Bush at Bay(Reprinted from the issue of November 30, 2006)
It is the unhappy fate of some men to become synonymous forever with a single, notorious word. Virginias outgoing Sen. George Allen will be associated for all time with the term macaca. Similarly, the neoconservative Kenneth Adelman will never live down the word cakewalk.
Thats what he predicted the Iraq war would be. He is now being bitterly ridiculed for it. The word sums up the neocons optimism about the war they were clamoring for, and, fairly or not, this is recrimination time. Washingtons talking heads are now shouting, sneering, mocking heads, and the neocons are their chief butts.
But it takes more than everlasting disgrace to discourage the neocons, and they are refusing to accept their ignominy as historys final judgment. On the contrary, they are actually claiming vindication! The Iraq war, it seems, was a brilliant idea; only the way it has been carried out by the Bush administration has been flawed.
The Washington Post reports, as its headline puts it, Embittered Insiders Turn Against Bush. The singular absence of neocon contrition is captured in a few quotations. Joshua Muravchik asks whether the war was a sound idea but very badly executed. Richard Perle adds, If I had known that the U.S. was going to essentially establish an occupation, then Id say, Lets not do it.
And Adelman himself says, This didnt have to be managed this bad. Its just awful. All they asked was what Perle and David Frum called an end to evil, a modest goal, and sure enough, Bush and Donald Rumsfeld goofed it up. (As I write, evil still exists.)
An article in the neocon monthly Commentary accuses Patrick Buchanan and me of charging the neocons with dual loyalty, but that is utterly false. For my part, I wish it were the case, since it would mean that the neocons sometimes sacrifice Israeli interests to American interests, and I cant recall a single instance of that, ever. I can hardly even imagine it. Much as they resent the suspicion of dual loyalty, they have no compunctions about impugning the patriotism of genuine conservatives who oppose the war. (Frum has accused Buchanan, me, and others of hating our country!)
On the one hand, David Brooks has asserted that neoconservative is a hostile code-word for Jew; whereas Max Boot, who wears the label proudly, acknowledges that support for Israel is a basic tenet of neoconservatism. Which is it? Knowing these guys, I suppose it can be both, depending on the convenience of the moment.
But in fairness to the neocons, it should be pointed out that some of those who are wittily skewering them now have their own vulnerable records. During the run-up to the war, Michael Kinsley praised Bush as a great leader, and, if my failing memory does not deceive me, George Will, lately a skeptic about the war, looked with favor upon the idea of invading Iraq. It would be amusing to review what they were writing back in 2002.
Undeterred by experience, the warrior intellectuals are now offering the same reasons for attacking Iran that they once offered for attacking Iraq. Once again we are even hearing the expression regime change. They have learned only to avoid the word cakewalk.
And lets not forget that much of Bushs more substantial base, the Christian right personified by the likes of the fiery John Hagee, favors war on Iran. Despite the elections, Armageddon still beckons. Its as if Dr. Strangelove had been getting ideas from the Book of Revelation.
Apart from the dubious moral justifications the advocates of war gave us, they utterly failed to predict or prepare us for what might go wrong even if their advice was taken. They showed no awareness that prudence is not only a practical necessity but a duty. They still dont. Thats why they feel no responsibility for the calamity that has resulted from their counsels.
The Two (?) Parties
Just when the Republican Party appeared to be in near-terminal condition, the Democrats assumed control of Congress and, prating of change, new directions, party unity, and other fine things, whipped out their stilettos and lost no time in getting right down to the business of fratricide.
Nancy Pelosi, the new speaker of the House, seemed to get on more amicably with President Bush than with Marylands Steny Hoyer, with whom she has a history of bad blood. Hoyer won this bit of infighting, but both sides appeared to have failed to internalize President Clintons adage that the things that unite us are more important than the things that divide us. Depends on the meaning of us, I guess.
Anyway, Speaker Pelosi declared an end to the hostilities with her trademark forced smile and her own adage about peace, which she said she had learned in church.
At the top of the Democrats legislative agenda (chilling phrase!) will be raising the minimum wage, just when, by ironic coincidence, Milton Friedman, the worlds most famous advocate of the free market, has gone to his final reward at age 94. Will the compassionately conservative Bush dare to use his veto?
The bottom line is that we are still dealing with the alleged two-party system, which confronts us with the perpetually baffling question of which faction, other things being equal, is worse. Please dont ask me to answer that one.
The Indignant Atheist
I just heard at this writing that the publication of O.J. Simpsons new book has been canceled. Like many other observers, I take his denial with a grain of salt, notwithstanding his acquittal by a jury of his peers. In this, if nothing else, I find myself in agreement with Christopher Hitchens, a highly literate man whom I have met and liked, though I find his writing hard to follow. He usually leaves me clear enough about whom he hates, but less clear about what he thinks.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Hitchens is furiously indignant, as you might expect, that Simpson is so insouciant about murder and so willing to capitalize on it.
To that extent, he is perfectly right. But what puzzles me about Hitchens is that he is so passionately indignant about so many things. This is the curious thing about atheists, and he is a militant atheist. Religion poisons everything, he recently told an interviewer, and he has just written a book on this theme. Everything? Would that include Bachs music? Thanksgiving dinner?
Why, oh why, are atheists always so indignant? If I were an atheist, and a believer in Darwin (which Hitchens also militantly is), I think Id try to roll with the punches. My philosophy would be that this is just the kind of universe where Simpsons behavior is more or less what we should expect in the ruthless struggle for survival.
If you have not seen my monthly newsletter, SOBRANS, yet, give my office a call at 800-513-5053 and request a free sample, or better yet, subscribe for two years for just $85. New subscribers get two gifts with their subscription. More details can be found at the Subscription page of my website.
Already a subscriber? Consider a gift subscription for a priest, friend, or relative.
|Copyright © 2006 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission
Archive Table of Contents
Return to the SOBRANS home page
Wanderer is available by subscription. Write for
SOBRANS and Joe Sobrans columns are available by subscription. Details are available on-line; or call 800-513-5053; or write Fran Griffin.
|FGF E-Package columns by Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, and others are available in a special e-mail subscription provided by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. Click here for more information.