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Mark Steyn: Those at the back cry 'Forward!'
The Sunday Telegraph (U.K.) ^ | 09/29/2002 | Mark Steyn

Posted on 09/28/2002 3:57:28 PM PDT by Pokey78

As I understand it, the British Labour Party is divided between those in favour of war with Iraq and those opposed to it. In the US Democratic Party, it's more complicated:.

Faction A is anti-war but trying hard not to have to say so between now and election day in November.

Faction B was pro-war when it was Bill Clinton in charge but anti-war now there's a Republican rallying the troops.

Faction C can go either way but huffily insists that to ask them to express an opinion would be to "politicise" the war.

Faction D can't quite figure which position alienates least of their supporters and so articulates a whole all-you-can-eat salad bar of conflicting positions and then, in a weird postmodern touch, ostentatiously agonises over the "inherent risks" in each of them.

Faction E thinks the priority right now should be to sit around holding inquiries into why the administration failed to act on what it knew about al-Qa'eda before they killed thousands of Americans. To act on what we know about Saddam before he kills thousands of Americans would be an unnecessary distraction from the important work of investigating why we didn't act last time round.

Taken as a whole, the 50 Democratic senators' current positions on Iraq forms the all-time record multiple-contortionist pretzel display. But a week ago they showed signs of finally remembering the First Rule of Holes: when you're in one, stop digging. Instead of talking about why they don't want to talk about Iraq, they correctly figured that the easiest thing would be to give Bush some qualified, perfunctory support and hastily change the subject to something more favourable, such as the allegedly collapsing economy.

But then Al Gore rose from the dead to demonstrate that his political antennae are still as reliable as a 1948 TV with busted rabbit ears. Senate Democrats emerged from their hole to find their 2004 presidential frontrunner had dug them a brand new one. Remember Al? The first Android-American to run for President? The first candidate to win the popular vote without being popular?

Al spent his riveting Gore '00 presidential campaign in a fruitless pursuit for "the real Al Gore", launching a brand new "real Al Gore" every couple of weeks. But, in fairness to the Democratic Party's very own weapon of mass self-destruction, throughout all his multiple personalities Gore has been consistently tough on Saddam, ever since he was one of the few Democratic Senators to vote for the first Gulf War 12 years ago.

Not any more, though. Last week, Al decided he's against a war with Iraq. Iraq, he argues, will distract us from Afghanistan. "Great nations," he intones, "do not jump from one unfinished task to another." Just so.

You'll remember that in the Second World War, after its early victories in the Pacific, the US wisely concentrated on nation-building in the Solomon Islands for five or 10 years instead of rushing on to liberate Europe. America, says Al, can't fight Iraq and mop up Afghanistan at the same time. We can walk. Or we can chew gum. But we shouldn't try to jump from walking to gum-chewing until we're certain we've completed our walk.

Poor Al: the smart bomb who's so smart and always bombs. With his usual brilliant instincts, he chose to discard his pro-war stance just as his party's senators were discarding their anti-war stance. Thus, the Democrats found themselves with the rare double problem of figuring out a way to spin both the obvious opportunism of their belated approval for the war and the obvious opportunism of Gore's belated opposition to it.

That's why a couple of days later the normally sober, soft-spoken, funereal Tom Daschle, the Democrats' leader in the Senate, had a meltdown on the floor of the chamber. For months, the calmly evasive Daschle has stuck to an unvarying routine on Iraq. He has "concerns". He has "grave concerns". His concerns have concerns. He's gravely concerned that the President isn't concerned about some of his concerns and that concerns him all the more. Plus he's concerned that the Republicans may be politicising the political process. Also, he has "questions".

Thousands of questions: Has the President weighed all the options? Is the President aware of the risks? Could the President weigh all the options a couple more times? Is the President aware there may be some risks he's not aware of? When the President says he's weighing all the options, is that in pounds or kilograms? Does the President know who put the bomp in the bomp-sh-bomp-sh-bomp, who put the ram in the ram-a-lama-ding-dong? Where have all the flowers gone? What kind of fool am I? If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why oh why can't I? In the immortal words of David Cassidy, how can I be sure in a world that's constantly changing?

The only real question was how long Daschle could keep this up before he cracked. On Wednesday, the South Dakotan choked up on the Senate floor and angrily demanded that Bush apologise to every Democratic veteran for implying the party was somehow soft on the war.

The network correspondents hailed this as one of the most genuinely profoundly moving performances since Al Jolson last sang Sonny Boy or, alternatively, Bill Clinton held his final post-Monica "prayer breakfast" with his legions of "spiritual advisors". But, as someone who sat there howling with laughter as Senator Daschle blinked back tears, I think his attack on the President was an example of what the shrinks call displacement: Bush only implied the Democrats were soft on the war; Gore positively boasted about it.

I hasten to add that in gleefully mocking Gore's inept cynicism and Daschle's sob-sister routine I'm certainly not impugning the patriotism of the Democratic leadership. Few of us will forget the stirring words last week of Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, summing up the party's current position: "If the UN adopts the kind of resolution authorising force to enforce the kind of inspections that they should have a resolution adopted for, then I believe this resolution should say: in the event the UN adopts a resolution authorising member states to use force to enforce the inspections, I believe this resolution should say that under those circumstances we should authorise force to enforce that UN resolution."

Got that? It's available from party headquarters on a bumper sticker, if you've got a stretch limo long enough.

The sight of the Democratic Party "wrestling" (as Al put it) with its conscience over Iraq is like some old-time carney freakshow: it's strangely compelling, but you can't help feeling it's cruel to put these misfits on public display. The administration doesn't need to "politicise" the war. They're for it. So are the American people. The Democrats have had since the liberation of Kabul 10 months ago to work out a viable position. Instead, they seem to have run the various options past the focus-groups, identified the half-dozen least popular, and plumped for all of them.

Five weeks till election day and the Democratic Party's doing a dandy impression of one of those incompetent suicide bombers who accidentally self-detonates before he gets on the bus.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: South Dakota; US: Tennessee
KEYWORDS: hughhewitt; marksteyn; marksteynlist
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1 posted on 09/28/2002 3:57:28 PM PDT by Pokey78
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To: Howlin; riley1992; Miss Marple; deport; Dane; sinkspur; steve; kattracks; JohnHuang2; ...
Pinging the Steyn list!

A KEEPER!


2 posted on 09/28/2002 3:58:21 PM PDT by Pokey78
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To: scholar; Bullish
Ping
3 posted on 09/28/2002 3:59:14 PM PDT by knighthawk
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To: Pokey78
Faction B was pro-war when it was Bill Clinton in charge but anti-war now there's a Republican rallying the troops

A perfect example of how hypocrite they are.

4 posted on 09/28/2002 4:01:43 PM PDT by knighthawk
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To: Pokey78
Confusion to the democRats!
5 posted on 09/28/2002 4:02:38 PM PDT by LibKill
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To: Pokey78
Thanks much, Pokey!
6 posted on 09/28/2002 4:04:25 PM PDT by Molly Pitcher
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To: Pokey78
I am utterly in awe of Mr. Steyn's talents, and proud to be a fellow New Hampshirite. His assessment of the Democrats' conundrum is balls-on:

"Five weeks till election day and the Democratic Party's doing a dandy impression of one of those incompetent suicide bombers who accidentally self-detonates before he gets on the bus."

Beyond brilliant.

7 posted on 09/28/2002 4:10:23 PM PDT by andy58-in-nh
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To: Pokey78
My sides hurt -- laughed all the way through this. Steyn is a genius.
8 posted on 09/28/2002 4:17:38 PM PDT by M. Thatcher
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To: Pokey78
Does the President know who put the bomp in the bomp-sh-bomp-sh-bomp, who put the ram in the ram-a-lama-ding-dong?

From the Democrats' Off-Broadway Musical, "Please Don't Let's Be Beastly To Saddam".

Mark Steyn is out of this world--

--but, Senator Daschle, your head's stuck in Uranus.

9 posted on 09/28/2002 4:26:54 PM PDT by PhilDragoo
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To: Pokey78
He's such a clever writer. I thoroughly enjoyed the read!!!
10 posted on 09/28/2002 4:28:15 PM PDT by dawn53
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To: Pokey78
ROFLMAO!! Oh my god, that was too good, I love this guy!!!
11 posted on 09/28/2002 4:30:05 PM PDT by Aric2000
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To: Pokey78
The fact that there is a Mark Steyn, and that his words are so widely published, proves that there is a God.

Absolutely BRILLIANT!
12 posted on 09/28/2002 4:30:55 PM PDT by Imal
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To: M. Thatcher
Dittos!

Steyn rocks!

PING!

13 posted on 09/28/2002 4:32:32 PM PDT by Lysandru
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To: Pokey78
Steyn is always fun to read, but this is sidesplitting! And a direct hit on the bumbling boobs of the demonRat party. Must be a cocktail party, they're all staggering around bumping into one another.
14 posted on 09/28/2002 4:33:20 PM PDT by PoisedWoman
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To: Pokey78
<< Five weeks till election day and the Democratic Party is doing a dandy impression of one of those incompetent suicide bombers who accidentally self-detonates before he gets on the bus. >>

Please, Dear Lord?!

VINTAGE ROCK'N'ROLL STEYN!!

15 posted on 09/28/2002 4:36:32 PM PDT by Brian Allen
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To: Pokey78
You'll remember that in the Second World War, after its early victories in the Pacific, the US wisely concentrated on nation-building in the Solomon Islands for five or 10 years instead of rushing on to liberate Europe.

::choke::

Dang! That tea burns!

You think I would learn not to drink anything while reading him.

a.cricket

16 posted on 09/28/2002 4:55:50 PM PDT by another cricket
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To: goodnesswins; ohioWfan; Miss Marple; Howlin; mtngrl@vrwc; GUIDO; kayak; Kath; Freedom'sWorthIt; ...
This one by Steyn is GREAT!!!
17 posted on 09/28/2002 5:05:48 PM PDT by Wphile
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To: Pokey78
What a polemic! Please put me on the ping list.
18 posted on 09/28/2002 5:07:13 PM PDT by secretagent
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To: marylina; OldFriend; Sabertooth; Carolinamom; PhiKapMom; NYC GOP Chick; Grampa Dave
Some more pings...
19 posted on 09/28/2002 5:07:41 PM PDT by Wphile
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To: Pokey78; Howlin
A prime example of why we fell in love with Steyn!
20 posted on 09/28/2002 5:13:11 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: Pokey78
The first candidate to win the popular vote without being popular

I think we have a new campaign slogan!

21 posted on 09/28/2002 5:14:59 PM PDT by NorCoGOP
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To: Wphile
Five weeks till election day and the Democratic Party's doing a dandy impression of one of those incompetent suicide bombers who accidentally self-detonates before he gets on the bus.

Isn't it odd how, on an issue with moral clarity and bipartisan public support to do the right and traditionally Republican thing, despite demogogic opposition from the Democrats and the Leftist media, some RNC whiz kid isn't running around and insisting we act like Democrats?

I wonder if being true to ourselves and our values where there is bipartisan public support would work on other issues?




22 posted on 09/28/2002 5:30:03 PM PDT by Sabertooth
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To: Pokey78
Please put me on the Ping list. This stuff is so funny, and pathetically so true.
23 posted on 09/28/2002 5:35:17 PM PDT by annieokie
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To: Pokey78
This is really a great Steyn column. I was going to try to pull something out to quote; but I'd have to reprint the entire column. Terrific!
24 posted on 09/28/2002 5:36:19 PM PDT by LibertarianLiz
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To: Pokey78
It's always so hard to decide which line is the best in a Steyn piece, but here's my favorite this time:

The first Android-American to run for President. . .

What a very clever and insightful writer.

25 posted on 09/28/2002 5:36:30 PM PDT by Capriole
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To: Pokey78
The muse was certainly on his shoulder when he wrote this one. He was on such a roll that that one small misstep can surely be forgiven:

Gore has been consistently tough on Saddam, ever since he was one of the few Democratic Senators to vote for the first Gulf War 12 years ago.

That would be Gore's famous shopping expedition, selling his vote to the side offering the most on-camera time, primetime only. ...Pokey, ping me for sure, I'd hate to miss another barn burner like this one.

26 posted on 09/28/2002 5:44:35 PM PDT by concentric circles
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To: Sabertooth
I wonder if being true to ourselves and our values where there is bipartisan public support would work on other issues?

Any particular issues you have in mind? LOL! I think I can guess.

27 posted on 09/28/2002 5:44:51 PM PDT by Wphile
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To: Pokey78
Thanks for the post! This is the best and the funniest column that I have read in weaks.
28 posted on 09/28/2002 5:46:50 PM PDT by Pamlico
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To: Pokey78
OH, THANK YOU, POKEY! Styen had me laughing all the way through. Even better, all he said was true.

29 posted on 09/28/2002 5:49:09 PM PDT by kitkat
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To: kitkat
Hiding behind my computer in embarrassment. "Steyn." Er...I THINK I got it right this time.

Well, HEY, I'm a blonde, so leave me alone, huh?
30 posted on 09/28/2002 5:52:22 PM PDT by kitkat
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To: Pokey78
Thanks for the ping Pokey. This one sure is a winner and a keeper. So many fabulous one-liners. This guy could do stand-up comedy. I'm ROTFLMAO - I love Steyn.
31 posted on 09/28/2002 6:20:00 PM PDT by baseballmom
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To: Pokey78
Could you please put me on the ping list.

Steyn is hilarious, and he does so with superb insight and elan.

Godspeed, The Dilg
32 posted on 09/28/2002 6:43:10 PM PDT by thedilg
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To: Pokey78
"Democrats are acting like some old-time carney freakshow"

Hahaha! Another great Steyn line! And spot on, too.

33 posted on 09/28/2002 6:53:29 PM PDT by Lady Jag
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To: Pokey78
In the immortal words of David Cassidy, how can I be sure in a world that's constantly changing?

Mark, Mark, Mark...

Everyone knows that wasn't David Cassidy, it was Felix Cavaleiri (sp?) of the Young Rascals. Except for that...another excellent editorial piece.

34 posted on 09/28/2002 6:54:38 PM PDT by TopDog2
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To: Pokey78
Few of us will forget the stirring words last week of Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, summing up the party's current position: "If the UN adopts the kind of resolution authorising force to enforce the kind of inspections that they should have a resolution adopted for, then I believe this resolution should say: in the event the UN adopts a resolution authorising member states to use force to enforce the inspections, I believe this resolution should say that under those circumstances we should authorise force to enforce that UN resolution."

Steyn can do no wrong with a clown like Levin helping him out.

Thanks, Pokey.

35 posted on 09/28/2002 7:06:43 PM PDT by metesky
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To: Pokey78
A keeper? Okay !! Bump for a.m. read......
36 posted on 09/28/2002 7:09:42 PM PDT by MeekOneGOP
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To: LibKill
Confusion to the democRats!

Too late. They beat you to it.

Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)

LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)

37 posted on 09/28/2002 7:13:23 PM PDT by LonePalm
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To: TopDog2
I was just going to point that out! David Cassidy??? PSHHAWWW
38 posted on 09/28/2002 7:13:40 PM PDT by Hildy
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To: Capriole
bump for clarity and wit
39 posted on 09/28/2002 7:14:25 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: LonePalm
Too late. They beat you to it.

True enough, they are really confused, aren't they?.

:)

40 posted on 09/28/2002 7:16:08 PM PDT by LibKill
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To: Pokey78
Bump just for this.

"If the UN adopts the kind of resolution authorising force to enforce the kind of
inspections that they should have a resolution adopted for, then I believe this resolution should say: in the
event the UN adopts a resolution authorising member states to use force to enforce the inspections, I
believe this resolution should say that under those circumstances we should authorise force to enforce that
UN resolution."

Can we run this through the Chomskyizer and see what it says?
41 posted on 09/28/2002 7:21:26 PM PDT by tet68
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To: Pokey78
Thanks, Pokey. I don't know how he does it. He just gets better and better.
42 posted on 09/28/2002 7:32:03 PM PDT by wife-mom
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To: Pokey78
Does the President know who put the bomp in the bomp-sh-bomp-sh-bomp, who put the ram in the ram-a-lama-ding-dong?

There should have been a mouthful-of-coffee-on-the-keyboard alert!!!

43 posted on 09/28/2002 7:53:20 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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I'M BACK!!!

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44 posted on 09/28/2002 7:53:53 PM PDT by Mo1
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To: Pokey78
EXCELLENT!!!
45 posted on 09/28/2002 8:01:03 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: metesky
"If the UN adopts the kind of resolution authorising force to enforce the kind of inspections that they should have a resolution adopted for, then I believe this resolution should say: in the event the UN adopts a resolution authorising member states to use force to enforce the inspections, I believe this resolution should say that under those circumstances we should authorise force to enforce that UN resolution."
Levin will probably leave the Senate to become National Security Advisor if the Dems ever re-take the White House.
46 posted on 09/28/2002 8:02:17 PM PDT by VadeRetro
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To: Pokey78
But, as someone who sat there howling with laughter as Senator Daschle blinked back tears, I think his attack on the President was an example of what the shrinks call displacement: Bush only implied the Democrats were soft on the war; Gore positively boasted about it.

Zing!

47 posted on 09/28/2002 8:13:50 PM PDT by PogySailor
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To: Pokey78
Five weeks till election day and the Democratic Party's doing a dandy impression of one of those incompetent suicide bombers who accidentally self-detonates before he gets on the bus.

Oh man, do I hope he's right!!! This is a GREAT Steyn column. Thanks so much for the ping!

48 posted on 09/28/2002 8:26:44 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: TopDog2
Everyone knows that wasn't David Cassidy, it was Felix Cavaleiri (sp?) of the Young Rascals

Could David Cassidy possibly have covered that Rascals' tune and released it on some obscure album in Canada? Oh I forgot, ALL his albums were obscure!

49 posted on 09/28/2002 8:30:24 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: SuziQ
His concerns have concerns

This is probably the first time since I joined FR that had I had some beverage in my mouth it would have been on my keyboard and monitor. Fortunately I only fell on the floor laughing.

50 posted on 09/28/2002 9:03:51 PM PDT by xp38
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