Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Limits of Schadenfraude

Writing at Patterico, Aaron Worthing asks a fair question concerning Hillary and Barack's Excellent Adventure off the shores of Tripoli:

But before we hammer the President too hard, ask yourself a simple question. Is he right, right now? Forget what he said when he represented one of the most liberal jurisdictions in America, but is he right, right now? If he is, then we have, to a degree, a patriotic duty to put those criticisms aside. Maybe the President is too small to admit it, but either 1) he was full of it when opposing the Iraq War, or 2) he has changed his mind. And if you think he is making the right decision, we shouldn’t make it too difficult, politically, to do the right thing, or else he might stop doing the right thing. In other words, please lay off.

As I wrote on Friday, I'm skeptical that our incursion into Libya is the right thing to do, especially so late in the game. But there's a larger question involved, which Worthing gets to later on:

Yes, yes, we watched the left unfairly and dishonestly malign the Iraq War, giving our enemies aid and comfort as we fought that war. Hell, we have watched our media give out enemy propaganda that has actually led terrorists to kill our troops. The temptation to turn the screws on them is powerful. But sometimes patriotism requires us to suck it up and/or bite our tongues.

Then again, we were told, rather a lot as I recall, that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. So should we really get in line even if we doubt the decision?

These are not easy questions. It's one thing to ask our military to obey orders and execute a strategy, it's quite another to expect lockstep from the civilian population.

I've never thought it wise to expect lockstep from anyone, anywhere. We are a quarrelsome species and we will disagree in fundamental ways. I do marvel at the worldview that some on the Left seem to have, in which Scott Walker is a greater enemy than Gadaffi -- I've seen signs to that effect in the protests in Madison. I can't ever hope to understand how someone could draw such a conclusion because I'm just not wired that way.

Rather than having a little schadenfreude, what I hope is this -- that people on the Left now understand is that the previous administration faced a lot of bad choices and were, in the main, quite honorable in how they approached those choices. Were there mistakes along the way, and were some of the bad choices the result of questionable decisions? Of course. And it's not a problem to say as much. Perhaps some day those on the Left who were quick to condemn, including the current Leader of the Free World, might acknowledge that there was honor involved. But if they don't, there's not much we can do about it, except to be as honorable, and honest, as we can be.


A.Worthing said...

Thanks for the link and let me be as clear as I can. Of course if the president is wrong, now, by all means let us know.

But if he is right, today, but hypocritical when viewed against his words yesterday, then i recommend biting one's tongue.

But at the same time, I don't want to hear any more liberal complaints about iraq, and if they offer any, I will refer them to this bombing campaign.

Btw, i also weighed in on the legality of the war, here: http://patterico.com/2011/03/21/this-illegal-war/

so i am definitely not opposed to criticizing this war.


Mr. D said...


Thanks for stopping by. I think we're essentially on the same page, since my sense is that you're calling for intellectual consistency.

Night Writer said...

Intellectual consistency requires intellectual capability.

Mr. D said...

Intellectual consistency requires intellectual capability.

And with a single blow of the katana, NW cuts the Gordian knot. :)

CousinDan 54915 said...

Aaron should know that Obama is wrong. That is an axiom.