Thursday, November 09, 2006

If Tantalus Felt Schadenfreude

Way back in August of 2004, on the eve of the presidential election, I wrote a post arguing that it might be better if Bush, and not John Kerry, prevailed. Allow me to explain this apparent heresy, and in so doing, pardon the uncouthness of quoting myself:

I'm just wondering if there is really something worth winning come November, or if the mess created by George Bush's four years would be best left to him, forever enshrined as his legacy and his alone. I admit, these thoughts drift in during my weaker moments when spiteful urges hold sway over my more altruistic nature, but there is a method behind my flirtation with madness.

Aside from the gaping economic/fiscal wounds that Bush had already inflicted on the nation (tax hikes would have to be enacted, and painful decisions taken), I was primarily concerned with the way the eventual Iraq disaster would be spun should Kerry step in mid-stream and preside over what would be the final acts of the tragedy. Just as the Left had become a useful scapegoat to explain away the strategic error, lack of foresight and arrogance that led to our defeat in the essentially unwinnable Vietnam conflict, so too, I feared, would Iraq be pinned on Kerry and the Democrats:

"You see, it was all going well, and we were on the verge of pulling off exalted victory, but then Kerry won, and in typical liberal fasion, proceeded to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory."

The Left in America has been struggling for thirty years to shed the yoke of Vietnam that was unjustly thrust around its neck. Iraq would take longer, and add more faux evidence to support the Vietnam-era narrative. A popular misconception thus doubley supported would be exceedingly difficult to deconstruct.

Mind you, if I thought that Kerry could really have managed to avert the catastrophe currently embroiling Mesopotamia, I wouldn't have even toyed with these blasphemous ideas on what is only an inconsequential, sparsely read blog. But even at that comparatively early date, the die in Iraq was all but cast. Since then we have been relegated to the status of spectators to a car wreck unfolding in excruciatingly slow motion.

This brings me, in my typically roundabout fashion, to something Matt Yglesias said in reference to the new nominee for Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and how the Democrats should handle the confirmation process:

I forgot to say what I actually think Dems should do about Gates. My initial read -- subject to revision as we learn more -- is that they should take advantage of the presence of some hard-core wankers in their caucus. Blocking Gates is problematic. Giving Gates a seal of approval is also problematic. So...let Gates come to the floor and let him be confirmed by 49 Republicans plus some combination of Lieberman, Ben Nelson, and Dick Cheney. That way Bush gets to keep running Bush's war Bush's way on Bush's say-so and Bush gets to keep reaping the blame when things keep going poorly. [emphasis added]

I know this must sound like a deeply cynical game to play, and one that is both callous and opportunistic, but I think Matt is right. At this point in time, it's not a question of Gates, Rumsfeld, Eisenhower, Churchill or any other historical/mythical figure. Bush is going to do what he wants, the important decisions won't be left up to the Secretary of Defense and even if they were, the situation is just about beyond anyone's ability to repair.

If we are impotent to save Iraq, let's at least not take a bullet for Bush. It's his bed, let him lie in it. Which might amount to the most hollow sense of Schadenfreude ever registered in the human psyche.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?