Saturday, October 23, 2004

I have been remiss in pointing out that Shannon Love of The Chicago Boyz has been added to the blogroll in her own right. I've been following her for a little while on both sites and I have come away impressed with her keen intelligence. Here is one of her more recent efforts at skewering John Kerry on national security. Not hard to do but not easy to do well - and Shannon did an artful job. Here's an excerpt:

"People make decisions based not on the merits of individual cases but by running the facts of each particular case through their existing model. People with different models arrive at different conclusions even if they start with the same set of facts. Even though the War on Terror is substantially different from the Cold War, Kerry still thinks about fighting Terrorism using the same fundamental concepts that he used to think about the Cold War. Kerry's model results from a synthesis of New England Puritanism which directs the individual to look their own sins before blaming others and the crypto-marxist conceit that all the problems of the world have their major genesis in the actions of the Western commercial class. Therefore, when confronted with an external threat, Kerry's first response is to ask, "What did we do to cause this?" His gut reaction to any attack will be to try to alter American behavior to placate the attacker.

Kerry's Cold War stances clearly reflect this model. In a 1970 Harvard Crimsom interview, he advocated placing most U.S. foreign policy operations under the control of the United Nations. Since at that time Breshnev's Soviet Union and Mao Tse-tung's China had vetos on the U.N. security council it says a lot about how much he trusted American decision making. For the then 25 year old Yale graduate running for the U.S. congress, the Communist regimes where better decision makers on the just use of force than American democracy. "

Amen, sister.
I'm not going to deride this too much, as I don't entirely disagree with it, however there are a couple of fundamental flaws in this analysis of Kerry. 1) The model through which Kerry views the world probably doesn't have much in the way of New England puritanism in it. He's Irish Catholic. Remember, there are a couple of competing cultural groups in New England. The Irish Catholic mentatlity definitely involves more of an "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission." mindset. 2) Using actions which occoured 30+ years ago to evaluate anyone's modern mindset is ridiculous. A 25 year old idealist operating during the Vietnam War is not the same as a 59 year old moderate. The defense voting record of Kerry has been wrongly skewered by GOP leaders based on votes relating to Defense Apropriations Acts. Using that logic I can say (quite factually) that Sen. John McCain opposed cancer research, something I would most certainly not do. In fact, Kerry is a die hard hawk by most voting standards. If you're going to assault him, better to look at his budgetary platform. It's leakier than the Titanic.
While I won't disagree with all of the points made by BT, I think it misses the major flaw in Kerry's thinking. You can argue about what it is that causes the flaw but here is the fundamental problem, "Even though the War on Terror is substantially different from the Cold War, Kerry still thinks about fighting Terrorism using the same fundamental concepts that he used to think about the Cold War."

Kerry still views the world through the rules that operated during the Cold War. In the spirit of PNM, those rules still apply but only in the Core. Kerry still seems to think he can work the Gap with those rules. North Korea provides the perfect example of this fault. The deal that Clinton made with Pyongyang was premised on a Cold War understanding of arms control through negotiations, treaties, and benefits. Kerry wants to go back to this, offering up-front benefits while the Bush administration clearly wants serious concessions before any deal is struck. Kerry wants to repeat a process that already failed once before for two reasons; one, he doesn't realize that Cold War rule sets are inoperable in the Gap and two, he doesn't trust the unilateral exercise of US power. Neither of which are beliefs that I want in the President in this crucial next term.

As for New England Puritanism, I don't know whether the Catholic or Puritan mindset pervades Kerry's worldview, but I do know that cultural vestiges of Puritanism are evident in many aspects of New England culture regardless of denomination (look at the particular brand of self-loathing on the part of Red Sox fans). So I wouldn't rule that out. Also, I hesitate to call Kerry a die hard Hawk.
I was struck by Ms. Love's post as well. And I made a comment similar to BT's in its comments section. Where could Mr. Kerry have acquired his New England Puritanism? From his putatively Catholic home? From the Washington, DC young boyhood? Was his Swiss boarding school a hotbed of Puritanism? His Episcopal-affiliated prep school? Is Yale, perhaps, a notably Puritanical institution? The Yalies I know certainly don't reflect it.
On the other hand, does John Kerry evoke images of Tip O'Neil and James Micheal Curley ?

I agree that BT has identified an existing Irish Catholic mindset - I have relatives on my mother's side like that- but does Kerry have it ? I can see this Irish raising-hell quality in Ted Kennedy, the septuagenarian Spring-breaker but not so much in his dour fellow senator. How many old fashioned, Boston Irish pols go to Swiss boarding schools ?
Precisely the reason that I wrote in the comments at Chicago Boyz that I didn't see either Catholicism or Puritanism in Kerry's positions. Marxism, yes.
Which begs the question " Is there a superficial stylistic resemblance- or a deep substantive one - between New England Puritanism and Marxism ? "

I'd say the mutual lack of humor might be a start.
Hey, I was just blog surfing and found you!

If you are interested, go see my ##KEYWORD## related site. It isn't anything special but you may still find something of interest.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Zenpundit - a NEWSMAGAZINE and JOURNAL of scholarly opinion.

My Photo
Location: Chicago, United States

" The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances as though they were realities" -- Machiavelli

Determined Designs Web Solutions Lijit Search
02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 / 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 / 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 / 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 / 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 / 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 / 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 / 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 / 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 / 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 / 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 / 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 / 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 / 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 / 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 / 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 / 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 / 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 / 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 / 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 / 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 / 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 / 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 / 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 / 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 / 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 / 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 / 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 /

follow zenpundit at http://twitter.com
This plugin requires Adobe Flash 9.
Get this widget!
Sphere Featured Blogs Powered by Blogger StatisfyZenpundit

Site Feed Who Links Here
Buzztracker daily image Blogroll Me!