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Snyder and The Democrats

December 5, 2003

John P. Snyder's wistful reminiscence on John F. Kennedy could have been a memorable, evocative article. And, for about four-fifths of the way through, it certainly lived up to its potential. But, unfortunately, Mr. Snyder had to ruin the mood of his piece with a late cheap shot at today's Democratic Party.

And even more unfortunately, he distorted JFK's classic quote from his inaugural address to make his convoluted point. For the record, Kennedy's actual words were: "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

Today's Democratic presidential aspirants (well, those not named Joe Lieberman, at least) certainly believe in the idea of supporting and cultivating freedom, at home and overseas. The key difference is that liberal Democrats understand that intervening by force in a foreign country and replacing an evil, corrupt, unpopular anti-American regime with an evil, corrupt, unpopular pro-American regime doesn't really accomplish anything except breed a new generation of enemies - thereby continuing the cycle of violence, repression, and terrorism.

The Democrats' opposition to some (not all) of our current foreign engagements is based on (justified) skepticism about the ever-evolving motives and goals of these interventions, as well as suspicion with an obfuscatory administration that embraces "accountability" as if it were a rabid porcupine.

A decade ago we "liberated" Panama from our erstwhile ally Manuel Noriega, but are Panamanians really all that better off today for the experience?

The Democratic Party is more than willing to support liberty overseas - as long as we make an honest commitment to its development, and don't fall into the convenient trap of subsidizing foreign despots just because they're nice to somebody's campaign contributors.

The Balkan operation of the last decade, which did successfully drive an evil dictator out of power AND replace him with a progressive, democratic government structure, is as effective an application of Kennedy's vision as we'll ever see. (An operation that, by the way, was bitterly opposed by most Republican leaders.)

On top of this, the Democrats are vastly more fiscally responsible than the deficit-happy Republicans in financing these operations, but that's another story.

And if one wants to cite a ‘60s political icon who literally was laughed out of his party later in his life, one need look no farther than Barry Goldwater, all but banished from the GOP shortly before his death.

Why? Because he dared remark, while addressing the issue of gay rights, that "the conservative movement, to which I subscribe, has as one of its basic tenets the belief that government should stay out of people’s private lives." The GOP's rejection of Goldwater's statements pretty much illustrates which party truly has drifted farthest from its moorings.

Tony Soltero, New Market, MD

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