Last week I finally posted a longish post about the war that we’re in. While it took me many weeks to put those thoughts onto virtual paper – Bill Whittle, in a fantastic essay in two parts, has written something far beyond what my poor skills as a scribe can fathom.
And all of this rage and fury and spitting and tearing up of signs, all of these insults and spinmeisters and forgeries and all the rest, seem to come down to the fact that about half the country thinks you deter this sort of thing by being nice, while the other half thinks you deter this by being mean.
It’s really just that simple.
Now if sociology were a real science, we could set up experiments. We could, in fact, do what just about every one of us – Liberal or Conservative — has, in our heart of hearts, secretly wanted to do: send that 50% of idiots on the other side packing – I mean, really packing, as in, out of the country, for good — and let history show we were right after all.
We imagine an America made up exclusively of tough-minded Conservatives would be a far better, a safer and stronger place, than an America composed of nothing but compassion-filled Liberals.
They, of course, think precisely the opposite. And I have, over the past two years, determined that internet comment threads do not hold the answer to this predicament. Theirs, and ours, are usually just cheerleading sessions, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing but a soothing reduction in blood pressure brought about by the narcotic high of being agreed with.
We can’t, alas, deport all the left wingers and they cannot, damn it, silence all the right wingers. We are stuck with each other. Each sees the press as biased toward the other, and each gapes in awe and amazement that the other side could possibly feel the same way.
And although we can not run an experiment to look into the alternate futures to glean the best result, to determine the relative benefits of being nice or being mean – for those, ultimately, are the choices, believe it or not – we can at least look back to see which seems to have produced the best results in the laboratory of history.
It all comes down to carrots (liberals) or sticks (conservatives). By the way: if you’re in a rush and need to run, here’s the spoiler: You can offer a carrot. Not everybody likes carrots. Some people may hate your carrot. Your carrot may offend people who worship the rutabaga. But no one likes being poked in the eye with a stick. That’s universal.
I’m a stick man. I wish it were different. But part of growing up – in fact, the essential part of growing up – is realizing that wishing does not make it so.
Folks, it’s time to reach down deep and get in touch with our inner adult.
This line, this doctrine – either you’re with us or the terrorists – has drawn derision and scorn from the nuanced sophisticates from around the world. What they refuse to see is that in one brilliant stroke it cuts the camouflage away from terror, and in effect neutralizes the very lever that makes International Terror so effective a tool: deniability. More on this in a moment.
I sat amazed at the confidence and the vision President Bush outlined in that speech. I remember saying out loud, to no one in particular, “I was wrong about this man.” A few of the grips nodded in silence. None of us took our eyes off the TV screen.