A Million Little Ahabs

Stephen “VodkaPundit” Green proves that 2 AM baby feedings don’t necessary diminish one’s mental acuity as he has a brilliant fisking of Matthew Yglesias’ blame-Bush-first foreign policy:

Before we get to picking apart Yglesias’s points, I’d like to mention one other thing he said:

If liberals have any intention of playing politics to win, it’s absolutely vital to start making sure that when the broad public catches wind of the finger-pointing and recriminations, the fingers wind up pointing in the right direction — squarely at the face of George W. Bush.

Feet, face – whatever. Yglesias has made it clear he’s more interested in playing to win for liberals than he is in playing to win for America. But even if I’m guilty of reading too much into a single clause, his arguments don’t stand scrutiny.

I’ve called the Democrats “profoundly unserious” when it comes to this war, and Yglesias’ comments are exactly why. I know this may come as a shock to the Democratic Party but the world does not revolve around George W. Bush. The Democrat’s singular monomania when it comes to the President is more than just a little disturbing. In fact, it’s become an absolute Ahab complex, with Bush taking the place of the White Whale. The Democrats can’t have a reasonable discussion of foreign policy because everything becomes a vehicle for their fixation with the President.

I’m with Green, Bush is a figure worthy of neither fawnish admiration nor vitriolic contempt. Yet the Democratic/leftist worldview puts him as the central figure of hatred – a new Emmanuel Goldstein with every two minutes being a Two Minutes Hate. The level of obsession borders on the neurotic. The left used to argue that the “personal is the political” – now they’ve defined politics down to a simplistic morality play in which the Big Bad Bush is the living embodiment of all that is evil and everything from global warming to hurricanes to terrorism is his fault.

This kind of obsessed worldview isn’t exactly conducive to lucid analysis – and Green rips to shreds Yglesias’ exceptionally weak arguments. We have the usual boilerplate argument that if we could only reduce our usage of foreign oil, terrorist funds would go away.

The problem with that argument is that the whole thing is utterly worthless. Even if by some magical fiat we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil, Iran exports oil to Europe, Japan, China, and everywhere else in the world. There are these little things called the laws of physics that determine the energy density of a fuel – and oil has the highest energy density of anything. Solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternate forms of power can provide a small boost, but we don’t currently have the technology to replace oil, and that technology may be decades away.

A realist would look at the situation and as “what can we do in the interim to reduce our dependency on foreign oil”. That would mean things like drilling in unexplored regions like ANWR and putting our national security above the pristine nature of what amounts to a vast, frozen, pestilential wasteland. But as Green notes, this isn’t about pursuing sound policies, this is about domestic politics. The environmental lobby has a largely unfounded and irrational desire to “preserve” ANWR regardless of the cost/benefit analysis involved. The environmental lobby is one of the largest constituencies within the Democratic coalition – therefore, drilling in ANWR is DOA – despite the fact that it would help lessen our dependence on foreign oil. The same irrational reaction to nuclear power prevents the US from developing a comprehensive program to replace dangerous, dirty coal plants that dump tons of pollutants into the atmosphere including radioactive isotopes and replace them with safer and cleaner nuclear power stations. Pebble bed reactors could be our key to energy independence and would make the hydrogen economy much more technically and economically feasible – but the NIMBY factor keeps us mired in the same non-renewable fossil fuel trap. For all the talk about being “progressive” it is the left wing that keeps us stuck in the same energy rut by insisting on “alternative” energy sources that simply cannot meet the needs of a growing economy. We can have a strong economy based on a clean sources of energy, but only if we have the will to do so.

Green also rips Yglesias to shreds on the issue of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:

Yglesias makes the mistake of so many well-meaning fools that treaties, by themselves, make facts on the ground. The loophole he refers to is the one allowing signatory states to enrich uranium for “peaceful” purposes. For states like Iran, determined to get nukes, closing that loophole would do little more than encourage them to hide even bigger parts of their weapons programs.

And if Iran got caught violating Yglesias’s dream-world NNPT? Well – so what? It’s not like the UN (or the EU) is going to do anything anyway. Iran is violating one version of the NNPT, so there would be nothing keeping them from violating another.

I think Green hits on something crucial here. These aren’t realistic, well-researched, or particularly serious policy prescriptions. Granted, they have the veneer of reasonableness, but their motivations are entirely based on simple negation: at the end of the day, even what is supposed to be a sober analysis is just another roundabout way of bashing the President. Green continues with what is perhaps the most salient point of all:

Look. I voted for George Bush because I felt I had to, and not because I have any deep attachment to the man or his party. Had the Democrats been smart enough to nominate Joe Lieberman, he would have gotten my vote with little hesitation – and that much only because of the natural reluctance to change horses midstream. I didn’t write this response to defend Bush – far from it. In fact, I wish we had a President more serious than Bush, not less.

And I want the Democrats to know that. I want them to know that I’m a hawk first, and a Republican voter second, maybe fifth. I want to tell the Democrats these things as loudly as I can, because this country is worth a whole lot more than either of its political parties. And because there’s no surer way to ruin a country than by one-party rule. And… well, you get the idea.

The Democrats are obsessed with Bush. It’s a fatal preoccupation, and the Democratic Ahab complex has ensured that when it comes to national security issues, the Democrats are entirely out in the wilderness. The Democrats, by and large, are not taking national security seriously. Everything is just based on their Ahab fixation against Bush – and that isn’t healthy for a democracy. One out of 10 Democrats voted for George W. Bush in 2004 – many of them holding their noses while doing it – because they felt that the Democrats have abandoned common sense on national security. The Democrats can’t, nor should they, be a respectable opposition party or a have a shot at being the majority until they can say without any hesitation or doubt that they put their country above their party – and while the Democrats may scream and shout about how dare anyone question their patriotism, that schtick is getting real old, real fast.

As someone once said:

…there are a few among us who have deliberately and consciously closed their eyes because they were determined to be opposed to their government, its foreign policy and every other policy, to be partisan, and to believe that anything that the Government did was wholly wrong.

Who was that person who dared criticize free speech? Who was that who dared question the patriotism of war critics? Michelle Malkin? Ann Coulter? Rush Limbaugh?

It was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

If all the Democrats can offer is the sort of simplistic opposition that Yglesias’ arguments all boil down to, why should anyone trust them to lead?

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