Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Stupid Never-Ending War Against George Bush

and What You Can Do to Help

By the Majestic Rack of Warlike Athena, can they stoop lower than this? Already you would have had to dig a hole to kick Professor-Doctor Juan Cole in the butt, but now the Resident Genius of the Alleged University of Michigan has dug in deeper than a gopher in soft dirt. Seismic experts will have to track his further progress.

Holding forth from his hopelessly misnomered pester-pulpit "Informed Comment", Dr. Cole delivers a sermon entitled Tsunami Toll Nearly 70,000 and Rising - Where's Bush? The tacked-on question is purely rhetorical, of course. Bush gives Cole the fits, so you'd think that Bush is the last thing that the professor would want to see on television. In fact, if Bush were to give a speech at the AU of M campus, the Secret Service would probably have to get a restraining order put on Dr. Cole first. But now Cole wants us to believe that he's pining after our Commander in Chief: "The president of the United States is invisible and on vacation (unlike several European heads of state), and could think of nothing better to do than announce a paltry pledge."

Notice from the title that Cole's first reaction to this vast human tragedy - his nearly simultaneous reaction - is to condemn George Bush. Cole has a knack for this sort of thing. When the murderer of Navy Lieutenant Kylan Jones-Huffman (a man who personally knew and corresponded with Cole) admitted that he killed Jones-Huffman because he "looked Jewish", Cole's immediate reaction was to blame the Israeli Likud Party for causing anti-Semitism.

He lingers briefly over "horrific stories of corpses piled up on beaches" (in order to associate this awful imagery with the target of his hatred) and delivers up some of his No-Shit Wisdom like "Such catastrophes can have a political impact and can affect security affairs." Gee, you think so? Could you show us that one on the blackboard, professor?

Having dished out some pathos by way of an appetizer, he gets right to the main course: "If Bush were a statesman, he would have flown to Jakarta and announced his solidarity with the Muslims of Indonesia (which has suffered at least 40,000 dead and rising). "

Never mind that Cole has just disenfranchised virtually every statesmen on earth, not just Bush. Never mind that Buddhists, Christians, and ethnic Chinese (minorities who have gotten some rough treatment from the Muslims of Indonesia) drowned too, and might like to be included in that solidarity. Not to mention the non-Muslim people of Thailand, thousands of whom also perished. Never mind that millions in aid (including many, many US millions) are now flowing to the region, a process which can neither be helped or hindered by the physical location of George Bush's person. No, the real tragedy, as Cole sees it, is that George Bush failed to put on a sufficiently orchestrated display of "statesmanship" to inspire the world in the wake of disaster.

There is a preposterous tendency in recent years to pretend that none of us can function or experience emotion unless "statesmen" go in front of cameras to show us how to do it. There is an endless nagging demand for our leaders to present themselves at certain times in certain places, meeting the victims of this or that tragedy. This chorus persists even though when such meetings do take place, they are generally criticized for being the unproductive political gestures that they usually are. When they do get results - as Reagan's meetings with the families of hostages in Lebanon did - the result is often outrageous to liberaldom. Yet they demand more. Liberals especially demand reassurance from Republican presidents - no one asked why Roosevelt didn't fly to Pearl Harbor, or why Clinton laid low during the Waco disaster - which gives you some clue as to what this is all about.

The demand is especially bizarre in the case of Bush, whose every word and gesture is utter bane to leftheads like Cole. Any appearance or statement he could make would leave them as unsatisfied as ever. In fact, if Bush were to declare himself in solidarity with Indonesian Muslims (whatever that entails) Professor Cole would be morally obligated to hate the Indonesians as well, and to accuse them of being the tools of Likudniks. "All Bush, All the Time" would be a kind of Hell for the likes of Cole, so you have wonder why they beg for it.

Still, let's not discount the idea. We can question their motives for wanting more Bush, but it's not like they're asking for the moon. An all-Bush cable news network, that they could sit and obsessively watch, is probably not an economically feasible project. How about a "West Wing"-type television drama, full of neoconservatives and Likudniks instead of washed-up Clintonites? The promoters are always screaming "Ripped from the Headlines!", so why not rip something out of today's paper instead of constantly re-living 1992?

That might be fun, and this is how you can help - by writing to the networks.

Meanwhile, why do people like Cole hate Bush so much? It seems obvious to me, as a person who grew up in the Reagan years. After thirty years of getting walloped in the historic War of Ideas, they have nothing left except their obsession with personalities and superficial appearances. They think that the President somehow makes the country, almost to the point of controlling its weather after the manner of a pagan agricultural diety, and that if they have the wrong President they must be in the wrong country, too. They have become obsessed with the offices of power as well, because they mistakenly believe that anyone who controls them can make the country into anything they want it to be. Bereft of power, they think that everything they want is only inches away from their grasp, and that they are out of the public's favor only because they are on the losing end of a colossal scam.

To add to this fixation, they have convinced themselves that Bush (like Reagan) is both moronic and diabolically insane. Therefore, the entire country is moronic and diabolically insane. And yet Bush defeats them - which speaks rather poorly of their own mental state - and the stupid nation refuses to bow to their yoke. As Michael Ledeen writes at NRO:

Well, virtually the entire American and European intellectual establishment thought Ronald Reagan was nuts to believe he could do that to the Soviet Communists, and they ridiculed his "evil empire" speech as at best fatuous and at worst provocative. I always thought that was an odd position for intellectuals, who claim to believe in the value of ideas and the power of words.
They used to claim that they believed in democracy, too, though not always in a very convincing fashion. Haven't heard much of that lately ... don't miss it a bit, either.

UPDATE: In the comments, jinnderella reminds me that I ought not to splash mud on the University of Michigan while attempting to run over Juan Cole. It is, of course, the alma mater of Arthur Miller, William J. Mayo, and the entire crew of Apollo 15. I apologize to all Wolverine folk, and when I last visited your campus I admired the design of your library very much.