Fat Steve's Blatherings

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Core Democratic Party National Security Problem -- and Their Core Electoral Problem, Too.

      A week and a half ago, Peter Beinart, editor of The New Republic, published an essay saying that Democrats had to get serious about foreign policy, and that involved tossing out the anti-Americans among them (except Beinart called them "softs").  He commpared the situation to that existing in 1945-49, when the Henry Wallace 'Let's appease the Soviet Union' crowd was crushed in all liberal organizations.  There's been a lot of discussion on that article, from the "right" and from the "left."

      But the two most interesting articles came from Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly.  Drum's response was that Beinart wrote a lot about how the Democrats got rid of the "softs," and how Beinart would like to purge Michael Moore and MoveOn from the ranks, but Beinart's article never said why they deserved to be purged.  According to Drum, the threat to the United States posed by the now deceased Soviet Union (OOH!  I just LOVE to type "now deceased Soviet Union"!) was clear to all sensible liberals.  That Islamic Totalitarianism poses such a threat to the U.S. isn't clear to him.  He'd like to see the issue debated by liberals.

      As Jonah Goldberg pointed out:
By my very rough guess, since 9/11 National Review Online and National Review have run probably 500 articles from serious scholars to folks like me on why the threat from "Islamo-Fascism," "jihadism," or whatever you want to call it is real, serious, and likely to endure for a very long time. We've come at it from every angle, too — from narrow arguments about weapons proliferation to deep, sustained, philosophical treatises about the Islamic or Arab worldview and our own.

Of course, NR is not alone. Similar articles or articles on similar themes have proliferated across the mainstream media and the Internet. Whole categories of bloggers — the "war bloggers" — have sprouted up. The op-ed pages have groaned from the weight of serious people explaining how the battle against Islamic fundamentalism will likely be known as World War IV. Countless books from liberals, leftists, many, many conservatives, and a few allegedly "nonpartisan" whistleblowers have been written expanding these arguments. There've been campus debates, symposia, and course offerings. There've been international conferences, speeches, lectures, documentaries. Whole new chairs have been established at think tanks and universities, and there've even been new think tanks established, dedicated to defending democracy against this "new" form of totalitarianism. Two Cabinet positions have been created — with bipartisan support in response to this threat. Both presidential nominees staked their campaigns in large parts on their ability to fight and win the war on terror, a sometimes-clunking euphemism for Islamic fundamentalism.

      Goldberg wants to know where Drum "has been these last few years?"  Well, James Taranto has the answer: in "The Blue Cocoon."  Most liberals spend their time talking to other liberals, and rarely bother to pay attention to conservatives.  They may read the "right wing" press and blogosphere to find out what conservatives are saying, the better to frame talking points against them, but the idea of reading the 'Neanderthals' in order to learn something important hardly ever happens.

      You might object that conservatives are exactly the same.  You'd be wrong.  It was in National Review that I first encountered the Marxist Eugene Genovese, for instance.  The magazine printed him because they thought he was intelligent, honest, and knowledgeable, with important things to say about USAmerican history.  That kind of open mindedness is exactly what Democrats and liberals are missing nowadays.

      When Truman and Acheson made the case for standing firm against Soviet subversion and aggression, Sen. Arthur Vandenburg told them, "If you say that to the American people, I will support you." (quote approximate)  You'll find the episode described in Acheson's memoirs, along with a good deal of contempt for Vandenburg.  Democrats and liberals could afford that contempt in 1947, when the vast majority thought the Republicans would bring back the Depression.  But in this century, that scornful attitude is killing them at the polls.

      Update: Joan Vennochi in The Boston Globe:
For the second time in 16 years, a son of Massachusetts tried for the White House and failed. Sharing initials with the last presidential candidate from Massachusetts to win the presidency is not enough. If the presidency is the goal, a candidate needs more in common with the rest of America.

What a sobering thought.

      As the blogfather would say: Indeed.

      Another update: Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal, notes that the Democratic Party "passed into the hands of a generation, now in their 50s and early 60s, whose broad view of America and its politics was formed as young men and women opposing the Vietnam War. . .

But the politics of the Vietnam generation wasn't just about Vietnam. It was about changing everything, most notably the culture. . .

George Bush, age 58, was a reproach. He personifies everything they have fought since they drove LBJ and Richard Nixon out of politics. And this week they are trying to discover why most of the people who live between the Hudson River and Hollywood Freeway don't agree with them. Expect documentaries soon about Christian evangelicals on the Discovery Channel.
There is no hope that the Vietnam generation braintrust who just lost this election will ever understand Red America. Until someone in the party recognizes this, the tides of demography will inexorably erode the blue islands that remain on the map." 



Post a Comment

<< Home