Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 26, 2004
POLITICS: The Stakes

Brilliant column by political science professor Mathew Manweller (found in the comments at Jane Galt's place), on the stakes in this election:

America is at a once-in-a-generation crossroads, more than an election hangs in the balance. Down one path lies retreat, abdication and a reign of ambivalence. Down the other lies a nation that is aware of its past and accepts the daunting obligation its future demands. If we choose poorly, the consequences will echo through the next 50 years of history. If we, in a spasm of frustration, turn out the current occupant of the White House, the message to the world and ourselves will be two-fold.

First, we will reject the notion that America can do big things.

Once a nation that tamed a frontier, stood down the Nazis and stood upon the moon, we will announce to the world that bringing democracy to the Middle East is too big a task for us. But more significantly, we will signal to future presidents that as voters, we are unwilling to tackle difficult challenges, preferring caution to boldness, embracing the mediocrity that has characterized other civilizations. The defeat of President Bush will send a chilling message to future presidents who may need to make difficult, yet unpopular decisions. America has always been a nation that rises to the demands of history regardless of the costs or appeal. If we turn away from that legacy, we turn away from who we are.

Second, we inform every terrorist organization on the globe that the lesson of Somalia was well learned. In Somalia we showed terrorists that you don't need to defeat America on the battlefield when you can defeat them in the newsroom. They learned that a wounded America can become a defeated America.

Twenty-four-hour news stations and daily tracking polls will do the heavy lifting, turning a cut into a fatal blow. Except that Iraq is Somalia times 10. The election of John Kerry will serve notice to every terrorist in every cave that the soft underbelly of American power is the timidity of American voters. Terrorists will know that a steady stream of grizzly [sic] photos for CNN is all you need to break the will of the American people. Our own self-doubt will take it from there. Bin Laden will recognize that he can topple any American administration without setting foot on the homeland.

Read the whole thing. Jay Nordlinger makes the same point:

Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Michael Moore are not supporting Kerry because they think he'll continue the War on Terror certainly not because they think he'll do a better job of it. They are supporting him because they think he doesn't mean it. I bet they're right.

In my view, this election is not a contest to determine how we'll fight the War on Terror; it's a contest to determine whether we will fight it at all. And the decision made by the Americans will be fateful.

George W. Bush and his people think that our security requires wholesale changes in the Muslim world changes that we must abet. The other side which includes a portion of the Right believes that we can just hunker down, lashing out when some occasion demands. And if only Israel weren't so damn troublesome, perhaps the Arabs would be calmer.

I have never liked the terms "pro-war" and "anti-war," certainly the former. None of us is pro-war. It's just that some of us think that it's necessary to wage, while others do not. The Bush side thinks the war is a matter of self-defense; the other side thinks it's a matter of belligerence, or arrogance, or utopianism, or servitude to "Sharon," or something else bad.

As I have said before, I wish this election weren't so important. But I'm afraid it is. If the Americans elected John Kerry in, oh, 1992 or 1996, that would be one thing. If they elect him in 2004 that will tell us something disheartening.

A little story: Some time ago, England had what was called "the Metric Martyr." This was a fellow a grocer or a butcher, I forget which who sold his goods in imperial measures: pounds, ounces, etc. But because England is now beholden to Brussels, he was prosecuted for not using the metric system (hence, Metric Martyr).

I asked our senior editor David Pryce-Jones (a Brit), "How could the British people permit this? I mean, it's their system the imperial system, or the English system to begin with." David answered, "The British people wouldn't permit it. The question is whether they remain the British people."

(Nordlinger has some other godd stuff, including this gem from a reader: "Did you see that Fidel Castro took a fall? I wonder if Jimmy Carter broke his nose.")

Roger Simon has a related point about how the anti-Israel, anti-democracy pro-status-quo "Arabists" have found their home in Kerry's Democratic apparatus, as evidenced by Kerry's top foreign policy adviser, Richard Holbrooke, specifying that a Kerry administration would put the screws on three countries in the region: Syria, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Krauthammer, if you missed his latest must-read column, explains how and why Kerry would sell out Israel, which remains our most unpopular ally among the Europeans, the UN, the Arab dictators and others whom Kerry feels the need to please.

Call me naive, but I still have more faith in the voters than that. But I remain worried that the election will be close enough to be swayed by fraud and litigation, and that's bad news for Bush - and for the nation.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:05 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Oh, please. The second half of the argument might be accurate, but if Kerry does get elected, the right wing is going to be on him at any hint of weakness. We're not going to be packing up the truck on January 22. It could be as significant as Manweller claims, but I'm not convinced of it.

But the first half just makes me want to say " F--- you." Bush has not made the effort to convince Americans that bringing democracy to the Middle East is a difficult but necessary job. He made it sound like it would be easy, that it wouldn't require a major sacrifice on the part of those at home. And then he went and did a poor job running Iraq during the occupation. (No, it isn't as bad as the media portrays it, but I really don't think you can describe it as a)going well, or b)matching the expectations the Admin. gave us.)

What drives me nuts about war supporters is the apparent assumption that because you agree with Bush's motivations, that he's done a good job in trying to acheive those goals. I think that's just not true, that the implementation has been screwed up in many different ways. If the American people can't be convinced of the rightness of Bush's actions, whose fault is that?

Here's the message I want to send to future presidents: "If you're going to take on a huge, difficult task, keep your eye on the ball and get the job done."

Posted by: Devin McCullen at October 26, 2004 1:04 PM

The left wing - which unlike the right Kerry would need to get elected - will be on him from day one to get out and certainly to not get involved in any more foreign adventures.

Gimme a break. You really think anybody will read the election results, if Kerry wins, as anything but a rebuke to the decision to go to war in Iraq? Get serious.

Posted by: The Crank at October 26, 2004 1:27 PM

No, it absolutely will be read that way. But if you think that the war may have been the right decision, but Bush has done a poor job of running the war, are you still obligated to vote for him to support the decision? I just get angry when someone says I'm a coward for voting for Kerry.

If Kerry tries to pull back with Iraq still in chaos, the Republicans are going to raise an unholy stink and assail him as weak, and it's been my observation that they're better at shaping the debate in a situation like that, so Kerry will be forced to concede to them. And he will have to deal with a Republican House and probably Senate, so he can't just ignore them. Chomsky and Zinn will be attacking Kerry within 2 months, if not sooner, but nobody will pay attention.

Posted by: Devin McCullen at October 27, 2004 10:07 AM
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