There's two new numbers to consider as the House holds a rigged debate on the Iraq war today.
One is 2,500. That's the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq, released by the Pentagon today. In the fourth year of the conflict, there's no end in sight.
The other number is 57. That's the percentage of Americans who believe we should decrease the number of troops in Iraq. Even with Abu Musab Zarqawi's capture, a majority of Americans are less than confident that Iraq will end well, and believe the war was a mistake.
The fight over media consolidation is anachronistic. Progressives
should focus instead on mastering the tools of new media--it's here,
not in the corporate boardroom, where the new media wars will be fought
Fewer minority-owned outlets means fewer minorities in the media. With
such threats to public discourse, what will become of our voices,
points of view and interests?
I'm just back from Washington, DC, where the Campaign for America's Future staged its fourth annual Take Back America conference at the Hilton hotel near DuPont Circle. Bringing together close to 2,000 of the country's most dedicated progressive activists and strategists for a series of speeches, conversations, panels, workshops and parties, TBA showcased a raft of innovative policy proposals, initiatives and projects. Also on hand to make speeches was much of the Democratic Party leadership, including Senators Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Barack Obama, Russell Feingold and House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi.
Unfortunately, the story out of the conference, according to most media accounts, was the division in the progressive community, demonstrated by the booing Senator Clinton received as she defended her opposition to a timetable for withdrawing US troops from Iraq. I was at the speech. Though she did get static on Iraq, the general response to her talk was overwhelmingly positive. She garnered five enthusiastic ovations by my count, and by the end of her speech--mere minutes after she supposedly alienated the crowd--she left to a standing ovation much, much, much louder than the earlier booing.
Now I'm not saying that the positive reaction was necessarily a good thing. My feeling was that she was able to win a legitimately progressive crowd over far too easily with hollow progressive rhetoric. (And this isn't a call for heckling either. I think it's worth listening to people with whom you disagree. You just don't have to cheer them madly!) But people's reactions are complicated. My only point is that I didn't leave the conference feeling the story was "the widespread disagreement among left Democrats," as a particularly egregious piece in the New York Sun reported yesterday, and as the Washington Post and New York Times have echoed in dispatches this week.
If the promise of new media is to be fulfilled, progressives must chart
a course of activism that confronts the increasing concentration of
ownership among the Big Media powerhouses.
Back in November, after Jack Murtha shocked the political establishment by calling the Iraq war "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion," Congress rushed to vote on his resolution.
Murtha's proposal called for the redeployment of US forces "at the earliest predictable date" with an "over-the-horizon presence of US Marines" deployed in the region so the US could "pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy." But the House never got to vote on Murtha's resolution. Instead, Congressional Republicans rewrote it to read: "It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."
It was a sham vote, pure and simple, that reached its climax when Republican Jean Schmidt called Murtha a "coward" on the House floor. "I thought the tone was a bit over-the-top," House Majority Leader John Boehner said later. "And frankly, I wasn't very comfortable with how it was done and some of the words that were used."
Another winning strategy for Team Bush and its war on terror.