And: If conservatives today are supposed to feel guilt (versus shame) over the historical record of conservative cowardice on segregation, then let us see liberals owning up to their guilt for having been wrong on communism. Shall we? Hello? [crickets chirping]
"Crunchy" Rod Dreher, major metropolitan editorialist
The left, while embracing [McClellan's] book's central assertions, will paint him as a weasel who belatedly 'fessed up. They're big on omertà on the left. It's part of how they survive.
Dispatches from Planet Peggy
I'VE mentioned this before, I know, but everything wrong with contemporary American culture can be traced to the excesses of the 60s and 70s, and specifically to Star Trek and the ascension of Babwa Walters to an evening anchor chair. The hell of it is neither was particularly liked, and both were soundly rejected by viewers; so soundly, in fact, that they neglected to kill either, after which both managed to spread like crabgrass, or maybe like some unholy experimental crabgrass x Brussels sprouts hybrid that escaped through an unlocked Nazi lab door one night.
Both had a cover story which should have been laughed into non-existence at the top (and nearly was). For Walters, of course, it was the empowerment of Woman, which was too noble an idea to be squandered on a talentless publicity flack. For Star Trek it was the idea of bringing science-fiction to a mass audience. There's nothing noble to be found anywhere in that one. (If America has taught us anything--and, god knows, She should--it's that some matters ought to be left to the guardianship of connoisseurs, whether Great [wine, cuisine, or literature, Miss Winfrey] or Small [cigars, pornography].)
What both presaged in the event was a magnitude of dumbing-down previously believed theoretically impossible.
Ronald Reagan was the Star Trek President. First off, his hair was a color not occurring naturally in this solar system, and it had been styled to appease the mating rituals of an unfathomably alien culture. And he had that whole vaguely turtle-ish thing going on with his head and neck, which always made me half-suspect he was going to burst out of his human pod at the appropriate moment and devour Michael Deaver. (Okay, so I was also halfway looking forward to that.) Then there were his public enthusiasms (horses, jellybeans, capitalism) which are fine in someone who's been on this planet less than twenty years, but are rather curious in someone nearly as old as John McCain.
What I meant though, really, was that his appeal was remarkably Trek-like: a series of utterly fantastical ideas, explicitly disassociated from painful modern reality, and asserted, on faith alone, to be the basis for a sort of flowering of universal peaceableness, great good health, and permanently wrinkle-free clothing, except that we'd all be in the military for our entire lives and constantly at war with some manifestation of evil or other that generally looked repulsive, which to a large segment of the viewing public sounding like just the sort of lark they'd been planning for the next decade or so, anyway. And which a small but noisy minority of the citizenry took way too seriously.
And Peggy Noonan was his Baba.
The Left survives on omertà? Really? Did she just pluck the word out of the aether, or has she been saving it up and finally despaired of ever being able to use it outside her autobiography? Did she mean vendetta? She's been clucking over the Democratic knife fight for four months now (after briefly succumbing to Obama's charms). We're seven-and-a-half years into the worst Executive branch the country has ever seen, let alone been subjected to. At this point in the Clinton administration, five Democratic US Representatives had voted to impeach him over a blowjob. Find me five Republican members of Congress who've criticized the Bush administration.
Practically unthinkable damage to the reputation of the United States, one war a total disaster and another badly managed, torture abroad and spying at home, a PR-based response to the worst natural disaster in a century, and Lil' Scotty McClellan is the first Bush insider to raise a quibble. Omertà! Indeed, there are people on the Left--moi included--saying the Weasel has come home to roost, but that's because McClellan was a professional Weasel, who lied baldfaced to the American public in the service of one mentally incompetent boss, and another who's mentally unbalanced, and at the bidding of the Evil Genius who, it turns out, was 99% of the former and about 0% of the latter. It's not because he now turns on his boss--which, by the way, I'm not required to have a public opinion on, since I didn't ask him to write a book and have no interest in reading it. But, okay: McClellan turned on his boss for money. I'd have rather he waited until after Bush was out of office, but then, I'd rather Bush was out of office already. If you can find a way to prevent all such occurrences in a society dedicated to the dirty buck, by all means suggest it. If you just think it shouldn't happen to your side, tough titties. Meanwhile, it's the Right calling Scotty a dirty rotten traitor, a phrase it employs roughly once per moon cycle.
Then we have Crunch Boy, the serial religionist and editorialist, the wordsmith who doesn't understand the distinction between communism and Communism but still pines for the day when there was one under every bed. It must have sounded like a fair cop: we'll own up to past racism (without acknowledging the extent to which it abetted our electoral successes for thirty years) if you admit to having once loved Joe Stalin. I guess it tells you something about Dreher that he would purport to believe this was some sort of equal trade. I guess it tells you something more that he would consider "communism" such a grave threat despite the fact that when the Soviet Union fell he had to be a lot more concerned with the battle over Unsightly Facial Blemishes than class warfare. So, we say, Rod, there's a distinction (however cryptic it may seem) between Leftist intellectuals admiring Communism from afar in the 20s and 30s, and people who have benefitted from segregation, racial hatred, and political fear-mongering in their own country. And that distinction is that the former are all dead, and the latter are all still in office.
WE combine Dreher and Noonan here, not because they both got under our skin this past week, but because they seemed to illustrate the latest tactic in Deflating Reagan Carnival Tent apologetics, the Sure We Were Dead Wrong But We're Still Owed Respect For Belatedly Admitting It gambit. That there's no one left listening is a matter of no importance; they've been talking to themselves for a quarter-century.