The McCain candidacy reveals the essence of Bushism: the promotion of a non-existent war for which we must sacrifice everything
live in a fantasy, and they use that fantasy as a club over our heads to make us give up conservatism.
That thought occurred to me as I was reading a David Horowitz blog post. In disagreeing with two of his contributors, Ann Coulter and Tammy Bruce, who say they would vote for Hillary Clinton against John McCain, Horowitz writes:
Ann, Tammy, please. John McCain has been the strongest supporter of the war against radical Islam in the United States Senate.
We’re supposed to support McCain because he’s been a leading supporter of “the war against radical Islam.” But what exactly is Horowitz referring to here? What does this “war” consist of? The only major military operations in which our forces are involved are counterinsurgency campaigns or holding actions in two Muslim countries against radical Muslims. Meanwhile, there are radical Muslims in Muslim countries ranging from Indonesia to Thailand to Nigeria. Are we waging war against them? Europe is filled with radical Muslims who are becoming more and more powerful and troublesome. Are we waging war against them? Britain is filled with West-hating Muslims. Are we waging war against them? The U.S. has thousands of Muslim mosques, the majority of which are aligned with Wahabbi Islam. Are we waging war against them? For seven years the Bush administration has made love to Muslim organizations that are aligned with radical and terrorist Muslims. Are we making war against them? Every year we admit many thousands of Muslim immigrants, many of them supporters of radical Islam. What kind of war is it, when we allow the enemy to immigrate into our country?
Yet Horowitz and all the Bush supporters keep telling us that we are waging a war against radical Islam. Will no one call these people to account for speaking such nonsense? Will no one call them to account for basing an entire politics on this lie, namely, for telling us to ignore McCain’s dictatorial qualities, his passionate intention to open America’s borders, and his labeling of Americans as bigots for resisting open borders, all because he’s a strong supporter of a non-existent war?
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It takes me a long time to understand things.
For years I’ve been saying that the “war against radical Islam” doesn’t exist.
Also for years, on another mental track which somehow I’ve never connected with the first, I’ve criticized the way neocons and Bush supporters would use the war to push conservatism to the left. When Bush moved left on any issue, conservatives had to accept it because Bush was fighting the war and the war was the only thing that mattered and therefore Bush had to be supported no matter what. I always thought this tactic was deeply wrong, deeply offensive.
But now I realize that it was worse than I thought. It’s not just that the Bushites use the war as a club over our heads to force us to support liberal policies and liberal-leaning leaders such as Bush and McCain; it’s that this war—for which we are supposed to sacrifice everything we believe in—doesn’t even exist.
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Dan M. writes:
“Will no one call them to account for basing an entire politics on this lie, namely … a non-existent war?”
“It takes me a long time to understand things.”
It takes me a long time too. They conflate three versions of the lie: (1) The War in Iraq (ended May 1, 2003), (2) The War On Terror (There is no war on this method of making war, there is a defense (separationism), but we are not using it), (3) The War on Radical Islam, “Islamo-fascism,” or whatever. But this, as you say, is in every country of the world, and our political class loves and supports it. Our politicians and chattering classes have created three imaginary fronts on which we are supposedly fighting desperately not just for our “freedom,” but the urgent and noble cause of “global democracy,” one of the natural rights of man. Anytime they say “war,” they want you to think of all three (because just one probably isn’t enough). The situation is therefore even worse than you said: poor Goebbels has come a cropper; he’s not worthy to shine these guy’s shoes. This is a propaganda lesson for the ages. If you wallow in it for a while, listening to Bush and McCain et al making speeches, it actually causes a mild, temporary retardation.
But cheer up—Romney is going to win tomorrow. How do I know? Because he’s way taller than McCain. We like tall presidents. Standing next to Romney, purple-faced rageboy looks like the impotent little nebbish we know him to be. I think folks will see that. I have to hope so, because they for darn sure aren’t suddenly going to become conservatives.
You have articulated a three-dimensioned lie. You also show very well how we have been befuddled by this rhetoric and haven’t been able to make sense of it. Maybe we’re making some progress.
As for Romney, he supports the “war” too, doesn’t he, though not in the pure Bushian, McCainian terms. He doesn’t seem to talk about “democracy,” for example, and I’m not even sure if he talks of war. He says we need a global program to help threatened Muslim countries strengthen their basic functionality. So his idea, while still unrealistic, is much less utopian and grandiose than Bush/McCain.
It does seem unlikely that such an amazingly ill-suited, ill-favored person as McCain would be chosen as Republican nominee, and, even more amazing, that so many pundits, on the left and “right,” are firmly convinced that this extraordinarily unpleasant, egotistical, boring, and not very intelligent person is the absolutely favored candidate to win in November!
You wrote: “If you wallow in it for a while, listening to Bush and McCain et al making speeches, it actually causes a mild, temporary retardation.”
I’m not sure if you’ve been reading VFR long enough to know the two following anti-Bush jokes:
1. “Here is your brain…. Here is your brain on Dubya.”
2. (Paraphrasing Shakespeare’s Falstaff in Henry IV Part One):
“Bush is not only witless in himself, but the cause of witlessness in others.”
Dan M. replies:
Perhaps it’s a bit silly of me, but I’m hoping that after Romney puts away the war-hawks, he’ll start talking more sensibly about the fact that our holding action can’t just last forever, and that his reform of the economy requires that we get out sooner rather than a hundred years from now. That Time article that you linked gave me hope in this regard: the others really seem to hate him as much because he really is an outsider (perhaps not a card-carrying neocon), as that their subtle anti-Mormon bigotry and jealosy of his money bring it out. Is it unrealistic of me to hope that many Republicans really detest the mind-numbing illogic of the war rhetoric, but can’t even admit it to themsleves in this moment of ideological stalinism, and subliminally recognize that Romney, as the only non-member of the club, is the only Republican hope in this respect?
On the other hand, this makes me a bit inconsistent, because I hope he will get better on immigration, and really means what he is currently saying.
Here’s one of the things that I can’t stand the thought of: That after seven years of having to listen to this brain numbing lie from Bush and the Bushites, we would have to listen to it for another four years under McCain.
Jack Henzie writes:
This is an irony I have felt now, for the best part of eight years, actually through both the previous Bush and Clinton days, but I’ve never been quite able to articulate it, as you have just so done. Again, now, I’m betrayed by the Republican Party. I ask myself, “What is it about Conservatism that so frightens the Republican Party.” I no longer have a dog in the fight. Duncan Hunter conducted such a dreadful campaign and Tancredo allowed himself to be so trivialized that true-to-a-belief vanished from public view. Young voters have become so vapid of thought, but they vote heavily, that a thinking voter is defenseless. I read of the final reign of Caligula and can’t avoid the feeling that we are, precisely there. Am I nuts?
Alex K. writes:
I really think your correspondent is justified in his reference to Goebbels. The “war” our rulers and their courtiers have presented to us is, just as you say, constructed from rhetoric so befuddling it is hard to make sense of it even when you know the truth. In other words: I’ve known for quite some time how ill an idea the Iraq War was and is, how “Islamo-fascism” is Islam and is essentially an immigration problem, etc, yet I still have trouble pinning down exactly how their big lie works.
But here’s what I wanted to add: complicating the problem immensely has been that the only mainstream and consistently audible voice against this course of events has been from the Left. And they confuse the issue because their accurate-sounding phrasing such as that the “war on terror” is a meaningless slogan, and even accurate critiques such as that occupation only inflames the Muslim world, are combined with their own denial of a threat and indeed love and support of it. The mainstream Right cannot even see its own lie because the only critique of it they hear is utterly compromised. And open-minded people listening to both sides can’t tell where the truth is.
And even on the anti-imperial right, the American Conservative types tend to make things murky a bit too—they expose parts of the lie in good ways but their tendency to downplay the problem of Islam itself, their sometimes see-no-evil attitude toward terrorism, and even their relative lack of attention to immigration, all make their critique of where we are at somewhat wanting in persuasiveness.
Kevin S. writes:
The founding fathers suspected that eventually the voice of the people will always end up in large part calling for that which will destroy them. That is why we they saw fit to insulate us from a full democracy and established our representative republic. Still, the salient characteristic of even that form of government is ultimately to trust the people. Given that, one must ask why are so many of the people evidently easily misled into calling for their own destruction?
They are sheep. They have always been and will always be sheep. That fundamental fact was recognized over two centuries ago and still we laid that cornerstone of trusting We The People. Why? We find part of the answer in one of the core beliefs of the objectively evil lie that is liberalism: we are all equal. Remember, liberals are very good at absconding with words and charging them with negative connotations. I am not stating any human ever to live is of anything less than infinite worth in the eyes of Our Lord. I am stating the patently obvious fact that we are not all the same and very much not equal in any number of areas.
In this case the most important of these differences are found in our historically abundant supply of honorable, virtuous leaders. I am not referring only to those at the national and state levels but to those countless heroes who lead at the neighborhood and community levels. When there is “enough” of such local true leadership the voice of the people there will recognize the upward path and take it. In the absence of such leadership they will be led blindly down whatever path is at hand. The founding fathers recognized it is only this critical mass of good leadership throughout our society that can preserve us.
Those reading and posting here are that leadership. Are we engaged in our communities? Do we speak out boldly for that which is right? I fear the loss of that critical mass of local leadership may also be an inevitable part of the cycle of human history. When a man like McCain (could anyone in their right mind ever call him honorable and virtuous) continues to win LOCAL district votes for delegates what other conclusion can one draw?
Charles G. writes:
Jack Henzie writes: “I read of the final reign of Caligula and can’t avoid the feeling that we are, precisely there. Am I nuts?”
Actually, we’re still in the Republican phase. I’d say this is more like the period around 88 B.C. just before the first consulship of Sulla. The two factions at Rome were canceling out the effectiveness of one another. They could not agree. Sulla was abroad with an army and at the conclusion of an unnecessary conflict waged solely for spoil, he returned with that army at his back and drove out the opposition. Sulla showed the way for the tyranny to come. The voting electorate had become so self-centered and degenerate that they could only give their votes to the highest bidder. Sound familiar to our welfare state?
Paul Gottfried writes:
Our enemies have us outgunned, and the most we can do is vent some spleen on our websites. Whoever the neocon or liberal choice for our next president, a choice that the neocon-liberal monopoly of the media will help provide, I suspect that we’ll be looking back to W as a sane, relatively conservative chief executive.
Another point about McCain: for all the credit he receives as the “strongest supporter in the Senate of the war on radical Islam,” he would weaken that “war” in the very areas where it defends America, such as surveillance of terrorists, interrogation of terrorists, closing Guantanamo so that we’d have to deal with the terrorists here, and of course his indifference to protecting the border, which is even greater than Bush’s indifference. So where is McCain “strong” on the “war”? Only in those areas that have nothing to do with protecting America: the imperial part, the spreading democracy party, the being-in-Iraq-for-a-hundred-years part. And this expenditure of our country’s resources and men in Muslim countries, which does nothing for America, is McCain’s sole claim to fame as a “conservative” and a “supporter of the military” and a “supporter of the war on radical Islam”!
Norm P. writes:
An excellent article. Nicely worded. I love this question: “What kind of war is it, when we allow the enemy to immigrate into our country?” Just to be on the safe side, shouldn’t we think about returning all of our recent visitors to their homelands?
I agree with Ann Coulter and have been saying the same thing for a long time. McCain is a disaster and if elected, will ruin the Republican party for a long time.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 05, 2008 01:28 AM | Send
Can you believe an old man worse than Dole—meaner, angrier, uglier, more immature, more fraudulent, a partner with Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold may actually get the Republican nomination. How can the Republicans ever get younger voters to cross over? For that matter, how can a real Republican vote for him?
I would rather elect Hillary, show America what a disaster she and the Democrats are for 4 years, and then get a real conservative—Newt Gingrich into the White House in 2013.
I think that Hillary will run with Biden which will make her defense policies a little more palatable.