The Exquisite Pain of Making Everyone Agree With Me

|

Tony Blankley has written a humdinger of a column, headlined "Let's Organize to End War Disunity," in which he blames the following on our country's shameful "lack of unity"—military manpower shortages, John Murtha's mouth, national security-related leaks ("Only traitors or the careless would be releasing such information, as opposed to today's perhaps subjectively well-intentioned, if objectively misguided, releasers of such information," he niftily explains).

But what really got my attention was this:

If we had national unity, Congress and the president could be motivated and able to set spending priorities.

Come again? If the Democrats stopped criticizing the president's conduct in the Wars on Terror and Iraq, and the rest of us shlubs gave him a symbolic group hug, then suddenly he and the other members of the party that runs the national government would stop the whole drunken-sailor routine? I'm afraid I don't follow.

The rest of the column is a hoot, too; whether it's Blankley's assurance that he's not making "an argument against dissent," and that "it is time for convinced members of the public (including prominent figures) to organize at a much higher level than exists a broad-based, well-financed operation to try to move the better part of the American public to a unity of purpose in the face of the present danger."

What will those who solemnly accept the no-doubt heavy "burden of persuasion" teach the rest of us?

[T]he necessity for measures such as NSA-type surveillance, the extension (or even expansion) of the Patriot Act, the role of the military in domestic security, the need for a much larger active military force (and likely future conventional wars), the need to secure both the Mexican and Canadian borders, and the spending of scarce taxpayer dollars for substantially increased homeland security operations.

Don't say you haven't been warned!

NEXT: View From the 9th Ward

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Unity = Think like I do even if you don’t.

  2. My lack of support for the president’s Iraq policy is why we have military manpower shortages, budgetary problems and national-security leaks?

    My God. I had no idea I was so powerful.

  3. By the way: considering that I have the power to destroy our military with a single bitchy blog post, y’all better go out of your way to be very nice to me.

  4. “Let’s Organize to End War Disunity”

    Sounds like the sort of titles I used to see on op-eds in the university newspaper.

  5. So he mentions the necessity of the NSA surveillance and the Patriot Act, is it also necessary for the government to almost completely ignore the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission?

  6. Is it our unity or our disunity that makes America great?

  7. By the way: considering that I have the power to destroy our military with a single bitchy blog post, y’all better go out of your way to be very nice to me.

    I KNEW it! Good thing I haven’t crossed you yet 🙂

  8. If we had unity…
    We’d be North Korea

  9. I’m still reading that Marshall biography.

    It really struck me, reading about the immediate pre-war period, how determined Marshall and Roosevelt were to maintain national unity, because they knew how essential it would be to seeing the war through when it came. They wanted to go fast on rearmament, Lend Lease, mobilization, and embargoes, but they held off. They worked patiently to build genuine bipartisan coalitions with the then-isolationist Republicans. The President’s party had a large majority in Congress, but he was determined not to ram anything through. He was smart enough to realize that the worst possible outcome – even worse than not having a warfighting military as soon he felt it was needed – would be to have a large portion of the public turn against the war while our troops were engaged in the field.

    It’s almost enough to make me think that basing the case for war on weak intelligence (thus handing any supporters who turn wobbly a get-out-of-hypocrisy-free-card), and using the war, and national security as a whole, as a wedge issue in the immediate runup to the Iraq War, weren’t very smart moves.

  10. and the spending of scarce taxpayer dollars

    <hurl>

    The only “scarce” taxpayer dollars are the ones left in our wallets after all the taxcollector dollars are siphoned off.

  11. How interesting. The lack of national unity isn’t due to the poor quality of the message, it is just that folks like Blankley and the President haven’t organized at a high enough level their efforts to get the message out. Clearly, when first paying pundits and then writing stories yourself and paying the newspapers fails, a higher level of organizing is needed.

    The guy’s name really is Tony Blankley, right? That isn’t some sort of The Onion-style faux punditry?

  12. Yeah, that column’s great. Classic totalitarian “Dissent is wonderful as long as everyone agrees with me”. And he wants everyone to agree with him voluntarily, as well as agree to all his suggested solutions voluntarily. Because he is the omniscient one who’s “rational” and the rest of us are poor, lost babes in the woods, who must be guided to the light. Sounds almost religious.

  13. Of course, I notice that the comments section at the end of the article immediately collapses into serious disunity. Is that irony? I can never tell.

  14. where do these assholes come from?

    perhaps some of our older members can help this youngster out – were these fuckfaces really everywhere, and i just missed them, or is this a post 9/11 phenom? or is it a 9/11 thing x asshole thing?

  15. perhaps some of our older members can help this youngster out – were these fuckfaces really everywhere, and i just missed them, or is this a post 9/11 phenom? or is it a 9/11 thing x asshole thing?

    I think what happened is, there were all these asshole-spores in the soil of our body politic (which I know is a mixed metaphor, but I don’t care). 9-11 was the big steaming pile of shit which provided the fertilizer necessary for these spores to sprout.

  16. Blankley is such a hack. I’m not even going to bother to RTFA because I already know what it will say.

  17. I imagine Tony Blankley would be singing a slightly different tune if President Rodham-Clinton were using NSA-type wire taps on FOX NEWS correspondents.

    [Obviously, at this point, wild speculation but I cannot see any recourse to this situation, if Bush’s arguments carried the day.]

  18. BTW, in a similar vein, Mark Steyn comes out for compulsory breeding programs for White Christians to preserve the purity of the race. No, I’m not kidding: http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110007764

    People will accuse me of exaggerating, but let’s review — Steyn says funny-talking brown people are outbreeding White Christians, therefore abortion must be banned. Now, of course, abortion being legal doesn’t prevent women from having all the children they do want, it only permits them to not have children they don’t want. Thus, Steyn’s policy prescription can only be read as being aimed at forcing women to have children they don’t want. The next step, obviously, is to ask Steyn what he thinks of contraception….

  19. dhex,

    There were plenty of people who think like Tony, Blankely (heh) before 9/11. But back then, they knew that, if they actually made their Ein Volk, Ein Reich thoughts public, people would look at them funny. So they mostly kept quiet and bided their time.

  20. You know what, we do need unity.

    United and bold we must hold our leaders accountable and see them punished to the maximum extend that the law allows for abusing the power and trust with which they have been entrusted.

    It’s time to stop being afraid to speak up. This is the rallying cry.

  21. perhaps some of our older members can help this youngster out – were these fuckfaces really everywhere, and i just missed them, or is this a post 9/11 phenom? or is it a 9/11 thing x asshole thing?

    They’ve been around pretty much since politics were invented, and infest most (if not all) sides of any debate.

    For instance, leading Democrats are saying that if they just recast their message on gun control they can convince red state folks that they don’t really want to do what they’ve been trying to do for the past forty or so years, despite what Kennedy, Boxer, Schumer, et al say. Then they can get a consensus on passing the “common sense” laws that will prevent crime, etc.

  22. Maybe it’s a “party in power” thing. As I read it, it sounded more like the kind of illogic you’d hear from a far-left pundit in 1992 or 1978.

  23. joe-
    I think I’m going to henceforth refer to that as Blankley’s “Ein Volk” column.

  24. Hey, I have an idea. Maybe if the government wants us to “unify” behind its causes, it should, I dunno, persuade us that what it’s doing or proposing to do is right. You know, through reasoned argument and stuff. Why anyone would defend the
    “just trust us” position the Administration has taken time and again is beyond me. I don’t recall my reasoning capacity being destroyed by 9/11. . . .

  25. I wonder if Blankley is on the Aministration’s payroll?

  26. Blankley argument rests on a false premise: that the current climate of partisan divisiveness, including over the war, just sort of happened, because the administration wasn’t paying enough attention to creating unity.

    But that’s not what happened at all. The administration deliberately courted divisiveness as a purposeful political strategy, because after 9/11, they realized that wedge politics would leave them with 52% of the public, not just 50%. Look at the bill that created DHS – the Republicans deliberately picked a fight about hiring practices (gotta make sure a guy like Mike Brown can get a job without all that “civil service” hubbub), in order to use it a club to say that Tom Daschle didn’t care about the security of the American people.

  27. I wonder if Blankley is on the administration?s payroll?

    Sorry, I had to make some spelling corrections.

  28. Mark Steyn comes out for compulsory breeding programs for White Christians to preserve the purity of the race.

    Rarely have I seen a more blatant misrepresentation of a column. BTW, bad link. Try: http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110007760

    Steyn says funny-talking brown people are outbreeding White Christians, therefore abortion must be banned.

    In fact, I have read quite a bit of Steyn’s writing on this topic, and I don’t recall him ever recommending any kind of government program whatsoever to address the demographic crash of certain Western countries. Steyn is concerned mainly with culture here, not with politics.

    Try to read what he says, rather than projecting your lurid Handmaid’s Tale fantasies on someone who is, I believe, a deep skeptic about the ability of government to affect the kind of changes he wants to see.

    Really. Find me one place in Steyn’s writing on this topic where he calls for a government solution to the declining birthrate.

  29. Actually, RC, I’ve read that article, and Steyn does advocate a government solution to the problem (and a very libertarian one, at that): Dismantle the welfare state, whose generous cradle-to-grave benefits creates financial disincentives to having children AND imposes unsustainable costs on the economy.

    But he’s giving the advice to the Europeans and Canadians, not Americans.

  30. They always claim they’re not making an argument against “dissent,” but what dissent do they find acceptable? Their idea of political discourse is so narrow as to be meaningless blather.

    In Tony Blankley’s world, you have the right to free speech, as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it.

    And Jennifer, it was MY lack of faith that led to the absence of “reconstituted nuclear weapons.” I want full credit for that.

  31. OK, I admit it.

    I didn’t think invading Iraq would cause it to become a unified, liberal democracy.

    And now the Sunnis are pissed off.

    Sorry about that.

  32. Ack, sorry, yes, wrong link to the Steyn column, but perfectly correct reading.

    From the column:

    The progressive agenda–lavish social welfare, abortion, secularism, multiculturalism–is collectively the real suicide bomb.

    * * *

    Why then, if your big thing is feminism or abortion or gay marriage, are you so certain that the cult of tolerance will prevail once the biggest demographic in your society is cheerfully intolerant? Who, after all, are going to be the first victims of the West’s collapsed birthrates?

    * * *

    I watched that big abortion rally in Washington in 2004, where Ashley Judd and Gloria Steinem were cheered by women waving “Keep your Bush off my bush” placards, and I thought it was the equivalent of a White Russian tea party in 1917. By prioritizing a “woman’s right to choose,” Western women are delivering their societies into the hands of fellows far more patriarchal than a 1950s sitcom dad. If any of those women marching for their “reproductive rights” still have babies, they might like to ponder demographic realities: A little girl born today will be unlikely, at the age of 40, to be free to prance around demonstrations in Eurabian Paris or Amsterdam chanting “Hands off my bush!”

    Steyn has also written on numerous occasions that abortion should be restricted or banned, and how about this gem:

    For what it’s worth, I don’t accept “a woman’s right to choose.” Given that humanity’s only current widely available method of reproduction involves access to a woman’s womb, society as a whole has a stake in this question.

    http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0203/steyn012903.asp

    Yes, that’s right, Steyn is not arguing that a fetus has some sort of moral right to exist, but that it’s society’s opinion that must control over a woman’s as to whether she brings a pregnancy to term. Lie through your teeth all you want, R.C., but (A) banning abortion is a government program of enforced reproduction in and of itself (since contraception can fail); and (B) once someone has taken Steyn’s position that society controls over the individual on the question of reproduction, what do you suppose their policy response would be if women fail to “get with the program” and start cranking out those beautiful snow white babies? Hmm, maybe ban contraception? To be fair, Steyn himself never seems to have openly called for banning it, but having declared society must override individual women’s decisions on having children, it is an extremely short distance on the slippery slope.

  33. So, I got this response from Mr. Blankely. I admit; I should have put more time into my infantile email, but I really didn’t think he’d respond. I feel like I’ve missed a brilliant opportunity. I appeal to the wisdom of the list; maybe someone smarter than I could frame a better argument for this “Patriot”.

    Blankley’s response:

    “your use of the word fascism is foolish. I am explicitely talking about
    voluntary, private sector persuasion for policies that are fully democratic.
    How you draw fascism from that is both irresponsible and beyond reason.”

    > From: davemac5@aol.com
    > Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2006 13:19:22 -0500
    > To: tblankley@WashingtonTimes.com
    > Subject: RE: Let’s organize to end war disunity
    >
    >
    >
    > Sent by: David McManus (davemac5@aol.com)
    >
    > Subject: RE: Let’s organize to end war disunity
    >
    > In response to following story on townhall.com:
    > http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/tonyblankley/2006/01/04/180964.html
    >
    >My letter:
    >
    > “[T]he necessity for measures such as NSA-type surveillance, the extension (or
    > even expansion) of the Patriot Act, the role of the military in domestic
    > security, the need for a much larger active military force (and likely future
    > conventional wars), the need to secure both the Mexican and Canadian borders,
    > and the spending of scarce taxpayer dollars for substantially increased
    > homeland security operations.”
    >
    > The fact that someone of your obvious intellectual power advancing such a
    > fascistic solution to problems which the above won’t really solve scares the
    > hell out of me.
    >
    > But, you don’t mind the dissenting opinion, right?
    >
    > I’ll be sure to keep that in mind when your thought police arrest and convict
    > me without due process…
    >
    > sleep tight,
    >
    > David McManus

  34. Why are Conservatives beginning to sound like Maoists?

  35. SR:

    Call me dense, but I don’t see anything in the quotes you posted advocating, using your own words, “compulsory breeding programs for White Christians to preserve the purity of the race.”

    What I do see, and what I read in his column, is a description of the incontrovertible fact that 1) the political policies of liberal Western democracies are causing birthrates to plummet, 2) the growing immigrant Muslim minorities in Europe are increasingly radicalized and fundamentalist, and 3) unless things change, in 30 years Europe will be more like Iran and Algeria than the US.

    Now some might not like to hear that most Muslims in Europe hate the West and look to implement Sharia law the first chance they get. But unless there’s a radical change in demographic trends, that’s what will happen.

    In which case, you can kiss the “Right To Choose” goodbye.

  36. See, by using the no-no word “fascist” you gave him the means to respond without responding. How dare you call me a fascist– I just believe in the voluntary cleansing of our country.

    Old Tony came and spoke at a recent city-sponsored circle-jerk and sit-down dinner I attended recently. His talk was “everything would be great if all these dissenters would quit pointing out what’s wrong with everything. PURPLE FINGER, PURPLE FINGER.” Or something like that.

  37. Everyone look the below over carefully.

    It IS the use of the no no F-word that is the problem (and thought police etc…), and the lack of balance in thinking that underpins the usage thereof. Rarely is there benefit in characterizing people who disagree as the freaks. It just makes you look like you can’t think about the implications of their policy without resorting to paranoid fantasy. Not all discussions of a different bent are fascism or lefty-rhetoric. I don’t agree with the points in the originating article at all. I am just pointing out a trend I notice on these boards. Disagreement does not equal lesser intellectual power or evil intent. If the liberty agenda is going to win out it needs more subtle tactics. Otherwise it stays a fringe minority happy to wallow in its lack of success.

    So, I got this response from Mr. Blankely. I admit; I should have put more time into my infantile email, but I really didn’t think he’d respond. I feel like I’ve missed a brilliant opportunity. I appeal to the wisdom of the list; maybe someone smarter than I could frame a better argument for this “Patriot”.

    Blankley’s response:

    “your use of the word fascism is foolish. I am explicitely talking about
    voluntary, private sector persuasion for policies that are fully democratic.
    How you draw fascism from that is both irresponsible and beyond reason.”

    > From: davemac5@aol.com
    > Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2006 13:19:22 -0500
    > To: tblankley@WashingtonTimes.com
    > Subject: RE: Let’s organize to end war disunity
    >
    >
    >
    > Sent by: David McManus (davemac5@aol.com)
    >
    > Subject: RE: Let’s organize to end war disunity
    >
    > In response to following story on townhall.com:
    > http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/tonyblankley/2006/01/04/180964.html
    >
    >My letter:
    >
    > “[T]he necessity for measures such as NSA-type surveillance, the extension (or
    > even expansion) of the Patriot Act, the role of the military in domestic
    > security, the need for a much larger active military force (and likely future
    > conventional wars), the need to secure both the Mexican and Canadian borders,
    > and the spending of scarce taxpayer dollars for substantially increased
    > homeland security operations.”
    >
    > The fact that someone of your obvious intellectual power advancing such a
    > fascistic solution to problems which the above won’t really solve scares the
    > hell out of me.
    >
    > But, you don’t mind the dissenting opinion, right?
    >
    > I’ll be sure to keep that in mind when your thought police arrest and convict
    > me without due process…
    >
    > sleep tight,
    >
    > David McManus

  38. I agree with Jeff and science. Calling somebody a fascist, or (even worse) a member of a party once led by a German dictator (I refuse to name the dictator or his party and give somebody an excuse to invoke Godwin) gives the target an easy way out of discussion.

    If I want to go hyperbolic on conservatives, I compare them to Stalin or various dictators in Muslim countries. They’re used to being compared to certain German and Italian dictators. They don’t know how to cope with Commies and Mullahs.

  39. Steyn is a funny guy. Not like funny ha ha, or funny strange, but funny creepy.

    The problem with his arguement is simply that some of them, is us, and some of us is definitely them. In my world, my Irainian friend is one of us, and Steyn is definitly one of them. There are potential friends and allis in every group and culture. Steyn’s goal is to belittle and deny that. We heed the advice of fuckwits like him at our peril.

  40. For all of the popularity of World War Two comparisons among the war supporters, I’ve yet to see anyone respond to my point about the difference in the management of domestic politics between that war and this one.

  41. Further to gibbon1’s point, what makes Steyn and his ilk so sure that even if their wet-dream comes true and the wymynfolk breed plentifuly, then the kids will grow up reliably believing in all the “right” things ? Apparently, in Steyn’s world, kids are programmable automatons & can recruited into his “demography war” for free – all current enlistment problems solved ! Exhibit 1 against Steyn’s argument would be western muslims from just a generation ago. The Brit author Hanif Kurieshi has interestng things to say about this phenom, see “My Son, the Fanatic”. I remember an interview where Kurieshi said how puzzled he was by the current generation’s turn to extremism, given that his generation grew up – quote from memory- “wearing velevt trousers and listening to Pink Floyd”.

    “Given that humanity’s only current widely available method of reproduction involves access to a woman’s womb, society as a whole has a stake in this question.”
    Wow !!! Now if that isn’t the stuff of Handmaiden’s Tale.
    Can’t wait to see how RC spins that one.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.