November 6, 2004


Rove's Revenge (MAUREEN DOWD, 11/07/04, NY Times)

The Boy Genius, as W. calls him, the "architect" who helped him get the second term he dearly wanted to surpass his father, is happy to crush the liberal elites inspired by Kennedy's New Frontier under the steamroller of 19th-century family values.

Like the president, vice president and defense secretary, General Karl wanted to wipe out the gray, if-it-feels-good-do-it, blame-America-first, doused-in-Vietnam-guilt 60's and turn the clock back to the black-and-white Manichaean values of the 50's.

W. and Karl played up western movie stereotypes. After 9/11, the rugged frontier myth, the hunter/Indian-fighter hero in a war of civilization against savagery worked better than ever. But this White House's frontier is not a place of infinite progress and expansion, stretching society's boundaries. It doesn't battle primitivism; it courts primitivism.

Instead of the New Frontier, Karl and W. offer the New Backtier.

Even as a child, I could feel the rush of J.F.K.'s presidency racing forward, opening up a thrilling world of possibilities and modernity. We were going to the moon. We were confronting racial intolerance. We were paying any price and bearing any burden for freedom. We were respecting faith but keeping it out of politics. Our president was inspiring much of the world. Our first lady was setting the pace in style and culture.

W.'s presidency rushes backward, stifling possibilities, stirring intolerance, confusing church with state, blowing off the world, replacing science with religion, and facts with faith. We're entering another dark age, more creationist than cutting edge, more premodern than postmodern. Instead of leading America to an exciting new reality, the Bushies cocoon in a scary, paranoid, regressive reality. Their new health care plan will probably be a return to leeches.

Here's as good a definition of the difference between conservatism and liberalism as you're likely to find: liberals can't comprehend that leeches work, because we've used them for thousands of years, but they do think that Christopher Reeve would be walking around today if only they sacrificed enough lives at the altar of Stem Cell Research. And they think we're the fanatics.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 6, 2004 7:24 PM

We were paying any price and bearing any burden for freedom.

This article is indicative of the same people who are forever complaining about the combat deaths we've experienced liberating 50 million human beings from two of the most vile governments in history is it not? We should really let the remnants of Taliban and Baathists establish a colony on a deserted island somewhere and send Maureen to live with them.

Posted by: MB at November 6, 2004 7:41 PM

The '50's a time of "black-and-white Manichaean values"? The 1850's, maybe, but not the 1950's. The self-indulgence manifested in the 1960's was not adumbrated in the 1950's, but rather started out-of-the-gate at a gallop in that earlier decade (sorry for the Seabiscuit metaphor; I grew up next to a racetrack in the 1950's).

As for "court[ing] primitivism" and "rush[ing] backward", JFK's "pay any price, bear any burden" rhetoric was in large measure a direct descendant of Jacksonian attitude (about which oj posted earlier). So who's looking backward? And why is looking backward to such as Andrew Jackson so terrifying to the Dowds of America? Dowd, as always, doesn't explain; but she leaves no doubt that Old Hickory could never win the Democratic nomination for president today.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at November 6, 2004 8:55 PM

Dowdy is just upset because her looks are going.

Posted by: ratbert at November 6, 2004 10:33 PM

Dowd is hysterical. She needs the traditional field remedy for hysterical tantrums; a good slap across the face.

Posted by: Joe at November 6, 2004 10:46 PM

Last summer, I heard some dumb scientist on the radio (CBC of course) objecting to a fish farm technology as "interfering with evolution." Is that not really what Dowd and many like her are trying to say about Bush, and does it not explain the panicked rage?

Posted by: Peter B at November 6, 2004 11:39 PM

"scary, paranoid, regressive"

Just about sums up ol' Dowdy-face, doesn't it? But maybe they need to keep her around to maintain their trademark on Gray Lady.

Posted by: Randall Voth at November 7, 2004 12:01 AM

I found this fawning Tony Norman quote:

"I watched Dowd with rapt fascination. She was every bit as imperial, laconic and beautiful as advertised. Wearing an outfit very much like a cheongsam, Dowd looked like a red-haired Asian princess."

So, I will admit that, maybe, just maybe, she is scarier in print than in real life. It would seem that sexy Asian princess red hair-dye can cover a multitude of sins.

Posted by: Randall Voth at November 7, 2004 12:36 AM

She's Madame Chiang!

Posted by: oj at November 7, 2004 8:50 AM

I don't have much to add, except that "adumbrated" is a really great word.

Posted by: Semolina Pilchard at November 7, 2004 10:35 AM

Your last paragraph is quoted approvingly over at Michelle Malkin's blog, with the caveat "At the risk of sounding like an anti-science evangelical ...".

Posted by: jd watson at November 7, 2004 5:31 PM

Hey, Maureen! Right now, at this very second, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are doing "it." Now, what are YOU doing tonight? Yeah, I thought so.

Posted by: tim at November 7, 2004 7:50 PM

"Our president was inspiring much of the world."

Kennedy's presidency was one of the craziest, most whacko, loopy, insular, reactionary administrations in history.

Consider what Dowd would say if the following were true:

1. Bush appointed his brother as Attorney General, whose qualifications were that he was a political hack as a Senate aide, and whose many obsessions included busting unions, assassinating foreign leaders, and sleeping with Hollywood Bimbos.

2. Bush invaded another nation without adequate preparation or thought, "outsourced" much of the invasion planning, the Vice President was thoroughly excluded from planning or decision-making, and the invasion failed in humiliation, confusion, and great loss of life.

3. Bush was a drug addict, shooting speed in the oval office, provided to him by a "feel good" physician.

4. Bush sent Laura home to Texas so he could boff Mafia whores in the White House.

5. Frank Sinatra (or perhaps Springsteen or Redford) pimpled Hollywood bimbos to Bush and his brother.

6. Bush obsesses for 3 years over how he could assassinate foreign leaders, until he and his brilliant brother, the Attorney General, conclude, after deep thought, that the Mafia is the perfect choice for the job.

7. Bush claims we have a "missile gap" with the rest of the world, and accuses Richard Perle of being "soft on defense."

8. Bush travels to the edge of totalitarianism [no longer Berlin; perhaps Kabul?], and proclaims solidarity with the threatened and affirms the power of freedom (how "Manichean!").

9. Bush had married a Dallas debutante, whose greatest claim to fame was interior decorating.

10. Bush's father had been a bootlegger.

And on and on.

The Kennedy presidency is a myth, a straw man to dig out whenever someone like Dowd wants to invoke some delusional past to demonstrate just how horribly awful things are. Very weak.

Posted by: MD at November 8, 2004 10:36 AM

But remember:
JFK is A God!
Not A Man!

And today's JFK The God bears little resemblance to John Kennedy the man.

Posted by: Ken at November 8, 2004 12:58 PM