Dean Esmay’s Challenge

Dean Esmay posts a darn good question:

…debate all you want but, once a decision is made, partisanship should stop at the water’s edges. At least so far as I’m concerned.

Now here is my interesting question: I’ve made myself some friends among conservatives by speaking this way. But I do find myself wondering: how many of you on the right will embrace such a philosophy if John Kerry should carry the election in November?

Personally, I haven’t jumped either way on the election yet (and yes, you’d better believe there’s a long post coming on that). But I do think that Dean’s challenge – right now – is a good idea, and one that should be made right and left.

It will do one important thing; it will self-select those who I’d be happy to join in a Party of The Sensible. Go check out his comments and leave some yourself.

39 thoughts on “Dean Esmay’s Challenge”

  1. I mostly accept the challenge. Whoever wins gets my general support and respect. I’ve been granting the respect to all parties in my conversation for more than a year, once I noticed that the name-callers on both sides can’t get their brains to engage on anything but name calling.
    My support is not absolute. A really horrible decision on the part of whomever wins can loose me. But as an example, nothing in the last 11 years of Presidential forign policy action has been so grossly stupid as to make me a hard core, partisan, get-rid-of-them-at-any-cost actor.
    If my side wins, the other side will definately keep taking cheep shots at us. It’s tempting to retailate in knd, or even to escelate. But, somebody has to be the first one to be an adult, and I hope it’s the folks on my side of the debate.

  2. I have not shrunk away from reaming a new one in Mr. Bush when I thought him wrong on a point. Similarly, Mr. Reagan, or any other Republican for that matter.

    Explain the virtue of giving greater consideration to Mr. Kerry than I would Mr. Bush, when I disagree with him, please. Does being from the opposite party require the provision of a ‘get out of jail free’ card?

  3. I did, there — a strong NO.

    It’s unfair to expect me to ‘get behind’ and ‘support’ Kerry when he’s wrong. That is NOT what ‘loyal opposition’ means, which is the core of the question. I pledge to be an honorable loyal opposition critic, opposing bad policies with honest comparisons of his results, or expected results, with alternative policies and expected alternative results.

    Today, the Dems are NOT a loyal opposition; and if Bush wins I don’t expect the press, nor most rich elites, to change. *They don’t deserve to win for being a disloyal opposition.*

  4. Let’s look at the record instead of imagining the future. While Republicans detested Clinton as deeply as Democrats now do Bush, I do not remember the same kind of opposition to his foreign policies that Democrats seem to consistently display. Is this early onset Alzheimers or does it seem to be different today?

  5. Heck, I voted for Nader in 2000, but I’ve tracked and generally supported the Bush Administration’s foreign policy moves for the past few years. I think policies like the Millenium Challenge Account, supported by the statements he made in his speech at Whitehall Palace, are the most significant shift in US foreign policy since World War II.

    If Kerry is elected and comes up with some great policies, I’ll feel no shame in stating my complete support for them and why I support them. However, he does currently have a credibility problem, at least in his stated approach to foreign policy, as far as I am concerned.

  6. It’s tough to tell what the Dem foreign policy stance is. Rebuilding allies vs. always using the U.S. military to protect America. We will destroy al-Qaeda vs. pre-emption is bad. Tough on the Saudis vs. no apparent plan for the Saudis. Pro-Israel vs. let’s hire Jew-haters like Baker to conduct Middle East policy.

    It’s tough to tell what you’re signing on for.

  7. James Baker was to be part of Kerry’s Middle East advisors. Until someone realised that having someone who’s on record saying “fuck the Jews” isn’t a vote winner.

  8. Back in the late 80’s I was a student with very strong Democrat sympathies. Nonetheless, while studying abroad in Scotland, I often found myself defending Reagan in the face of all kinds of absurd, malevolent spew.

    And as an American traveling in Europe, I was often astonished how many people, once introduced beyond opening formalities, would just start railing away on America, Americans, etc. etc. I also learned that many otherwise reasonable europeans held such cartoonish notions about America that sometimes I was at a loss for a response. But I often found myself defending, or at least putting into context, some aspects of America I didn’t particularly admire.

    Though I’m much more conservative now, I can easily imagine doing the same on the behalf of Kerry. Further, if he’s elected, I doubt he’s going to get much benefit from his suppossedly solicitous attitude towards Western Europe.

  9. I want whoever is in office to provide security and prosperity. To think otherwise is to confuse the means of parties with the ends of results.

    And I will hold to this despite my bitterness that the loyal opposition has mostly focused on the latter and seems giddy with the prospects of American defeat.

  10. I support whoever has the right objectives and a feasable strategy. Bush has made mistakes, and I have pounded him for them as much as anyone, but we know what Bush stands for and what he is willing to do to reach those objectives. We dont know anything about Kerry because he wont tell us anything. All we know is his voting record. So if he gets elected I will support him up until the minute I start feeling he’s full of crap and doesn’t intend to meet the objectives he has been claiming. His record indicates this wont take long.

  11. I doubt very much that any of us is going to start an armed insurrection if Kerry wins. That’s the beauty of America. Will I say nasty things about him? If I think they are true. Will I support his foreign policy? Not if I disagree with it. Dean’s post and many of the comments seem to assume that there was some golden age of American politics where reasoned discourse was the norm and everybody supported the winner until the next time around. 18th and 19th century elections were far worse for name calling and scandal-mongering than contemporary ones. And politics hasn’t stopped at the waters’ edge at least since Viet Nam. It did during WW II and the early Cold War because most Americans agreed there was an immediate existential threat. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough specifics of presidential history to know whether and to what degree politics stopped at the waters’ edge before WW II, but I suspect that, again, there was never any golden age. Will the nation survive a Kerry Administration? We survived Carter, Hoover, and Harding. But I do think a Kerry presidency would be bad for the country in many ways, and I intend to say so. And being Italian and Irish, I’m a very passionate guy, so sometimes I may get intense about my politics. For none of that do I aplogize.

  12. Whoever wins the election is the President. We may not like him or his policies, but he is the President. He deserves our respect and support in that job.

    If we disagree with his policies we then have no choise but to work through Congress to influence what happens.

    But he still the President of the United States and all who legally reside therein….all of us.

    Anything else is not only madness, but also probably means that we have already lost the civil war before most people even realize that we are in one and the Republic is ultimately doomed.

  13. Doesn’t anyone remember when Tom Delay and Dick Armey were saying that Clinton wasn’t ‘their’ President? The Democrats have behaved marginally better, even more so when considering the Florida situation.

    When did this behavior start? With LBJ? Nixon? Or is it a strain of American politics back to the beginning?

  14. This is like Sullivan’s plea – the Democrats are stark raving mad over Bush, so we need to get rid of him so they’ll shut up.

    And then we’ll all get along and win because the liberals are a bunch of crybabies who can’t deal with the fact that they are out of pwoer.

    Please.

    If Kerry and crew want to win the war on terror, they have my support. I won’t call them Nazis or any of that other stuff if they arrest bad guys and put them in jail, or if they check the visas of people from the Middle East a little harder.

    But if they want to lay down arms and talk nice to Syria and Iran about Iraq (Was Edwards serious that they’d be more respected in those quarters? Please.) expect me to disagree.

    But as noted in other places – no, they don’t get rewarded for their division of the country. Bi-partisan to them always means doing it their way.

  15. The first time I remember seeing it was after Clinton was elected, but before he was sworn in. Sitting in traffic I was amazed to see an “Impeach Clinton” bumper sticker. And will somebody please put a cork in the Democrats over losing in the Electorial College? Eh, and I remember when Presidents had 100 day honeymoon periods before the real sniping started.

    Zealots in both parties need to get the **** slapped out of them for perpetuating this rancorous and endless squabbling. The winning side won, the losing side lost. Regardless, both sides are Americans. Get over it whatever happens, if it is sooo bad that’s why we vote every four years.

  16. “I do not remember the same kind of opposition to his foreign policies that Democrats seem to consistently display.”

    There wasn’t exactly a lot of Republican support for military intervention in Kosovo, Bosnia, or Haiti.

    As for Iraq, Democrats are rather all over the map on it; there’s no real party line. Kerry, it might be observed, is for enlarging the Army by 40,0000, putting more troops in Iraq, and defends pre-emption, no matter that opponents keep asserting the reverse is so.

    What either party/leader would actually do next year, or the year after is anyone’s guess.

  17. I think I’ve already passed the test. In the last election I was a Nader voter who sided with the Gore campaign in the Florida debacle. My first instinct, even after 9-11, was to assume that Bush was incompetent or had ulterior motives. Nontheless, whatever the motives or level of competence I intuited that in order to reduce the long term threat we needed to leaven the culture of the Arab Middle East somehow, and we also needed to take on and challenge autocracy and tyranny wherever and whenever we could… even to the point of war, if necessary.

    If Kerry/Edwards buy into this strategy I’d have no problem supporting them. If they don’t I’d have no problem opposing them. And I’m not likely to change my mind, either.

    But I think it’d be tough for Kerry/Edwards to “buy into the strategy,” because they have certain commitments, and because Kerry has a history that tells me his “deep convictions” might have an element of opportunism. Roger L. Simon points out that Kerry was deeply anti-war before he enlisted. And we all know what position he adopted when he returned. It isn’t really so much that he flip-flops, but that he makes commitments that are deep, but also rather narrow. His one big “play” on the political stage was to oppose precisely the sort of strategy that I think we need to pursue in the War on Terror. What “big picture” does he see, if any?

    Nonetheless, I am intrigued by this capacity to become deeply commited over narrow intervals, and it seems precisely the sort of capacity that’s required of an expert rock climber. Unlike Roger, I don’t think Kerry is exactly insincere. He appears to have more faith in himself than in his ideals, but in the context of US political culture is that insincerity? Is it a bad quality?

    Critically, I need to see some evidence not only that he has what I can construe as an appropriate aptitude. I need to see that once having commited himself to the climb he won’t stop until he reaches the top of the precipice, and that he’s skilled enough to avoid falling. I simply have no idea, at this point, whether he fits the bill. None whatsoever. And I think his life has been precisely the sort of enigma that’s designed to hide or conceal that quality, or lack of it.

  18. I’ve been hearing barking-mad Demos rant about Bush since the election of 2000. Now, conveniently, they are chanting, “Why can’t we all just get along.” After Kerry loses in November, we’ll see how much they want to get along.

  19. With Scott and I, that’s at least two Nader voters that could end up voting for Bush in 2004.

    Honestly, I must admit that without something more substantitive from the Kerry campaign, if the election were held today; I would vote for Bush-Cheney.

    I just can’t convince myself that Kerry would follow-through on the _right_ foreign policy decisions, even after they become unpopular. Sure, he would likely follow-through in Iraq, but what about other problem areas?

    For example, I think the Bush Administration is taking exactly the correct course of action with North Korea and Kim Jong Il’s violation of the 1994 Agreed Framework. However, something inside me can’t help but suspect that Kerry would return to the _hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil_ lack of enforcement of the 1994 Agreed Framework.

    I now understand the consequences of kicking these bubbling cesspools of trouble down the road. They don’t simply remain _bubbling_ indefinitely.

  20. Tom,

    This is necessary:

    I pledge to be an honorable loyal opposition critic, opposing bad policies with honest comparisons of his results, or expected results, with alternative policies and expected alternative results.

    … but to be sufficient, I think one also needs to be prepared to accept what an opposition president does if it’s actually what you want, instead of opposing it because the Wrong Guy™ did it. In my case, for example, I was perfectly happy that Clinton signed NAFTA and Welfare Reform.

  21. Lurker wrote:

    Doesn’t anyone remember when Tom Delay and Dick Armey were saying that Clinton wasn’t ‘their’ President?

    Nope, cite please (full quotes and context).

    I do however remember watching Clinton’s most ardent critic, Rush Limbaugh on the day of the Oklahoma City bombing telling his audience “Mr. President, we’re behind you.”

    BTW: I fully acknowledge that you can find (far too many) examples of people on both sides saying over-the-top things about the other guy and it’s one thing to do it during peace time but fella, we’re at war. When it’s our guys against your guys, I’m with us. When it’s you and me against them, I’m with you and me.

  22. Dean’s Challenge

    Clearer heads will prevail. If Kerry gets elected and follows through on the this war and progress that has been made he will get my support. Should Kerry fail on this commitment he would get my opposition. This is one issue where he can’t afford to half step.

    If you’re asking am I going to turn into a Michael Moore because Kerry gets elected the answer is an emphatic “NO“. If you’re asking if he will get my support on all his policies the answer is no. There isn’t a single president or “congresscritter” (forgot where I read that word but I definitely liked it) that gets my full support on all of their issues.

    What I am saying here is politics is politics and there will always be differences. We are just fortunate to have a forum where people are reasonable and open to debate. Unlike the accusation of being unpatriotic because you want to debate a war that is already in progress most if not all of us are debating on how to make it work in our best interest. At some given point we all learn to leave it at the door step; either you get on board and work from within or you stay in left field and be ignored.

    Where ever this train takes us I do believe the direction on the war in Iraq is the right way to go. If it wavers if it shifts even under Bush policy I’d be against it.

    Will Kerry get my vote. It will take a lot for him to get my consensus on anything he says. Be it fortunate or unfortunate, people in politics are judged by their *verifiable* actions past and present. To believe their actions will change over night is debatable. Yes politicians do change and yes politicians do regain the confidence of others. When politicians do change over night it is because of catastrophic events in their lives. This change be it good or bad is judged on future actions that eventually become the past that is used as a basis for future judgments. Kerry’s problem is he can’t give me that. He doesn’t have the time and I can’t see into the future.

    If you think I’m against Kerry because of my military background and I know what he’s done and I’ll never forgive him for it you’re wrong on that count. The problem in this area is Kerry has not shown any remorse for the damage he caused nor has he done anything to repair it. I don’t expect anybody to understand the Vietnam war or mind set behind it. Just suffice it to say when a nation of youth is forced into compliance and then defiled and shunned by their peers for actions they were forced to carry out; all of a sudden the words liberty and freedom ring hollow . As it did then it still does now because the youngest of the voting crowd have been taught nothing but revisionist history and the Vietnam generation remains scorned licking the wounds they know will never heal.

    This brings me to the interesting point of this set of questions.
    _”When did this behavior start? With LBJ? Nixon? Or is it a strain of American politics back to the beginning?”_

    I guess I could say it started when we lost our sense of nationality and implemented a sense of individuality. There are some clear indicators in history as to when this began. There are some not so clear indicators that when compiled together set the stage. As in our lives and as with politics the players on the stage change. As the players change so does the plot of the story. You can argue that some have lasted forever such as Kennedy, Byrd, John Warner to name a few but even these old lions are apt to give up the dance as the future approaches. The younger generation is no longer in the twilight they are on the horizon and the older generation is slowly sliding into the dusk. With each change comes a new revelation and a new mind set.

  23. “I guess I could say it started when we lost our sense of nationality and implemented a sense of individuality.”

    Uhhhh… that’s what the American Revolution was founded on. Go back to Europe if you want to be a nationalistic peasant.

  24. The fact that I may support him, IF he does the right thing, after elected, does not mean you should elect him because the democrats don’t support Bush.

    Make the democrats make the same pledge. If Bush is re-elected, politics end at the waters edge. As you have effectly noted, they have already broken that pledge. If they cannot renew that pledge now, they do not deserve any support. If they promise to continue the temper tantrums, then it becomes more imperative to consign that behaviour to the dustbin of history, not reward it. It becomes more important to say “NO, that is not acceptable.” Temper tantrums are not debate, or dissent, or constructive critism. Calling Bush stupid is the sign of stupidity.

    Respect is a two way street. The fact that they show no respect now, means that they get none. During the Civil War, many northern democrats hated Linclon, despised blacks, but they fought.

    (Reference here)

  25. Ambisinistal
    Your view of individuality is much different than mine. What our forefathers wanted was liberity and freedom. They realized _*total individuality*_ would not attain the goal. It took a collective and will to forge ahead.

  26. First you must unite on grand strategic objectives.

    Then policy agreements are much easier.

    We are not there yet. Arrival date 2 Nov 04.

  27. No challenge to the Left to quit with the Bushitler the Smirking Chimp Lied!!! talk should Kerry go back to being a full-time Senator come 03 November. So once again, the Right is going to be held to a higher standard than the Left, which gets a pass because they have no standards at all.

  28. Uh, America is different.

    We have never been a nationality. We are a nation. Of individuals.

    We never agree on anything. We never will.

    Clue stick: even in nations with strong natiionality national unity is uncommon. The only places where you can get real national unity is in Dictatorships. And even in those places it is more aparent than real.

  29. “The problem in this area is Kerry has not shown any remorse for the damage he caused nor has he done anything to repair it. I don’t expect anybody to understand the Vietnam war or mind set behind it. Just suffice it to say when a nation of youth is forced into compliance and then defiled and shunned by their peers for actions they were forced to carry out; all of a sudden the words liberty and freedom ring hollow . As it did then it still does now because the youngest of the voting crowd have been taught nothing but revisionist history and the Vietnam generation remains scorned licking the wounds they know will never heal.”

    Me too.

  30. BTW Socialism is dead.

    So who do the Dems feature as their rising star?

    The Socialist Obama.

    The Dems are dead.

    Socialism no longer sells the way it did when there was a USSR. The Dems need to wake up. Thingshave changed.

  31. M. Simon
    I think you get my point. We are a nation of individuals. That I believe we can all agree on on. For the want of a nation where we can be individuals there is no individual. It is a collective without dissent to protect the nation. Individualism stops at that point. What do you call that nationality? Of or belonging to a nation. I certainly don’t know what else to call it. Otherwaise every where I go if someone would ask me where I come from I would have to say I’m product of the world, universe, whatever take your pick.

  32. “…debate all you want but, once a decision is made, partisanship should stop at the water’s edges.”

    Ah, no thanks.

    Richard Heddleson,

    If you don’t remember the opposition to Haiti or Bosnia then you must have a very short memory.

    TWN,

    “I also learned that many otherwise reasonable europeans held such cartoonish notions about America that sometimes I was at a loss for a response.”

    Americans have equally cartoonish notions about Europeans – indeed, I find anti-Europeanism to be as loathesome as anti-Americanism.

    Lurker,

    It goes back at least to the administration of John Adams. We Americans like to think that we’re special, but we’re not as special as we imagine ourselves to be.

    OldManRick,

    “If Bush is re-elected, politics end at the waters edge.”

    What an utterly silly statement. How does one define “politics” in this situation, as opposed to “real” criticism? Sorry, but I live in a government where the people are the sovereign and not the President; and I’ll be damned if criticism of foreign policy ends at the water’s edge.

  33. In other words, I won’t take up this so-called “challenge” because it is an anathema to my view of proper government. And, BTW, the notion that criticism ends at the nation’s shores is some sort of American tradition is absolute a historical hogwash. Jeez, look at the 1864 election if you don’t believe me, or the vicious and partisan criticism of FDR in WWII. Why do people perfer myths, when real history is so much more interesting?

  34. Bosnia, Haiti, and Kosovo.

    I do remember opposition to his policies on those conflicts.

    I don’t remember accusations that the President was attempting to create an empire.

    I don’t remember the right sending human shields off to those countries.

    I don’t remember anybody urging our troops to disobey orders.

    I don’t remember the opposition portraying the enemy as noble victims of American imperialism.

    I don’t remember secret reasons for war being loudly discussed.

    I remember dissent over whether the objectives or tactics were right, just as in Desert Fox.

    The only time I remember real partisan fury over motives was over the Afghanistan/Sudan missile attacks. Even then, nobody was elevating the Sudanese or Taliban into saints just because President Clinton ordered the attacks.

    As I noted, should Kerry win, I will wish for his success in creating a safe and prosperous as much as anybody. And to amplify what I thought was implicit, I’ll criticize where I think it is due and won’t complain just because The Wrong Guy did what I like.

  35. I will revise my pledge. If Kerry wins I will be civil. If I don’t agree with his policies I will identify alternatives. I will identify why I don’t think his policies will work.

    I expect the democrats to pledge the same. If Bush wins re election, Democrats will return to civil discussion.

    No more stupid, a village in Texas is missing it’s idiot, chimpy for a guy who graduated Harvard Business School and got 1200 on the SAT. He may not be Steven Hawking but he’s certainly not Homer Simpson.

    No more lies, and lies, and lies. Admit that the intelligence at the time indicated that there was a risk from Saddam. The intelligence at the time (and now) showed Saddam was interested in purchasing Uranium from Africa.

    No more stolen election. Admit that the recounts showed that he very narrowly won in 2000. Admit that the civil rights commission could not find a million disenfranchised voters.

    Never again with the Nazis, brown shirts, fascists. Read a little history and find out what this really means. (Unless of course he rounds you up and puts you into camps, then I’ll say it with you.)

    Stop the incompetence stick. Unless you can identify a specific issue and a specific alternative, you are just complaining that a miracle didn’t happen. And then it better be something discovered and not corrected. And even then, it has to be correctable by a real solution not by wishing for a better result. There is a difference between wishing for something and making something happen. The only plans that work are the plans for something that has been done before. Say building a doghouse, or making dinner. Plans involving an active opponent will always need to be modified. Yelling incompetent, he f**ked it up, and the like is not constructive criticism, it is carping. Offer solutions, not complaints.

    Admit that what was done in Afghanistan and Iraq was good for the cause of liberty.

    You can still call him a cowboy. I’d like our enemies to be scared that he is a little crazy. It makes them think twice.

    Is it a deal?

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