Restarting the Clock of History
A reader sends a link to the Wall Street Journal article Days of Rage which describes the rough ride of Joe Lieberman and John McCain.
Two events last Friday speak volumes about the direction of modern liberal politics, and it's not an encouraging trend, especially if you're a Democrat who wants to take back the White House. The first is that antiwar candidate Ned Lamont captured a third of the delegates at Connecticut's Democratic Party convention, thus winning the right to challenge Senator Joe Lieberman in an August primary. The second is the nasty treatment of Senator John McCain by faculty and students during his commencement address at the New School in New York. ...
Mr. McCain was invited to the New School by its president, former Democratic Senator and Congressional Medal of Honor winner Robert Kerrey. When Mr. Kerrey spoke, he was also heckled, with someone shouting, "You're a war criminal!" It'd be comforting to dismiss all this as mere Manhattan derangement, but these passions have become common in liberal media and Web precincts and are spilling into national politics. ...
Take Connecticut, where the left is targeting Mr. Lieberman for political extinction because of his pro-war views. Their vehicle is Mr. Lamont, a rich Greenwich businessman who decided to run after the Senator wrote an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal supporting U.S. policy in Iraq. Mr. Lamont ... needed 15% of the delegates to get a place on the primary ballot, but in the event rolled up 33%. That's a remarkable showing against a three-term incumbent who as recently as 2000 was on the party's national ticket and ran for President in 2004. "They are saying this war was a mistake and bring the troops home," Mr. Lamont declared. Mr. Lieberman will still be favored to win the primary, but angry-left activists around the country will now descend on the state and the fight may well turn vicious.
The treatment given Lieberman and McCain raises the question of whether it is possible to build a consensus policy on the war against terror. Is there any political figure willing to fight terrorism in a minimally effective way who will not be targeted and vilified by a substantial percentage of one of America's major political parties -- and perhaps by its press and "intelligentsia"? That is probably what Hillary Clinton is trying to figure out.
One unintended effect of the September 11 attacks is that it put a defining question to different modes of American political consciousness. Until then it was possible to treat many ideologies respectable since the 1960s as harmless forms of iconoclasm, posing "provocative" but fundamentally hypothetical views. But when attacks on the US homeland made it categorically necessary to answer the question: 'are you willing to fight our assailants', many sincere ideologues paused, shook their heads and said: 'No. In fact I am morally obligated to help our assailants'. When Noam Chomsky went out of his way to support Hezbollah it wasn't inexplicable, it was logical. His long articulated hypotheticals have simply become actuals.
The murky concept of sedition, with which freedom of speech must uneasily coexist, is founded on the notion of a threat. Radical Marxist thought derives protection from its status as a defeated mode of political action. The Cold War was fought against armed Marxism on every continent and clime for half a century. But when the Cold War was over, or in places where Radical Marxists did not actually take up arms they were allowed to keep their narratives and tolerated, as the Muslim Ottoman Empire once countenanced Jews and Christians for as long as they posed no threat. No physical threat. But although Marxism was defeated by the largely economic process of Globalization it flourished -- even dominated -- in the cultural institutions of the West at a time when Islamism was triumphing over secularism in the Middle East. From the Marxist perspective at least, the Cold War ended not in defeat, but in a negotiated armistice; with surrender on the economic front offset by a capitulation to it by the West on cultural matters. People might have to work in private companies, it's true, but all the accompanying baggage of traditional culture like religion, sexual mores, notions of objectivity, etc were forfeit; and that was more than compensation. That was the tacit 'deal' and the EU, UN and cultural institutions were going to carry it out. By slow degrees the Western world was going to be politically corrected, multiculturalized and transnationalized. "Imagine there's no countries/It isn't hard to do". And as the 1990s drew to a close it didn't seem all that far away.
September 10, 2001 was the last day on which which hypothetically incompatible modes of thought could coexist in a kind of "don't ask, don't tell" environment. When the planes smashing into the Twin Towers forced everyone to nail their colors to the mast Marxists no less than the conservatives indignantly found themselves facing an unanticipated rebellion. Liberal rage over Bush -- and maybe Lieberman and McCain -- for behaving "illegitimately" and "turning back the clock" is incomprehensible until one realizes that from a certain perspective it represents a double-cross. The West was supposed to die; slowly and comfortably but ineluctably. And we were supposed to buy off the Islamists until we could finish the job ourselves. Bush declaring his intention to fight for the survival of the West was just as logical as Chomsky's pilgrimage to Hezbollah and just as infuriating to his enemies.
Until September 11 it was possible for the more "enlightened" segments of society to regard patriotism, religion and similar sentiments with the kind of amused tolerance that one might reserve for simpletons. Nothing that a little institutionalization and spare change couldn't straighten out. The problem for the Democratic Party is that the Great Polite Silence is over. People like Chomsky and President Bush have stopped being hypothetical and become all too real. Bring it on.
“Initial research by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg shows no Soldier with the name of Jesse Macbeth having ever been assigned to the Special Forces or the Army Rangers -- which are, in fact, two separate disciplines. This appears to be some sort of hoax. No Soldier by that name at Fort Lewis to our knowledge, in the past, either. Of course, the line about "go into the Army or go to jail" is vintage TV script not heard since the 1960s. There are also numerous wear and appearance issues with the Soldier's uniform -- a mix of foreign uniforms with the sleeves rolled up like a Marine and a badly floppy tan beret worn like a pastry chef. Of course, the allegations of war crimes are vague, as are the awards the Soldier allegedly received.”
Like a pastry chef. What has Boyce got against pastry chefs?