Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Democracy of Convenience

Folks like Dennis Prager are hard for me to understand. Somehow, no matter what he's talking about, Dennis has a rare ability to be a smarmy jackass AND to claim the moral high road.

For instance, the Iraq war. Dennis castigates Republican politicos for jumping ship on the war in response to polls indicating that large numbers of Americans oppose it.

Is it possible that some of these Republicans have simply consulted their consciences and decided to abandon positions they have held since the beginning of the war? It is possible. But consider this: If the American people continued to support the war, does one reader of this column believe that one Republican defector would have in fact defected?
Yeah, representative Democracy is a real bitch, isn't it? Look, Dennis, you may not like the fact that a lot of Americans are sick of the war, and yeah, being a political whore regardless of one's own personal convictions isn't a terribly nice character trait, but if this was any other issue (say, immigration?) you wouldn't be whining about Congress actually listening to their constitutants for a change.

The sad truth is moral courage is rare – whether among private citizens or among political leaders. Even opponents of the war have to admit that, given the polls, it takes no courage for a politician to call for American withdrawal from Iraq. Whether or not you agree with those who want American forces to stay in Iraq, that is a far more courageous position in today's America – just as, right or wrong, it admittedly took more courage for a politician to oppose the war when America deposed Saddam Hussein's regime.

So, was Dennis praising the courage of the war opposers as the war began in 2003? Let's look:
Let it be said before we know the outcome of the war in Iraq that America and the world are inordinately lucky to have George W. Bush as America's president. In fact, I would go further.

To the extent that one is ever able to see the hand of God in history -- and since biblical times, one has never been given certitude in this regard -- I believe that either divine intervention or good luck on the magnitude of a lottery win explains George W. Bush's rise to the position of president.
Uh huh. And just a few weeks before, this thoughtful bit o' satire (or something).
My fellow Americans: After consulting with our loyal allies in Europe, speaking with United Nations officials, reading major American newspapers, listening to National Public Radio, consulting with Hollywood movie stars, and meeting with professors from our universities, I have changed my mind. They are right. I now realize that the most important goal America and its president can pursue is to be liked, hopefully loved, by mankind, and especially by France, Germany, China, and the Arab world. I now realize that we Americans who think in terms of good and evil are simpletons. We should think, as the professors do, in multicultural terms and, therefore, render no moral judgment over Iraq or any other nation except Israel. Who am I to declare any regimes an "axis of evil"? I now realize that it was arrogance to make such a judgment on three regimes governed by men whom I should have tried better to understand.

Now that I realize America's primary goal is to be liked, I will never again call any regime evil. In fact, in consultation with the presidents and deans of our major universities, I have decided to rename the governments of Iraq, Iran and North Korea an Axis of Diversity. I now realize that the only reason I ever considered putting thousands of young American lives in jeopardy was because of oil. I was deluded in thinking that Saddam Hussein might use his weapons of destruction against vast numbers of innocents, or to think because Saddam erased a sovereign nation from the map in 1991, he would contemplate doing such a thing again...The left, whom I used to foolishly identify with appeasing and defending evil, have opened my eyes. They are right that nothing America does is out of a sense of mission to lead humanity in confronting evil. That was all a cover up for our true motivation -- more wealth.

...My fellow Americans, I will no longer be calling you "my fellow Americans," but rather, "my fellow earthlings" or "my fellow citizens of the world." Nor will I conclude this or any future address by asking that God bless America. That annoys secular Europe, and if we aim to be loved, we can no longer speak in religious terms.
Good ol' Dennis. I must have missed the "I respect your courage" line, but I'm sure it's in there somewhere.

So, with the mainstream media and the Democrats – often interchangeable entities – relentlessly pushing for withdrawal from an increasingly unpopular war led by an unpopular president, it takes a lot of courage to argue against what would be the most costly defeat for America in its history. And how often in history did the right thing not take courage? And how often was the right position the most popular position?

Tune in next week when Dennis takes this reverence of the political minority to its logical conclusion and starts fighting against banning same-sex marriage, supporting Mike Nifong, and opposing Jessica's Law. Also, he'll probably start endorsing someone from the Reform Party.

Excellent turnaround, Dennis. When conservatives are for something, it's the will of the people. When things don't go your way, you get to be noble and courageous, fighting for your principles against implacable odds. All that's missing is the Fabio cover.

Despite all this, however, in this matter victory will go to the courageous. If America stays in Iraq, America will win and then the courageous will surely be victorious.
What's your basis for saying the bravest wins? Is brave the same thing as being in the minority? Relative to the rest of the world, the Axis Powers were in the minority, which was how we were able to DEFEAT them! It takes a lot of mental gymnastics to present America as the underdog here. And how do you know we'll win? What constitutes a victory? At what point does it become Pyhrric?

But the courageous will gain a victory even if they lose their fight for America staying in Iraq – for then the supporters of the American presence in Iraq will be quickly proven right as Iraq descends into ethnic cleansing, creates millions of refugees who destabilize nearby countries, emboldens Iran to enter directly Iraqi life, spawns a potential genocide and produces the largest base for Islamic terror in the world. These are not the predictions of pro-war advocates. Every one of these consequences of an American withdrawal was acknowledged as likely in a recent New York Times editorial arguing for American withdrawal from Iraq.

So being proven right is the same thing as gaining a victory? Good to know- because the war in Iraq has proven that the original war opponents were right IN THE FIRST PLACE. Moron. Incidentally, most of the things on Dennis' list have already started happening (Refugees? Ethnic cleansing? Base for terror? Read a damn newspaper!), and at the moment, there doesn't seem to be a lot to indicate that we have much of a chance of stopping them. The question is no longer if things will become a super-clusterfuck, only how long it takes to completely implode.

What will Americans who called for American withdrawal – especially among those who supported the war until now – tell future historians? That 3,600 American lives in four and a half years was too high a price to pay to fight the cruelest individuals and ideology on earth at that time? (By contrast, in World War II, America lost more than 300,000 lives in three and a half years, fighting the cruelest ideology of that era.) That they thought an Islamist victory in Iraq would make America more secure? And what will Republican senators and representatives tell their descendants? That they read the polls and saw that most Americans supported withdrawal, so they changed their minds and abandoned the cause of freedom in Iraq and fled an unpopular Republican war president?

How about, "We realized we fucked up and that the best way to try to stop it was to stop pretending it was something we alone had the power to fix." Just as a starting point.

History may not harshly judge those who opposed entering Iraq at the outset. But that is not what matters now. All that matters now – and what history will judge – is an American's position on whether to stay and fight in Iraq or whether to leave Iraq.

If "history" ("eminent" historian D. Prager IV, perhaps?) wants to bitch us out retroactively, it can feel free. We all have to live with what we allow to be done in our names. Dennis' hypothetical, "the history books of the future will say you sucked" fearmongering could just as easily be applied to any situation. Whatever your positions, on any issue, this ridiculous argument is no way to make decisions. Any reasonable person OBVIOUSLY takes future judgments into account when making far-reaching decisions- just look at those stupid commercials for people apologizing to their grandkids for fucking up the ozone layer. But the reality is that people need to take a hard look at the facts of Iraq and decide whether they think it's still fixable AT ALL, much less by the United States alone. They need to reassess exactly what victory looks like, and whether it is still achievable.

Me, I'd settle for an Iraq, federated or not, hell, "Security Fenced" or not, where people aren't killing each other. Anything else is gravy. That's MY top priority. If I thought the US being there could achieve that, I'd want them to stay. But I don't know if that's true anymore.

Dennis concludes with a last dollop of stupidity, including a cheap shot at a religion that's been defunct for about 400 years.

Just about every generation has some horrific evil that it must fight. For the Democratic Party today, that evil is carbon dioxide emissions. For the rest of us, it is an ideology that teaches that its deity is sanctified by the blood of innocents, just as the Aztec deities were.

History will see that clearly. And judge accordingly.

In your face, Aztecs! This is Senior Conquistador Prager, signing off.

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