Roger L. Simon

Et tu, Esky?

Several people have sent me links (thank you) to an article in the new Esquire The Case for George W. Bush — that seems to be ratifying a lot of what has been written on this blog, by me and by commenters here, in the last year. You know that… pace whatever masquerade is being enacted in Boston… the Democrats are in trouble when you find paragraphs like this in magazines like Esquire:

The people who dislike George W. Bush have convinced themselves that opposition to his presidency is the most compelling moral issue of the day. Well, it’s not. The most compelling moral issue of the day is exactly what he says it is, when he’s not saying it’s gay marriage. The reason he will be difficult to unseat in November – no matter what his approval ratings are in the summer – is that his opponents operate out of the moral certainty that he is the bad guy and needs to be replaced, while he operates out of the moral certainty that terrorists are the bad guys and need to be defeated. The first will always sound merely convenient when compared with the second. Worse, the gulf between the two kinds of certainty lends credence to the conservative notion that liberals have settled for the conviction that Bush is distasteful as a substitute for conviction – because it’s easier than conviction.

After making comparisons that some have made on here to Lincoln’s situation during the Civil War, the article’s author Tom Junod, a “liberal” just like many of us, goes on to write:

YEAH, YEAH, I KNOW: Nobody who opposes Bush thinks that terrorism is a good thing. The issue is not whether the United States should be involved in a war on terrorism but rather whether the war on terrorism is best served by war in Iraq. And now that the war has defied the optimism of its advocates, the issue is no longer Bush’s moral intention but rather his simple competence. He got us in when he had no idea how to get us out. He allowed himself to be blinded by ideology and blindsided by ideologues. His arrogance led him to offend the very allies whose participation would have enabled us to win not just the war but the peace. His obsession with Saddam Hussein led him to rush into a war that was unnecessary. Sure, Saddam was a bad guy. Sure, the world is a better place without him. But . . .

And there it is: the inevitable but . Trailed by its uncomfortable ellipsis, it sits squirming at the end of the argument against George Bush for very good reason: It can’t possibly sit at the beginning.

No, it can’t.