“We have become too civilized to grasp the obvious. For the truth is very simple. To survive you often have to fight, and to fight you have to dirty yourself…. Those who take the sword perish by the sword, and those who don’t take the sword perish by smelly diseases.”
– George Orwell
“Looking Back at the Spanish War” 1943.
“I am overjoyed by the outcome of the elections. The moral majority has prevailed in a war against secular humanism…. The academics and Hollywood lost in their bid to redefine morality in accordance with their humanistic and fallen views…. The war of morals will continue in this country and in the world.”
– Dan Sickler of Medford, Oregon
“Letter to the Editor” in the Oregonian November 9, 2004
I have taken Orwell’s words way out of context. He was talking about fighting in an actual shooting war, with real combat and death, whereas this bit of opinion is about electoral politics. Be that as it may, it is likely that Dan Sickler would agree with Orwell’s point, even though Orwell was one of those damn secular humanists. For all of the eschaton-lunacy implied in Mr. Sickler’s letter, at least he recognizes that he is fighting a war. It may not be a real war, but it is an honest battle over the government and meaning of the United States of America, the world’s lone superpower, it is not just a difference in opinion.
For all of the passion, and yes anger, of blue America the comfy professionals who ran the Kerry campaign did not appear to realize that the battle was joined. They ignored the figurative war here, and wanted to ignore the shooting war abroad.
The Bush team never bothered with a Rose Garden strategy. They barely aired any positive television commercials. Instead they first spent a fortune to “define” Kerry and then – through their “Swift Boat” appendage – spent a fortune to slander his war record and then ran a campaign based almost purely on fear.
The Kerry team’s response was to first hope that the self-evident contradiction of the Bushies scare tactics with their “help is on the way” slogan would turn people around. This strategy was undercut, however, by the inability to articulate anything meaningful about the war on terror and the war in Iraq. In The New York Times today some Kerry advisors lamented that events in Iraq stopped the economy from being the focus of the campaign. Well of course it did! How could it not? The war on terror and Iraq are the profound events of our times. Polls showed that Bush’s strongest attribute was his perceived ability to fight terror. That perception had everything to do with the SCLM treating him like a demi-god after 9/11, and little to do with his foolhardy strategy of trying to start a proxy-war against terrorism in Iraq. Kerry only began to make a comeback in the election when he took on the Bush-is-fighting-terrorism-well myth. Once he did, the gap between Bush and Kerry on “ability to fight terrorism” shrank. If this had been the strategy from the beginning then Kerry might very well have won, after all, the truth was on his side (unlike the Swift Boat group).
There was a time when Democrats were nasty SOBs. Whether it was attempting to pack the court or emasculating “Cactus” Jack Garner, FDR was not afraid to take names and kick ass. Truman gave ‘em hell; JFK out-hawked Nixon; LBJ stole a senate seat and stopped at nothing to gain power; and Clinton never started it, but he always finished it. The great progressive gains of the twentieth century were accomplished with a lot of sharp elbows. Do you think that Dan Sickler would balk at having the “secular humanists” wrung up? You can’t reason with such a man, you have to beat him. Unfortunately, Dan Sickler, and all that he represents, is fighting with a sword, and progressives have been left with smelly diseases.