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Democratic Party Won't Win by Bashing Bush

Tuesday, 18 April 2006 12:00 AM

The November elections will soon be upon us. Democrats believe they can win a majority in both houses of Congress, and I agree. But victory will not be won by Bush-bashing. It will be won if we rally the country to support the core issues of the Democratic Party.

On the international front, the overriding issue facing our country is whether Americans have the will to denounce, resist and vanquish the fanatic Islamists who hate democratic values, who engage in terrorism, and who want to kill us and say so. Take them at their brazen word. When Hitler wrote "Mein Kampf," we failed to take him at his word and lived to regret it. Sixty million people ultimately paid with their lives.

The best-known Islamic fanatic in the entire world is Osama bin Laden, praised and followed by millions of Muslims. His chief deputy in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has said, "Killing the infidels is our religion, slaughtering them is our religion, until they convert to Islam or pay us tribute." Who are these infidels? First the crusaders (Christians), Jews and Hindus, but ultimately the entire non-Muslim world.

A majority of Muslims and their leaders oppose these fanatics. But out of a worldwide Muslim population of 1.4 billion in 52 countries, the fanatics and their sympathizers number in the hundreds of millions. Further, their opponents – the leaders of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf states that seek to resist bin Laden and his extreme ideology – are themselves in great danger of being overthrown by fanatics in their own countries.

Those fanatics call moderate Muslim leaders and their supporters infidels and seek to assassinate them. President Musharraf of Pakistan has been the subject of at least three such attempts.

What would happen to Pakistan and its nuclear stockpile if the next attempt were to be successful? It is surely not unreasonable to fear that Dr. Abdul Qadeer Kahn, who developed the Pakistani nuclear bomb and who, according to The New York Times, provided Iran with "advanced technology" in "black market offerings," would resume control of Pakistan's nuclear program and distribute the bomb and the technology to use it to terrorist countries like Iran and terrorist organizations like al-Qaida.

One such terrorist is Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's second in command, who in his letter of July 9, 2005 to al-Zarqawi, stated among other goals that of "the establishment of a caliphate." What would happen to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan were the terrorists to have available to them the nuclear bomb? What would happen to the U.S. and to Israel if Iran, which supports and finances terrorism in Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, the West Bank and elsewhere, secures a usable nuclear bomb immediately on the black market?

Iran's megalomaniacal president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has publicly threatened the destruction of both the U.S. and Israel. Is there any doubt that if he had a nuclear bomb, he would seek to use it directly or deliver it through terrorists? His missiles are now capable of reaching Hawaii and Alaska. How long will it be before they are capable of reaching Los Angeles and Chicago?

Do we wait until we are attacked and millions of Americans are killed, or do we do now whatever is required to prevent the Iranians from gaining access to such a weapon? Of course, if Iran struck first, we would annihilate that country, but how would that help a grieving America?

Every course of action – diplomatic and economic – should be used to prevent the bomb from being acquired by the Iranians, but if that approach fails, what then? I support the wisdom of Senator John McCain, who summed up his position – which I believe should also be that of the U.S. – when he said: "There's only one thing worse than the United States exercising the military option. That is a nuclear-armed Iran."

Will the Democratic Party convince American voters that it has the resolve to protect us from the terrorism of Islamic fanatics? If it does not, it won't win the next election, notwithstanding the failures and the botching of our occupation of Iraq by the Bush administration.

On the domestic front, the overriding issue is universal comprehensive medical insurance. Forty-five million Americans are without health coverage, millions of them working at minimum and low-end wages. The Republicans have told the country they will not support a comprehensive national coverage program. Our Democratic leaders have paid obeisance to the principle of a national medical insurance program, but have not agreed upon one and have not taken measures to come to a consensus on what the party will actually support. All we hear is talk and more talk, but no legislation.

The Democrats should be prepared to state well in advance of the pending election what such a program would offer. Anyone with knowledge of costs and medical demands knows there must be limits on what can be offered with the resources available. Limits could involve rationing, personal responsibility for illnesses caused by a refusal to stop smoking or to deal with obesity or to use safer sex practices (condoms). The party leaders must be willing to defend a defined program against the onslaught of those who will oppose any limitations.

The core issues of the Democratic Party, going back to FDR and expanded with the passage of time, include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, environmental protection, education, race relations, abortion, gay rights, equal employment opportunities, fair taxation and others. The party should now clarify its positions, and its platform should be intelligent and reasonable. Since 1973, I have defined my philosophy as that of a liberal with sanity. I believe a majority of Democrats see themselves that way.

If the leaders of the Democratic Party convey to the country that is how they view themselves and are prepared to govern that way, we will win in November. If all we convey is opposition to President Bush, we will lose.


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The November elections will soon be upon us.Democrats believe they can win a majority in both houses of Congress, and I agree.But victory will not be won by Bush-bashing.It will be won if we rally the country to support the core issues of the Democratic Party. On...
Tuesday, 18 April 2006 12:00 AM
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