The only problem with a Mark Steyn column is choosing which of the gemlike paragraphs to quote. It’s so tempting, paragraph after paragraph to say “Oh, I should include this in my blog. No, no, wait! This one too.” And on and on until I’ve highlighted each of them, ready to copy and paste into my own little bit of the cypersphere. This week, I couldn’t resist four paragraphs (but one is really short), but I will say that you’re cheating yourself out of some of the best political writing around if you don’t click over here and read the whole thing:
The only energy displayed by Nancy Pelosi was the spectacular leap to her feet within a nano-second of the president mentioning Darfur. Up went Madam Speaker and the entire Democratic caucus like enthusiastic loons on a gameshow. Darfur! We’re all in favor of Darfur. People are being murdered! Hundreds of thousands! We oughtta do something! Like, er, jump up and down when it’s mentioned in a speech. And, er, call for the international community to mobilize. Maybe one of those leathery old ’60s rockers could organize an all-star concert or something. If Darfur were indeed a game show, the Sudanese would quickly discover it’s one of those ones where you come on down to discover you’ve missed out on all the big prizes but you’re not going away empty-handed: No, sir, here’s your very own SAVE DARFUR! T-shirt autographed by Nancy Pelosi and George Clooney.
Darfur is an apt symbol of early 21st century liberalism: What matters is that you urge action rather than take any. On Iraq, meanwhile, the president declared: “Let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory.” And the Dems sat on their hands.
The American left has long deplored Bush’s rhetorical reliance on such vulgar conceits as “good” and “evil.” But it seems even “victory” is a problematic concept, and right now the momentum is all for defeat of one kind or another. America is talking itself into willing a defeat that has not (yet) occurred on the ground, and would be fatally damaging to this nation’s credibility if it did. Last year Arthur M. Sulzberger Jr., publisher of the New York Times, gave a commencement address of almost parodic boomer narcissism, hailing his own generation for their anti-war idealism. Advocating defeat first time round, John Kerry estimated America might have to relocate a few thousand local allies. As it happens, millions died in Vietnam and Cambodia. And the least the self-absorbed poseurs like Sulzberger could do is occasionally remember that the world is about more than their moral vanity.
The open defeatists on the Democrat side and the nuanced defeatists among “moderate” Republicans seem to think that big countries can choose to lose small wars. After all, say the “realists,” Iraq isn’t any more important to Americans than Vietnam was. But a realpolitik cynic knows the tactical price of everything and the strategic value of nothing. This is something on an entirely different scale from the 1930s: Seventy years ago, Britain and Europe could not rouse themselves to focus on a looming war; today, we can’t rouse ourselves even to focus on a war that’s happening right now. Read 100 percent of the Democratic presidential candidates’ platforms and a sizeable chunk of the Republicans’: We’re full of pseudo-energy for phantom crises and ersatz enemies, like “global warming.”