Every political observer knows of the far left's hostility toward President Bush, his war policies and anyone who supports either or both. But has it occurred to you how much the base must also distrust most of the major players in the Democratic Party? That's one thought I took away from this week's Democratic presidential debate.
The relationship between the base and the party's candidates and officials is like a forced marriage characterized by a mutual dependence and reciprocal distrust.
The base, typified by groups like MoveOn.org, has no choice but to accept the Democratic Party as its vehicle to promote the liberal policy agenda. There is no other viable alternative. In turn, party leaders must cater to the far left because of its indispensable funding and grassroots contributions.
While there are many blind followers in the base, there are also plenty of savvy operators who are fully aware of the massive deception Democratic leaders have perpetrated on the American people concerning Iraq.
They're too shrewd not to understand that John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, to name a prominent few, have been lying through their teeth in saying they were duped into supporting the Iraq war resolution.
Other than their delusions about Bush having stolen the 2000 election, nothing motivates the base more than the carefully crafted fable that Bush "lied" us into war. You cannot be worthy of the left's consideration unless you fully embrace this propaganda.
Kerry was the first prominent Democrat saddled with this dilemma, which would have discombobulated candidates with less skill at flip-flopping or slightly more integrity. But Kerry, when he realized he was about to lose the nomination to the anti-war left's darling Howard Dean, concocted the ingenious but preposterous story that would not only earn him redemption with the base, but would come to serve as a template for future, similarly situated Democratic hopefuls.
My jaw dropped when I first heard Kerry's far-fetched canard that he and other Democrats only voted to authorize Bush to attack Iraq because Bush promised he would only use that authority as a last resort after exhausting diplomatic avenues and additional weapons inspections.
Every intellectually honest thinking person had to know that was simply not true. The resolution contained no such limiting conditions on President Bush, and he made no such verbal assurances. Kerry expected us to believe he had placed unwavering trust in a man he had long since denounced as untrustworthy to engage in activities, like multilateral diplomacy, that Kerry claimed Bush was inherently unwilling to perform.
Hillary Clinton has made the same ludicrous claims, as well as insisting President Bush duped her on the WMD intelligence, though she admitted she failed even to read the intelligence reports made available to senators. The upshot is that Kerry, Clinton and many of their colleagues have told us they relied on -- and were outsmarted by -- a president they radically distrust and believe is a moron.
In the debate Senator Edwards made essentially the same point, as he has before. But as a transparently self-serving tactic to win further points with the base, he characterized his participation in the vote as a mistake for which he's sorry. Edwards said, "I was wrong to vote for this war. What I learned in my vote on Iraq was that you cannot give this president the authority and you can't even give him the first step in that authority because he cannot be trusted."
With all due respect, the base's movers and shakers know, even if its hapless foot soldiers do not, that the Democrats, except perhaps Obama and certain second-tier candidates, are lying to them about their original support for the war. Those sins will all be forgiven, though, as long as they toe the line today.
That's where it gets dicey. The base was counting on the newly elected Democratic congress to deliver on its promise to withdraw our troops from Iraq almost immediately.
But alas, not only have congressional Democrats been frustrated here. Most of their main presidential candidates, as shown in this debate, are backing off their extreme withdrawal rhetoric for now, and the primary elections haven't even begun.
The base will accept lies from Democratic candidates, but will it ultimately accept outright disobedience on the issue that matters most to it? The Democrats better hope things go south in Iraq so they can safely tilt further left again. Otherwise, they are headed for trouble with the base, which might only take so much.