Democrats can start again with Webb and Warren

When Americans look back to the beginning, the date at which they will start is Sept. 12, 2001, the day after 9/11. What happened from then on will form the century and potentially, the millenium. I recall taping a little American flag to my Oldsmobile's radio antenna. I remember that somebody scratched the "Free Tibet" bumper off my Dodge cargo van, considering I suppose all outsiders, even pacifist Tibetans, to be among the dangerous foreign devils coming at us. But what struck deep and darkest was the spontaneous rise of propagandists and apparatchiks, like not-so-hidden secret societies already in our midst, mostly on the right but some on the left as well, who were waiting for this moment for a new beginning.

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That was the most deplorable aspect. The question was how to get clear of them to strength, rationality and fair action and that question has not been fully answered. Because the Democrats who were then in Congress acquiesced. They were not brave when it was time to be brave. Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D) was brave but was voted out of office. West Virginia's venerable Sen. Robert Byrd (D) alone in the Senate railed against the illegal invasion, which took more than 60,000 innocent lives according to recently released NSA documents. But Sens. Kerry (D), Biden (D) and Clinton (D) all voted to endorse the Bush-Cheney invasion although some of the wisest voices of vast collective military experience — Col. Larry Wilkerson, Gen. Wesley Clark and Jim Webb of Virginia — told them otherwise.

The invasion of Iraq was an American fall from grace. Its success as an initiative required weakness and expediency in the Democratic opposition. Those who went with it should have fallen as well, but at least two of the three, if not all three, will likely run for president in 2016.

But this is not over. The Bush-Cheney invasion has poisoned America's spirit and damaged America's place in the world. It has to be either vindicated or repudiated. It can't be smoothed over if America is to go forward in grace and good faith. A vote for former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) will vindicate Bush-Cheney; that is his singular purpose. A vote for Hillary, Biden or Kerry will vindicate the Democratic appeasement. But a vote for former Sen. Jim Webb (D) would repudiate. It would give the Democrats and America the ability to start again at the beginning, with fresh thinking and real character.

Today, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren brings expertise to economy and business rarely seen in a Democrat. Likewise, Webb brings an expertise in foreign policy unmatched by any Republican or Democrat ever. They were both at one time Republicans and got to the Democrats via life's pilgrim's progress, as it should be. Together they give the Democrats and America the ability to start again in the new century, in the new millenium, from scratch.

Webb — warrior, novelist, historian, former secretary of the Navy, recently senator from Virginia — has been an American force of nature in the American experience since Vietnam.

He is a prolific writer and one of my favorite pieces of his is "The Struggle for Mastery in Asia." He begins with this quote from Sun Tzu's The Art of War: "Draw them in with the prospect of gain, take them by confusion. Use anger to throw them into disarray."

It is exactly where we are today with China. And Webb wrote it in 2001.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.