Friday, February 1, 2008

A Tale of Two Timelines (and other fairy tales)

One of the more revealing exchanges from last night's Democratic debate was one that revolved around the respective strategies that Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would employ in withdrawing troops from Iraq. While Mr. Obama has been fairly straightforward about his desire to remove combat forces within 16 months of his inauguration, Ms. Clinton has consistently offered a less than direct (and typically Clintonesque) response to the effect of wanting to remove troops "as quickly and responsibly as possible," while not committing to a specific end date.

One of last evening's co-questioners, Doyle McManus of the L.A. Times, directly asked Clinton if her position "could turn into an open-ended commitment." While it's not worth it to recapitulate her entire answer - suffice it to say that although she wanted to begin a withdrawal within her first 60 days, she still could only "hope" to get all troops out within a year - she once again made the point that she would have to account for "all of these contingencies that we're going to have to contend with" once she and her cronies could "get into the Pentagon to figure out what's really there and what's going on."

Allow me a brief aside. The most furtive woman in Washington, D.C. - she of missing law firm billing records, secret cattle futures deals and clandestine health care task forces - presumes to suggest that one of the most scrutinized organs of government has not been more than forthright and forthcoming in word and action. We can ill afford to render executive authority unto this sort of politician, if for no other reason than to avoid four bizarre years of the pot calling the kettle black.

For his part, Obama went on respond to a question about progress that has been made in Iraq as a result of the surge. While he said that he welcomed the improvement in the military situation, he added "the notion that somehow we have succeeded... means that we have set the bar so low it's buried in the sand."

He continued his stemwinder by commenting on the associated costs of the war.

And I've said this before. We went from intolerable levels of violence and a dysfunctional government to spikes and horrific levels of violence and a dysfunctional government. And now, two years later, we're back to intolerable levels of violence and a dysfunctional government. And in the meantime, we have spent billions of dollars, lost thousands of lives. Thousands more have been maimed and injured as a consequence and are going to have difficulty putting their lives back together again. So understand that this has undermined our security. In the meantime, Afghanistan has slid into more chaos than existed before we went into Iraq. (Emphasis added.)
The reference to the "maimed and injured" was somewhat gratuitous as a response to a question about whether a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would endanger the progress wrought by the surge. But it was apropos of everything that we know about modern-day progressives. In that liberalism is a set of infantilizing precepts, it does not surprise that those who are running for the position of Chief Nanny would seek to belittle the heroism of our armed forces while creating a new class of supplicants.

As Diana West reminds us in her book, The Death of the Grown-Up, "warriors, after all are adults, mature men whose example can make non-warriors or anti-warriors feel grossly inexperienced and sheltered - very much like children." West goes on to note:
And it is that passive status of the vulnerable victim, not the aggressive acts of the valorous hero, that allows the non-adult, non-warrior to continue to stand tall, and to continue to define himself as head mainstream man. From a microphone on high, he can hand sympathy down to the victim: With the hero, he would have to look up. In short, the adolescent culture celebrates the victim because the hero is too big for it.
The consistent effort on the part of liberals to transform military heroes into hapless casualties - from last month's New York Times story on homicides committed by veterans to the constant drumbeat from Hollywood (i.e.: M*A*S*H, Platoon, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now and Born on the Fourth of July) - is a full-out effort to diminish anything that might reflect poorly on the enfants terribles of the Left.

Back to timelines for one more minute. Diane West cites one other totem of progressive childishness. To be sure, liberals are quick to play on what West calls "the noxious 'Bush=Hitler' equation." The irony of such a conflation is that, even as Obama and Clinton are taking measurements for drapes in the Oval Office, President Bush appears intent on following his own "timetable" for withdrawal. As Democrats continue to eviscerate Bush for his resolute stand against terror, they call without ceasing for open-ended diplomatic efforts with dictators and despots who have shown no such compunction, and who display little but contempt for their citizens and the world community. (After all, what is Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's timetable, or that of Kim Jong-Il or Fidel Castro?)

In sum, Clintbama continued to stroke their constituency with hollow claims to more of our financial and cultural bequests last evening. It is easy enough for politicians to promise what is not theirs to grant, and the loneliest two did so with relish. The test of our maturity is whether we will sell our votes - and by extension our political souls - for a sum that neither of these would-be debtors can or intend to pay.

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