October 19, 2004
The Chicago Tribune editorial board, a smart group for sure, endorsed George W. Bush for president.
Near the beginning, there’s a quote from John McCain:
So it is, whether we wished it or not, that we have come to the test of our generation, to our rendezvous with destiny. […]
And that pretty much sets the tone. This is how they wrap it up:
This country’s paramount issue, though, remains the threat to its national security.
For three years, Bush has kept Americans, and their government, focused—effectively—on this nation’s security. The experience, dating from Sept. 11, 2001, has readied him for the next four years, a period that could prove as pivotal in this nation’s history as were the four years of World War II.
That demonstrated ability, and that crucible of experience, argue for the re-election of President George W. Bush. He has the steadfastness, and the strength, to execute the one mission no American generation has ever failed.
Okay, this is not an unfamiliar sentiment. It’s Bush’s whole call to arms, right? I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not th—oh wait, no, that’s Aragorn.
Yeah, see, that’s the problem: This is earth, not Middle Earth.
Can the Tribune be serious? “[A]s pivotal in this nation’s history as were the four years of World War II”?
Here’s the thing: They want to believe that. I think a lot of people do. It’s something that Chris Hedges argues very convincingly in his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, which is about—well, yeah. (P.S. I interviewed Hedges for Poynter.org.)
He says: The notion of a martial struggles ennobles us. It suffuses us with grim righteousness. It’s mythic and meaningful.
But in this case, it’s also total bullshit!
Why isn’t dealing with the Sauron of Social Security ever our rendezvous with destiny? Why can’t the struggle against global poverty be the test of our generation?
Oh, right, because those challenges don’t involve killing
orcs terrorists. Seriously! We’re nuts like that!
Now I’m sure Robert Kaplan would tell me, “Hush, squeamish child of privilege. Go back to your video games and allow Achilles to do his bloody work.” And I accept the point that violence is a tool we have to use.
But to assert that that it is the primary work of our nation now—that all other challenges pale before some all-consuming war—is, I think, wishful and wrong and a little bit sick.
And I’m surprised that a group as able as the Tribune editorial board is playing along with the terror-obsessed Tolkiens who tell that tale.
Depressing addendum: Just saw this on reason.com’s Who’s Getting Your Vote? — Louis Rosseto, co-founder of WIRED, says:
Bush may be wrong about everything else, but he is right about the issue that matters most for my children’s future: stopping Islamic fascism. And Manchurian candidate Kerry and the Copperheads, er, Democrats, are just a joke, preferring to act as though this probably generation-spanning war is about politics, not the survival of the West.
He’s right! We need to invade Mordor immediatedly!