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Consider:

"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"







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Sunday, 8 February 2004


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:

See All Against Bush: Whom should the Democrats nominate?
Christopher Hitchens, SLATE.COM, Posted Sunday, Feb. 8, 2004, at 9:39 AM PT

First of all, the surprise. He likes the man from Cleveland!
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.

But the real surprise is this:
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, he'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.

Make up your own mind, is my own best recommendation, and put "electability" (once a Dean property, for heaven's sake) to one side. An Edwards-Kerry ticket would be made up of serious men, at least, and this is a test that people and politicians have to pass whether they are looking for votes or not.
The fellow who claims to be a "real intellectual" has spoken. For what it's worth.

Posted by Alan at 09:37 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 8 February 2004 09:41 PST home

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