September 22, 2004


Bush the Liberal: The nobility and folly of democratizing Iraq (William Saletan, Sept. 21, 2004, Slate)

I admit it. I have a soft spot for President Bush.

I love it when he goes to the United Nations—as he did two years ago and again today—and tells those lazy cynics to get off their duffs. They spend their days congratulating each other, passing toothless resolutions, and giving lip service to tired pet issues. Bush is just what they need. He pokes them in the ribs. He points out that scofflaws are treating them like a joke. He tells them to enforce their threats, or he'll do it for them. He preaches freedom and democracy. He vows to serve others, no matter who else joins in the cause. He refuses to back down, no matter what the price.

Unfortunately for Bush, it's the liberal in me who loves these things. And it's the conservative—in me and other Americans—who's turning away.

This is what liberals do: They coerce or cajole the fortunate to serve the less fortunate. They spend American lives and money to serve causes beyond our national interest.

More properly, it is what the religious do and it would seem significant that the two leaders of the effort to liberalize the Middle East are both devout Christians: George W. Bush and Tony Blair (as was Mr. Blair's prior partner, Bill Clinton). Likewise it's hardly surprising that the secularists of the Democratic Party and Europe are no longer willing to vindicate liberalism in the world.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 22, 2004 2:04 PM

I wouldn't exactly call Clinton devout.

Posted by: mike at September 22, 2004 2:22 PM


It all depends on how you define devout.

Posted by: Peter B at September 22, 2004 2:41 PM

I think he's a devout worshipper, all right -- of Aphrodite and Narcissus, that is.

Posted by: Mike Morley at September 22, 2004 2:48 PM

And don't forget "It all depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

Posted by: Ken at September 22, 2004 2:57 PM

Liberals will pursue noble goals, if they think it makes then appear morally superior to conservatives in the eyes of the general public. That's why they could support Clinton's actions in Haiti and the Balkans without any qualms while fighting Bush's actions that are far more important to their own personal security.

Posted by: John at September 22, 2004 3:09 PM


Yet he is.

Posted by: oj at September 22, 2004 4:05 PM

One of Clinton's greatest 'gifts' was to appear devout and solemn when he needed to (except when the cameras caught him laughing at funerals).

But he was never serious.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 22, 2004 10:13 PM

Saletan is living in a dream world. His party has abandoned the "pay any price, bear any burden" vision, in favor of begging France to stop acting like France. The U.N. is a corrupt kleptocracy that still can't call Darfur a genocide. The adage is true -- When men stop believing in God, they'll beleve in anything.

Posted by: Dave Sheridan at September 23, 2004 7:23 AM