Finger pointing time
Posted by Ron Coleman on October 10, 2008
Helen Smazuely draws an interesting parallel between today’s financial crisis and another recent historical event based on the “party over country” phenomenon so sadly and well known on the left at Chicago Boyz:
It has been intriguing to read complaints on the right about the Democrats and their supporters blaming the Republicans for the financial mess, when, they argue, so much of it was the Democrats’ fault what with bad legislation, pressure on banks and refusal to agree on any kind of control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. How is it possible to be that cynical and for the populace to be that credulous?
I suppose we shall not know just how credulous the populace is until the results start rolling in on November 4 – 5 but I could not help thinking back to the 1945 General Election in Britain, the one that Churchill’s Conservatives so shockingly lost.
What is interesting besides her general argument about the bad faith of the left in its thirst for power is the flaccid response of the right — in the person of an older, exhausted and probably somewhat politically tone-deaf Winston Churchill half a century ago and, today, basically in the entire GOP establishment centered in Washington.
Notwithstanding the comments that will come that, of course the right is every bit as ready to sacrifice objectively identifiable national interest for political power as the left, etc., the distinction is a real one, and can be demonstrated easily by specific examples.
Foreign policy is usually the forum in which this is played out most obviously. It is not a matter, for example, of debating whether beginning the Iraq war did or did not “really” enhance U.S. national interests. Rather, the basic concept of a great power not “cutting and running” when the going gets tough — not even in an historically or strategically meaningful sense, but merely in a tactical and political one — is obvious to a sophomore political science or history student.
Most recently the obvious example is Iraq. It cannot plausibly be suggested that Democrats were not aware of what a foolish long-run move the immediate withdrawal they almost unanimously demanded would have been to America’s long-term interests. That staying the course turned out to be the right move, even in the medium run, has unfortunately only helped one of those most strident advocates of strategic suicide put the White House virtually within his grasp despite his almost 180-degree turnaround on the topic in the last six months.
Democrats then, as they have so many times, chose political expediency over national interest. Again, in the foreign policy arena, this is their default position. Inflaming sectoral antipathy is another favorite, and hardly surprising for a political party that talks about unity while operating entirely on a coalition-spoils principle. And Democrats are certainly no strangers to rooting for recession during Republican administrations, or even trying to achieve the same by moral suasion.
So Helen’s argument that they are doing the same thing now on an issue of phenomenal historic and economic import is compelling, and troubling, but because it represents merely an incremental change from a well-trodden past, it is all too credible, too.