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Common Ground: David Horowitz

Today’s Common Ground figure is a surprise for me. It’s David Horowitz of Frontpage magazine. On every foreign policy and terrorism issue I can think of, we are polls apart. I never appreciated the way he demonized opponents of President Bush’s policies as al-Qaeda supporters.

But in this March 30, 2009 post from Front Page Magazine:

Obama Derangement Syndrome
By David Horowitz
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, March 30, 2009

He and I have a lot to agree on. When he says:

I have been watching an interesting phenomenon on the Right, which is beginning to cause me concern. I am referring to the over-the-top hysteria in response to the first months in office of our new president, which distinctly reminds me of the “Bush Is Hitler” crowd on the Left.

I think he’s right on both counts. My agreement on President Obama needs no elaboration. On President Bush, I agree there were people on the left who viewed Bush as Hitler and even the Antichrist himself. I did not see this sort of talk as helpful to persuading people to change their mind about the President’s policies.

I think the heated rhetoric about President Bush personally helped his reelection in 2004. Our side didn’t help itself with wild rhetoric. Mr. Horowitz fears the same thing will happen to his fellow conservatives. He gives them advice I hope they will take:

In other words, while it’s reasonable to be unhappy with a Democratic administration and even concerned because the Democrats are now a socialist party in the European sense, we are not witnessing the coming of the anti-Christ. A good strategy for political conflicts is to understand your opponent first – not to underestimate him, but not to overestimate him either.

Working from a clear understanding of where President Obama wants to go and offering of meaningful alternatives by the Republicans would not only be only be good for their party, it would be good for the country.

While I am completely with Mr. Horowitz about his analysis of rhetoric that came from some liberals about Bush and some conservatives about Obama, I do have two serious areas of disagreement with Mr. Horowitz’s article:

1) I don’t think the Democratic Party can be considered a socialist party in the European sense because their leadership does not support Single Payer health insurance nor mandating a social benefits net like that exists in France, Germany and Scandinavia. If someone wants to send me a fact or column that does a side by side comparison between the US Democratic Party’s (as represented by President Obama and Congressional Democrats) and European Socialists, I’d be happy to look it over. It should contain citations that document the party planks or leadership stands.

2) Mr. Horowitz portrays President Obama’s policy towards Afghanistan as a break from his campaign promises. As regular readers of this blog know, I worked on the Obama campaign. I can tell you that from his primary campaign forward, he consistently called for more troops and greater involvement in Afghanistan.

Check out this July 22, 2008 article from the Rocky Mountain News:

For Obama, Afghanistan still the central front
Rocky Mountain News
Published July 22, 2008 at 12:05 a.m.

Is Barack Obama returning from his visits to Afghanistan and Iraq with perhaps an altered view on Iraq? It’s hard to say, but his view of Afghanistan remains unequivocal: It is the central front in the war on terrorism; he would deploy at least 10,000 more U.S. combat troops there; and he fears that a long-term military presence in Iraq will detract from that fight.

In putting more troops into Afghanistan, President Obama is simply fulfilling a campaign promise. I don’t know if we’ll fare any better for it, but the policy is not a bait and switch on the President’s part.

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