Do you ever tire of hearing me say: “you heard it here, first”? Take the growing realization, across the board, that the plight of the US military ought to be a top issue in this election cycle. That Democrats should reach out to the crewcut members of the horrible abused US Officer Corps... arguably the Bushites’ biggest victims. Finally, a few liberals and moderates have started to take up this crisis -- the destruction of our Army and military readiness -- as a matter of simple patriotism. (The REAL kind, not that flag-waving fakery.) For a lengthy article relating the latest in this vital story, see “The US Military Breaking the Ranks.”
And yes, you heard it here first. Find one person who raised this issue before I did, in 2004.
Only now, let’s talk about something else you are sure to hear more about. But no earlier than here. A growing phenomenon among “ostrich republicans” as they start, ever-so reluctantly, to waken from a torpor of denial.
In fact, many old-style Goldwater-Dole conservatives of my acquaintance, some as notable as author Jerry Pournelle, have begun expressing actinic fury over Bushite imperialism, deceit, mismanagement and outright criminality, which has done America devastating harm. They admit that their movement has been hijacked by either morons or monsters... and that the Pax Americana which once seemed to tower so high and bright has been demolished...
...moreover, they can see a world community that till-recently admired us, now reviles us.
They admit (and more like them will soon admit) that we are no safer because of arrogant, pushy attempts at thug-like international bullying and so-called “nation-building.” They avow that every decent principle espoused by Barry Goldwater has been systematically reversed, turning conservatism into a caricature of its old self.
And yet... are they ready to shake hands with us and join forces so we all -- liberals, moderates and decent conservatives -- might purge the monsters together, forming a coalition of national salvation and sending the GOP back to the drawing board?
Far from it! These are human beings, after all. Like us, they are supreme rationalizers. And so, you’ll find very few willing to own-up that the whole American right spent the first part of the Twenty-first Century stark, jibbering crazy.
No, emerging from one hypnotic, incantatory trance-of-denial does not mean that a person won’t plunge, just as swiftly, into yet another! (Witness the number of neoconservative putz-intellectuals who were formerly Trotskyites or Maoists; till they “saw the light” of their next transfixing dogma, sponsored by Fox and the Heritage Foundation.) Personality trumps reason, every time.
No, these wakened ostriches may be mad at Bush, Cheney and the neocons... but they are NOT about to turn around and take our offered hands. They have their own ideas about what America needs. And here’s the news, boys and girls, it means going back to some of the less-wise and disproved earlier versions of conservatism.
Political Bipolar Disease and The Return of Isolationism.
Yes, like sufferers of a bipolar ailment, the reaction of many half-wakening ostriches to the devastation wrought by the manic, imperialist/interventionist debacle of the Bush/Cheney clan...
...is to swing totally the other way! To go utterly depressive and demand that Americans withdraw inside our borders!
Consider how this helps our half-wakened ostrich deal with the quandary of plummeting American popularity, around the world. No, they don’t try to deny it. The figures and signs are too blatant and overwhelming. Sure, they admit that this unpopularity shatters alliances, recruits enemies and pulverizes our role (so high under Bill Clinton) of unipolar leadership in the world. Nevertheless, in conversations with many of my smart-conservative friends, I have been stunned by their answer.
”So? Who needs to lead the world, anyway? F$#@! the world!"
To these fellows, our stunning international unpopularity is not proof that we've disappointed our allies, behaved like imbecilles, squandered our good will and need to offer better leadership. To them it is proof that the world is un-leadable and we should take our marbles home.
Never mind that this traditional conservative fallback position was espoused by GOP leaders in the 1930s against FDR standing up to fascists and nazis... and by those of the late forties against Truman and Marshall, when Vandenberg et. al. tried to thwart them from creating NATO and crafting the ultimately successful policy of containing Soviet aggression. Never mind that Bill Clinton’s Pax Americana was incredibly popular, creating an acceptance of unipolar leadership that was effective, efficient, productive and boded well for a world community increasingly based on Enlightenment values.
Never mind all that. When you are dealing with Political Bipolar Disease, the swing from manic to depressive phase is virtually unstoppable.
And it offers these guys one more important benefit. By repudiating the Bushites, yet clinging to an older conservative value, they do not have to say to any moderate or damned liberal “I guess you folks were right.” They can hate Bush and call him an “aberration” while maintaining their fierce loathing of - say - Hillary Clinton. Above all, they can sulk and refuse to meet our offered hand. Or join a coalition of national salvation. Instead, they can drag themselves to the polls in order to vote for some other GOP shill of the same corrupt interests. Telling themselves “surely this one is telling the truth” and “she’d be even worse.”
(Want irony? The core icon of this older conservatism, Barry Goldwater, not only presciently rejected the neoconservatie jerks, seeing clearly where they were headed, but, before he died, Goldwater urged his fellow conservatives to negotiate with Bill Clinton and work with him, calling him “a very good president.”)
If I am right about this trend -- of surly, foul-tempered “ostriches who only half-waken” -- then watch the GOP candidates as their platforms and talking points evolve. Even if it’s war-fighter, stay-in-Iraq McCain, there will be hints and asides, suggesting that a return to isolationism just might be in the cards. JUST enough hints and hopes to let these demoralized, half-wakened, smart-conservatives stay in second stage denial, hypnotized by a desperate need to believe that America’s moderates and liberals can’t have been right again. No, no.
Denying to themselves that they need ever shake our offered hand.
Sorry about two blogs in a row. Off to Europe....