Kurt Andersen who describes himself "in disagreement with the Bush administration politically, temperamentally, and ontologically most of the time," nevertheless writes a remarkable article in New York magazine that exposes, eloquently, a shameful secret of the left.
The success of the [Iraqi] elections poses a major intellectual-moral-political problem for people in this city [New York]. The cognitive dissonance is palpable.
By last November, they’d hoped the U.S. would see things their way—and it was some solace that by January, a solid majority of the country apparently agreed with New York that Iraq was a mess and a misadventure.
Until the Iraqi vote: surprisingly smooth and inarguably inspiring and, in some local camps, unexpectedly unsettling. Of course, for all but a nutty fringe, it is not a matter of actually wishing for an insurgent victory, but rather of hating the idea of a victory presided over by the Bush team.
Like “radical chic,” a related New York specialty, “liberal guilt” once meant feeling discomfort over one’s good fortune in an unjust world. As this last U.S. election cycle began, however, a new subspecies of liberal guilt arose—over the pleasure liberals took in bad news from Iraq, which seemed sure to hurt the administration. But with Bush reelected, any shred of tacit moral rationale is gone. In other words, feel the guilt, and let it be a pang that leads to moral clarity.
Each of us has a Hobbesian choice concerning Iraq; either we hope for the vindication of Bush’s risky, very possibly reckless policy, or we are in a de facto alliance with the killers of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. We can be angry with Bush for bringing us to this nasty ethical crossroads, but here we are nonetheless.
But at this moment in this war, that binary choice of who you want to win is inescapable and needs to be faced squarely—just as being pro-war obliges one to admit that thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed or maimed or orphaned.
At a certain point during the Vietnam War, a majority of Americans—those of us who were in favor of unilateral U.S. withdrawal—were in a de facto alliance with the North Vietnamese, the Vietcong, and the Soviets. Unpleasant but true.
It won’t do simply to default to our easy predispositions—against Bush, even against war. If partisanship makes us abandon intellectual honesty, if we oppose what our opponents say or do simply because they are the ones saying or doing it, we become mere political short-sellers, hoping for bad news because it’s good for our ideological investment.