April 9, 2004

Alternate history..

I followed a link to an interesting bit of "alternate history," where Bush spurns the neo-cons and...but read it yourself. It's very interesting and well-written. Thought provoking.

Of course the thoughts I was provoked to are probably different than what the author intended. I mostly noticed the many things that were just assumed; just taken as givens, as "Conventional Wisdom." (Which is rhetorically legitimate; this is not a polemic, but a vision of how things might be. But it's also legitimate for me to point out some fastballs that are likely to slip past the reader.)

Assumes that liberal Democrat positions are the center. Slides over the fact that most Bush positions are supported by a majority of Americans.

Assumes that bipartisanship means Bush giving up conservative plans. No suggestion that Democrats might give up anything. No hint that they are even partisan or political.

Assumes that the growing Republican majority is merely a phenomenon of 9/11 or the trickery of Karl Rove. Ignores trends of the last several decades.

Assumes that drafting Americans into government "volunter" programs is better than leaving them to their own devices.

Assumes that tax cuts are bad and "sacrifice" by taxpayers good. No suggestion that any domestic programs or Democrat interests might be sacrificed. Assumes that "everyone will love" a speech where Bush foreswears tax cuts.

Assumes that Middle Eastern tyrannies are eager to reform if only enough aid and sweet-talk is provided. Assumes that the example of one of their kind dragged out of a spider-hole has no connection with recent openness to the possibility of reform. Also, trends like the recent Egyptian reforms to strengthen the private sector are ignored--they're just nonsense like the Bush programs. It's assumed that problems will be solved by big-money programs flowing from one government to another.

Slides over just exactly who are the "actual terrorists." Assumes, without stating explicitly, that Al Qaeda is highly centralized and that destroying its leadership will render it ineffective. And that other terrorist groups are minor problems.

Assumes that reforms in Arab countries, such as "easing the harsh treatment of women," will NOT infuriate Islamic fundamentalists, or inflame anything...

Assumes that either: 1. "Rewarding democratic reforms with aid" would melt the heart of Saddam Hussein, or: 2. Or, if it won't the continued existence of genocide, torture, mutilation, rape and hideous police-state brutality in Iraq is no concern of ours, and that the anti-Iraq-war crowd HAS NO RESPONSIBILITY to honestly admit that they think those things SHOULD CONTINUE. No responsibility to honestly list that as a wee trifling downside to their charming vision of a better Middle East.

In general, what's interesting in the "assumes" department is that the author assumes the world-view of 1964, when a conservative like Goldwater could be dismissed as a kook that few Americans would agree with. He assumes that conservative Republicans are "ideologues," who voters will reject if given the proper hint.

Reading this piece reminded me of the time my son asked me why people from other regions of the country had accents, but he didn't...

Posted by John Weidner at April 9, 2004 12:12 PM
Weblog by John Weidner