The Ways of the Left

by Victor Davis Hanson

NRO’s The Corner

Yes, Nancy, There Really Is a God Nemesis

There is an odd sense among Democrats that nemesis simply does not exist.

A once-vein-bulging Al Gore who barnstormed the country slurring President Bush by calling him a liar now seems baffled about the precedent he set of a vice president (albeit now much more politely in the case of Cheney) questioning the policy of the current president.

A Nancy Pelosi, hellbent on releasing once-classified memos for partisan advantage, and eager to begin “Truth” hearings, suddenly believes such an inquisition will not apply to herself, despite the fact that she, like so many Democrats from Senator Schumer to Senator Rockefeller, in that dark period in 2001, spoke of the need for, or was complicit in, approving enhanced interrogation techniques.

Then the president himself, who jump-started his campaign in Iraq’s crisis year by slamming the commander-in-chief on renditions, military tribunals, email and phone intercepts, Predator drone attacks, and Iraq, now suddenly wishes to explain the nuances and complexities of these policies and why he will continue the Bush protocols — apparently oblivious to the hypocrisy involved with his own prior self-interested stridency. These examples could be easily augmented.

The problem is that between 2003-2008 there was such hysterical antagonism to Bush that the combatants never worried about the often vicious means they used to achieve their supposedly lofty ends, and so now, finding themselves in a position of responsibility, are infuriated that anyone, well, would even conceive of playing hardball as they once did.

The striking thing about the sudden wounded-fawn Democratic syndrome is that Cheney is far milder than Gore was, that the CIA is not the firebrand Pelosi has been, and Bush has been silent about Obama in a way that even Clinton was not about Bush. If this softball stuff excites such outrage, what will happen if politics really get rough, say, as it was around 2007?

Profiles in Crudity

The transcripts of the Wanda Sykes jokes seemed pretty pathetic (will the aide that pre-approved her text go the way of Louis Caldera?). Comedy is not quite given its usual free-for-all when you’re in front of the president of the United States — and his own public worldwide reaction is an instant referendum on not merely the funniness of the joke but its probity as well. In that context, laughing as Sykes called Rush Limbaugh a traitor, drug-addict, a terrorist, and wished for him to die by kidney failure (no laughing matter as I can attest from two major kidney surgeries) was well over the top of anything in the past at those silly dinners — and it did the President of the United States no good to join in at that crassness before the world. So much for the healing and unity.

But more importantly, Sykes only got her cue from Obama’s strange obsession with talk radio. Throughout the campaign, in unusual fashion, Obama for some strange reason kept bringing up Hannity (the tapes are now enshrined in his radio talk show lead-ins) and Limbaugh by name, in tit-for-tat, back-and-forth fashion, and then zeroed in on Limbaugh again after he was president.

It is long past time that the president of the United States forgets talk radio, and then maybe the likes of Sykes will get the message. Somehow all this seems like a bad joke.

The Wages of Moral Equivalence

The Obama outreach to Syria, the video sent to Iran, the failed Freeman appointment, the $1 billion to Hamas, the anti-Israeli figures in Obama’s past (cf. the Wright outbursts, Khalidi, etc.), and the Al Arabiya interview all point to an “adjustment” in U.S. policy toward Israel — made easier by the victory of the rightist Netanyahu.

We are entering a new phase in which, for the first time since Jimmy Carter, an American administration really believes that land concessions back to 1967 will ipso facto ensure new mentalities that are not like those in 1967, when the Arab world on three occasions had gone to war to destroy the Jewish state within its 1947 borders.

If the Obama plan is successful, we would see Israel back to about the 1947-sized state, public professions of eternal peace — and then triumphalism from non-democratic players in the radical Islamic world to the effect that first Sinai, then Lebanon, then Gaza, then the West Bank, capped off with Jerusalem — and, for the next generation, the final task of the end of Israel itself.

Once U.S. foreign policy is based on moral equivalence — that a Western democratic state is about the same as an undemocratic, radical authoritarian entity that embraces terrorism as a tool of state policy — then anything is possible, from calling for Israeli nuclear disarmament as part of an Iranian deal, to pretending that a Hamas ten-year truce is something other than a decade of chest-thumping before the final assault.

Given the fact that the vast majority of American Jews voted for Obama — despite clear indications that he would embrace radical changes in U.S. policy toward Israel — the politics of what is to come will be as fascinating as they will be tragic.

And given the Obama method of grandly professing the opposite of the reality that will soon follow (most ethical administration nominees in history lead to Geithner, Richardson, Daschle, Solis, etc.; no desire to interfere in the private sector means near nationalization of the banking, car, and soon health-care industries; commitment to public campaign financing equals first candidate to reject it in the general election; strong desire for fiscal sobriety translates into a $1.7 trillion annual deficit; Bush shredding the Constitution means adoption of Bush’s wiretaps, email intercepts, Predator attacks, Patriot Act, Iraq plan, renditions, etc., and on and on), the tell-tale sign of the final U.S. break with Israel will be a dramatic Obama hope-and-change declaration that “our historic commitment to Israel will remain unchanged.”

When we hear that, we know exactly what follows . . .

©2009 Victor Davis Hanson

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