Simon Schama presents the clever-sounding version of the Daily Mirror’s ‘How can you be so dumb’ front page:
In Godly America the politics of impassioned conviction inevitably trumped the politics of logical argument. On CNN a fuming James Carville wondered out loud how a candidate declared by the voting public to have decisively won at least two of the three televised debates could have still been defeated. But the “victory” in those debates was one of body language rather than reasoned discourse. It registered more deeply with the public that the president looked hunched and peevish than that he had been called by Kerry on the irrelevance of the war in Iraq to the threat of terror. And since the insight was one of appearance not essence, it could just as easily be replaced by countless photo-ops of the president restored to soundbite affability. The charge that Bush and his second war had actually made America less, not more safe, and had created, not flushed out, nests of terror, simply failed to register with the majority of those who put that issue at the top of their concerns.
Why? Because, the president had “acted”, meaning he had killed at least some Middle Eastern bad dudes in response to 9/11. That they might be the wrong ones, in the wrong place – as Kerry said over and over – was simply too complicated a truth to master. Forget the quiz in political geography, the electorate was saying (for the popular commitment to altruistic democratic reconstruction on the Tigris is, whatever the White House orthodoxy, less than Wolfowitzian), it’s all sand and towelheads anyway, right? Just smash “them” (as one ardent Bush supporter put it on talk radio the other morning) “like a ripe cantaloupe”. Who them? Who gives a shit? Just make the testosterone tingle all the way to the polls.
So in other words – dumb.
There were maybe 101 reasons for left-wingers or liberals not to want George W Bush re-elected – make your own list.
But anti-Bush media commentators consistently focus their ire on one of the few positive elements of the Bush administration without noticing that it was precisely Iraq and the struggle against Islamism that led some thoughtful and torn Democrats to vote Republican.
So who exactly is being dumb here?
If Schama reads blogs (and he refers to Holy bloggers as part of his rage against believers) he might have come across the likes of this chap and others who reluctantly voted Bush precisely because they understand the nature of the most important struggle in the world today:
I know quite a few people who didn’t support Bush last time but did support him this time. And every single one of them did so for the same reasons I did. Because of the Terror War. Because Kerry could not be trusted.
I don’t know of anyone, anywhere, who swung from Al Gore to George W. Bush because of gay marriage, tax cuts, or for any other reason. I’m not saying they don’t exist. But if they do exist, I haven’t heard of ’em. They’re an invisible, miniscule minority.
There aren’t enough of us liberal hawks, disgruntled Democrats, neo-neoconservatives – or whatever else you might want to call us – to trigger a political realignment. But it does appear we can swing an election. At least we can help. And though I don’t think of myself as conservative (I did just vote for a Democratic Congress), my alienation from the liberal party is total. A political party that thinks crying Halliburton! is a grown-up response to anti-totalitarian war just isn’t serious.
And neither are people who think shouting ‘dumb’ at the majority of American voters is going to advance their cause.