad as the vast majority of civil wars that have taken place in the past. (If you are skeptical about this not being one, read this and this.)

So now, let's move on to Bayh's response to Al Sturgeon's question:

Bayh calmly answered that “I wouldn’t cast the same vote today as I did then.” He noted that “the French believed that (there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq), the Germans believed that, the Russians believed that, everybody believed he [Saddam Hussein] had weapons of mass destruction.”

Al was a little more reasonable in his assessment than Carole, afterward:

“It was an honest answer and I did appreciate the candidness. It’s not a good answer, because there aren’t any good answers.”

Maybe not, Al. I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive at the time the debate was going on, myself. I wan't sure of the wisdom in fighting in two different conflicts, simultaneously. After Clinton had cut the military down during his watch, this was a legitimate concern of many.

But once the decision was made to engage, I have supported the troops by any means possible and available to me. I will not undermine the effort for any reason. I will not sit in arrogant judgement of the Administration on this issue, while we have troops in the field and in harm's way. I refuse to do so, whether I agree with the President or not. I may criticize him and his staff on any other issue, but not that.

And Bayh doesn't do it, either. He may have since had second thoughts and that's perfectly within his rights, to do so. But he has kept them to himself and not taken potshots at the President, for political gain. The same cannot be said of the Democratic leadership, which care only about responding to the anti-war hacks that have hijacked the Democratic party.

Still not convinced?
Take a look at this piece from the WSJ and read it with an open mind. This op-ed successfully refutes the anti-war crowd's weak and faulty arguments, systematically and with sound logic.

I think deep down Sen. Bayh understands a lot of this. But for him to articulate this at this point in time, does not do a lot of good for him, should he make a serious run for President, in 08. The anti-war crowd has began using their resources, angry and vengeful as they may be, at Lieberman and Hillary, in their 06 Senate races. How successful they are this fall, will determine whether or not Bayh has a legitimate chance at the nomination or not.

But, if I were a Democrat, I would seriously take a good look at Bayh as my nominee, because he can win a red state. Kerry, Gore, and the others that have undermined this war effort cannot. He is a social moderate and fiscal conservative that left Indiana with a budget surplus, when he left office (which his successor spent down and even drove the state into near bankruptcy, after it was gone).

He may very well be the answer, but first he has to get past the angry leftists, in the primary process. And if this past weekend in Iowa is any indication, it doesn't look to be easy.


If this poll is any indication whatsoever, Bayh is doomed.

(You have to laugh folks, or you'd be spending your life crying)


If enough Republicans are fed up and don't like their party's choice, if they are still feeling disenfranchised, they may crossover and vote for Bayh in the primary season. You had the Reagan Democrats. Who knows? Maybe the Bayh Republicans?

A lot of that success would be contingent on how he sees the border issue. That will be the thing that he will have to tread, very lightly, as a Democrat. But the American people have been quite clear as to what they think about it.


A.C. said...

LA, great piece. I've always felt Bayh was reasonable, and this didn't shake that notion. Here's what strikes me-

..the dems are being forced into the same corner as Bush in defending the reasons to go after Saddam.

..there IS a high potential for a regional war if we leave. Turkey and Iran come to mind, and SA will not just sit by and let them carve up that country.

..if the dems choose someone who didn't vote for the resolution, they run the risk of only carrying the moonbat vote.

A lot may also depend on what happens this fall.

LASunsett said...

Did you see the Kos poll? I laughed for an hour. Every time I gained my composure, I burst out into laughter, again. It was a killer, I tell you.

That's worthy of its own Weekend Funnies post.

A.C. said...

I'll have to take a look. Most days I don't have the stomach to venture over there.