Sam Harris talks sense

The rank partisanship of American poilitics makes idiots out of us all. Case in point: hatred for Bush, though grounded in the man’s utter incompetence, blinds liberals to the very real danger posed by Islamicism.

Thank heavens, then, for people like Sam Harris, who shows that attacking Bush by minimising the threat of jihadist terrorism is stupid:

Given the mendacity and shocking incompetence of the Bush administration — especially its mishandling of the war in Iraq — liberals can find much to lament in the conservative approach to fighting the war on terror. Unfortunately, liberals hate the current administration with such fury that they regularly fail to acknowledge just how dangerous and depraved our enemies in the Muslim world are.


  1. I agree with you that it’s a big mistake to personalize politics. Liberals need to talk about problems and solutions in the context of their values. Otherwise one cannot shift the agenda of the debate.

    However, I am not aware of liberals who do not want to pursue Al Quaeda more vigorously. In fact, that is one of their criticisms of the Bush administration. When they invaded Iraq for no good reason, Bush and the Republicans took their eyes off the ball.

    All Democrats except for McKinney supported the invasion of Afganistan. To say that liberals or Democrats fail to fight Al Quaeda is an assertion that’s not grounded in fact. It’s propaganda.


  2. Right you are, Ronan. And Sam Harris must be channelling Peggy Noonan. This is part of what she said last Friday in the Wall Street Journal:

    The Democrats’ mistake–ironically, in a year all about Mr. Bush–is obsessing on Mr. Bush. They’ve been sucker-punched by their own animosity.
    “The Democrats now are incapable of answering a question on policy without mentioning Bush six times,” says pollster Kellyanne Conway. ” ‘What is your vision on Iraq?’ ‘Bush lied us into war.’ ‘Health care? ‘Bush hasn’t a clue.’ They’re so obsessed with Bush it impedes them from crafting and communicating a vision all their own.” They heighten Bush by hating him.

    But I think the Left in the U.S. deserves more contempt than you give it. The irrationality they display goes far beyond a recognition of GWB’s incompetence. Actually, if they just stopped at incompetence, they would have a good case. Instead they portary him as stupid, evil, worse than Hitler, complicit in 9/11, war criminal, killing babies so Halliburton can turn a profit, etc. I’m angry that we haven’t made progress on some of the problems we have in both our foreign and domestic arenas, and Bush deserves a full share of blame. But the Left has failed, completely and utterly, to articulate any alternatives. It deserves all the opprobrium we can heap upon it. GWB certainly has his problems, but compared to his political adversaries, he is a model of brilliance and rationality.


  3. but compared to his political adversaries, he is a model of brilliance and rationality.

    This doesn’t make sense to me. Compared to his political adversaries, he’s an idiot. That’s how come we know he’s an idiot. We’re not comparing GWB to apples or oranges, but to others in his profession (politics); and if we do that, he fails miserably. In all honesty, he reminds me of LBJ in his cavalier foreign policy (Gulf of Tonkin incident remind you of anything?). The neocons like GWB (and Wolfowitz, and Rumsfield, and Rice, and especially Cheney) wanted a “new Pearl Harbor,” and they’ve got it. Furthermore, it is tough to judge a president by what his adversaries say. If we do that, we’ll always find reciprocity. For me, it is better to judge his policies and actions against the oath he took for his office and in light of his political alliance(s). And if we do that, GWB’s “brillance and rationality” melt away. His non-brilliance and irrationality transcend most of those before him, liberal or (neo-)conservative. Lastly, liberals and conservatives both agree he fails misrably.

    I’m sorry, but I think there is some legitimacy to the liberals’ rants.


  4. David J,

    The problem with your analysis is that he isnot dumb; he is a reasonably smart man who has made a career out of running against people who think they are smarter then he is, and then handing them their heads on a platter. How many times does he need to do this before his opponents finally get wise? I don’t think he is an idiot. I think he is an intelligent guy (remember, his SAT scores were higher than Kerry’s) who has bitten off more than he can chew.

    If you are in politics, you need to win elections. GWB is smarter because he wins. Or, we could conclude that he wins because it is the electorate that is stupid, not his opponents. I’m not willing to say that. Are you?


  5. Mark,

    Few people knew what they were going to get with Bush. Here’s proof. If by “intelligent” you mean “misleading,” then yeah, I’ll give it to you. But then again, who’s doing the grunt-work for him? Surely he’s got pundits and underlings calling the shots at the grass-roots level.

    Of course you don’t think he’s an idiot. Nor would I tout Kerry as something better. I sense that for you, it’s either Dem or Rep, which doesn’t work with me. I’m passionately neither, although most (neo-)conservatives might consider me liberal (which is humorous, because libs would consider me conservative). I don’t care about Kerry, never have, and never will. For me, the difference between the D and R in this country is largely (but not entirely) a moral difference, not a political one. You can read more on that at my personal blog if you’re interested.

    And by “handing their heads on a platter” — where do you come up with that? Lord knows he nearly lost to Gore in 2000 in the closest political race in American history (go watch this), and almost repeated the episode in ’04. Are you referring to his virtually-unknown-by-the-American-public’s gubernatorial wins in Texas? Or his election into the Bohemian Grove cult? Or perhaps his election and induction into Skull & Bones? If so, you’re really digging…. Most people know him by his (nearly lost) presidential election(s) and near loss(es).


  6. David J,

    I was simply agreeing with Ronan’s larger point, that the people who think that calling bush stupid or evil amounts to a viable political position are dumber than they accuse him of being, and they deserve to lose elections.


  7. Mark, how would someone intellectually and politely point out Bush’s many follies, then? “Stupid” and “idiot” are really good words to use when speaking among friends or in the heat of battle. At least they are among me and my kind. 😉


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