How to look good while doing bad
Posted by aogMonday, 14 December 2009 at 17:40 TrackBack Ping URL

President Obama’s Nobel Prize speech contained the first movement of a historical rewrite. Power Line Blog reports that he said

Likewise, the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait - a consensus that sent a clear message to all about the cost of aggression.

Power Line takes him to task for this, but really I think there was a general world community recognition. It was the Democratic Party in Congress who didn’t, voting in the Senate 45-10 against with Sentors Joe Biden and John Kerry in the “no” column. As Instapundit notes it’s the start of the same rewrite that’s been done with the Cold War where the opponents then become boosters when it’s politically convenient. I don’t see how the Democratic Party could survive if people actually remembered history.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
pj Monday, 14 December 2009 at 23:10

It’s amazing how many people believe that the Republican Party was the pro-slavery side in the Civil War, the pro-Jim Crow side, the pro-KKK side. A liberal Jew not long ago said he couldn’t be a Republican because of Father Coughlin!

Harry Eagar Tuesday, 15 December 2009 at 12:45

It’s amazing anybody thinks the Republican Party of the Civil War has any connection with the Republican Party now.

joe shropshire Wednesday, 16 December 2009 at 02:50

No more amazing than those who think the Democratic Party of the Hoover Dam has any connection with the Democratic Party of Harry Reid. The moving hand writes, etcetera, etcetera.

Harry Eagar Wednesday, 16 December 2009 at 12:36

I’m with you there, Joe. Blame Nixon.

By luring the southern racists out of the Democratic Party, he made one more left, the other more right. Both had been, until the ‘70s, broadly centrist, because each was an uneasy coalition of people who could barely stand each other.

erp Wednesday, 16 December 2009 at 14:11

Careful Harry, there are a lot of people like me who were functioning adults in the 70’s and who like me remember no such broadly centrist left and right.

I don’t know about siphoning off southern racists from the Democrats, but I sure blame Nixon for giving the lunatic left cause to equate him with the right. Nixon was no more a conservative Republican than the person sitting in his old office right now, a person who more closely resembles him than any other president in my memory — completely divorced from reality.

The left is still a coalition of people who can barely stand each other vide the opera buffa in Copenhagen and the Democratic caucus in congress.

Harry Eagar Wednesday, 16 December 2009 at 22:23

The Republican Party was big enough pre-Nixon to have Jacob Javits in it. Reagan claimed a big tent, but like most everything else he said, that was a fantasy. The GOP had had a pretty big tent, but it was a pup tent by the time Reagan became its leader.

Today it consists of rightwingers and far rightwingers and Inhofe and Baughman, who are leftists compared with Robertson, who believes in personal demons, for pete’s sake.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 17 December 2009 at 00:14

Reagan won two Presidential elections, one by a landslide, by shrinking his party down to a pup-tent? Fascinating.

Harry Eagar Friday, 18 December 2009 at 12:49

I agree.

The really fascinating part is that nobody ever complained when he didn’t do what he said he was elected to do.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 18 December 2009 at 15:28

I thought you used to be a regular at Brothers Judd where pointing out that out was a regular occurrence. Of course, in real life Reagan was elected because he said he would revive the nation (“Morning in America”) which he did. In the big trends he was true to his election themes — pro-American, hawkish, lower taxes. On spending, yes, he wasn’t so good. But 4 out of 5 ain’t bad.

Perhaps, given the increased electoral success of the GOP after your claimed Reagan shrinkage compared to the post-WWII period before that, do you view such shrinkage as a winning formula for a party?

Harry Eagar Saturday, 19 December 2009 at 12:04

Orrin is hardly the voice of the broad electorate.

‘Pro-American’ has a nasty ring to it, recalling (to me at least) the concept of ‘unAmerican.’ You may be right, though, that Reagan delivered on that.

I think the nation revived on its own. If its breast swelled with pride after finding out about Ollie North, bad cess to it. Carter, at least, never armed our enemies (see ‘pro American’ above).

As to your second question, I dunno. The electorate trends Republican when it’s fat, dumb and happy, but turns to the Demcorats when it’s in trouble. I tend to think that the leftists predicting that the ever more-shrunken GOP is about to turn itself in a regional party are nuts.

Whether it’s a formula for electoral success or not, the subdivision of parties is bad for government. I don’t like parliamentary systems.

Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 19 December 2009 at 13:26

Mr. Eagar;

You’re goal post shifting again. It’s right there in the just previous comment but let me quote again

nobody ever complained [emphasis added]

Now you’re changing it to “the broad electorate”? I wonder sometimes what the point of replying to you is if you feel no need to maintain any context at all from comment to comment.

‘Pro-American’ has a nasty ring to it, recalling (to me at least) the concept of ‘unAmerican.’

Do you not like the term “good” as well, since it recalls the concept of “evil”? Or is your view that no one is actually “unAmerican”?

I don’t think the nation revived on its own, although the election of Reagan was more of a mechanism than a cause. It’s also amusing to consider the context of

The electorate trends Republican when it’s fat, dumb and happy, but turns to the Demcorats when it’s in trouble.

You mean the electorate was fat, dumb, and happy in 1980? In 1994? Will be in 2010? My recollection is exactly the opposite — the GOP fixes things, everything goes well, and the electorate forgets how the Democratic Party put the nation in a big hole last time they had power. One need only look at ex-President Clinton’s two terms for an archetypical example.

I tend to think that the leftists predicting that the ever more-shrunken GOP is about to turn itself in a regional party are nuts.

Hmmm. But a regional party is bigger than a “pup tent”, so what are you implying about yourself?

Harry Eagar Sunday, 20 December 2009 at 13:31

I was thinking of ‘32 and ‘08. If the electorate in ‘80 had known that Reagam was going to arm the Iranians, it might have thought better of Carter. In fact, knowing both — as we do now — it amazes me people still think Carter was the weak sister.

My view is that the label ‘unAmerican’ was almost never used against any but good Americans. Separating Americans into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ on the basis of nothing better than ideological prejudices is a very bad idea that has had murderous consequences.

Annoying Old Guy Sunday, 20 December 2009 at 17:15

‘08? Perhaps you mean ‘06, when the Democratic party took control of Congress?

It amazes me that, knowing what we do now, Carter is not universally reviled as a total loser. Reagan made mistakes trying to make America great, Carter made mistakes trying to manage America’s decline. I would take Reagan’s arms deals over Desert One any day.

As for “unAmerican”, perhaps you should mention that to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi although with people like that throwing the word around, I see why you’re concerned about it leading to violence.

Harry Eagar Monday, 21 December 2009 at 00:19

If I ever meet Pelosi, I will. Some people have short memories.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 21 December 2009 at 08:03

Yes, but we like you anyway.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 23 December 2009 at 13:57

It’s certainly good to remember the past, but not the the exclusion of current conditions.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Friday, 26 March 2010 at 11:19

If the electorate in ‘80 had known that Reagam was going to arm the Iranians, it might have thought better of Carter.

Maybe. But did arming the Iranians really do anything harmful to American interests worldwide? It increased the potential danger, but was there any actual fallout? Even after we blew one of their civilian airliners out of the sky?

And since American policy during the ‘80s was to egg on Iraq and Iran tearing each other to bits, arming Iran was of a piece.

In fact, knowing both — as we do now — it amazes me people still think Carter was the weak sister.

You may trivialize Reagan as the “Lion of Granada”, but what do we say about a POTUS who launches only one military mission against the greatest foreign-policy embarrassment of his administration? Its failure was in no way Carter’s fault, but after having various military organizations rehearse the attempted rescue for over a year, having no Plan B was, ultimately, Carter’s fault.

And Carter’s post-Presidency habit of traveling around the globe, making nice with dictators and bringing some faint legitimacy to hugely-irregular “elections” by posing as a “neutral observer” is very grating - and probably evil.

So as AOG says, perceptions matter in politics, and even if the Reagan that the right loves was a myth, it’s an inspiring myth, and that leads to actual good being done. Carter failed the PR test, whatever he may have gotten right during his term. Good golly, he could have been a legend if he’d put more effort and resources into his alt-energy schemes. It’s not the kind of thing one can know in advance, but that would have been an effort that would have had repercussions throughout history, a winning bet. In some alternate Universe, Carter is remembered as a visionary former President ranked up there with FDR and Jackson.

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