Thursday, July 12, 2007

Insane in the Membrane

Yesterday morning I posted on the quaint hopes of Ralph "Blood-n-Guts" Peters and NRO's Kathryn Jean Lopez that their beloved GOP might yet pin the impending, 95% GOP-authored apocalypse in Iraq on the Democrats. As Lopez quoted Peters:

This has been the Bush-Cheney War. But it will only be fair to call the carnage after we run away the "Reid-Pelosi Massacres."
Overnight this batch of Kool-Aid suffused the Republican body politic, and it may have inspired a thought from "moderate" columnist David Ignatius in today's Washington Post:
Getting into Iraq was President Bush's decision, and history will judge his administration harshly for its mistakes in the postwar occupation. But getting out of Iraq is now partly in the hands of the Democrats who control both houses of Congress. History will be equally unforgiving if their agitation for withdrawal results in a pell-mell retreat that causes lasting damage.
Kevin Drum assails Ignatius's passage as an example of a recent GOP straw man:
Can we please cut the crap? There are virtually no Democrats — and certainly none with any real influence — who are advocating a pell-mell retreat. But for some reason every columnist in the world seems to find it necessary to warn us against this nonexistent straw man. Why?

Those of us who want to leave want to do it in an orderly way. If the Pentagon says it will take 12 months, that's fine. 18 months? Also fine. It just needs to be real. Nobody wants to endanger any American lives by ignoring legitimate force protection issues, and I'm really, really tired of lazy writers who continually imply otherwise on no basis at all. Knock it off.
But what I see in both the Peters and Ignatius passages, and especially in considering the two of them together, is the foundation of a classic "stab-in-the-back" myth. Kevin Baker wrote on this myth at length last year in Harper's Magazine:
Every state must have its enemies. Great powers must have especially monstrous foes. Above all, these foes must arise from within, for national pride does not admit that a great nation can be defeated by any outside force. That is why, though its origins are elsewhere, the stab in the back has become the sustaining myth of modern American nationalism. Since the end of World War II it has been the device by which the American right wing has both revitalized itself and repeatedly avoided responsibility for its own worst blunders. Indeed, the right has distilled its tale of betrayal into a formula: Advocate some momentarily popular but reckless policy. Deny culpability when that policy is exposed as disastrous. Blame the disaster on internal enemies who hate America. Repeat, always making sure to increase the number of internal enemies.

As the United States staggers past the third anniversary of its misadventure in Iraq, the dagger is already poised, the myth is already being perpetuated.
This is where our good countrymen on the right are going with this meme, fellow Democrats. Take a look in the mirror. The enemy is you.