Cheap Cynicism

Kerrey’s editorial made me wonder how often he is asked for an opinion, how often his point of view is solicited in the constant attempt by the mainstream media to balance out panels, to seek other views. Here is a Democrat – not one running for President, but then neither is Hagel. Perhaps he is asked but my sense is that a certain framing of debate, by both right and left, is less likely to seek out his voice than that of, say, Kos or Ann Coulter, those who repeat the Democrats’ talking points and those who repeat the Republicans’. Nuance isn’t entertaining. This partially explains the complaint of Steven Schwartz in his “The Myth of Muslim Silence” at TCS. And the absence (or twentieth paragraphing) of the turnover of Maysan Province to the Iraqis in Michael Yon’s “A Small Battle in the Media War.”

The news slants left, sometimes reaching the perpendicular, but there’s no getting around it slants simple and it slants blood & sex. What is most destructive is it slants cynical. Its long and often honorable tradition of skepticism and muck-raking leads to a reflexive cynicism. It isn’t new – Twain at his worst, Mencken more often at his – but  bitterness can be obtuse. If only with blinders do we see a world without villains, the same is true of heroes. Or, perhaps, another truth is that while Jefferson kept slaves he also risked much and made choices that we can admire. We should be grateful when others transcend, even if we aren’t surprised that often they do not. Flannery O’Connor’s nihlistic Hulga, who has read far more philosophy than she has life, changes her name from the Joy her cheerful, cliche-ridden mother, Mrs. Hopewell, had given her.

Nothing is perfect. This was one of Mrs. Hopewell’s favorite sayings. Another was: that is life! And still another, the most important, was: well, other people have their opinions too. She would make these statements, usually at the table, in a tone of gentle insistence as if no one held them but her, and the large hulking Joy, whose constant outrage had obliterated every expression from her face, would stare just a little to the side of her, her eyes icy blue, with the look of someone who had achieved blindness by an act of will and means to keep it.

4 thoughts on “Cheap Cynicism”

  1. It’s not patriotic to leave our soldiers in Iraq to fight and die for a Shiite theocracy. Whether this president or the next withdraws from Iraq there will be dancing in the streets of Baghdad. Shiites and Sunnis alike will celebrate their “victory” over the occupiers. That’s the only “victory” that’s going to be won there. As soon as the aid money buyoffs run out the stooges who nominally run the country, whether it’s Maliki or another set of Iranian backed goons will start making public anti-American utterances in order to hang onto their phony baloney jobs or just to keep themselves from being strung up from lamp posts. They’ll tear up any godawful hydrocarbon law forced down their throats by Cheney in a New York minute. That may not save them but in any event it’ll be a wholey unenforcable contract.

    Why would they be so ungrateful? First of all because they’re Arabs. Who live in the Middle East. The US has been getting bad press in those parts for decades. Secondly because Bush 1 told them to overthrow Saddam in 1991 and then had coalition soldiers stand idly by, sometimes as Republican Guard troops moved right through their ranks to massacre them. Then we sanctioned the whole country into the poorhouse for over a decade for Saddam’s sins. Now we’ve invaded, occupied and destroyed their country. We arrested many of them without charges, locked them up without trial and tortured them. 4 million are displaced. 2 million outside the country. Probably a million have died. 53% in the last poll said they have a close friend or family member who has been killed or wounded by the violence. 69% say coalition troops make the security situation worse, not better. 71% say killing American soldiers is justifiable. 60% are unemployed with no way to feed their families. A majority say there may be a short term spike in violence once we leave but they still want us out.

    Bush knows all that and it’s the reason he won’t withdraw. If he can just hang on til January ‘09 someone else, be it a Repub or Dem, (and there’s no way it’s going to be a Repub if we’re still in Iraq) will be left holding the bag, taking the blame for his latest failure as has been the case his whole life. That’s not worth one more life, American or Iraqi.

    You and Yon can wax rhapsodic about the Brits handing over a province to another set of Arab mafia bosses but you’re just deluding yourselves. Nothing changes the above facts. If that’s too cynical for you, well too bad, that’s life.

  2. If that’s too cynical for you, well too bad, that’s life.

    It’s more than cynical. It’s misinformed, overconfident and stupid.

  3. This is essentially the comment you put up on May 16 at TPM. If you think we might have missed it there and you feel it is pertinent, why not put a link here? We don’t really appreciate these kinds of semi-spam arguments – it is not unlike the e-mail I keep getting for cialis and penis enlargement. We like to think our dialogue is with someone who has at least a vague sense of our arguments.

  4. Mark8 — it is well to be cynical, but not stupid.

    In 1934 it might well have been Conservatives like Churchill who pushed for rearmament and thought Nazi Germany was scary, perhaps for their own ends, but the danger was clear to anyone who could think.

    Noble purple fingered Iraqis will not transform the ME. But the danger of handing them, their manpower, base of operations, oil money for terror, and hard-won allies on the ground and intelligence networks to Al Qaeda and Iran who are allied like Hitler and Mussolini is clear to anyone who can think.

    Bob Kerrey can in no way be considered a friend of the Administration. But he can see the danger.

    Liberals and Dems and the Media can run the risk of becoming Stanley Baldwin, who constantly dismissed any danger from Hitler and thought Nazi Germany a splendid place.

    How many US cities are you prepared to lose to avoid the ugliness of Iraq?

Comments are closed.