Morticia: What’s closer in this world than a boy and his mother?
Pugsley: A boy and his octopus?
Nick Cohen these days has a barn door quality about him, which is sad for those of us who remember when he was one of the sharpest critics of the pretentions of Blairism. Even so, I continue to be astonished by his heroic ability to miss the point.
Or, in this case, to meander away from the point. Nick is dealing with the American election, and specifically the appeal of Irish-American candidate Barack O’Bama. Barack leaves the Brits cold, so Nick tells us. At least those Brits Nick has been talking to. Or possibly just Nick. Now, Nick has a potentially good point in dealing with O’Bama’s media coverage and what that says about race and class, but then he meanders away off into a parallel universe.
This has already been done by Chris Bertram over at Crooked Timber, and followed up at Aaro Watch, but an article that crams so many non sequiturs into such a short space is worth a look. Nick has a go at “conservative anti-Americanism”, but thankfully doesn’t expand on that. His thoughts on the subject will be familiar to those of us who have read the chapter of What’s Left? where Nick demonstrates that, er, Douglas Hurd and Noam Chomsky are co-thinkers.
Anyway, Nick tells us that support for Hillary Clinton among some British politicians is an index of anti-Americanism. He also reckons that enthusiasm for O’Bama in Europe is an index of anti-Americanism. Maybe it’s just me, but I get the sense that Nick is suggesting the only way to avoid the trap of anti-Americanism is to support McCain’s Chips. If so, why doesn’t he say so?
Actually, there seems to be some coalescing of the Decent Left around McCain. I expect that to continue as the election approaches. I confidently predict that Oliver Kampf will come out for McCain if he hasn’t already, thus maintaining his unbroken record of supporting the most rightwing candidate in every foreign election he’s blogged about. Another man to watch is our friend Marko, who may find he has an affinity for McCain’s tough stance against the threat to the Free World posed by, er, South Ossetia. And Alan (Not The Minister) Johnson, as a devoted aficionado of the late Max Shachtman, might fancy a go at recreating one of Max’s more arresting initiatives, Socialists For Nixon.
But really, if you’re a pro-war liberal, the US election should provide an embarrassment of riches. Okay, O’Bama may have blotted his copybook over Iraq, but he does have some other points going for him. He’s very keen indeed on the war in Afghanistan. And, when it came to appointing his foreign policy gurus, the first people he turned to were the professional Russophobe Zbigniew Brzezinski and the (now sadly departed) professional Serbophobe Samantha Power, both of whom should have reassured muscular liberals.
As for Hillary, she has Mr Bill’s record of humanitarian bombing in the Balkans to fall back on, and she’s been flagging up her support for “free Kosova”. She has a record of extreme bellicosity on the Middle East. She’s been very close indeed to the Israel lobby. But for some reason, the Decents seem not to like her very much. Maybe they’re taking their lead from the Dude, or maybe it’s just all those Republican blogs they read.
So, there you have it. If you’re not anti-American, the only option is to row in behind the most bellicose presidential candidate in recent memory. Hmm. Really, why don’t the Decent Left stop pretending to be the authentic representatives of progressive thought, and just admit they’ve moved to the right?
As for Nick, who I like a good deal and whose incisive writing I miss, maybe he should ponder whether he really wants to be the second coming of Norman Podhoretz.
Rud eile: This excellent discussion on Cedar Lounge may be of interest.