Thursday, October 21, 2004
Marlow Cook is not that important
Marlow Cook wrote an editorialin which he endorsed Senator Kerry. No big deal, except for one fact several liberal commentators are harping upon: Mr. Cook is the former Republican Senator from Kentucky.
The editorial is also noteworthy because it quote two prominent conservative commentators, George Will and William F. Buckley.
Gasp! The horrors! "Here, here at last are the long-lost reasonable conservatives," they say.
"This is why Bu$hitler will lose -- influential Republicans are rebelling against him!"
Hogwash. Let's have a little something I call context.
First, the quotes. Cook lists these quotes from George Will and William F. Buckley as additional reasons he will vote against Bush and for Kerry:
This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and having thought, to have second thoughts.
If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war.
I suppose it would be asking too much for Cook to actually put those quotes by Will and Buckley in context?
I thought so.
Will's comment appeared in the Washington Post. It was part of a rant in May of this year regarding this statement Bush made in response to a question about the viability of democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan:
There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- are a different color than white can self-govern.
Will's position was that President Bush perhaps overly optimistic about the chances for success in bringing democracy to that part of the world. I guess Mr. Cook agrees with George Will and disagrees with the President as to those chances. Pretty racist stance to take, IMHO, but Mr. Cook is entitled to it.
Buckley's quote is anachronistic, and taken out of context. The full quote is:
With the benefit of minute hindsight, Saddam Hussein wasn't the kind of extra-territorial menace that was assumed by the administration one year ago. If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war.
Subsequently, Buckley clarified:
I said ten days ago that if I had known back then in February 2003 what we know now I would not have counseled war against Iraq. That statement struck some as disloyal to a cause, some others as prime bait for exploitation by such as Senator Kerry. Then on July 12, President Bush gave an enormously illuminating speech to the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, which sheds light on ambient questions. What especially catches the eye is his saying that "Libya is dismantling its weapons of mass destruction and long-range missile programs. This progress came about through quiet diplomacy between America, Britain, and the Libyan government."
The mind travels immediately to the question: Well, why could not diplomacy have accomplished in Iraq what it accomplished in Libya? But the President keen-wittedly bases the success of Libya on quiet diplomacy to be sure, but quiet diplomacy backed up by our own commitment to "defending the peace by taking the fight to the enemy." He is contending, in effect, that if it hadn't been for our military entry into Iraq, Qaddafi might well have continued his development of nuclear weapons. Who can dispositively argue that this analysis is wrong?
Buckley now sees the war as necessary and has focused what criticism he has expressed on Iraq to issues related to rebuilding the country.
Cook also trots out the canard that Republicans beat Max Cleland in Georgia by questioning his patriotism. Nonsense. Cleland lost because of his record -- a record that included voting against the Homeland Security act because it didn't guarantee union protection to employees. In other words, Cleland was willing to politicize Homeland Security to gain a sop to his union supporters, and Georgia voters saw right through it.
Finally, let's dispel any ideas one may have that Cook is either popular, influential, or anywhere near the mainstream of Republican voters. Though he is still registered Republican, he supports local Democratic candidates, like Christine Jennings, running for Congress against incumbent Republican Katherine Harris.
While he may once have been popular enough in Kentucky to win a Senate seat (barely), he has been out of office for nearly thirty years. Originally from a county judge and member of the Kentucky Legislature, he was elected to the Senate from Kentucky in 1968. That is the only state-wide election he ever won, and he barely did so with 51% of the vote. Absent the national Nixon landslide, he almost certainly would not have won this election. He ran for re-election to the seat in 1974 and lost, only pulling 44% of the vote. At that point, rather than returning to Kentucky, he elected to remain in Washington, D.C. and practice law (the end-goal for many Washington insiders who lost their final elections). Upon retirement, rather than returning to Kentucky, he elected to move to Sarasota, Florida. His opinion will carry little if any weight in Kentucky these days.
Cook has been described as a moderate by some, but whose stance was really closer to the now largely-defunct Rockefeller wing of the party. Today, he would be considered a RINO, like Leahy.
Dems can have Cook, a one time winner who skated into office on the coat tails of another candidate thirty years ago (about the same time John Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia was seared, seared into his memory). Republicans will be happy to take Zell Miller, who, despite liberal rhetoric, is in the mainstream of America and has election after state-wide election victories (most by wide margins) to prove it.