Monday, October 30, 2006

Where Have All the Liberals Gone?

[posted by Callimachus]

John Lewis Gaddis, whose history of the Cold War is a necessary book, asks why principled Democrats abandoned one of their own old and cherished ideals as soon as Bush II laid his oily, fumbling hands on it.

So when Bush, in the aftermath of September 11, evoked the Jeffersonian idea of a world free from tyranny and the Wilsonian idea of a world safe for democracy, he was doing nothing radical or unprecedented: he was well within the tradition of American two-party politics.

It's strange, then, that so many Democrats today are outside this tradition. They have responded to the first Republican president to have become a liberal interventionist by quivering--and blogging--with rage. They have offered no plan for building on the Bush Doctrine and moving on. It's as if they're imitating the Republicans of the 1930s, who quivered with rage at Roosevelt (blogging had not been invented yet) while neglecting his warnings about tyrants, as well as his vision of what a world without them might be.