Friday, October 5, 2007

Angry Left: Bush is a Beast – I’m Unconvinced

Historically, in order to bring us out of our natural isolationism and onto the battlefield overseas, we have had to view an enemy as the embodiment of evil. Alas, this moralistic, apocalyptic view of the world (in some cases justified internationally) has come home to domestic politics. No, it is not the Religious Right we have to thank for this. The bitterness of our present political discourse began with the response of the New Left to the Vietnam Conflict. In the 1980s, it took a new form in opposition to Ronald Reagan whom, they warned us with dread thunderings, would bring upon us the scourge of nuclear nightmare. For the past six years, it is George W. Bush who is not merely a bad choice, a fool, a crook or even the corrupter of virgins and patriots, but the Beast himself.

Now I’m all for calling a beast a beast (Saddam), a tyrant a tyrant (Mugabe), an evil empire an evil empire (you know who) and a fool a fool (let’s not get into it). I support the Republican Party, and I do so on principle. But if one of our number goes bad, I join with other principled Republicans in crying, “Bad!” But I see no moral fault in this President. There is much to debate in his presidency. Reasonable and patriotic people can disagree with him and even oppose him politically. But I see no reasonable grounds for the hatred that animates his sharpest critics.

There is any number of left wing rants we could consider. But recently I happened to come across this speech by E. L. Doctorow. Though it is now more than three years old, it expresses the rage and loathing that characterizes the hard left view of our sitting President.

Doctorow published this essay on September 9, 2004 in the East Hampton Star here on Long Island where Doctorow has a home in Sag Harbor. The previous May, he gave the commencement address at Long Island's Hofstra University where he accused the president of telling "bad stories" about there being WMDs in Iraq when he knew there were none. (After all, who would believe the obviously wild speculations and frantic concerns of those UN weapons inspectors?) Incidentally, he was booed into silence for what many viewed as an unwelcome intrusion of fanatically angry politics into an otherwise happy event.

His charge was this: “I fault this president for not knowing what death is…. He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. …To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. …He is the president who does not feel. … He cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves.” There are two pages of this unbroken invective.

In other words, the president is a criminal psychopath but, sadly, a brilliantly deceptive one. Of course, Reagan was the same…except stupid…but in a crafty way. Nixon was Tyrannosaurus Nix. Like Columbia’s Lee Bollinger, this accomplished novelist seems to think that a tongue lashing is persuasive rhetoric, words that topple thrones.

So what am I to make of this? I have various data available to me regarding GWB. I have this opinion from Doctorow. But on what does he base his opinion? It seems all that he offers is the fact that, unlike Eisenhower, Bush has never seen combat. “On the eve of D-Day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was.” Well, most of us have never seen combat or any kind of death up close, but from that fact it would be rash and unjustified to conclude that we are all unfeeling monsters.

Consider another similarly situated American president. Bill Clinton as commander-in-chief sent young men to die in Mogadishu and Bosnia. If Doctorow had similar words for President Clinton, they have not come to my attention.

Incidentally, notice that he does not say that Eisenhower wept for the boys he sent overseas, only that he prayed for them. That, of course, could be a politically calculated act though I assume he was sincere. Bush himself is widely known as a praying man. President Clinton, on the other hand, the darling of the left, was a notorious weeper, but also an infamous dissembler. While leaving the Ron Brown funeral, he was caught on camera laughing it up with Rev. Tony Campolo. The instant his eye caught the camera filming him he broke into tears, much to the confusion of his companion.

I have other reports, however (to me, credible ones), that President Bush weeps with the parents of those who fall in battle and that he understands -- and yes even feels -- the awesome weight of the consequences of his decisions as commander-in-chief. He also feels the profound weight of his responsibility for keeping this country safe from an Al Qaeda nuclear device in New York Harbor or some other American nerve center. (As someone who works in Manhattan, I personally appreciate his concern.) When I saw him at the Ames Straw Poll in 2000, I saw man who loved his country, who was jealous for the honor of the office of the president and who could lead the country with firmness and integrity. I have neither read nor seen anything to discredit those impressions. (The picture is of President Bush grieving with Ashley Faulkner whose mother, Wendy, died in the WTC south tower on 9/11.)

This Doctorow piece is just another hysterical screed from the left wing cultural elite who cannot fathom why, despite the years of cultural and political education which they have liberally bestowed upon this nation, the "red state" bubbas, bozos and Bible thumping obscurantists with whom they are forced to share citizenship continue to elect conservatives and refuse to be enlightened. Whatever happened to progress?


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