Thursday, March 14, 2013

Progressive Idiocy: A Pundit Awakens

Progressive columnist William Rivers Pitt apparently noticed something recently:

From the moment the Supreme Court decision came down in 2000 that gifted the White House to Bush, to the moment he was finally and forever out of power, I resisted him and his works, because I knew what he represented, what he was about, and what he was doing to my beloved country. My instincts were finely honed, and I gave probably a million words - in print, and spoken aloud on the road for some 800,000 miles - to the cause of thwarting him and everything he stood for.

And now? Now I'm suddenly wondering where that guy has been. He sure as hell isn't the one I see in the mirror. He lapsed into a moral coma, lulled by his idea of America and by the election of someone who can talk the birds out of the trees even as the lumberjacks clear-cut the forest.

Waking From My Moral Coma

I should point out that at least Mr. Pitt seems to be waking up to the reality of what's been going on all these years since the Little Bush Administration went to the great pig ranch in the sky. He's way ahead of some of his colleagues in that department. Still, you have to wonder why it took so long. I think that portion I emphasized explains why. I'll get back to that in a moment.

The proximate cause of Pitt's awakening was the case of Tomas Young, an Iraq War veteran whose spinal cord was severed by an insurgent's bullet not long after he arrived there. The man's health has deteriorated so much that he is contemplating suicide. It would be a tragic story even if the war he'd been engaged in was a necessary one. Unfortunately, it wasn't, and one hell of a lot of other people suffered similarly awful fates.

As Pitt writes:

I believe in the idea that is America, but Tomas Young is dying because he believed, too. He is dying, and the people who delivered him to the slow sunset of his death remain utterly unmolested by the rule of law we Americans take so much misguided pride in. I live with my idea of America in one hand, and the dying light of Tomas Young in the other, and when I look in the mirror, I cannot meet my own eyes. I spent all those years fighting against everything that is ending Tomas Young's life, I made documenting their serial crimes my life's work...and then I let it slide, because Bush was gone, and I couldn't summon the necessary energy to remain outraged over the fact that they all got away with the crime of the millennium scot-free.

Waking From My Moral Coma

That Pitt is late to "the party", as John MClane put it is mostly interesting because Pitt is right - he should have known better. Even now, though, he still mostly seems to be berating himself for not staying outraged enough.

But Barack Obama was so much more articulate than W. had ever been, Pitt seems to be saying. This is something that has had me grinding my teeth ever since Obama was inaugurated the first time whenever a progressive has uttered those words. All I can ever seem to say in response is "Who frigging cares?"

Really, what difference does it make? The man has delivered thousands more young men and women into the same hell Tomas Young inhabits. He has carried out assassinations at a rate Bush and his crew of thugs could only dream of, and most progressives haven't raised an objection worth noting. "Oh, you can't change things overnight", they'd say. Yes, he could. He had the power to order our armies home just as much as Bush had the right to order them there in the first place, maybe more. He didn't.

Pitt seems to disagree with that assessment, though:

Make no mistake, now: that's not an "Obama is the same as Bush" argument. Nobody is Bush, because Bush stands alone, and whoever makes that kind of equivalency either slept through the first eight years of this century, hit their head and forgot what those eight years were like, or is trying to sell you something.

Waking From My Moral Coma

I think that anyone who can write that has slept through the last five years, and let's not forget, Pitt is the one who said he was in a "coma". There's no difference that matters to me between those two. How they have conducted their business has been remarkably similar, and the differences don't always speak well of Obama. I'm outraged by Obama's actions for the same reasons I was outraged by the same actions when George W. Bush committed them. I was outraged when it was clear that Obama was going to give Bush and his torturers cover.

What someone does, measured against what he has the power to do, is what matters to most to me about a person. In that regard, Obama is as much of a failure as Bush. If Bush had made this country a better place while he was in office, or at least had tried to, I'd consider his bumbling verbal style nothing more than an amusing quirk. What matters is the work, and in that regard Obama has kept the Bush Administration alive into its fourth term.

Being articulate and educated doesn't impress me, in and of itself. What a person does with that education is what matters. When educated people do wrong, it's far worse than when people who might not understand the historical or social context do so. In short, educated people should know better. "Constitutional scholars" who violate the Constitution offend me more than lazy minded oafs who do the same.

Why do I think that's what Pitt was doing? This quote, for one thing:

I am finished with the moral geometry that says this is better than that, which makes this good. This is not good; this is, in fact, intolerable. Allowing the perpetrators of war crimes - widely televised ones at that - to retain their good name and go on Sunday talk shows as if they had anything to offer besides their ideology of murder and carnage is intolerable. Entertaining the idea that the billions we spend preparing for war cannot be touched, and so the elderly and the infirm and the young and the weak and the voiceless must pay the freight instead, is intolerable.

The pornography of America's global killing spree is intolerable, and, by the by, I am sick of hearing about drones. A child killed by a Hellfire missile that was fired from a drone is exactly, precisely as dead as a child killed by a Hellfire missile fired from an Apache attack helicopter, precisely as dead as a child killed by a smart bomb, precisely as dead as a child killed by a sniper, precisely as dead as a child killed by a land mine, or by a cruise missile, or by any of the myriad other ways instant death is dealt by this hyper-weaponized nation of ours.

Waking From My Moral Coma

Caption: A BLU-97 cluster bomblet found in Al Maajala, Yemen, in December, 2009.

Image credit: Amnesty International/Common Dreams

For that matter, dropping a cluster bomb on a "terrorist camp" is a war crime, too. It amazes me still that so many of the same progressives who proclaim loudly that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were war crimes have no comment on the indiscriminate use of our air power against targets in countries that we're not even at war with. At least our leaders in World War II had the excuse that they were fighting against real enemies with real armies, and they hadn't signed a treaty yet that made such things explicitly illegal. Using an area weapon like a cluster bomb in an area where civilians are located is the same thing, just on a smaller scale.

Obama is every bit as about those things Pitt decries as George W. Bush. It's just that Bush couldn't have come up with a phrase like "the moral geometry" to save his life. That kind of excuse-making is the sort that people with some logic and language skills devise.

So, if I were able to give Mr. Pitt advice, it would be this: don't worry about looking in the mirror. Everyone gets tired sometimes. I did. What I'd be thinking about if I were you is why you let it slide - what made you think that it was OK, or to use your terminology, what made you decide there was a "geometry" to the pointless deaths of innocent people when Obama was the Decider? Then, and I say this in all seriousness and with considered thought:

Don't fucking do it again!!

Pitt is still ahead of most progressives on this issue, if this recent article is any indication. So congratulations on waking up. Now pass it on.


Expat said...

Thanks for posting this. At this late date, these words still need be said, so sad.

Cujo359 said...

It's sad alright. If I could distill all that down to a single sentence, it would be that we progressives could do with a little less righteous indignation and a little more critical thought.

It seems I spend too much time wishing for things that aren't going to happen...