February 28, 2005

Have we missed a new fad?

This is the silliest thing I've read this week. Matthew Yglesias writes, concerning the recent developments in Egypt:

...Yes, it's but a tentative step and things could still all work out poorly, but still, this is a pretty unambiguous success for Bush's second term freedom kick. It's also a stunning refutation of those of us who argued that he'd never follow through on his lofty rhetoric. Give the man some props.

And not just to poke fun, but it's actually important that props be given. Bush has, historically, gotten a lot of praise for his lofty rhetoric. He's also been rather diffident about actually doing something about it. But he decided to go do something. Test the waters, so to speak. If doing the right thing winds up just being met with stony silence, then there's little reason to think it'll be the start of a trend. But it should start a trend....

First, this is not a "second term freedom kick." We've been working on it since about, oh, September of 2001. And by "work," I mean "work." Not talk. It's probably impossible for a Democrat to grasp this, but Bush's lofty rhetoric is just a tool to help get a job done. Bush and his administration and our military stood firm during two years of bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan, while scoundrel dogs clawed and bit their ankles to the bone. They stood firm because of a dream that transformation in Iraq would start a process that could spread through the Arab Middle East. A dream that was greeted with derision by lefty-bloggers and Democrats.

Everything we've been doing in recent years has been patient spadework leading up to this moment.

And Bush is not "testing the waters." A successful election in Iraq was a necessary prerequisite to ramping up the pressure on the world's despotisms. It's no accident that he more-or-less ordered Egypt to democratize in the SOTU just days after Iraq's election. You think that wasn't planned long in advance? You think Bush just decided to take a flyer on Egyptian democracy as a whim of the moment?

And he doesn't need any props. He's not Bill Clinton. It's not about him. He sticks with his policies no matter how much scorn lefties heap on him. So how can anyone imagine he will stop for lack of their praise? Ludicrous. He's a man. Getting the job done is what matters. (Or maybe Matt means that people on the right should be praising Bush. No need, we're all on the same wavelength. And anyway we have been.)

And last of all, it's not the "start of a trend." The trend started...well, you can point to various dates. I would say a moment early in the Reagan administration, when President Marcos was in trouble, and some people (neocons, many of them) decided that the policy of supporting authoritarian dictators might not be the best way to prevent communist dictators. The new policy of encouraging democracy was pushed especially in Latin America. Not with "lofty rhetoric" a la Jimmy Carter, but with a lot of hard messy work, by people like Elliot Abrams and John Negroponte. They never got any "props," but by the end of Bush I, there was only one dictator left in this hemisphere.

The same people are manning this administration. Same veterans. Same toolkit. Same "new trend." Nobody's "testing the waters" or doing this stuff on a whim. It's been a neocon plot all along. Thank God. (And Yglesias is making the "reality-based" joke seem more utterly hilarious than ever. ''...We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities..." And here's Mr Reality-Based-Blogger himself, peering like Eustace Tilly at this new butterfly and imagining he's discovered something! "Reality!" I love it. I love it. I love it!)

Posted by John Weidner at February 28, 2005 5:54 PM
Weblog by John Weidner