Liberals are a frustrating, silly lot. Confronted with the fact that the man they helped elect is fighting a half-dozen wars, including a patently illegal one with Libya, their response is to . . . hey! Aren’t Republicans stupid evil hypocrites! Look at Michelle Bachmann!
And so we have Obama-booster and popular liberal blogger Digby, commenting on a recent piece by Matt Taibbi about the hypocrisy of conservatives who have learned to stopped worrying and love anti-interventionism now that a Democrat’s in office, writing this bit of reassuring nonsense:
Plenty of Democrats switch positions on these wars depending on who’s making the case as well. But the Republican Party and conservatism in general is organized around militarism and national chauvinism to a far greater extent than modern liberalism so I’d be less inclined to trust a “conservative pacifist” to follow through than I would a Democrat.
Whoa boy, where to begin? Granted, the worship of militarism may be a bit cruder at a Tea Party rally than at a Center for American Progress policy luncheon, but the idea that jingoism is largely, if not exclusively, a conservative phenomenon is something that, well, only a liberal incapable (or unwilling) to come to terms with the reality of their movement could say.
That conservatives organize around militarism to a “far greater” extent than Democrats may be a soothing notion to party activists, especially at a time when modern liberalism’s crowning achievement, Barack Obama, is daily slaughtering Pakistani civilians with Predator drones, but, even were it true, it hasn’t appeared to make a damn of a difference to the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen or Somalia. Argue about the rhetoric all you want, the policies sure aren’t more peaceful.
And let’s just look at history, shall we? World War I, Korea, Vietnam — all bloodbaths carried out by Democrats, by progressive heroes Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman and LBJ (with an assist from JFK). By contrast, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Rethuglican, campaigned on ending a war — and actually did it. So did the bastard Richard Nixon, albeit belatedly.
“I figured out the other day,” former Republican Senator Bob Dole remarked during a 1976 debate, “if we added up the killed and wounded in Democrat wars in this century, it would be about 1.6 million Americans, enough to fill the city of Detroit.” Dole was widely criticized for his remarks, but he was on to something: Democrats — liberals — love themselves a good freedom bombing, especially when cloaked in Kiplingesque humanitarianism.
“I remember when I was a teenager reading something from the Republican National Committee that said that Democrats start wars, Republicans end them,” Congressman John Duncan, a Republican from Tennessee, told me in a 2007 interview. The point isn’t that Republicans are reliable carriers of the antiwar flag, but rather that conservative and liberal politicians alike are fond of embracing antiwar rhetoric — when out of power; we know what they do when their fingers are the ones on the trigger.
As for that bit about “national chauvinism” being more or less a conservative-only thing? One need only look to Obama’s recent assertion, while justifying an illegal war, that “[s]ome nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.” If that ain’t chauvinism, what is?
Yes, yes, of course the Republicans are awful. And no, you shouldn’t place much faith in conservative pacificism. But here’s the thing: if you care about peace, you shouldn’t be inclined to trust any politician, even if they talk pretty and namedrop FDR. Peace isn’t a part of what politicians do once in power, regardless of which party or movement to which they claim allegiance. Instead of self-serving myth-making, liberal bloggers would do well to turn their attention to their own movement’s embrace of American exceptionalism, which is marginally more sophisticated than the competition’s but no less deadly.