Friday, November 12, 2004

The Friday VDH Essay

Victor Davis Hanson, as eloquent as always, writes his Friday essay on the ironies that lay ahead:

The only difference in the American use of force has been one of magnitude: We lose 3,000 — not 9 — and send out 1,000 planes — not 3 — when attacked. Why does France get a pass in its postcolonial interventions? Simply because there are no French to criticize them. For all the European hysteria over the reelection of George Bush, I would wager that privately, leaders there are sighing with relief that a resolute U.S. is fighting the Islamists, taking the heat, and supplying them with both emotional and material cover at no cost. How can you buy off the Iranians to drop their bomb plans without fear by the mullahs that a cowboy George Bush is the dreaded alternative?

George Bush thus will get no credit for elections replacing the Taliban or for the liberation of women in Afghanistan, much less for democracy in Iraq. Instead he will be the target of constant venom for the human costs of war, with the silent proviso that he is not to cease, lest a Holland, France, or Spain become even more besieged by anti-Western jihadists emboldened by American appeasement. Indeed, Bush must endure elite European hatred, even as the majority there silently expects the United States to maintain the alliance and protect the West.

But perhaps the greatest paradox is here at home, where our world has been turned upside down. Much of what the media reported about the campaign was false — from suspicious exit polls and biased projections to forged documents. Grassroots populists got out the Republican vote; mercenary workers did less well for the Democrats. There was no new youth landside vote, much less a novel dynamic 18-to-24-year-old Kerry surge. The Hispanic vote was neither huge nor overwhelmingly Democratic. The Republicans were swamped by Democrat fat cats in raising outside 527 soft money, designed to circumvent liberal reformist law. Blogs, talk radio, and cable news were not only more influential, but often more intellectually honest than CBS, NPR, and the New York Times. The former represented blue-collar America, the latter the sophisticates of the Ivy League and East Coast. Such is our strange society in which democratic populism is now defined by pampered New York metropolitan columnists, billionaire heiresses, financial speculators, and a weird assortment of embittered novelists, bored rock stars, and out-of-touch Hollywood celebs.



He concludes:

At its richest, most populous stage in its history, the United States, after reeling from a devastating blow to its financial and military nerve centers, in less than three years toppled the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, implemented elections in Afghanistan and scheduled them in Iraq, prevented another 9/11-like attack — and so far has tragically lost about 1,100 in combat in a war against a virulent fascism that is antithetical to every aspect of Western liberty. Our grandfathers would have considered all this a miraculous military achievement. We call it a quagmire, deride our leaders as liars and traitors, and often doubted that our Marines — the greatest street-fighting besiegers in the history of warfare, who stormed Manila, Seoul, Hue, and Panama City — could take Fallujah last April.

George Bush is asked to win the war without losing Americans. He must defeat Islamists, but not kill too many jihadists on global television. His second term must deal with everything from jobs and globalization, energy dilemmas, fickle Europeans, and a war where winning is sometimes seen as losing. Entitlements are out of control, yet his critics don't want cuts, but rather further increases. In such a topsy-turvy world, all that will see him through are his iron will to stay firm and consistent in face of a global media barrage. He must smile more, keep far quieter, seem much nicer — and carry an even a bigger stick. God help him, because few others will.


Indeed.

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