by Michael Barone
August 14, 2006
Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday, anti-Iraq war candidate Ned Lamont beat Sen. Joseph Lieberman in Connecticut’s Democratic primary. On Thursday, British authorities arrested more than 20 British Muslims who were plotting to blow up American airliners over the Atlantic Ocean.
Tuesday was a victory for the angry antiwar Left that set the tone in the Democrats’ 2003-04 presidential cycle and seems likely to set the tone again in 2007-08. Thursday was a reminder that there are, as George W. Bush has finally taken to calling them, Islamic fascist terrorists who want to kill us and destroy our way of life.
Thursday’s lesson was not one Tuesday’s victors wanted to learn. Left-wing bloggers played an important part in Lamont’s victory. Here’s the reaction of one of them, John Aravosis, to the red alert ordered here in response to the British arrests: “Do I sound as if I don’t believe this alert? Why, yes, that would be correct. I just don’t believe it. Read the article. They say the plot had an ‘Al Qaeda footprint.’ Ooh, are you scared yet?”
What we are looking at here is cognitive dissonance. The mindset of the Left blogosphere is that there’s no real terrorist threat out there. We wouldn’t have any serious problem if we’d just do something different — raise the minimum wage or reduce the number without health insurance (the first issue Lamont mentioned on election night), withdraw from Iraq or (as some Left bloggers suggest) sell out Israel.
As for Lamont, on victory night he mentioned his policy to handle the nuclear threat posed by Iran: We should “bring in allies” and “use carrots as well as sticks.” He evidently failed to notice that we deputized Britain, France and Germany to negotiate with Iran for three years and that Iran has been offered plenty of carrots and has not been threatened with many sticks. Once again, a disconnect with reality.
The Iranian mullahs and the Holocaust-denying Mahmoud Ahmadinejad want to destroy Israel and inflict as much damage to the United States as they can. They say so over and over again. They hate our way of life, our freedoms and our tolerance. Unfortunately, there’s no obvious and easy way to handle the Iranian regime, just as there was no obvious and easy way to handle Hitler in the late 1930s.
At least Neville Chamberlain was made of sterner stuff. His Tuesday was the Munich agreement in September 1938, when he and the French persuaded Czechoslovakia to give up its borderlands to Hitler. He was cheered by vast crowds eager to avoid the horrors of war. His Thursday came in March 1939, when Nazi troops marched into Prague.
Chamberlain proceeded to build up Britain’s military forces and to embark on a vigorous diplomacy to cabin Hitler in. He realized instantly that he had been, as Winston Churchill was to say in his funeral oration in the House of Commons, “deceived by a wicked man.” He prepared to call Churchill, his bitter critic on Munich, into government. Chamberlain’s diplomacy ultimately failed: Hitler wanted war too much. But Chamberlain stayed true to his countrymen, yielding his place to Churchill and strenuously supporting him when Britain was in peril.
Can we expect as much of our Left? It seems doubtful. Our Left criticized George W. Bush when The New York Times revealed that the National Security Agency was surveilling telephone calls from al-Qaida suspects overseas to the United States. Now it appears that the United States surveilled the British terrorists, and that they made phone calls to the United States. The Left cried foul when The New York Times revealed that the United States was monitoring money transfers at the SWIFT bank clearinghouse in Brussels. Now it appears that there was monitoring of money transfers by the British terrorists in Pakistan. On Tuesday, the Left was gleeful that it was scoring political points against George W. Bush. On Thursday, it seemed that the supposedly controversial NSA surveillance contributed to savings thousands of lives.
Joseph Lieberman is being criticized for saying, “I’m worried that too many people, both in politics and out, don’t appreciate the seriousness of the threat to American security and the evil of the enemy that faces us — more evil, or as evil, as Nazism and probably more dangerous than the Soviet communists we fought during the long Cold War. We cannot deceive ourselves that we live in safety today and the war is over, and it’s why we have to stay strong and vigilant.”
That view didn’t prevail on Tuesday. But it sure made sense on Thursday.
— Michael Barone is a senior writer for U.S. News and World Report, a Fox News contributor, and principal co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.