A Trifecta of Persuasive Punditry

I call myself a blogger, but I’m more like an essayist who uses blogging software.

Many of my posts start out as a simple idea and end up as 600-800 words.  (Except when they end up as 2,000 words.)  I think it’s a self-esteem issue — I’m concerned that someone will mock me, and have the facts on their side.  So I research and try to substantiate every nuance, and the word count grows. (I’m up to 77 so far!)  Then I run out of time or energy, resulting in no posts at all for a week at a time.

So let’s try a classic quickie blog post — little or no analysis from me, just recent quotes from three of my favorite pundits.  Krauthammer:

Leave it to Mickey Kaus, a principled liberal who supports health-care reform, to debunk these structural excuses: “Lots of intellectual effort now seems to be going into explaining Obama’s (possible/likely/impending) health care failure as the inevitable product of larger historic and constitutional forces. . . . But in this case there’s a simpler explanation: Barack Obama’s job was to sell a health care reform plan to American voters. He failed.”

He failed because the utter implausibility of its central promise — expanded coverage at lower cost — led voters to conclude that it would lead ultimately to more government, more taxes, and more debt. More broadly, the Democrats failed because, thinking the economic emergency would give them a political mandate and a legislative window, they tried to impose a left-wing agenda on a center-right country. The people said no, expressing themselves first in spontaneous demonstrations, then in public-opinion polls, then in elections — Virginia, New Jersey, and, most emphatically, Massachusetts.

That’s not a structural defect. That’s a textbook demonstration of popular will expressing itself — despite the special interests — through the existing structures. In other words, the system worked.

Victor Davis Hanson:

Those who accuse former Bush administration officials of criminality for having supported enhanced interrogation techniques are nearly silent about the ongoing and vastly increased targeted assassinations ordered by the Obama administration, and I for one am confused by this standard of attack.

If a suspected jihadist on the Afghan Pakistan border were to be asked his choice, he might very well prefer to be apprehended, transported to Guantanamo, and harshly interrogated rather than blown to bits along with any family and friends who happen to be in his vicinity.

To make things simpler, water-boarding the confessed architect of the murder of 3,000 innocents, on a moral scale, seems less atrocious than executing suspected terrorists, as we are now doing. Since the easy denunciations of criminality are moral rather than legal — no one has actually convicted a John Yoo or a Dick Cheney of anything — surely we should hear something about these capital sentences handed down from the sky on those who, quite unlike KSM, are suspected, rather than confessed, killers.

And Andrew McCarthy (profiled in the New York Times):

“A war is a war,” Mr. McCarthy declared. “A war is not a crime, and you don’t bring your enemies to a courthouse.”

In the debate over how and where to prosecute Mr. Mohammed and other Sept. 11 cases, few critics of the Obama administration have been more fervent in their opposition than Mr. McCarthy, a 50-year-old lawyer from the Bronx who had built a reputation as one of the country’s formidable terrorism prosecutors.

Now he has a different reputation: harsh critic of the system in which he had his greatest legal triumph.

Mr. McCarthy has relentlessly attacked the administration for supporting civilian justice for terrorism suspects. He has criticized the military commissions system and called for creation of a national security court. After the arrest of the suspect in the Christmas bomb plot, he wrote, “Will Americans finally grasp how insane it is to regard counterterrorism as a law-enforcement project rather than a matter of national security?”

Argghh… 659 words.  But I only had to write about 150 of them!

VDH Describes Our Topsy-Turvy Times

vdh1Victor Davis Hanson is one of my favorite political writers.  He brilliantly weaves together seemingly unrelated news events to describe patterns that others cannot yet see.  I wish I had been aware of him on September 11, 2001, because he went into overdrive, producing 38 outstanding essays before the end of the year about the new world we had entered and the enemies we faced.

The essays, for National Review Online and other outlets, are collected in his book An Autumn of War. They  hold up remarkably well — if I had read the essays at the time, I would have had a tremendous head start toward realizations and understandings that took me years to reach.

I’ve been a bit disappointed by him in more recent months — his antipathy to Barack Obama sometimes veers toward Obama Derangement Syndrome.  But his essay today on National Review Online has him in fine form, and not sparing the Republicans. An excerpt:

Nonsense is passed off as wisdom. Those who caused the financial meltdown walked away with millions in bonuses while taxpayers covered the debts they ran up. The big-spending government claims it may cut our annual $1.7 trillion deficit in half by 2012 — but only after piling up trillions more in national debt.

In our Orwellian world, borrowing to spend what we don’t have has been renamed “stimulus.” Those who pay no federal income taxes — almost half of Americans — can somehow be promised an income tax “cut.” In the new borrowing of trillions of dollars here and trillions there, billions of dollars now sounds like pocket change. …

Abroad, we thought piracy ended with the age of sail — only to learn that the world’s 21st-century navies either will not or cannot sink a few brigands in speedboats. Meanwhile, a U.N. conference against racism showcased Iranian president — and Holocaust-denier — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spouting anti-Semitic hatred.

The old “bad” unilateral war in Iraq is now quiet; the once “good” multilateral effort in Afghanistan is not. We are warned that we must be careful not to explicitly associate the radical Islam that fueled the September 11 attacks with terrorism; yet, we are advised that we should worry about returning American veterans as potential terrorists.

You should, as the saying goes, read the whole thing.  But since you probably won’t, here’s the ominous punchline:

There have been a few crazy years like 2009 in American history — 1860, 1929, 1941, and 1968. And given what followed all of them, it might be wise to prepare for even crazier times for us ahead.