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The strange power of received ideas

By Michael J. Smith on Thursday May 18, 2006 04:11 PM

"Clear your mind of cant," said Dr Johnson, but it's easier said than done. I've been using the phrase "War Democrat" for years, until suddenly the light dawned yesterday: that's a tautology.

The Democratic Party, as an institution, has always been quite devoted to war -- historically, even more so than the other faction, though the Repubs in recent years have achieved parity. The Dems aren't yielding their crown without a fight, though, and Lord knows they've been right in there swinging on this Iraq adventure.

So saying "War Democrat" is just to say "Democrat." Where needed -- and it isn't often -- we ought to say "peace Democrat" for the rare dove in the mews, and just assume that "war" is understood in the case of Democrattus vulgaris. I guess we would still need some way of differentiating the real mad dogs, like Lieberman and Schumer, from the garden-variety Huns like Harry Reid. Suggestions, anyone?

This belated insight on my part has opened up an abyss before my feet. Intellectually, I've known for years that the Democrats are the war party par excellence -- and yet, and yet, here I've been talking as if it were otherwise. Is one not master in one's own mental house? Have CNN and the New York Times got cuckoo's-egg ideas lodged in all our nests, no matter how hard we try to clear our minds of their cant? The horror...!

Comments (1)


my internal house keeping problem seems to be

it takes a cant
to catch a cant

i got no good ideas

so i end up
around inside my mind
"that s sump of iniquity "
as my father called it

cracking one cuckoo's egg against another

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