Jacob Heilbrunn: Slugfest 2006?


OK, I’ve been sitting on the sidelines watching the fur fly. A new article in the New York Review of Books prompts me to post. Tony Judt takes a very dim view of where things are headed, even to the point of likening, at least implicitly, the U.S. to expired communist regimes, at least in the sense that it’s reputation and even behavior are reminiscent of the bad old days, when the Soviet bloc acted as though it espoused a higher morality and could dispense with concerns about its thuggish behavior since it was acting in the name of a higher good. Here’s the essence of Judt’s argument:

For there is a fundamental truth at the core of the neocon case: the well-being of the United States of America is of inestimable importance to the health of the whole world. If the US hollows out, and becomes a vast military shell without democratic soul or substance, no good can come of it.

Why do I raise this? Because I want to pick a nit with the estimable Peter Scoblic. He ends his TNR piece, which I read this afternoon, on a hortatory note, arguing that the Democrats, in essence, need a narrative to be able to compete with the GOP, and that he’s got it. He suggests the danger of nuclear non-proliferation — a concrete threat that should focus everyone’s mind. Will it? I believe the Democrats are going to counter what Peter sees as Bush’s grand rodomontade about the war on terror with their own counter-blast, which will take the form of something along the lines that Judt fears may be occurring — the destruction of the republic. In other words, Steve’s chum Chalmers Johnson, who has been advancing this line of argument for some time, is about to go mainstream.
Might the Ohio race for Congress not be a harbinger of the Democrats upping the ante, moving sharply to the left, and denouncing Bush in no uncertain terms as the greatest bungler since, ummm, LBJ? In other words: if you think American politics has been nasty, wait until you see the slugfest that’s coming up in 2006.
— Jacob Heilbrunn