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Works and Days

Battles, Past and Present

May 29th, 2008 - 3:21 pm

Scott McClellan

We have had a number of Bushites, who in disillusion about their own careers, or angry that they were becoming scapegoats, wrote memoirs at odds with their former pronouncements. But never have we witnessed someone who made the about-switch so abruptly in a matter of months, going from official megaphone to court Procopius— and so blatantly forcing the reader to choose between “he’s lying now” or “he was lying then”, since his own admissions are antithetical to one another. And when McClellan talks about “my truth,” as opposed to a universal truth, we understand how the Foucouldian/Lacanian postmodernist hocus-pocus filters down to the half-educated and gullible like McClellan.

Ultimately, the President would have been far better off not to have selected so many on the basis on “loyalty” rather than competence, since he got neither loyalty nor merit, and missed the eternal truth that the incompetent (McClellan was the worst press secretary of either party since Ron Ziegler) are ultimately the most disloyal.

All we need now is the ex-felon John Dean and mastermind of the Watergate cover-up, as the voice of conscious, to comment on the McClellan case.

Europe

I’m currently in Carbourg lecturing and visiting the Normandy battlefields and monuments. The weather is stormy and rainy as it was in 1944, and very little seems to have changed in the surrounding communities.

Driving through the dense hedgerows gives instant understanding to how the Americans could have lost 80,000 casualties while going almost nowhere in the two months after the brilliantly successful landings—but still leave one perplexed about how such thorough planners at SHAEF could have neglected the effect of the well-known bocage on mobile operations.

This tragedy evokes ‘my brilliant three-week victory over Saddam, your foolish flawed occupation”, albeit the deaths were in the former case in the tens of thousands. Perhaps had only 1/100 the time spent on designing the ingenious Mulberry artificial harbors at Omaha and Gold beaches been invested in equipping Shermans with rhino spikes from the beginning, or training troops in the brush of England rather than the plains, or practicing B-17 bombing runs on enemy formations, then we might have had the breakout in mid-June rather than late July—and therefore reached the Siegfried line a month earlier when the weather was good and the days longer.But then here we go again with baby-boomber third guessing about a prior generation’s heroic decisions.

Obama—at Last!

After reading a number of essays and talking to a number of liberals, I would sum up the Obama madness this way:

At last the hopes and dreams of the 1960s are in our grasp. McGovern imploded. Carter was hopeless and suspect. Mondale was inept; Dukakis a punching bag. Clinton carried the torch, but only by triangulating and betraying the dream. Gore was cheated out of his victory; Kerry Swift-Boated.

But at last (if that damn Hillary would just get out of the way!) we have the perfect candidate—charismatic, young, fresh, multiracial, and we know that he is the furthest on the left of the entire bunch and the most likely both to win and actually make the long-overdue changes in America—tax the rich (get those income rates back up to 40%, subject all income to payroll taxes, restore all death taxes, up capital gains), subsidize the needy (more welfare, food and housing subsidies, universal state health care, more federal loans, more farm aid, more government programs to aid the middle class), change the government (more ideological appointments who will enforce an equality of result, more liberal judges and bureaucrats), follow international leads (more “soft” power, less military bellicosity, more deference to the UN, a true partnership with the UN, a backing off from hot spots that put us on the wrong side of history, get out of Iraq, more “balance” with the Palestinians, talk with Iran, Venezuela, etc who are misunderstood progressives anyway, follow the intellectual and cultural lead of the foundations and the universities (more candid support for gay marriage, abortion on demand, gun control, affirmative action, revisionist views of U.S. history, more emphasis on “oppression studies.”)

The left likewise is, to its credit, willing to take a big gamble. This year, for a variety of well-discussed reasons, almost any experienced mainstream Democrat should win. But why go with the sure thing Hillary who will only bring you another Clintonian compromise, when you can roll the dice with the unknown candidate, squeak by and might get 100% of the agenda?

That means, of course, that after nominating Obama, progressives understand that they are on thin ice—3-4 or more Obama gaffes, another Wright or Ayers disclosure, a Michelle outburst, or an off-the-record “clingers” or “typical white person” quip from a mid-October meltdown.

So Democrats are gambling on a virtual unknown. Both Carter and McGovern were transparent quantities. We are in the middle of something entirely new now. Never in recent American history has someone with so little state and federal experience come so close to being President of the United States—with the likelihood of so radically changing America at home and abroad.

Fascinating times.

Footnote on Europe

I went to a beautiful Catholic blessing of the harvest service at the historic cathedral at Rouen. Some observations: the service was quite moving—the Latin mass, the singing, and the tolling of the bells at the end. But there was a touch of sadness as well. There were not more than 5-6 under 60 in the crowd of well over a thousand (maybe a noontime Weekday explains the absence of the young?). In Rouen itself and its environs one sees not very many, if any, new homes; few are pregnant; couples with children are rare, and usually with only one child. Middle-Eastern families are pretty common, always with several offspring. One does not have to be a demographer or an alarmist to see that in 40 years such historic services might well be rare—and a great deal of what had always been the West, in the cultural sense, could be lost.

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