Was there ever a time when our pundits were smarter than our populace? Granted, the 24-hour news cycle – much like the Iraq War – has forced cable chat shows to lower their recruitment standards to the point where even Dan Riehl is asked his opinion of the pre-fab controversy de jour. But back in the Fifties, when television news was still in diapers –and cloth diapers, the kind you had to safety pin! – every town of respectable size had one or more local newspapers, often both morning and evening editions, and not infrequently, an indigenous brewery. So there was plenty of opportunity for Triple A farm club-quality blowhards to dip their spleen in printers ink and give it a squeeze over the Op-Ed page.
But now newspapers are undergoing a mass extinction event the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Permian-Triassic transition, and yet scarce remaining column inches are turned over weekly to the likes of Jonah Goldberg, a man who – as public intellectuals go – makes Jethro Bodine look like Bertrand Russell.
I used to believe that the most annoying characteristic of stupid-people-who-are-paid-to-tell-us-what-to-think is their factory standard belief that they’re smarter than everyone else. But I’ve changed my mind; that rates a distant second now, behind their conviction that everyone else is not only less smart, but as stupid as a tubeworm. I suspect this is a byproduct of Wingnut Welfare: if someone were to award me a sinecure where all I had to do was lift my leg periodically and expel some gaseous, half-digested insight, then bleg for readers to email me supporting evidence, I might also come to the conclusion that being smart is effortless. And anyone who isn’t getting paid for sitting around all day eating Frosted Pop-Tarts and downloading Star Trek slash is a barely sentient loser.
So Jonah breezes in, all Harold Hill-like, and to sell us rubes a wagonload of tubas:
If you believe that the war on terror is real — really real — then you think it is inevitable that more and bloodier conflicts with radical Islam are on the way, regardless of who is in the White House. If the clash of civilizations is afoot, then the issues separating Democrats and Republicans are as pressing as whether the captain of the Titanic is going to have fish or chicken for dinner. There’s a showdown coming. Period. Full stop. My task isn’t to convince you that this view is correct (though I basically believe it is), but merely that it is honestly and firmly held by many on the right and by a comparative handful on the left.
Personally, I’m hard-pressed to name anybody on the left who still believes this. (And the first person who mentions Joe Lieberman gets bitch-slapped with a copy of Kenneth Pollack’s . But I could be wrong. Does anybody with any credibility on the left actually think there’s a “clash of civilizations” in progress? Is liberal Western democracy about to be felled by the reaping scimitars of the Taliban? I don’t know…To me, the fact that a bunch of illiterate religious fanatics abetted a bunch of middle-class religious fanatics who managed to knock down some buildings and kill 3000 people in a sneak attack isn’t evidence of a “clash of civilizations.” It’s the logline for a remake of The Mouse That Roared directed by James Wan.
And that’s the problem: Only a handful of people on the left — and far too few liberals — see radical Islamists as a bigger threat than George W. Bush.
Maybe that’s because George W. Bush is in charge of the most powerful country on the planet, while – our allies the Saudis excepted – “radical Islamists” aren’t in charge of any country, except the country George Bush put them in charge of.
Which is why if you really think that we are in an existential conflict with a deadly enemy, there’s a good case for the Democrats to take the reins. Not because Democrats are better, wiser or more responsible about foreign policy. That’s a case for Democrats to make about themselves and certainly not one many on the right believe. No, the argument, felt in places we don’t talk about at cocktail parties
Great. Now I’m thinking about the places Jonah DOES feel at cocktail parties.
–is that the Democrats have been such irresponsible backseat drivers that they have to be forced to take the wheel to grasp how treacherous the road ahead is.
Um. If I were sitting in the back seat while Dad careened all over a mountain highway in a torrential downpour, blowing past roadblocks and flashing signs screaming “Bridge Out Ahead,” and he suddenly turned the wheel over to me, I’d do what most of the backseat driving Democrats are advising: Turn the Fucking Car Around.
The current spectacle in Congress has made it clear that the Democrats don’t believe that the war in Iraq is America’s war. They think it’s Bush’s vanity project turned albatross
As stupid as Jonah is, I have to admit, this is one of the most cogent and succinct descriptions of the Iraq War I have ever read.
It was always a bit of a myth that partisanship ended at the water’s edge.
Or at least, it’s been a pretty moribund tradition every since the Kosovo crisis, when Trent Lott remarked, “You can support the troops without supporting the president.”
But Democrats have debunked, exposed and parodied that myth. Of course, they claim that the president started it by running foreign policy as a partisan enterprise. Fine, there’s obviously some truth there.
And the Five Day Forecast for Hell: Overnight temperatures dipping into the teens, with highs of in the low 30s. Watch for icy, but well-paved road conditions.
But when the likes of Sens. Hillary Clinton and Jay Rockefeller whine that they were misled into war, they’re declaring that they never took their responsibilities seriously in the first place.
Translation: You fucked up. You trusted us.
Of course, many Democrats sincerely believe that the war on terror is real and that Iraq is a dangerous distraction from it. But that’s not the issue.
“Some people sincerely believe that my throwing a bucket of gasoline rather than water on this smoldering pile of leaves in the yard is only going to feed the fire and cause it to quickly get out of control and burn down the house. But that’s not the issue.”
Terror hawks think you can’t both believe the war on terror is real and argue for handing Iraq over to the enemy — even if we shouldn’t have gone in in the first place. If the war on terror really isn’t that big a deal, hurray. Then Democrats can’t do that much damage
Because frankly, after 6 years of Bush and Cheney, there’s nothing left to break.
–and we can all argue about the minimum wage and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plane.
Judging by the recent content on Fox News, a Clash of Civilizations certainly hasn’t inhibited you from yakking about the plane thing.
If it is a big deal, Democrats need to be slapped out of their anti-Bush hysteria by real life. Australian Prime Minister John Howard — a Churchillian figure to hawks —
I frankly doubt that John Howard is a Churchillian figure to parakeets.
–said this week that Al Qaeda is “praying” for a Democratic victory in 2008. It may be.
Dr. E. Douglas Whitehead, a John Holmesian figure to his fellow penis enlargement surgeons, said this week that Jonah is “praying” for two more inches so he can finally urinate standing up. He may well be.
But what happens when a President Clinton or Obama has a 9/11 — or worse — on her or his watch?\
I’m guessing they probably won’t take an impromptu tour of Midwestern military bases while refusing to come out of the can on Air Force One.
Or is faced by the prospect of an Iraq run by terrorists? I’d like to hope that president would rise to the occasion, out of conviction or political self-interest.
I’d settle for a president who’d just put down the damn childrens book.
For hawks who believe that the Bush White House either hasn’t been hawkish enough or has done a much better job than the conventional wisdom holds (remember, no terrorist attacks on our soil since 9/11)
Well, there’ve been bombings and stuff. And all those letters filled with weaponized anthrax that shut down the Postal Service. But those mostly targeted women and Democrats, and were committed by white guys, so that’s really more of a law enforcement issue.