Striking a nerve with Democrats

R. Emmett Tyrrell:


These are very touchy pols. Leader Reid went on to elaborate that the administration that Rumsfeld serves "is more interested in lashing out at its political enemies" than it is in winning the war on terror and in bringing an end to the war in Iraq." But Rumsfeld never in his entire speech mentioned "political enemies." As James Taranto notes in his indispensable Best of the Web Today column, the only American politician Rumsfeld mentioned was the late Senator William Borah who upon hearing of Hitler's 1939 invasion of Poland sighed: "Lord, if only I could have talked with Hitler, all this might have been avoided." Borah was a Republican isolationist, so perhaps we can understand the aforementioned Democrats' indignation. As I say, they are exceptionally touchy.

But they are also ignoramuses. The entire speech is cast on a very high level. It is dispassionate, erudite, and difficult to refute. The only individuals Rumsfeld criticizes are a handful of journalists and whoever in Amnesty International called Gitmo "the gulag of our times." Otherwise he sticks to a theme that is unassailable. Our opponents in Iraq and among the terrorists are nihilists, every bit as dangerous as the Nazis. In the years prior to World War II, Rumsfeld argues, "a sentiment took root that contended that if only the growing threats that had begun to emerge in Europe and Asia could be appeased [world war] might be avoided." Rumsfeld asserts that the appeasers suffered from "a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion," concluding with a paraphrase of Churchill's great line that the appeaser seems to believe that if he feeds the alligator enough, "the alligator will eat him last."

I would argue that there is a difference between the appeasers of the 1930s and today's. Both have been smug, but today's are smug and opportunistic. In the 1930s the appeasers were in power, and as Rumsfeld notes they could ridicule and ignore Churchill and his allies. Today the appeasers are out of power so they ridicule and misrepresent those who are directing our war against what Rumsfeld calls "a new type of fascism." Today's appeasers misrepresent the Bush foreign policy for their own political advancement.

In the months after our victory in Iraq, they recognized that as long as they stuck by our wartime president they would be in the minority. Thus one by one they deserted the war they had approved and sided with the war's early opponents, starry-eyed radicals such as Professor Noam Chomsky. Perhaps if the anti-war Democrats take the White House in 2008 Dr. Chomsky will be their secretary of defense, and they can choose as secretary of state one of the Dixie Chicks. I suggest the one who chews bubble gum.

What is interesting about the Democrat reaction is how sensitive they are to Rumsfeld's criticism of others. I think this is because they really embrace the points of view Rumsfeld criticized, but they do not have the political courage to do so openly. And, their colleague Dick Durbin did make statements similar to those Rumsfeld knocked, before he visited Gitmo and changed his tune. If they want to be onthe defrensive on this issue, that is a political mistake and there is an election coming on. We should get out of their way in the rush to defend the indefensible.


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