The Long View 2004-07-30: Some of the Damnedest Things

John missed out on Obama-mania in 2004:

I actually missed the keynote address by Barack Obama, though it was the most discussed presentation of the whole event. The text is here. He is now running for US Senate from Illinois, where he is largely unopposed. I have seen clips of the man, and he has many gifts, but the Democratic leadership may be making a mistake in touting him as the party's new star. I think what we have here is a political analogue to the making of The Incredible Hulk; wonderfully high-concept, but the product will leave the audience cold.

 


Some of the Damnedest Things

 

One can only admire the thoroughness with which the Democratic Party converted itself into the Barracks State Party in the finale to the National Convention in Boston last night. Not in my lifetime has there been such a profusion at one of these events of flags, veterans, and promises of a military buildup. And John Kerry's delivery of his acceptance speech was positively rousing. He was animated, cheerful, and clear. Only once or twice did the ratio of noise to signal rise to a dangerous level; similes are his enemy. Informed opinion said that he had to deliver a good speech last night, and that's what he did.

Nonetheless, this morning I began to wonder whether his campaign may not have made a catastrophic miscalculation. The convention, and the speech, are not going down well among the anti-war movement.

There are people who would vote for anyone other than George Bush. Senator Kerry could not have alienated those people last night, even if he had bitten off the head of a chicken onstage. However, that group is only about 20% of the electorate. The bulk of Kerry's support comes from people who oppose the war in Iraq, or even the War on Terror. Was it David Brooks who said that some large fraction of the electorate is just tired of history? Many people who supported the Iraq War initially now feel free to oppose it, because the they believe it was optional. Now comes Kerry, saluting the convention and reporting for duty, and promising to accept nothing less than victory.

The Senator may win a fourth Purple Heart for shooting himself in the foot.

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A few other points about the Convention:

I actually missed the keynote address by Barack Obama, though it was the most discussed presentation of the whole event. The text is here. He is now running for US Senate from Illinois, where he is largely unopposed. I have seen clips of the man, and he has many gifts, but the Democratic leadership may be making a mistake in touting him as the party's new star. I think what we have here is a political analogue to the making of The Incredible Hulk; wonderfully high-concept, but the product will leave the audience cold.

My favorite address was the one given quite early on, by former Vice President Al Gore. He was witty and relaxed. He did not speak in a honking roar. His hair was not slicked back in a deranged fashion. When he finished, his many friends and well-wishers came to lead him gently, gently away from the podium. We have by no means seen the last of Al Gore.

My favorite commentary remains a piece that was spiked, the now famous column by Ann Coulter that begins, "Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston..." USA Today had commissioned her to do a week's worth of reporting from the Convention, but thought better of the matter. I find USA Today's decision mysterious. Ann Coulter writes humorous invective. That's why they hired her. If she was on deadline and on topic, what cause had the newspaper to complain?

In any case, I commend the Convention organizers for using the the oddly disturbing U2 song, Beautiful Day, for the fanfare as Kerry finished his speech. You will recall that was what Bono sang at the half-time show at the Super Bowl just after 911, though it has been haunting me since it came out, long before 911. That piece of music really is the theme song for these years. One trusts it will be taken up in the future by motion pictures about this time.

* * *

While Thomas Friedman of The New York Times is away recovering from cognitive dissonance, his column space is being filled by various guest columnists, among whom is the Transnational Establishment Feminist, Barbara Ehrenreich. Her contribution yesterday, The New Macho: Feminism, illustrates how the militarization of Democratic Party rhetoric is driving its base to distraction. Here she suggests how Kerry should really combat terror:

If Kerry were to embrace a feminist strategy against the insurgency, he'd have to start by addressing our own dismal record on women's rights. He'd be pushing for the immediate ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which has been ratified by 169 countries but remains stalled in the Senate. He'd be threatening to break off relations with Saudi Arabia until it acknowledges the humanity of women. And he'd be thundering about the shortage of women in the U.S. Senate and the House, an internationally embarrassing 14 percent. We should be aiming for at least 25 percent representation, the same target the Transitional Administrative Law of Iraq has set for the federal assembly there.

This column sets out the whole desire of the transnational colony in the United States. The strategy depends on the invocation of newly minted "international standards" to implement policies that have been rejected by electoral politics, and even by the courts. A principal feature of this project is an implacable, almost metaphysical anti-natalism, but that's another story. In any case, these few sentences hint at the return of a line of progressive thought that surfaced briefly during the early Clinton Administration, but then went underground in response to popular outrage: the use of affirmative-action rules to modify the composition of Congress and the state legislatures. That was, of course, how the rubber-stamp legislatures of the old Communist Block were chosen, and it is the condition that the EU is approaching today.

As John Fonte recently noted in The National Interest ("Democracy's Trojan Horse," Summer 2004), once you let these people into power, there is no way to vote them out. They will create institutional and treaty structures in which elections continue, but are largely irrelevant, because the real decisions are made by unelected experts.

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Meanwhile, over at Foreign Policy, Niall Ferguson is up to his old tricks, explaining in an essay called "A World Without Power" why an American defeat in Iraq would not create a multipolar world, but an "apolar" one, like the ninth and tenth centuries. Here's an apolar world for you:

The worst effects of the new Dark Age would be felt on the edges of the waning great powers. The wealthiest ports of the global economy -- from New York to Rotterdam to Shanghai -- would become the targets of plunderers and pirates. With ease, terrorists could disrupt the freedom of the seas, targeting oil tankers, aircraft carriers, and cruise liners, while Western nations frantically concentrated on making their airports secure. Meanwhile, limited nuclear wars could devastate numerous regions, beginning in the Korean peninsula and Kashmir, perhaps ending catastrophically in the Middle East. In Latin America, wretchedly poor citizens would seek solace in Evangelical Christianity imported by U.S. religious orders. In Africa, the great plagues of AIDS and malaria would continue their deadly work. The few remaining solvent airlines would simply suspend services to many cities in these continents; who would wish to leave their privately guarded safe havens to go there?

As always from Ferguson, this is all very interesting, even if we quarrel with his take on general history. As for the possibility of a Dark Age, I have explained, at tedious length why that will not happen for centuries.

* * *

A reader with a wicked sense of humor writes:

According to this calculator,

http://homokaasu.org/gematriculator/

your site is 87% good and 13% evil.

This is slightly better than the Green Nazis (Libertarians)
http://www.nazi.org
which is 86% good and 14% evil

Using that site, which has a gematria-engine to determine the metaphysical value of texts, I find that:

Fox News is 83% good, 17% evil.

PBS is 40% good, 60% evil.

I simply report the news.

Copyright © 2004 by John J. Reilly

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