Logo for Joe Sobran's newsletter: Sobran's -- The Real News of the Month

 “It Seems a Age” 

September 20, 2005 
Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans is the second great event of George W. Bush’s presidency. In contrast to the first, it’s one he can’t capitalize on. Today's column is "'It Seems a Age'" 
-- Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.He can only try to defer its cost. But he may figure that that’s the next best thing.

Four years ago, President Bush could use the profound shock and horror of the 9/11 attacks to mount his almost unopposed and unspecified “war on terror.” Only four years ago, but, as Mr. Bumble in Oliver Twist, says of his marriage after just two months, “It seems a age.”

It would be bad enough for Bush if the war had merely been discredited; but something that may be even worse has happened. It has gone out of fashion.

Oh, the war still has its defenders, in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the Washington Times, The Weekly Standard, and elsewhere, but they are forlorn. Today they are talking to themselves, like old men recalling their glory days in another era after the rest of the world has moved on.

Even at that, their tone has changed. They no longer try to persuade us that Saddam Hussein ever posed a fearful threat to the West, with a terrible arsenal, maybe a nuclear one; or that his fall — “regime change,” as the hawks eagerly called it, smacking their lips at the prospect — would usher in a new rage for Western-style democracy in the entire Middle East.

Can anyone even remember the last time Dick Cheney used the word nuclear, or Condoleezza Rice warned that the smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud, or any of that nonsense? That stuff belongs to the ancient era of duct tape and “freedom fries.”

Most telling of all, Colin Powell now admits he’s embarrassed to recall his speech to the United Nations Security Council, so riveting at the time, justifying war on Iraq. He’s the only one we might expect to come clean, somewhat; the others are letting their old stories stand, though taking care not to remind us what they were saying.

[Breaker quote for 'It Seems a Age': How Bush thinks]Though polls show Bush’s approval rating very low, and popular support for the war even lower, there isn’t much of an anti- war movement to speak of. Few want to bother attacking what even fewer are now trying to defend. The American body count in Iraq, just over 1,900, isn’t high enough to command attention; and the dead are, after all, volunteers.

It’s nothing like the Vietnam era, when more than a hundred body bags came home to the United States every week, most of them containing the remains of draftees. In those days a huge anti-war movement was fueled by the fear and fury of young men on campuses who still faced the live possibility of conscription.

The Iraq war invoked a certain nostalgia for World War II, the subject of best-selling books about “the good war” and “the greatest generation”; opponents of the war similarly invoked nostalgia for the anti-war and “countercultural” mood of the 1960s. But neither really fit today’s circumstance. Saddam Hussein was no Hitler, and Bush and Tony Blair weren’t Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Nor did the youth of today’s America face any danger from their own government.

The only real danger has come from bad weather along the Gulf Coast, which has underscored the unreality of all the dangers the Bush administration has warned us about. Once again he has pledged limitless resources (but no taxes) to meet the problem. He pretends, as usual, that the mission of government can expand without increasing its power over us.

Bush is said to be trying to avoid his father’s mistakes, especially violating the famous promise of “no new taxes” and losing the 1992 election. Well, he hasn’t raised taxes and he has won reelection.

But by occupying Iraq and getting into an endless war with a hostile population, he has made the one big mistake his father took care not to make. Apparently he doesn’t mind mistakes if he doesn’t have to pay a political penalty for them. If the actual costs of those mistakes will be borne by the future, after he has left office, they’ll be someone else’s problem.

Bush’s legacy may be summed up in an old quip: “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are pretty good odds.”

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2005 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
This column may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of Griffin Internet Syndicate

small Griffin logo
Send this article to a friend.

Recipient’s e-mail address:
(You may have multiple e-mail addresses; separate them by spaces.)

Your e-mail address:

Enter a subject for your e-mail:

Mailarticle © 2001 by Gavin Spomer
Archive Table of Contents

Current Column

Return to the SOBRANS home page.

FGF E-Package columns by Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, and others are available in a special e-mail subscription provided by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. Click here for more information.

Search This Site

Search the Web     Search SOBRANS

What’s New?

Articles and Columns by Joe Sobran
 FGF E-Package “Reactionary Utopian” Columns 
  Wanderer column (“Washington Watch”) 
 Essays and Articles | Biography of Joe Sobran | Sobran’s Cynosure 
 The Shakespeare Library | The Hive
 WebLinks | Books by Joe 
 Subscribe to Joe Sobran’s Columns 

Other FGF E-Package Columns and Articles
 Sam Francis Classics | Paul Gottfried, “The Ornery Observer” 
 Mark Wegierski, “View from the North” 
 Chilton Williamson Jr., “At a Distance” 
 Kevin Lamb, “Lamb amongst Wolves” 
 Subscribe to the FGF E-Package 

Products and Gift Ideas
Back to the home page 


SOBRANS and Joe Sobran’s columns are available by subscription. Details are available on-line; or call 800-513-5053; or write Fran Griffin.

Reprinted with permission
This page is copyright © 2005 by The Vere Company
and may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of The Vere Company.