Ed Driscoll

Short-Term Thinking--It's Not Just For CEOs Anymore!

We frequently decry the business CEO who puts the goal of short-term profits ahead of the long-term viability of his company (see: Penn Central, or Detroit, in the mid-1970s). TigerHawk writes that Democrats desperately want to put short term failure ahead of the long-term viability of the entire nation itself–or at the very least, it’s credibility:

New York Senator Chuck Schumer seemed to give away the game — at least implicitly — on “Meet the Press.” He quite obviously does not want the next election cycle to be “about” Iraq. One gets the sense that this sentiment is even more pronounced among the Democrats who will be vying for their party’s presidential nomination. It is easy to see why: the problem of Iraq will be nothing but trouble for leading Democrats. The party activists who hold sway during the primary season will demand that candidates embrace the so-called “anti-war” agenda without reservation, but if Democrats do that too enthusiastically they will remind voters that their party has been all about defeat since 1972. Since none of them want to be caught in that Liebermanesque trap, leading Democrats are desperate for Iraq to be off the table by next fall.

From the perspective of Democratic political strategy, the worst possible result would be partial success — for conditions in Iraq to improve significantly and palpably, but not decisively. That would guarantee that Iraq would remain a central theme in the 2008 campaign, not just as fodder for attacks on Republican “incompetence,” but as a problem to be solved in the future, and that would be a nightmare for the leading Democrats. This is the reason, I believe, why at least some leading Democrats are so obviously willing the surge to fail.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times runs a piece titled, “Was 9/11 really that bad?” with the subhead, “The attacks were a horrible act of mass murder, but history says we’re overreacting”.

In other words, with a flourish of the omnipresent Copperhead Conjuction, it’s The Return Of The Son Of Stay Quiet, And You’ll Be OK.

Or as Mark Steyn puts it:

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.”

Or as Julia Gorin wrote last year, “Freud called it displacement. People fixate on the environment when they can’t deal with real threats”.