~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I O 93 93/93 I O ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States

The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Shock! Clear thinking from the WH, plus... I'm a thick-headed idiot

Peter Wehner remains the clearest head at the White House with his editorial yesterday (reprinted today in the WSJ) on the nature of our jihadist enemies:

Why They Fight
And what it means for us.



The enemy we face is not Islam per se; rather, we face a global network of extremists who are driven by a twisted vision of Islam. These jihadists are certainly a minority within Islam--but they exist, they are dangerous and resolute, in some places they are ascendant, and they need to be confronted and defeated.


Their brand of radicalism is theocratic, totalitarian, illiberal, expansionist, violent, and deeply anti-Semitic and anti-American. As President Bush has said, both Shia and Sunni militants want to impose their dark vision on the Middle East. And as we have seen with Shia-dominated Iran's support of the Sunni terrorist group Hamas, they can find common ground when they confront what they believe is a common enemy.

The war against global jihadism will be long, and we will experience success and setbacks along the way. The temptation of the West will be to grow impatient and, in the face of this long struggle, to grow weary. Some will demand a quick victory and, absent that, they will want to withdraw from the battle. But this is a war from which we cannot withdraw. As we saw on September 11th, there are no safe harbors in which to hide. Our enemies have declared war on us, and their hatreds cannot be sated. We will either defeat them, or they will come after us with the unsheathed sword.

His is a clarion call. Read the whole thing. I'm more than a little distressed the WH can't manage to be this clear and communicative all the time! Which is something I noted the last time I linked one of Wehner's excellent editorials.

[Me:] Mr. President? More like this, please. And keep 'em coming...

Wehner, deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives, then proceeds to demolish these [Iraq War] myths utterly. And notes, "These, then, are the urban legends we must counter, else falsehoods become conventional wisdom." Well, to a large extent they already have become conventional wisdom, thanks to the steady drumbeat of doom and gloom in the press, as well as the silly antics of anti-war congress critters.

Stephen Spuriell calls this op-ed a good start.

Conservatives have been making these arguments over and over, but with this op-ed the White House has provided a keystone to which supporters of the administration's policy in Iraq can return whenever we hear one of these tired attacks dredged up. I hope we're seeing the beginning of a revitalized communications strategy within the White House.

I hope so, too.

Well, I'm done "hoping." Now I'm seriously afraid that if Bush can't get over his deadly serious communication problems, the American public will cement his legacy as a "do-nothing" president during one America's most perilous periods. It may be an unfair characterization considering all the good things he's done, but he'll have no one to blame but his own, lock-jawed self. "Explain, persuade, and inspire." These are just as much a part of his job description as "listen, decide, and delegate."


Which brings me to something else. An apology from Yours Truly.

From the comments the last time I linked Peter Wehner:

Gonzo wrote -

Its not cynicism, its exhaustion from the constant, never ending battering I feel constitutes the current political discourse these days.

I can understand people disagreeing with how the nations business should be transacted. You can read of many times congressmen verbally fighting, passionately on the floor of the House to meet later for drinks and laughs because business is business, its not personal.

What got to my was not only the PERSONAL level of vitriol over political disagreements but that both sides try to one up each other in the extremest of accusation they invent to use on each other. And leave the rest of us battered in the middle.

Enough is enough.

Angel wrote -

Finally, it doesn't seem that I'm so crazy because I notice the pure vindictiveness and vitriol of today's political debate.[...]

Political discourse in this country is officially a shit pond in which we're still trying to find the bottom, that's why I've bowed out.

Lee wrote -

I'm glad I'm not the only one to have noticed this. It seems to me that some of the even some bloggers even more ideological than me are getting tired of it all. I'm on a political hiatus. It won't last long, but I'm not going to go diving in the shit pond anytime soon.

At the time, I honestly didn't understand these sentiments. I thought it was a matter of perception and personal grievance. But over the holiday I read Stanley Kurtz' review of the new book, A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now, exploring what author Peter Wood calls "New Anger," as applied to blogging.

America’s New Anger exchanges the modest heroism of Gary Cooper’s Sargent York for something much closer to the Incredible Hulk. New Anger is everything that Old Anger was not: flamboyant, self-righteous, and proud. As a way to “empowerment” for ethnic groups, women, political parties, and children, New Anger serves as a mark of identity and a badge of authenticity. The Civil War, and America’s past political campaigns, may have witnessed plenty of anger, yet not until recently, says Wood, have Americans actually congratulated themselves for getting angry. Anger has turned into a coping mechanism, something to get in touch with, a prize to exhibit in public, and a proof of righteous sincerity.

Blogging Anger

New Anger is nowhere more at home than in the blogosphere, where so far from being held in check, look-at-me performance anger is the path to quick success. Wood’s section on the “proud maliciousness” of bloggers (titled “Insta-Anger”) will stir debate, yet it’s far from a blanket indictment. The Insta-Pundit himself is off the hook, for example. “[Glenn] Reynolds’ comments are often sardonic but seldom angry,” says Wood. On the other hand, Atrios explaining “Why We Say ‘F***’ a Lot” (expurgation most definitely not in the original) fares far less well at Wood’s hands.

In a fascinating interview with Wood, Noah Millman (of Gideon’s Blog) Wood says, “Yes, I think bloggers are overly contemptuous of political opponents.” That is the question. Is the affected contempt that characterizes New Anger a good thing? It is not, thinks Wood.

[Emphasis mine]

I don't know what it says about me that it took a stranger's book review to realize what my friends and colleagues have already told me, but it can't say anything good. Perhaps I needed the distance a stranger provides. I don't know.

New Anger is real. An objective phenomenon. I get that now. And my stubborn refusal to see it was, more than anything else, responsible for me getting so frustrated I actually quit blogging for a while. Had I recognized this trend earlier, I could have avoided several unnecessary fights with some close friends and colleagues. And for that I apologize. I was consumed by the very thing I denied existed.

Finally, I pledge to write with restraint this year, and not to indulge in the petty, shallow pleasures of New Anger. I'm taking the high road, and welcome any who wish to travel with me.

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