HH: I'm joined now by James Lileks. He is a columnist extraordinaire for the Newhouse News Service, Minneapolis Star Tribune, one of the most widely read internet sites in America, Lileks.com, author of many such books. And today, not a funny guy, though he normally is. James, what do you make of this week?
JL: I've had it with a lot of them. And if this wasn't serious, I'd be sitting back laughing. But it's not something to laugh about. What we have here is every single cliche that the left has been hammering into a sheet of tin since the beginning, made true. 1. Quagmire. We actually have a quagmire now, except it's a political quagmire of will. 2. We have the brual Afghan winter, except it's manifesting itself here as a brain freeze in the Senate, which appears to be a collection of the most obsequious, boozebags, clucksers and well-oiled weather vanes that we've ever seen leading this country. You can even throw in a plastic turkey, because that's pretty much what they've shown themselves to be. What is astonishing about this is that the people who are responsible, and who have their hands on the lever of power, have chosen this moment in history to reveal themselves as being incapable of understanding A) what happened, B) what is happening now, and C) what will happen if they continue on their course of action. In other words, they misunderstand the past, the present, and the future. It's astonishing.
HH: Let's talk about each of those. What have they forgotten?
JL: Well first of all, this preposterous argument that we've been going on for the last God knows how long about Iraq and al Qaeda and 9/11, and that whole context, has been completely forgotten. If you read the papers and you listen to Harry Reid bleating about the fact that the president had the audacity to strike back at what the people saying...the entire Democratic Party seems to believe that the nation of Iraq was formed out of whole cloth and imagination in 2003, for the sole purpose of having an invasion, so we could go over there and fail. That seems to be it. They've forgotten entirely what their party and everything in the media who had access to a newspaper knew about Iraq in the 90's. All right? So to completely obliterate that context is not only an act of astonishing stupidity, it is dangerous. It's stands up in the context of saying it completely ignores what we went through in the 90's, and what we were facing after 9/11. There's a piece that Powerline linked to today. It's an interview with an Iraqi arms inspector, and I think in Front Page Mag. And it's just...gruesome detail about what was going on, and the way that they were shifting their stuff around, and what we knew about their capabilities. And to have that argument at this point is just stunning.
HH: Now James, you may have noticed, I've interviewed a few Republicans over the years, and I'm kind of in favor of Republicans running the Senate.
HH: And as a result, when Senator Frist wakes up this morning, and says the number one priority in January is asbestos litigation, it knocks me backwards.
JL: They need it. They need asbestos litigation, so that they can pack it in their jackets to make sure they don't catch on fire, from what I presume will be a base that like me, is throwing up their hands and saying what's the point? You're right. When you talk about Republicans, look at Norm Coleman from our state. Now Norm Coleman has done some good stuff with the George Galloway hearings. Bravo for him. But I don't get this whole approach now...hi, I'm Norm Coleman. I don't want to drill in ANWAR, and I'm in favor of kneecapping the effort in Iraq. That's why I'm a Republican. It doesn't fit.
HH: Let's talk briefly about Representative Murtha, and his comments about Dick Cheney's deferments. To me, it's a low blow like none other, and that the veterans and the parents of military out there, are far more ballistic than I am. Why does that cross a line, James Lileks?
JL: For a variety of reasons. Again, it's the same sneering, petty, minute little gotcha line you get in the comments of the blogs, when somebody drags up a chicken hawk epithet. It's the notion somehow that you have to serve in order to have an opinion about this, and that the entire position of Cheney et al, Bush et al, is intellectually indefensible, because they didn't serve. If that's the case, then fine. We'll revert to some sort of military leadership, where only people who have served and picked up a gun are able to go and serve in the Senate, and have a say over these matters. Is that the America you want? I don't think so. But let's just see the Bush administration propose a bill where suffrage is now extended only to veterans, and see exactly how far that gets them.
HH: Is it a crossroads moment? Or am I overestimating the significance?
JL: You are not overestimating it. And I've been holding my fire about this, this week, and tamping it down, but then every day, and a day like this, where I hear a speech when they're actually talking about what? About setting a timetable, and then saying we're going to have a rapid response strike force to respond exactly to what? We have them there, on the ground, right now, to accomplish the goal, which is establishing in the Middle East, a bastion from which we can continue to project a value that is more consistent with the safety of America and the region. Duh! And if I'm...me, a guy living here in Minnesota, born and raised on the planet North Dakota, reading the newspapers and the blogs, and trolling the internet like everybody else can see that as a fairly good thing to have, I don't know why, exactly, that escapes the people we've nominated into office.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Is There Anything Lileks Can't Do?
Here he is being interviewed on-air by Hewitt: