Just Above Sunset Archives
February 15, 2004 - The Evolving Consensus View for Perplexed Americans
David Gelernter is a professor
of computer science at Yale University and a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard. That publication is often called "The Bible of the Neoconservative Movement" - what with Kristol and Kagan
and the rest pretty much explaining the Cheney-Wolfowitz vision, which Bush fronts when he's not napping. The Weekly Standard is our guide to why things are as they are, and as they should be.
Thank God for those phantom Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Politically,
they are a nonissue. Morally, they are an amazing piece of luck. Strategically, they are a guide to the future. The missing WMD were not merely an honest mistake; they were a providential mistake.
This of course is followed
by a long history of recent events, indicating how threatening things seemed. This
was not a view shared by any major governments but those of the UK and Australia, and not the view of the UN, nor of the UN
weapons inspectors like Hans Blix and Scott Ritter who we pretty much labeled blind, incompetent fools.
What happens now? We institutionalize the phantom-WMD maneuver. It was all a mistake, but it worked beautifully.
The implied next sentence is obvious: Give us an excuse and we'll do it. Play games with the UN; show us your true colors. Meanwhile, we might pray for the strange, accidental wisdom to make another providential mistake.
You get the idea. We have the moral duty to overthrow selected governments. And we really don't need facts about any threat. And this is
how you get things done in the world - how you make things better.
As for the opposition?
Political Evaluations from the "Bush Is As Good as it Gets" Side of Things
One of my friends has followed
the career of the journalist-gadfly-intellectual Christopher Hitchens in some detail. Hitchens
seems to have been everywhere and seen everything, and has morphed for a left side critic to an ardent supporter of George
Bush and this war against the fanatical Islamic world. Here he sizes up the opposition
to Bush. And it is curious:
Dennis Kucinich is the sort of guy who we need in politics. He thinks long-term, and he doesn't think that in the short or long term it pays to trade principles for compromises. That's the attitude one wants in a president, of any party. This, however, is probably not the year for a man who basically believes in the downsizing of the United States.
Well, that's matched by this mixed review of Wesley Clark.
Wesley Clark is a loss to the United States armed forces, and President Clinton and Defense Secretary Cohen ought to have been excoriated for firing him when they did, as well as for how they did it. Many Kosovars owe their lives to Clark, and the victory won in that war also helped to bring at least a semblance of democracy to Serbia. But there's something bizarre about a conceited man in uniform who now can't remember which regime-change he favored or why, which party he belongs to, or which "faith-based" community he espouses. He also has a weakness for half-cooked conspiracy stories and gets snappish when he's questioned on the last weird thing he said. Again, beware of those who run to pacify their internal demons.
Yeah, yeah. Clark is gone.
A couple of years ago I wrote a profile of Sen. John Edwards for Vanity Fair and decided that he is a good man who is in politics for good reasons. He voted for the essential measures on Iraq, but has also made some trenchant criticisms of the Homeland Security farce. I'd add to this that he has since - unlike Joseph Lieberman, say - given up his very promising Senate career in order to run. I leave to you the calculations about his Southern roots, his trial-lawyer connections, and all the rest of it, except to say that he earned his money from fighting large and negligent corporations rather than from fawning on them. I'm totally bored with the idea of "small town" origins, since for generations most Americans have lived either in big cities or suburbs, and it's high time for someone to advertise himself as urbane. However, a good man can be glimpsed even through the necessary hypocrisies of election time. He has a terrific wife, as well.
But then, here's why he thinks you'd be a fool not to vote for George Bush.
I'm a single-issue person at present, and the single issue in case you are wondering is the tenacious and unapologetic defense of civilized societies against the intensifying menace of clerical barbarism.
If in the smallest doubt about this, I would suggest a
vote for the re-election of George Bush, precisely because he himself isn't prey to any doubt on the point.
There are worse things than simple mindedness - pseudo-intellectuality, for example. Civil unions for homosexuals,
or prescription-drug programs, are not even going to be in second or third place if we get this wrong. And presidents can't make much difference to the stock market or the employment rate or to income distribution.
But they can and must uphold their oath to defend the country. So, having said that "issues" are only tangential to campaigns, the best estimate I can make is one about
the seriousness of individuals. I was open-mouthed at the idea that anyone would
even consider entrusting the defense of the United States and its Constitution to Howard Dean, but that problem appears to
have taken care of itself, even if only through the sort of voter-intuition that one is ultimately forced to recommend.
The fellow who claims to
be a real intellectual has spoken. For what it's worth.