12 January, 2006

Sunnis Are to Democrats, Part II

Following up on my post yesterday comparing Iraqi Sunnis to American Democrats (bitter and obstructionist as they adjust to long-term minority status), more parallels start to pop out:

A key Sunni demand is weaker federalism and a stronger central government... "If they do not accept key amendments to the country's new constitution, including the regions issue, then let them work alone and divide the country, as for us we do not accept this," al-Mutlaq told The Associated Press by phone from Amman, Jordan. Al-Mutlaq is the country's third most powerful Sunni Arab politician.
Over at Senator Kerry's website we find his comments on the Alito nomination:
In nominating a successor to Justice O’Connor, President Bush had the power to unite the country by nominating a highly qualified woman or minority who would put the Constitution first and reflect the diversity of our country. Instead, the record must be studied, the documents must be made available, and the questions must be answered conclusively, to determine whether the president has chosen to divide the country with a nominee outside the ideological mainstream.
[As a side note, it's worth highlighting that Senator Kerry's standards put skin color, gender and the fantasy of uniting the nation via those superficial things ahead of character and competence. (Not all that close to MLK's vision, but that seems to have slipped off the radar long ago.) Seeking the very best qualified candidate slips to a distant fourth - off of his explicit priority list. Deference to the views of the nominees also falls aside in the interest of a political agenda. Such views are and always have been at the discretion of the duly elected president, not the Senate.]

What's most relevant here however is the easy accusation (by Kerry and Al-Mutlaq respectively) of "dividing the country" when in each case the speaker himself is doing more to divide it by drawing an absolute line in the sand: Not this nominee. Not this constitution. Over my dead body. Process? Precedent? The will of the electorate? Not as important as getting their way. Whatever happens can and will be blamed on the party in power.

On the other side, we have this:
"We have a group of established principles which we will never give up. Any coalition should be based on these principles. The first principle is not to change the essence of the constitution. This constitution was endorsed by the Iraqi people." - Shiite politician Abdul Aziz al-Hakim
I'm not claiming the Shiites are saints. They aren't. But on its face the statement is a conservative one: deference to what has been voted on by the people. Despite pages and pages of ill-informed dreck on liberal blogs, shouting that the president is trashing the Constitution, it's worth doing two things by way of comparing this Shiite statement with U.S. politics: 1) read carefully through the actual U.S. Constitution and its Amendments as written and see how much they differ from some of the fantastical interpretations that have evolved into the popular consciousness over the years and 2) recall this:
On this day, prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, and recall the deep commitments that unite our country. I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed. At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together.
For provocative comparison, Carter made no reference whatsoever to the Constitution in his 1977 inaugural.

As I noted yesterday, the Iraqi-U.S. comparison is hardly exact. But it rhymes.