Over at the American Conservative’s new group blog, writer Kelley Vlahos points out a recent piece by establishment hack Michael Barone that attempts to divide American voters into two categories: “Jacksonians” (pretentious shorthand for “tough guys” — i.e. “Real Americans”) and “academics” (those who recognize that the first category is a b.s. attempt at sounding scholarly).
Here’s Barone doing his best to justify his own primitive, establishment political prejudices:
[T]he real Jacksonian in this race is John McCain. He is descended from Scots-Irish fighters who settled in Carroll County, Miss. Former Sen. Trent Lott, who once worked as a fundraiser for the University of Mississippi and therefore knew the folkways of elite types in his state very well, once told me that he had relatives who had known McCain’s relatives in Mississippi. “They were fighters,” he said, as best I can remember his words. “They would never stop fighting you. Those people would never stop fighting.” Obama gives the impression, through his demeanor and through his statements on Iraq, that he would never start fighting. That appeals enormously to voters in the academia and public-employee enclaves of America, who want to deny honor to our warriors and arrogate it to themselves (think of those bumper stickers that call for spending Pentagon dollars on teachers). [emphasis mine]
This is what mainstream conservatism, as expressed by inside-the-Beltway pundits like Barone, has devolved to (as opposed to the all-too-rare intelligence and thoughtfulness demonstrated by the writers at The American Conservative): praising the “maverick” St. McCain because he seems like the kind of guy who would have beat you up in elementary school. Obama? Even though he is far from a strident anti-war activist, as I’ve tried to point out a number of times on this blog, his mild criticism of the Iraq war is enough to get him labeled as more or less a pansy by the same people, like Barone, who themselves never so much as a saw a field of battle outside of a wet dream.
And I’m all for bashing Obama supporters as much as the next guy, but really — they want to “deny honor to our warriors”? First of all, this isn’t Sparta; there is more to a country than just its ability to kill foreigners (or “terrorists” as they are known on CNN), but I guess you wouldn’t know that by hanging around Washington for too long. It’s also far from radical to suggest that spending more on the military than the rest of the world does combined just might not be the wisest course of action.
As Vlahos writes:
It must be nice to be so far away from an actual battlefield as to continue romanticizing it. If not, Barone and others would see that Americans – Jacksonians and all – aren’t incapable, they’re just plain tired of fighting, as evidenced, in part, by the recent 81 percent “wrong track” poll numbers.
Sure, the current economy has plundered our faith, but a creeping resignation, a growing sense that we have sent another generation of kids off to a war with no end in sight, only to return with shattered minds and broken, missing limbs, back to fractured families, burdened communities – has settled in like a virus, affecting people all over the country, even those parts with the “right” ancestry.
It also bears repeating that, in the American political establishment, it is quite alright to refer to anyone who questions the bipartisan foreign policy consensus in support of interventionism as borderline treasonous, or at least hopelessly naive. In fact, if you really question the need for an American empire, you just might be (*gasp*) a pacifist!
Of course, if one so much as dares to point out that those people who continually agitate for war — and even joke about bombing other countries to the tune of a Beach Boys song — are “warmongers”, then there will be all hell to pay, as liberal radio host Ed Schultz learned.
Incidentally, the courageous Barack Obama immediately denounced Scultz’s sensible characterization of McCain, just as he earlier denounced the inflammatory-but-true comments from his pastor Jeremiah Wright.
Why, that’s change you can believe in! But his last name is neither “McCain” nor “Clinton”, so I suppose he has that going for him…