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“Last week’s many Iraq war mea culpas were rich in irony: one by one, prominent liberals lined up to apologize for supporting a war that’s responsible for liberalism’s current political and cultural ascendance,” Ross Douthat, the New York Times’ token conservative* writes today:
As The American Conservative’s Dan McCarthy noted in a shrewd essay, the Vietnam War helped entrench a narrative in which liberal social movements were associated with defeat in Indochina — and this association didn’t have to be perfectly fair to be politically and culturally potent.
In a similar way, even though Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney weren’t culture warriors or evangelical Christians, in the popular imagination their legacy of incompetence has become a reason to reject social conservatism as well. Just as the post-Vietnam Democrats came to be regarded as incompetent, wimpy and dangerously radical all at once, since 2004 the Bush administration’s blunders — the missing W.M.D., the botched occupation — have been woven into a larger story about Youth and Science and Reason and Diversity triumphing over Old White Male Faith-Based Cluelessness.
Of all the Iraq war’s consequences for our politics, it’s this narrative that may be the war’s most lasting legacy, and the most difficult for conservatives to overcome.
Read the whole thing.
Related: “Poll: Majority Back Republican Ideas Until They Hear that the Ideas Came From Republicans,” Bryan Preston writes at the Tatler. It’s the logical conclusion for the method Rahm Emanuel employed in 2006 to take back Congress by way of recruiting Democrats who pretended to be “Republican Lite” candidates, until they went over the cliff passing ObamaCare in 2009 and were slaughtered in the midterms the following year as a result.
* David Brooks having long abrogated the position.