LOYAL OPPOSITION?

Ralph Peters contends that Howard Dean and Osama bin Laden share a hatred of America’s success. While that vastly overstates the point, Peters is correct that, for Democrats to succeed, Bush–and, by extension, America–must fail:

As to the notion that Bush has somehow botched the terror war, it’s simply absurd. Forget for a moment that the first (and only) thing a President Al Gore would have done after 9/11 would have been to form a committee of academics to discuss America’s guilt. Focus on the situation right now: Since 9/11, there has not been a single major terrorist attack on American soil. Period.

In what sense is that a failure?

Certainly, after we ripped apart al Qaeda, toppled the Taliban, pursued terrorists literally to the ends of the earth, killed ’em or slapped ’em in the slammer, seized their assets and destroyed the outlaw regime in Iraq, the terrorists yearned to hit back. But our actions have been so powerful and effective that they have been unable to do so.

Doesn’t sound like a failure to me.

Indeed. Peters also pines for a more effective Democrat party that presents honest alternatives rather than mere carping from the sidelines:

Not generalities, my Democratic friends. Where are your detailed plans to better protect America and its citizens?

There are none. Just as the Democratic Party has failed to articulate any new foreign (or domestic) policy ideas for the 21st century. In the Democratic world-view, America is bad, our armed forces are baby-killers, the terrorists have a point and we might as well just surrender. “Hell no, we won’t go” is not an adequate foreign policy.

Even domestically, the Dems are caught in a time warp, convinced it’s still 1936 and Tom Joad is struggling to trample the grapes of wrath. Hey, old Tom’s grandkids are out in California making cabernet sauvignon.

Indeed. And he’s right about this, too:

It would be all too easy to gloat about the Democratic Party’s moral vanishing act. But the truth is that Republicans should be alarmed at the left’s unprecedented disarray.

We need a vigorous, intellectually honest opposition.

We accept that monopolies are bad for markets. In the Middle East, we see how fatal religious monopolies can be. But monopolies are bad for political systems, too. The utter lack of new ideas in the Democratic Party means that the Republican Party goes unchallenged as it pioneers new foreign and military policies.

An unchallenged GOP will try to run out the clock, in a figurative sense. There would be no incentive to re-examine its policies, to come up with new ideas, or to take any bold steps. That would eventually lead to stagnation.

In 1960, John Kennedy managed to beat Richard Nixon, an incumbent Vice President sitting on a strong economy, by offering bold ideas. To a lesser extent, George W. Bush did the same thing in 2000. It doesn’t necessarily require things to go wrong for the country for an opposition party to thrive. It does require a better view of the future.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.