Ed Driscoll

Building a Bike Path to the 1970s

Over at HughHewitt.com, Mary Katharine Ham looks at Howard Dean in words and pictures.

Meanwhile, in his syndicated column, James Lileks writes:

A recent poll indicates seven of 10 Americans think Democrats’ attacks on our illegal, incompetent, Halliburton torture-rama oil war depress the morale of troops. The survey, reported by that wild-eyed intemperate rag The Washington Post, also found the majority of Americans think the Dems’ 24/7 gloom-gab isn’t intended to win the war, but to “gain a partisan political advantage.”

Power over principle? In Washington? Clutch your heart and find a fainting couch. Still, it must baffle the true believers. Dissent is patriotic, you know.

George W. Bush lied, Saddam Hussein was in a box labeled Secular He-Man al-Qaida Haters’ Club, Israel is the problem, and American troops are either hapless bomb-fodder or sadistic torturers. Building a democracy in the heart of the Arab world is a distraction from finding Osama, the death of whom will cause the entire radical Islamist movement to stop fighting and take up Amway.

Everything is going wrong, the world hates us, and if you vote for us we will give every terrorist in a secret CIA jail a lawyer, fresh underwear, urine-proof holy books and a Powerball ticket.

To say that’s not inspiring would be a misunderestimation, as the president might note. That doesn’t mean the Dems are wrong; just because Cassandra didn’t set her predictions to an Andrew Lloyd Webber show tune doesn’t mean she wasn’t right. But the message appears to have had the opposite of its intended effect.

The Democrats have convinced most Americans that they’d have left Saddam chuckling in his palaces after 9/11, that they’d oppose any war against a sworn enemy of the United States unless Richard Clarke personally saw its president give a ticking nuke to terrorists and lead them in a stirring rendition of “New York, New York.”

Worst of all, they seem to want it to be 1973 again — as if the nation yearned to bob for horse-apples in the vat of shame.

Granted, the loss of Vietnam was great for the Democrats. But it really wasn’t very good for the rest of the country, to say nothing of the Vietnamese.

There’s a curious nostalgia for the ’70s among the old-guard institutional left; America had been humbled, which was good for humanity, and we were facing a future of scarcity and decline, which was good for the planet.

Beneath it all runs a rushing river of adolescent nihilism, roiling with contempt for that vast human stain known as Western Civilization. If it hasn’t given us universal health care, gay marriage and the replacement of Wal-Marts with local co-ops by 2007, well, to hell with it. And those co-ops had better offer reusable bags for our groceries. Hemp bags.

This strain of American defeatism never died; it just slank away and chewed its tongue until the time was right. And that’s now!

According to a Drudge Report story on the TV season-in-planning, we can expect several post-apocalyptic shows about the End of America, either by plague or societal collapse. This isn’t a case of Hollywood mirroring a nationwide sense of malaise and decline; this is the collective depression of L.A. liberals longing for the good old days when Robert Redford could bring down a president and people cheered — or at least bought tickets to watch.

I remember in the late 1970s, when Ronald Reagan began his second (and ultimately spectacularly successful) campaign for the White House, the knock against conservatives was that they were going to take America back 25 years to the 1950s.

But these days, look who’s nostalgic for an era that is now even further in the past than the 1950s were in 1979.

Update: Related thoughts, here, and here.