In a column that was overshadowed by Reagan’s death, Victor Davis Hanson counsels optimism, while expressing pessimism about the attitude and behavior of our press and intellectual elites (including conservatives). Kurdistan is a democratic model, we are succeeding militarily, there have been no mass-terror attacks against us since 9/11. Yet the elites’ attitude is one of defeatism, mingled, on the Left, with the selective exploitation of negative news for cheap political advantage:
Our Real Dilemma. We do have a grave problem in this country, but it is not the plan for Iraq, the neoconservatives, or targeting Saddam. Face it: This present generation of leaders at home would never have made it to Normandy Beach. They would instead have called off the advance to hold hearings on Pearl Harbor, cast around blame for the Japanese internment, sued over the light armor and guns of Sherman tanks, apologized for bombing German civilians, and recalled General Eisenhower to Washington to explain the rough treatment of Axis prisoners.
We are becoming a crazed culture of cheap criticism and pious moralizing, and in our self-absorption may well lose what we inherited from a better generation. Our groaning and hissing elite indulges itself, while better but forgotten folks risk their lives on our behalf in pretty horrible places.
Judging from our newspapers, we seem to care little about the soldiers while they are alive and fighting, but we suddenly put their names on our screens and speak up when a dozen err or die. And, in the latter case, our concern is not out of respect for their sacrifice but more likely a protest against what we don’t like done in our name. So ABC’s Nightline reads the names of the fallen from Iraq, but not those from the less controversial Afghanistan, because ideological purity — not remembering the departed per se — is once again the real aim.
Hanson tells us to suck it up and muddle through, and he is right. His comments make me regret very much that Ronald Reagan is no longer around and that Margaret Thatcher is no longer an active participant in public life. We have nobody to replace them.