Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Gosh, please don't send me any more harsh emails

Richard Cohen, rebel without a clue, writes about the angry response to two recent columns of his, one criticizing Al Gore's recent movie, the other criticizing Stephen Colbert for his comedy routine at the White House Correspondent's Dinner. He was apparently quite disturbed to find some 3,500 emails, some of which used pejorative language. Although he didn't read hardly any of the emails, their mere existence makes him conclude that it's curtains for the Democrats in the 2008 presidential election.

But the message in this case truly is the medium. The e-mails pulse in my queue, emanating raw hatred. This spells trouble -- not for Bush or, in 2008, the next GOP presidential candidate, but for Democrats. The anger festering on the Democratic left will be taken out on the Democratic middle. (Watch out, Hillary!) I have seen this anger before -- back in the Vietnam War era. That's when the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party helped elect Richard Nixon. In this way, they managed to prolong the very war they so hated.

The hatred is back. I know it's only words now appearing on my computer screen, but the words are so angry, so roiled with rage, that they are the functional equivalent of rocks once so furiously hurled during antiwar demonstrations. I can appreciate some of it. Institution after institution failed America -- the presidency, Congress and the press. They all endorsed a war to rid Iraq of what it did not have. Now, though, that gullibility is being matched by war critics who are so hyped on their own sanctimony that they will obliterate distinctions, punishing their friends for apostasy and, by so doing, aiding their enemies. If that's going to be the case, then Iraq is a war its critics will lose twice -- once because they couldn't stop it and once more at the polls.

This is an interesting ball of contentions, with key elements founded on half-truths.

It's true that the anti-war wing of the Democratic party was ascendant during the 1972 election, and American voters weren't ready for it. George McGovern's campaign was widely seen as too radical for the politics of the time. However, McGovern was the chosen candidate of Nixon. Nixon's henchmen sabotaged the moderate Democratic front-runner, Edward Muskie, using a series of dirty tricks early in the primaries. When Muskie broke down in tears during a press conference, he had to withdraw from the race. This was a highly engineered outcome by Nixon, and it worked perfectly. This is very well-known history, and it should be at the fingertips of a Washington Post columnist, particularly an aged ex-liberal like Cohen.

In addition, some things that weren't arranged by Nixon nevertheless turned out to be disastrous for the Democratic campaign, such as when McGovern's first vice-presidential choice was revealed to have been institutionalized and given shock-therapy. McGovern quickly found a replacement, but the damage was immeasurable, as it would be in any presidential campaign.

Cohen tries to paint a picture of an seething, teeth-gnashing rabble, intent on making the war in Iraq a matter for litmus tests and bitter, internecine battles. It won't work out that way.

With Iraq, the anti-war campaign was present from the beginning, and it has grown steadily stronger. Currently, 68% of Americans think it was wrong to go to war with Iraq. Compare this to Vietnam, where opposition to war took more than twice as many year to build to significant levels -- levels much less than 68%. (in 2000, only 60% would say that we should stayed out of Vietnam.). While the anti-Vietnam-war movement was inescapably part of our late 60's/early 70's culture, the movement itself was a failure. It was never directly responsible for the U.S. withdrawing from Vietnam.

Cohen wants to make a simple parallel: opposition to one war caused the 1972 Democratic candidate to lose an election, therefore opposition to our current war will cause the future Democratic candidate to lose their election. Hmm. El perico dice lo que sabe, pero no sabe lo que dice. You can't just manipulate symbols blindly and come up with conclusions like this. The Iraq war was sold on a pack of lies. They told us it would be fast, cheap, and painless. Instead, it's an painful, interminable quagmire, and you can't distract the American public from these essential facts. You certainly cannot scare the anti-war movement by threatening them with some unknown Republican triumphing in 2008. First, these are the conclusions of an purblind idiot, so, not a good road map. Second, doing the right thing means that you're not gaming out your political positions now in the hopes of scoring a presidency later.

Also, note the elision of subject when he says "they" endorsed the war. Who's they, white man? You, Richard Cohen, endorsed the Iraq war, and you also insulted those who were against it. So, fuck you, idiot, you were completely wrong then. Trying to hide your own complicity in this national folly just makes you look like a craven jackass. I thought the war was a stupid idea in 1992, primarily because of the ethnic tensions that would be released. I was never in favor of the war, and I watched in anguish as our country took this fatal step, one that will take decades to recover from. There's no comfort taken now that 68% of America has caught up with me. I just wish others didn't have to die so that some of my fellow Americans can feel tough.

Incidently, what kind of lace-embroidered boarding school for fancy boys did all of the WaPo reporters attend? That is, why are they so shocked by swear words, particularly in email? Do they not get HBO? Were none of them on the net in any way before the last few years? I mean, you don't to be tricked into seeing the goatse image to realize that there's all kinds of rootin' tootin' harsh language and images out here. Reagan was president in his first term when I was first called a demon-spawn shit-for-brains baby-killing homo-loving liberal faggot.

Sticks and stones, fellas. Sticks and stones.


Anonymous wrd said...

Sometimes you've got to realize that some people are hopeless. Cohen is who he is and is unlikely to change. It would be nice if we could ignore him. Unfortunately we should not; he's got a WaPo-sponsored soap box. That said, it is good for the rest of us to see the case against him stated so well. Thanks.

Wednesday, 10 May, 2006  

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