Monday, August 15, 2011

And here's an editorial so nuts that I couldn't not post about it

I don't usually read the WSJ editorial page. Can someone who does tell me if this Norman Podhoretz editorial is indicative of its usual output? Because, wow.
[W]e villainous conservatives do not see Mr. Obama as conciliatory or as "a president who either does not know what he believes or is willing to take whatever position he thinks will lead to his re-election." On the contrary, we see him as a president who knows all too well what he believes. Furthermore, what Mr. Westen regards as an opportunistic appeal to the center we interpret as a tactic calculated to obfuscate his unshakable strategic objective, which is to turn this country into a European-style social democracy while diminishing the leading role it has played in the world since the end of World War II. The Democrats have persistently denied that these are Mr. Obama's goals, but they have only been able to do so by ignoring or dismissing what Mr. Obama himself, in a rare moment of candor, promised at the tail end of his run for the presidency: "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."
After which, he muttered, "¡Viva la RevoluciĆ³n!"

But please, Norman, continue. I'm sure you have so much left to say.
This statement, coming on top of his association with radicals like Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright and Rashid Khalidi, definitively revealed to all who were not wilfully blinding themselves that Mr. Obama was a genuine product of the political culture that had its birth among a marginal group of leftists in the early 1960s and that by the end of the decade had spread metastatically to the universities, the mainstream media, the mainline churches, and the entertainment industry... But whereas the communists had in their delusional vision of the Soviet Union a model of the kind of society that would replace the one they were bent on destroying, the new leftists only knew what they were against: America, or Amerika as they spelled it to suggest its kinship to Nazi Germany.
Oh god, I can't go on. There's so much more -- Obama only got elected because he was black, apparently -- but I'll spare you. The experience of reading this editorial is rather like having bucket after bucket of lunacy dumped on your head, over and over, until you feel like you're drowning in it. That's right: it's like Norman Podhoretz stepped into my room and waterboarded me with his own wild-eyed paranoia.

I don't really know which way to take this. First, it's incredible that "strengthening the social safety net" is now on par with communist revolution, in the mind of mainstream conservatives. This would be an excellent time to reflect on the fact that Obama's health care plan has its roots in a Heritage Foundation proposal.

I guess I could go through and debunk some of his claims, but is that really necessary? His argument is almost self-evidently wrong. Podhoretz is arguing that Obama's health care bill and other legislative initiatives (as well as Obama himself) are the conceptual offspring of 60s radicals who took over the party after the nomination of George McGovern in '72. But Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Johnson all came before McGovern, all pursued universal health care, and all three plans were more transformative than Obama's. Thesis destroyed.

Finally, notice that the only piece of evidence that Podhoretz marshals to prove that Obama is some sort of social democratic sleeper agent is one single quote. Imagine if Obama had said something like this? "As long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours. And something else we learned: Once you begin a great movement, there's no telling where it will end. We meant to change a nation, and instead, we changed a world." That's Soviet Shadow Premiere Ronald Reagan, revealing, in a brief lapse, his affinity for Trotskyist permanent revolution.

It's all very demented, but that's not what's really important here. What's important is that this editorial has actually made its way onto the pages of the most important center-right paper in America. Along the way, nobody pulled Podhoretz aside and pointed out that nothing he'd written jibed with common sense or basic history. Podhoretz believes that the radicals have stormed the gates of mainstream progressivism, but his idea seems much more applicable to his own movement. He's the one, after all, that's taken to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to accuse the President of being a subversive.

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