Saturday, August 20, 2005

Is This the Best They Have

Another sign of the decline of the left in the battle of ideas is the lack of quality op-ed writing available. The N&O relies on the old windbag Molly Ivins and the economist-turned-political hack Krugman to convey the ideas of the left, but their pieces are nothing more than third-rate Bush-bashing.

But after reading an Ellen Goodman piece today I think the paper has reached a new low. As predicted here, the N&O is continuing to try to milk the story about the Sheehan woman (who has called for a war crimes trial for our national leadership). So when the news dries up they run a Goodman editorial to keep the story alive.

Goodman starts by claiming that the label "peace mom" trivializes "the lanky woman." But she is a peacenik, so why not say it? Sheehan thinks we not only should not have gone into Iraq, but also that we should not have gone into Afghanistan.

Goodman claims that Sheehan has "a moral authority" to speak out. She may have a right to speak out, preserved for her by the deaths of hundreds of thousands of U.S. servicemen, but losing a son does not grant a moral authority. It may grant a media platform to detractors of the administration, but nothing more.

Goodman faults those who question Sheehan's motives and analyze her statements. She writes that this proves that "not even the death of a child grants you immunity from attack." The death of Casey Sheehan has nothing to do with the attacks on his mother. The attacks on the mother have resulted because she is an unhinged media-savvy activist who has put herself into the public light and made some idiotic comments.

Goodman says Sheehan has "reckless courage born of grief and anger." What Sheehan has done has required no courage. The courageous people in the story are those who have quietly performed their duty to track down and kill those who would do our citizens harm, or who have brought the opportunity for freedom to 50 million people, or who have eliminated Iraq as a potential possessor of WMD. And the well-coordinated media plan executed by the left has been far from "reckless."

Goodman veers from the sappy into an attempt at some foreign policy analysis, clearly not her strong suit. She incorrectly claims that the invasion of Iraq was initially all about WMD, but in reality the administration advanced 4 pretty clear reasons to go into Iraq (all of which have been accomplished to varying degrees).

Goodman sets the Iraqi constitutional process up for failure by claiming that the result may "not look anything like ours." But no one in the administration claimed the Iraqi constitution would look like ours and that has never been a reasonable nor stated goal.

Goodman claims that "the question was never whether the president would talk with her. He wouldn't." Well, he already has. How many meetings does Goodman expect, and why would she be disingenuous on the point?

Goodman's final stroke of lefty confusion is to call Iraq "a war of choice." Well, every war is a war of choice. Some leaders (Churchill, Truman, Bush) chose to fight the tough and even unpopular wars. Others (Petain, Chamberlain, Clinton) make the choice not to engage their countries in meaningful combat. You can always avoid war, especially if you are willing to accept the various degrees of cowardice that Goodman and Sheehan advocate.