Monday, August 14, 2006

Time Warp 

The right wing seems to be stuck in a time warp. They think it's 1972, complete with cheap gas, big gas-guzzling cars, and a Democratic Party populated with long-haired hippie types who dodged the draft and are blazing doobies as they listen to their Todd Rundgren albums. And so they come up with opinion pieces like this from Jonah Goldberg, who seems to be gleefully predicting the demise of the Democrats in the mid-term election because they're still stuck on George McGovern.

Mr. Goldberg was all of three years old when Mr. McGovern was the Democratic nominee in 1972, so he really doesn't know what he's talking about other than what he's read in the back issues of the National Review that his mother used to line his crib. He forgets that Sen. McGovern, a decorated veteran of World War II, wasn't just "anti-war;" he was against the fruitless and costly war in Vietnam and was campaigning against the re-election of a president who was leading a corrupt, venal, and criminal administration that used lies, leaks, and extra-legal means to stay in power and demonize their enemies. Mr. Goldberg forgets -- or never knew -- that the political divisiveness in America in 1972 wasn't caused by a bunch of peaceniks just back from Woodstock but by a calculated manipulation of fear and loathing by the vice president and his allies who attacked the mainstream media for daring to question the administration; words like "treasonous" and "unAmerican" were bandied about in the right-wing press and attached to anyone who didn't support the war.

George McGovern lost the 1972 election in a landslide against an administration of smug perjurors who, less than two years later, would be making plea bargains with the special prosecutor. The war in Vietnam would be brought to a shuddering end by a peace treaty negotiated with distrustful adversaries who simply waited until the American forces left and then overtook the rickety and corrupt puppet government we set up on our way out. Thirty years later we have full diplomatic relations with the government that we sacrificed over 58,000 lives to prevent from coming into existence, and they happily sell us cheap shoes and bicycles.

Unlike Mr. Goldberg and the others on the right, we Democrats learned the lessons of Vietnam. We learned that going to war for a domestic political cause leads to disaster, that it weakens us in the eyes of the world, and creates ten times as many enemies and insurgents than it kills. We learned that winning the hearts and minds of the oppressed people who, in the words of George W. Bush, "crave freedom" isn't done at the behest of the 82nd Airborne; their job is to kill people and conquer territory, not teach a course in Jeffersonian democracy. We learned that the best way to prevent terrorism was not to act like the schoolyard bully, daring every other kid on the block to take him on, but to understand the obligation of the old saying that with great wealth and power comes great responsibility, to tread lightly in pursuit of our nation's goals, and to remember that just because our system works here, the American system isn't a one-size-fits-all. As much as we hate to admit it, not everybody in the world is enraptured by capitalism and Britney Spears.

The Democrats of 2006 are not the "anti-war" party; they are the "anti-this-stupid-and-unjustified-war" party. They give no ground to anyone in terms of being strong in defense of this nation and they stand ready to repel any form of terrorism from any quarter, including domestic terrorists like those who would bomb abortion clincs or beat up queers. No Democrat of any standing has ever questioned our need to protect ourselves and our way of life, nor has anyone ever said that using whatever legal means that are necessary to defend ourselves against terrorists is wrong. If anything, it shows you how insidious the right wing has become in that anyone would ever have to make that statement.

Using the victory of Ned Lamont in the Connecticut senate primary as a talking point for the "New McGovernite" label by the GOP proves that they learned nothing from the war in Vietnam. On top of repeating the same mistakes of forty years ago in fighting the war, they are repeating the same talking points of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, and polarizing the country in the process that makes it hard for me to believe that it isn't 1972 all over again. (Would that it was; gas was 35 cents a gallon, I had a cherry 1965 Mustang 2+2 fastback, and I weighed about 80 pounds less than I do now.) But unless he's got a strange hankering for 8-tracks and polyester, it's time for Mr. Goldberg and his pals to catch up with the rest of us and realize that they're the ones who are stuck in the past, not us.

Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.