It’s really too bad this Libya situation has caused once rational people to go off the rails, because as a consequence what was once a daily read for me has been rendered all but unreadable. I’m referring, of course, to The Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan’s online vehicle, which used to be one of my favorite places to stop, morning coffee in hand, for a bit of calm rationality before the predictable nuttiness of the day took over.
Don’t get me wrong. Although I reluctantly support military intervention in Libya, I have absolutely no problem with good faith disagreements on the matter. War is always a hard issue, should always be a hard issue, and we on the left know all too well what it was like to have our decency and our patriotism called into question when we protested ill-advised military adventures in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. So you won’t find narrow-minded flag waving like that on this blog.
But as I said yesterday, I get genuinely irked when Andrew Sullivan, once a pro-Iraq war blogger (who, to be fair, came to regret that stance), now wants to lecture those of us who support the UN’s action in Libya but were wise enough to oppose the Iraq misadventure from the get-go. I would’ve let it go after yesterday’s comments, but Mr. Sullivan appears to be hell-bent on pushing the limits of our patience. Or at least mine. Today, for example, Mr. Sullivan posted a very brief piece featuring a picture of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton under the heading: “Amazonian War Mongerers” (why Mongerers instead of Mongers, I’m not altogether sure; must be an English-English thing). Anyway, I only wish I were kidding.
Amazonian War Mongerers. I’ve often thought Mr. Sullivan was a bit tone-deaf when it comes to Americans’ sensibilities about race and gender – well, at least liberal Americans’ sensibilities about race and gender – but Amazonian? Really?
So, anyway, when I do bother to read what Andrew Sullivan has to say about war and foreign policy these days, I can’t help but be reminded of the Albert Brooks-Julie Hagerty film, Lost in America (1985). If you’re not familiar with it, the basic premise is this: Two west coast yuppies named David and Linda Howard, fed up with the pressure and disappointment of their faced-paced corporate lives, decide to cash in their nest egg, buy a Winnebago, and head out on the open road to “find themselves.” But they only make it as far as Las Vegas, where Linda blows their entire savings in an all-night gambling binge. Which prompts David Howard to go on this righteous rant about the nest egg principle:
David: You know it’s a very sacred thing, the nest egg, and if you had understood the Nest Egg Principle, as we will now call it in the first of many lectures that you will get, because if we are ever to acquire another nest egg, we both have to understand what it means. The nest egg is a protector, like a god, and we sit under the nest egg and we are protected by it. Without it, no protection. Want me to go on? It pours rain. Hey! The rain hits the egg and pours off the side. Without the egg? Wet. It’s over. But you didn’t understand it and that’s why we’re where we are.
Linda: I understood the nest egg …
David:Please do me a favor. Don’t use the word. You may not use that word. It is off-limits to you. Only those in this house that understand the nest egg may use it. And don’t use any part of it either. Don’t use “nest.” Don’t use “egg.” You’re out in the forest, you can point - the bird lives in a round stick. And … and … you have things over easy with toast.
That’s my reaction these days when Andrew Sullivan – once a proud supporter of George W. Bush and the Iraq war, and all that that implies – now feels as though he can use the language of anti-war liberalism to lecture me (or, say, Juan Cole of Informed Comment, or Charli Carpenter of Lawyers, Guns and Money) about Pres. Obama’s decision to support the UN No Fly Zone in Libya: Mr. Sullivan, please, do me a favor. Please do not use the language of the anti-Iraq-war movement, because it’s off limits to you. Only those of us who understood the wrong-headedness of the Iraq war from the outset may use that language. And you may not use any part of it, either …
Well, you get the idea. If you were that wrong about Iraq, you forfeited your credibility about Libya.
(Oh, and by the way: Looks like I’m not the only one who sees the usefulness of the nest egg principle speech from Lost In America. Hah! Great minds and all that.)
© 2011 David P. von Ebers. All rights reserved.