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Giants in the earth, my ass

By Owen Paine on Monday October 30, 2006 12:26 PM

Today one Tony Judt drifts into my crosshairs:
Why have American liberals acquiesced in President Bush’s catastrophic foreign policy? Why have they so little to say about Iraq, about Lebanon, or about reports of a planned attack on Iran? Why has the administration’s sustained attack on civil liberties and international law aroused so little opposition or anger from those who used to care most about these things? Why, in short, has the liberal intelligentsia of the United States in recent years kept its head safely below the parapet?

It wasn’t always so. On 26 October 1988, the New York Times carried a full-page advertisement for liberalism. Headed ‘A Reaffirmation of Principle’, it openly rebuked Ronald Reagan for deriding ‘the dreaded L-word’ and treating ‘liberals’ and ‘liberalism’ as terms of opprobrium.

"Rebuke he needs," as the immortal Yoda might say. Tony purports to show up my own acid rock era's liberality, by contrasting it to those older softies, marinated in the class acids of the Great Depression.

He points to a way, way too late (1988!) press vamp by a pack of celeb cold war ADA types, as proof positive and conclusive of how these stalwarts -- unlike their Woodstock epigones -- spoke decency and light to the evil empire.

Horse feathers!

They had their moment in 1947-49, when the evil empire was ramping up for a 5 trillion dollar potlatch, and what did they do? They shit in the rosebed. Yup, at the witching hour, imperial crap came out of them like chocolate comes out of Hershey, PA. No way can we talk of a "Greatest Generation" of liberals. The challenge of their lifetime they did not meet, at the one moment that mattered.

Tony, you'd better find a better bludgeon, if you wanna beat up the weirdest generation's best and brightest.

But the point here is not to beat up Tony -- what I'm arguing is a parallel, not a contrast, between the present-day GWOT liberals, and the Truman liberals of the late 40's. Even some of the current crop -- Beinart, for example -- wallow in this parallel, and they aren't wrong. Each phalanx, the 40's vintage and today's update, were and are gallantly prepared to tarnish their angel wings for the good of tomorrow's whole earth liberty. The commie threat and the jihadi threat are equally adequate reasons to check your higher principles at the entrance to the arena.

Now of course we can tie a bow around TJ's 1988 letter. It was written after -- long after -- these Truman liberals had performed their world historical mission: driving the new frontier war wagon straight into the Nam quag. Long after they had backed off their own creation in horror.

And yet, even with the recognition of their ghastly handiwork -- and here's the key point -- most of these towering liberal worthies still felt no collective need for an "agonizing reappraisal." Nor, I suspect, will most of the present crowd. The Bidens, the Kerry trees and Mother Courage Clinton herself will not see their intellectual cheering section demand an investigation of these new Dems -- instead, we'll get the further demonization of the demons already at hand. And the upshot, needless to say, will be another another Nam. Or rather, yet another Nam; We've already had one sequel already: Iraq.

Yes, Iraq is not likely to be enough. But then again, perhaps the parallel will break down. Perhaps this time the world historical mission of the latest Dem mind midgets may simply be to pull a de facto "me too," while blaming the next debacle, like they have this one, on the trog wing of the Repubs.

Hey, blaming it on the other party, while throw bombs around like a circus ape, worked pretty well for -- you guessed it -- Nixon!

Comments (3)

J. Alva Scruggs:

He's right about one thing: the celebrity liberals are useful idiots, a gang of fatuous pied pipers. Cruise missile liberalism supported Bush into Afghanistan, after which there was nothing they could say about further military adventures.

js paine:

celeb liberals
launching virtual cruise M attacks
to reporters
from the secluded comfort of their limo's

indeed a nasty on going prospect

but its their double domed
round heeled patch elbowed
moth eaten
meme mongering inky stinky familiars
that really goats me so
the split the diff guys and gals

to another iraq
vs...vs ...vs
to another kosovo


Beinart-Peretz-TNR liberalism is in large measure like that of the Kennedy era, with dollars, gundpowder, and all the disposable human fodder you can send against an abstract evil.

But it's liberalism on meth, juiced out of any belief in or wish for restraint. Judt is basically right about our liberals: dogmatic, culturally provincial, arrogant, racist, and most unforgivably, in love with war as an idea. They wriggle under the pin of this idée fixe, which he properly traces to the delusional Israeli model of self-preservation.

Bush couldn't have asked for a better support staff than Dem pols and intellectuals. The neocons had only to model a new nightmare. The libs and centrists went on to do the heavy work of persuading the TV-gazing public of how fine it would be to wake up screaming.

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