If a single mugging can transform a liberal into a conservative, imagine what being trapped in the World Trade Center debris cloud nearly three years ago could have done to a pacifist. Well, you don't have to imagine, because that's what happened to Jeff Jarvis, and he began describing his real-time reactions just 11 days later, in a vivid weblog that first carried the title "WarLog," before settling into the less aggressive (and more media-focused) popular website Buzz Machine.
Jarvis, a lifelong Democrat, quickly became one of the blog-world's better-known liberal hawks, advocating war in Afghanistan and Iraq and stiff spines for the War on Terror, while arguing with pacifists and other lefties who didn't evolve along with him. In his day job, he's the president and creative director of Advance.net, a company that handles the websites of Advance Publications newspapers and Conde Nast magazines. Through his weblog he's become a leading critic on new, Howard Stern-related FCC obscenity rules, a leading advocate for what he calls Citizens Media, and a passionate debate participant in all things Sept. 11.
Which is why I wanted to check his pulse the day after the Guiliani speech. Many people Jarvis agreed with about nearly every foreign policy question in 2002 are now firmly in Bush's camp; would Rudy's virtuoso performance make the former pacifist's conversion complete?
Me: You're a liberal hawk who got mugged by September 11th; Rudy Giuliani delivers the speech of his life last night, saying that George Bush is the man to fight the post-September 11 wars, and you're still voting for Kerry.
Jarvis: What I really want to do is vote for Rudy. Because all the baggage that Rudy can ignore, I can't ignore. Can I look myself in the mirror in the morning and say, "OK, I voted for the guy who's going to try to ban gay marriage; I'm going to try to ban abortion -- he's always gonna try hard for that; I'm gonna ban science, in the form of stem cell research; I'm going to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who are going to do all those things, which will mean it'll keep going for years? OOOOhooo, that's rough!
Me: That's more important than finding the people who--
Jarvis: Here's the other question: If it were Dean versus Bush, that'd be a lot harder. Kerry does have some military cred; various Swifties might argue about that right now, but he's not going to be afraid in the long run of doing what's right, I think, militarily. And so I do believe that's possible.
And, you know, as much as I did support getting rid of Saddam, much to my discredit among many liberal[s], and did believe that it was not a matter of WMD, it was a matter of humanitarianism; and believe that in the end it was the right thing to do try to get a foothold for democracy and freedom in the Middle East -- all that; and though I think the execution of the war itself was good -- Rumsfeld is really smart -- the aftermath has been really fucked up.
And so do I give Bush consistent A's in military matters? No. [snip]
Final point: Is that Bush did not, goddamnit, have a mandate. He barely had an election. When he came into office, you'd think that someone in his position would have worked a lot harder to be more moderate. [snip]
Me: You are aware of the space taken up by liberal hawks. It's always been my theory that this election in many ways will boil down to a contest between numbers of liberal hawks here, and disaffected conservatives and especially libertarians over there. What number is larger? At any rate, you look around at the people that you identify as being very strongly in favor of the War in Iraq, and being liberal -- what's your sense of who they're voting for?
Jarvis: You know I just got a call from Roger Simon. Who's, in essence; what this did was turn him into a conservative, basically. I think there's probably a lot like him out there. [snip] And if I had to bet, if you think you could do a demographic of liberal hawks, we ought to have a simple majority of the election probably going to Bush.