Thursday, 29 November 2007

In Passing

1968 Redux?

From our Coweta County correspondent, a pointer to predictions of events following a Hillary victory:

Forty years after 1968, she could find herself sitting in the Oval Office, alone with her “responsibility gene” and LBJ’s ghost. Facing a relentless war by Islamic fascists, she will be caught in the same vise as LBJ: pressed repeatedly by the GOP to fight back and win, hounded by the Wallace-McGovern-Obama-Edwards left to cut and run. And as they did with LBJ, the left will mean business.

The moment she does not move fast enough to “end the war” the left will hit the streets. Led by the and Daily Kos types there will be marches on Washington with one of two purposes: ending the war or, failing that, bringing her down as was done to LBJ. – Jeffrey Lord: Hillary and the Ghost of LBJ
McGehee notes, “There are those on the anti-war fringe who would probably enjoy such a spectacle. They’ve been spoiling for it since 9/11.” He's right, but Lord’s prediction neglects two “elephants in the room” that could make a major difference...
Those “elephants” are (1) the clandestine financial and organizational aid that the 60s antiwar movement got from the Soviet Union, and (2) the lack of a military draft today.

Mass political action takes organization and money. It might be possible to use the internet for the one and George Soros (plus a gaggle of Hollywood/dotcom lefties) for the other. But whether this combination would be able to replace the international department of the KGB is certainly not proven.[1]   We know that the Daily Kos-MoveOn axis lacks the Soviets’ ability to choreograph large-scale supporting international reaction (demonstrations, teach-ins, and the like), although given the propensities of the international press and the European chattering classes, such choreography might be unnecessary.  Still, it would be a stretch.

The other problem is manpower. In the 60s the prospect of being drafted into combat moved a lot of people from being indifferent about the war to being against it, out of pure self-interest.[2]  That’s not the case today: Most college students[3] are relatively unaffected by the war, and have not yet been politicized. Only the already-committed politicals, the kind who already march for Code Pink, can be relied upon.  And their number is insufficient.

Lacking numbers, the left might turn to violence as a force multiplier, the probable result being similar to the last two WTO protests. But use of violence would destroy their political credibility. Demonstraors would be obvious malcontents, not “our kids.” There would be no Kent State this time.  Reaction by the authorities could be swift and severe, while still widely supported.

Lord’s piece raises some interesting possibilities (and is worth reading in its entirety). I certainly agree that the proper combination of circumstances would lead to a repeat of the 1968-style craziness from the left. But I believe this time around things would play out much differently.

[1] Lord doesn't explore the ties between the Soviets and the American left in his essay, prefering to cast his “struggle for the soul of the Democratic party” as between the patriotic Americans of the Roosevelt- Truman-Kennedy wing and patriotic American populists-isolationists-pacifists exemplified by Henry Wallace and George McGovern. (Lord puts Robert Kennedy in the second group, but IMO Kennedy was instead an opportunist who measured Johnson's weakness against the political strength of the left, and adjusted his position to take maximum advantage of both.)

[2] Leftist Democrats such as Charlie Rangel understand that a military draft is a necessary condition for recreating the mass movements of the 60s, which is why they support reinstating it.

[3] College students are important because their schedules are flexible: They can jump in the car and drive 500 miles to a rally with little consequence. (At some institutions, they would probably receive extra credit for skipping class to demonstrate!) People with families and jobs are more constrained.

Posted by: Old Grouch in In Passing at 02:28:40 GMT | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 Yeah, but there's a lot of difference between believing that Bush might have had advance warning of 9/11 and being in line to be sent overseas and shot at. I just don't see the truthers as being as inclined to get out in force as the 1-As were.

But I certainly agree with Lord's predictions of a platform fight at the next Dem convention followed by some kind of party meltdown if Hillary gets elected and has to face reality. (I'll pop the popcorn!)

Rather than LBJ, Hillary may be in a Nixon position in that only she (with her impeccable left credentials) will be able to kick the nutroots out of the party. "Vote Hillary for future Democratic sanity"?

Posted by: Old Grouch at 11/29/07 21:47:55 (/ZCiX)

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