1591.jpgWith YKOS 2 over, I find myself trying to understand what I’ve just seen and why I found the experience so disheartening. While I love having time with so many wonderful firepups and FDL colleagues, the acceptance of conventional wisdom frames that seemed so pervasive was maddening. And this acceptance for me was most evident at the presidential forum.

And while Hilary was allowed to portray herself as the tough one taking on Cheney over the lack of exit planning (to raucus applause no less), no one mentioned that her plan to “begin redeploying our American troops but to do it in a careful and responsible way …” does not translate into an exit plan at all but a scheme to retain residual troops – some say to the tune of over 50,000 troops in Iraq for an undetermined time. (I requested a statement on the Senator’s residual troop plan several weeks ago but have yet to receive an answer.)

In fact the only candidate whose plan for Iraq was brought into question was Gov. Richardson – the one with the most progressive and rational position on Iraq. As he noted, he has a “one point plan for Iraq – get out, get out, get out … with no residual forces.” Mr. Bai apparently could not allow such a strong stance to go unchallenged and interrupted the Governor with a question – he began by referring to Richardson’s support for intervention in Darfur and then continued “how can you protect against the same kind of genocide in Iraq that would then necessitate our going back …”

Senator Dodd did step up – insisting that we don’t have to wait for 2008 to bring change and called on his colleagues in Congress to stand for something on Iraq. As he so wisely noted “It’s more important to have 25 votes that mean something than 51 votes that don’t mean anything.”

But the meaningless talking points seemed to be all most of the candidates would offer and the challenging netroots-y questions I think we wanted raised were never asked.

Questions like:
“What were you thinking Sen. Obama when you spoke of a unilateral attack on Pakistan?”
or
“Who on the panel will rule out an attack on Iran? And why is blocking such an attack on Iran in the Congress ‘off the table?’” (and in fact not only removed from current legislation actually replaced by Bush inspired hate amendments)

While we, the people and the netroots, were allowed to hoot and holler, the questions and moderation of the forum relegated this forum to an almost perfect copy of every mainstream media “debate” we’ve seem so far.

And no one spoke of the people of Iraq or Afghanistan – or of their imminent need for relief in the face of an increasingly brutal occupation. No one spoke of the desperation of the people in Baghdad where:

At night, water from an emergency reservoir trickles out of the taps for one or two hours. Kharkh residents have to stay awake to switch on their electrical pumps to boost the water flow and try to fill their tanks before the taps run dry again.

“I live with five brothers. When the water comes in we stand in a queue waiting to take a shower,” said Ali Musa, a security guard from the al-Hurriya district in western Baghdad. “It is a miserable life but we have to be patient.”

Residents help each other out. Those with wells share water with neighbors. People with buckets are a common sight.

The number of Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies has risen from 50 per cent to 70 percent since 2003, while 80 per cent lack effective sanitation, British charity Oxfam said in a report last month. (emph. added)

And no one spoke of the young boy in this photo crying as he waits outside a morgue in Baghdad.