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August 18, 2004

The Politics of Personal Vindication

I've long thought that politics is personal, especially as regards strong partisans, but not as usually thought.

Bill Clinton retained his support from liberals during Impeachment not because he was innocent or victimized, but because he had persuaded liberals to initially take up his cause under the claim of actual innocence. When it later developed that he wasn't innocent at all, liberals did not turn on him and call him "liar."

Why? Because they had a more important interest. By defending Clinton in those early, naive days when the mainstream media was actually pushing the line that Monica was a stalker, Clinton's supporters had gotten a little bit pregnant with the desire to be ultimately vindicated. They'd had arguments with friends and family for months that Clinton was innocent; their interest in seeing Clinton prevail was no longer an intellectual or purely political one. They now had skin in the game. If Clinton got impeached, they'd "lose" the months-long argument they'd been having.

Although they were disappointed to be rudely informed that Clinton had been lying to them all along, that would not match their disappointment at having to admit they were personally wrong to those who they'd argued with. And so, quick as lightning, their defense moved from "He's innocent; these are the confabulations of a borderline-schizophrenic stalker" to "Doesn't rise to the level" and "Let's move on."

In fairness, of course, anti-Clinton conservatives had skin in the game all along, too. But we didn't need to reverse long-held claims in order to continue in our quest for personal vindication-- winning the damn argument.

Now liberal Democrats, of course, have plenty of skin in the game as regards Iraq. They don't want just to see Kerry win. That's important to them, of course. But they also want to be personally vindicated on their long-held passionate pro-Saddam advocacy. To get that sort of personal vindication, they need more than for Kerry to just win while being evasive and "complex" on the issue. They need Kerry to clearly declare his fidelity to their side of the argument, take that position to the American people, and then convince a majority of them that Bush lied, people died.

A lot of anti-Clitnton conservatives were disappointed that we didn't get the big personal validation from Bush's 2000 victory. Yes, Bush won, and we were crazy-happy about that; but then he didn't sufficiently beat up on Clinton, nor press for additional investigations or the like, and thereby bringing us any closer to what we really craved: An official government declaration that We were right all along, signed by the President and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and maybe even Kofi Annan, if he could be persuaded to play ball.

Now, liberals voted tactically in the primaries. They attempted to display something akin to "reasonableness" or "prudence." They voted against the man they really wanted -- the man who actually clearly and unambiguously declared his support for their pro-Saddam views -- because they feared he actually couldn't win the race, and thus couldn't deliver the vindication they craved. They voted for Kerry, a strutting peacock of nuance and shadow, a walking cipher in a Naval uniform. In the interests of winning the election, they put aside their cravings for a politician who would give voice to their darkest and most lunatic conspiracy theories.

But it's several months past now, and the natives are getting restless. They thought they could live with a candidate who gave ambiguous and evasive answers regarding the Great Big Issue about which they wanted personal vindication. But the "You bet I might" vote for war in Iraq type answers are beginning to grate.

They voted for Kerry because he wasn't Howard Dean. But now they're beginning to regret that. What they really want is Howard Dean in John Kerry's naval uniform.

Professional barking moonbat/bag lady Helen Thomas is the first canary in the conspiratorialist coalmine to begin choking on the ambiguous fog that Kerry is spewing:

WASHINGTON -- It appears American voters have little choice between the presidential candidates in the November election when it comes to the disastrous war against Iraq.


Kerry has made a colossal mistake by continuing to defend his October 2002 vote authorizing President Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Last week at the Grand Canyon, Kerry said he would have "voted to give the president the authority to go to war" even if he had known there were no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction -- Bush's original justification for war on Iraq.


Kerry has passed up several chances to distance himself from the Iraqi debacle. But instead he has left himself wide open to Bush's ridicule. What's he got left -- stem-cell research?


The senator should have called Bush's hand months ago and laid it on the line after so much official deception. How could he say he would have voted for the 2002 war resolution after he and the whole world learned the rationale for the war was based on falsehoods?

I.e., he should have Deaned it up.

Does Kerry realize that the U.S. invasion of Iraq without provocation violates the U.N. Charter and the Nuremberg Tribunal principles?

Good question, Helen. I suggest that you keep asking this-- particularly to liberal readers.

Kerry has a weak fallback position-- that he would have planned things differently before going to war and would have lined up more European allies. Knowing what they know now about the Bush fiasco, France and Germany are congratulating themselves for having the good sense to stay out of Iraq.

So Kerry has blown it big time, rising to Bush's bait and throwing away his ace in the hole -- Bush's shaky credibility on the profound question of war and peace.


In 1968, Richard Nixon said he had a "plan" to end the Vietnam War and the voters, wanting peace, bought it. Nixon -- in part forced by Congress -- reduced the U.S. troop commitment to Vietnam, but U.S. forces were still there when Nixon was forced to resign from office in 1974 because of the Watergate scandal. But the war ended the following year.

These were not triumphal solutions but they did give Americans some hope of eventual escape from the two quagmires.

In 1964, a Los Angeles Times cartoon by famed Paul Conrad showed a pollster knocking on a door. A woman sticks her head out of a window and the pollster asks her voting preference: "President Johnson or Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz.?" She replies: "Who else have you got?"

That may be the fix some Americans are in again.

Another Kerry-Nixon comparison.

And liberals don't toss out comparisons with Richard Mephistopheles Nixon lightly.

Lunatic liberals may be our best hope for finally forcing Kerry to announce his real positions on the war on terrorism. Kerry's been feeding them anonydyne pablum, but they want the Good Stuff, the Ol' Red Eye, the big bottle marked XXX in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Without Kerry taking the pro-Saddam cause to the people and winning on that platform, the vindication they crave so desperately will always be incomplete.

What's more important to liberals-- winning the argument or winning the presidency?

As a one-time intense anti-Clinton partisan, I can say that the former interest might be slightly more important to the anti-Bush partisans than the latter.

And that makes me smile. Because I think these maniacs just might force Kerry to give away the Presidency in exchange for their support.

Thanks to See-Dubya for pointing out the Helen Thomas piece.

Proof of Thesis: Blaster provides the evidence. Chris Matthews, talking with Tom Friedman:

Well, let me talk to you about, as a person who spends every night here arguing about it one way or the other, trying to understand it one way or the other.

If we do succeed in reconstructing Iraq along the lines of a moderate democracy, then the people who supported the intervention, the preemptive act, the preventive attack on that country, will say we were right. Thatβ€˜s the problem.

Yes. That's the problem. As Blaster notes, if peace and prosperity come to 25 million Iraqis and the nation's security is strengthened and America gains an ally in the Muslim world, "the problem" is that Chrissy Matthews will have to confess error and admit the Jew Wolfowitz was right.

Transcript here.

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posted by Ace at 05:48 PM

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