Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich says America is in World War III and President Bush should say so.
Yeah, because the problem is what we're calling it, since all that "Crusades against the heathens" talk didn't go over so well. And now we get to tap into what's looking more and more to me like a fetishization of World Wars I and II: we get to save the world again!
Gingrich said in an interview Saturday that Bush should call a joint session of Congress the first week of September and talk about global military conflicts in much starker terms than have been heard from the president.
Well, why wait? If it's a dire problem now, why wait until September? If this war is of such paramount moral importance that it is to be cast as a worldwide conflict, why the extra two months? To give Michael Gerson's successor time to write the speech and cram it full with a sufficient number of Churchillism's?
Of course, the "Why wait 'til September" question has a pretty obvious answer, doesn't it? It's so obvious that Gingrich, somewhat refreshingly I must admit, lays it right out on the table:
Gingrich said he is "very worried" about Republicans facing fall elections and says the party must have the "nerve" to nationalize the elections and make the 2006 campaigns about a liberal Democratic agenda rather than about President Bush's record.
Yup, it's an electoral ploy, pure and simple. It's about the getting of votes and the protection of majorities. It has nothing to do with winning any war other than the one being fought on the first Tuesday in November.
(And dig that open admission that President Bush's record isn't something they wish to run on.)
On a parallel note, I enjoyed this post by James Wolcott, in which he strikes down an irritating example of pro-war rhetoric being couched in cinematic terms:
First of all, it's embarrassing for a historian of any stature to seal his arguments with Hollywood citations. Alan Ladd's Shane and Gary Cooper's marshall in High Noon were fictional heroes whose success in the final showdowns were preordained in the script; their relevance to the policy decisions of a prime minister or president is nil. George Bush didn't strap on six guns and swaggered bow-legged into Baghdad, much as Hanson and Howard Fineman might want to fantasize; he sent the country's uniformed men and women to do the fighting, thousands of whom have returned home in flag-draped coffins, thousands more seriously wounded and left to contend the rest of their lives with being blinded, deafened, deprived of the use of all their limbs, psychologically traumatized. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the rest personally risked nothing; they will enjoy prosperous retirements, and be free to pen memoirs primping their place in history.
Indeed. Paraphrasing a line from Sleepless in Seattle, these guys don't want to be in a war; they want to be in a war in a movie.