It's Friday: Victor Davis Hanson
The 2002 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Nicholson Baker, is due out with Checkpoint — an extended dialogue on killing (in a variety of strange ways) George Bush. Last year, comedian Rick Hall played to full houses in the U.K., performing his newest composition, “Let's Get Together and Kill George Bush.” A so-called pacifist group announced its sponsorship of a rather violent-sounding off-Broadway “guerilla comedy” entitled, I’m Gonna Kill the President.
This is stupid — and dangerous. Al Qaeda has announced its intentions play on perceptions of Western decadence and nihilism. Should the terrorists strike at our leaders, there will be a national accounting over the failure of those on the left to condemn such extremism. Alfred A. Knopf, for example, is promoting Baker’s book as a cris du coeur — “in response to the powerless seething fury many Americans felt when President Bush decided to take the nation to war.”
“Seething”? The radical Left is courting disaster and threatens to destroy the credibility of liberals who are apparently fearful of condemning the madness in their midst — this “cry of the heart” to save Saddam Hussein from the wrath of an imperialistic and bullying United States. When upscale protestors swear at delegates and parade obscene signs in New York while John Kerry goes windsurfing in shades and racing gloves, you have a recipe for disaster for wannabe populists.
. . . . If Bush wins in November, and I think he will, then there will be recriminations and fury of the like we have not seen since the Right imploded after 1964. For many of us lifelong Democrats, the very sight of Michael Moore perched next to Jimmy Carter at the convention in Boston says it all — the sorry coming together of conspiratorial anti-Americanism and self-righteous appeasement.
It's Friday: Charles Krauthammer in TIME Magazine
Bush was rewarded for this extraordinary first victory with overwhelming popular support. He could easily have spent the next two years lavishing attention on domestic affairs, ostentatiously opening a bioterrorism triage center in every clinic in every hamlet in America. Punctuate that with regular announcements about the hunt for al-Qaeda, and he could have coasted to re-election as Father Protector.
Instead, he took on Iraq. Everyone knew that Iraq would be difficult and dangerous. But Bush believed that Saddam Hussein and the threat he represented had to be removed. Our postwar troubles have made us believe, as if under amnesia, that the choice was between war and some kind of sustainable equilibrium. It was not. The tense post-Gulf War settlement was unstable and creating huge and growing liabilities for America. First, Iraqi suffering and starvation under a cruel and corrupt sanctions regime was widely blamed on the U.S. Second, the standoff with Iraq made necessary a large American garrison in Saudi Arabia, land of the Islamic holiest places—in the eyes of many Muslims, another U.S. provocation. Indeed, these two offenses were cited by Osama bin Laden as the chief justification for his 1998 declaration of jihad against America. Most important, the sanctions "containing" Saddam were collapsing.
That would have produced the ultimate nightmare: a re-energized and relegitimized regime headed by Saddam —and ultimately, even worse, his sons— increasingly Islamicizing its Baathist ideology, rearming and renewing WMD programs, and extending its connections with terrorist groups. The threat was not imminent. But it was ominous and absolutely inevitable. Bush, correctly, thought it necessary to remove it. It was obvious to all that this second war would jeopardize his presidency. He risked his entire political future for it nonetheless.
Kol hakavod to these two commentators. I hate to think where we would be without them. It's absolutely tragic that I spent so many years thinking that people with views to the right of my own must be stupid people. I apologize. I repent.