The enemy of my enemy is my friend

James Taranto (and Co., I guess), writing at Best of the Web Today, has an excellent mini-essay about the tortured relationship between the Left on the one hand, and President Bush and foreign policy (vis-a-vis terrorism) on the other hand:

Al Qaeda and the former regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq are enemies of America. They were enemies of America before George W. Bush became president–Bill Clinton used military force against all of them, albeit desultorily–and they almost certainly would be enemies of America if Al Gore or John Kerry were president. Neither Gore nor Kerry, after all, ran on a promise to make peace with these enemies.

It is the left that, during this administration, has tended to personalize the war, viewing it as a referendum on George W. Bush. The crudest and most striking example of this came from porcine propagandist Michael Moore on Sept. 12, 2001:

Many families have been devastated tonight. This just is not right. They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him! Boston, New York, DC, and the planes' destination of California–these were places that voted AGAINST Bush!

Why kill them? Why kill anyone?

This was noteworthy at the time mostly for being shocking, but look at it with an analytical eye and you'll see that it's revealing of a certain mindset. Moore's immediate reaction to the attack was to see it in terms of Republicans and Democrats–or, more precisely, of Bush backers and Bush detractors. He's particularly outraged that anyone would kill Bush detractors. He can sort of understand if they would want to kill Bush backers, but a moment's reflection leads even him to conclude that this would be overkill.

What seems never to have occurred to Moore is that this was an attack on America and it had nothing to do with domestic politics. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, almost everyone understood this. Moore was an extreme outlier. But since then, many liberals have moved toward Moore's worldview, as evidenced by the box-office success of his "Fahrenheit 9/11" in 2004.

There is of course plenty of room, even in wartime, for reasoned debate over foreign policy. But to allow one's views of international affairs to be determined almost completely by antagonism toward the man who happens to lead one's own country at the moment is an extreme and potentially dangerous form of parochialism.

That pretty much sums up a lot of the fallout from Bush Derangement Syndrome, doesn't it?