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Mark Steyn: 'We Aren't the World' - The Democrats new theme song -
The National Review ^ | December 19, 2005 | Mark Steyn

Posted on 12/03/2005 3:27:01 PM PST by UnklGene

'We Aren’t the World' - The Democrats have a new theme song

MARK STEYN

A few months before the debut of National Review, the film White Christmas was released, in the course of which Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby find themselves sitting around a floundering Vermont inn wondering what they can do to save it. Kaye proposes bringing in some kind of novelty act.

Crosby: What do you think would be a novelty up here in Vermont? Kaye: Who knows? Maybe we could dig up a Democrat. Crosby: They’d stone him.

A lot can change in fifty years — and it would be a rash man who’d bet on the political map of America in another half-century. Indeed, political representation is itself a lagging indicator. Vermont may now be America’s leading Canadian province, yet Patrick Leahy is still, technically, a Danny Kaye novelty: the only Green Mountain Democrat ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate and only the second Democrat Vermonters have ever sent to Washington.

That said, thumbing through National Review’s first issue, the 2005 reader will find many features of the landscape distressingly familiar: the warnings against “the growth of government — the dominant social feature of this century” and “the Social Engineers, who seek to adjust mankind to conform with scientific utopias.” But these old battles don’t seem quite as epic today as they did back in November 1955. To paraphrase Norma Desmond, the government’s still big; it’s the big picture that’s got small. The utopian progressivism of the Left is a shriveled parochial thing these days.

Half a century ago, Leahy’s Senate seat was held by George Aiken, a Republican and the soi-disant “wise old owl” famous for advising LBJ on Vietnam, “Declare victory and go home.” Today’s Democratic line on Iraq seems to be: Declare defeat and come home to Vermont. It’s not just that Vermont has been Democratized, but that the Democratic party has been Vermontified — a process encapsulated in Howard Dean’s explanation to George Stephanopoulos as to why he left the church he was raised in and became a Congregationalist:

“I had a big fight with a local Episcopal church about 25 years ago over the bike path.”

He had a “big fight” over a bike path? Apparently so. “I was fighting to have public access to the waterfront, and we were fighting very hard in the citizens’ group,” he told Judy Woodruff. Fighting, fighting, fighting — for a bike path. Dean’s church had strayed from the gently undulating and narrow. The road to hell is paved, whereas the shared-use trail to hell has attractive wood chips. And so Dean quit the Burlington Episcopalians and took up with the UCC. Just as the governor relived his profound doctrinal struggle over the bike path, he also professed himself utterly indifferent to the question of whether Osama bin Laden should be tried in a U.S. court or at the Hague. “It doesn’t make a lot of difference to me,” he sighed, stifling his yawns, fighting vainly the old ennui.

War? What is it good for? The Dems can’t even stay awake for it.

Perhaps all cultures have their Howard Deans. Perhaps there are governors of Peshawar who storm out of the Sword of the Infidel Slayer mosque over its refusal to declare a jihad on Jew bike trails. But, for all their talk about thinking globally and acting locally, today’s Democrats have a huge problem focusing on the first half of that bumper sticker. In our current existential struggle, the debates on the way forward are between factions of the Right: the Bush Doctrine vs. “realpolitik,” with “assertive nationalism” coming somewhere in between. Proponents of all three worldviews are Republicans. The Democrats appear not to have a dog in this fight. The dog is on the Burlington bike path, where Democrats are busy drafting revisions to the new poop’n’scoop legislation.

The way they were Underwood & Underwood

Governor Dean’s bike-tunnel vision is not an isolated phenomenon. Everywhere you turn Democrats are linking arms and singing their new all-star fundraising anthem, “We Aren’t the World.” John Kerry on the campaign trail: “We shouldn’t be opening firehouses in Baghdad and shutting them in New York City.” Al Sharpton at Rosa Parks’s funeral: “. . . when you have a nation respond looking for weapons in Iraq that are not there but can’t see a hurricane in Louisiana that is there.”

I don’t even understand that last one: We should wait till the WMD are in Louisiana where we can see ’em — or at least the crater they left? You can still glimpse the remnants of the internationalist Left on their fading T-shirts — Fidel, Che, Mao, Allende, the Sandinistas. And admittedly today’s global celebrities are a tougher sell — Saddam, Mullah Omar, Kim Jong-Il, miscellaneous clitorectomy enthusiasts in West Africa, etc. But even so, the Left’s retreat to Hicksville is impressive: The Western progressive has ideologically downsized and relocated to a remodeled farmhouse outside Montpelier.

That’s what David Brooks got wrong in Bobos in Paradise. He visited Burlington and other “latte towns” and concluded that they were “relatively apolitical.” What he took as the evidence of lack of politics — bike paths, independent bookstores, skinny espressos — is the politics, albeit a lo-fat version. The pre–Tony Blair Labour party believed it needed to control “the commanding heights of the economy.” The pre-Gorbachev Communist party wanted to control the commanding heights of everything. But the big-picture Left collapsed in 1989, and for a Vermontified Democratic party small is the new big. That’s what Bill Clinton had in mind when he said the era of big government was over; instead, he’d be ushering in the era of small government, lots and lots of it, all over the place, like a map of America repainted by Seurat — and, when you add up all the little dots, you find out that small government works out far more expensive than big government. Thus, the Clinton legacy is all small print, starting with the federal toilet-tank legislation: He’s the first president to flush himself down the toilet of history.

You can understand why the Dems miss the Nineties. There was nary a word about war. Okay, you’d get the odd million-man genocide in Rwanda, but you tended to hear about it afterwards, usually as a late-breaking item in the Clinton teary-apology act. Instead, it was an era of micro-politics, a regulation here, an entitlement there, a recycling program everywhere you looked. Venusian Americans assumed they’d entered an age of permanent post-Martian politics, and they resented 9/11 as an intrusion on their minimalism. When you’re at an event for the “anti-war” movement, you realize it’s no such thing: It’s an I-don’t-want-to-have-to-hear-about-this-war movement.

That’s why they like to mock Bush, Cheney, Rummy & Co. as the real terrorists — the ones determined to maintain America in a state of “terror.” Oddly enough, this was how the Left chose to live during the Cold War, when the no-nukes crowd expected Armageddon any minute: Fear of the phenomenon sold a gazillion posters, plays, books, films, and LPs with big scary mushroom clouds on the cover. When nuclear weapons were an elite club of five relatively sane world powers, progressive opinion was convinced the planet was about to go ka-boom and the handful of us who survived would be walking in a nuclear winter wonderland. Now anyone with a few thousand bucks and an unlisted Islamabad number in his Rolodex can get a nuke, and the Left is positively blasé.

If I had to do what the Democrats no longer seem willing to do and raise my sights from their narcissistic poseur politics to the big geopolitical picture, I’d put the bike-path Left in the context of one of the most disastrous trends in the developed world. Today most of the West has elevated what one might call the secondary impulses of society — government health care (which America is slouching toward), government paternity leave (which Britain recently introduced), government day care (which several Canadian provinces already have) — over the primary ones: national defense, population growth, faith (in a higher power than government). If you’re a secondary-impulse society like Canada and most Continental countries, it seems perfectly natural that the defense ministry is now somewhere an ambitious politician passes through on his way up to a job that really matters — like health minister. America is not there yet (I doubt Don Rumsfeld would regard it as a promotion if he were moved to HHS) and I’m optimistic enough to think it never will be. Secondary-impulse states can be very agreeable — who wouldn’t want the celebration of one’s sexual appetites to become a key political priority? — but they’re agreeable only for the generation or two that they last. And, as we’re about to see in demographically barren, economically sclerotic Europe, for good or ill it’s the primal impulses that count. The social-democratic agenda is a suicide cult, which is why the Continent will be well past semi-Islamified at the time of NR’s hundredth birthday.

It doesn’t even really work on a cute homey Vermonty scale: The Green Mountain State’s signature boutique business, Ben & Jerry’s, is now part of the European multinational Unilever. I’m a believer in a two-party system because in the end the integrity of the dominant party isn’t served by the collapse of the only alternative, and I would love the Democratic party to get back in the game. But to do that they’ve got to get off the bike path and back on the unlovely central thruway of geopolitical reality. As I said at the beginning, it would be a rash man who’d bet on the contours of the political map in another fifty years. But let’s be rash: Given blue-state demographics, the Democratic party faces a bleak future. If they remain mired in trivia, by 2055 even Vermont will have woken up sufficiently to have ceased electing Deans and Leahys — and, on whatever will have replaced DVDs by then, that Danny Kaye White Christmas joke will once again make sense.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; US: Vermont
KEYWORDS: 109th; leahy; lostdems; marksteyn; steyn

1 posted on 12/03/2005 3:27:03 PM PST by UnklGene
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To: Pokey78

ping!


2 posted on 12/03/2005 3:27:33 PM PST by UnklGene
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To: UnklGene

soi-disant: supposedly.


3 posted on 12/03/2005 3:31:10 PM PST by UnklGene
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To: UnklGene
Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby find themselves sitting around a floundering Vermont inn wondering what they can do to save it. Kaye proposes bringing in some kind of novelty act.

Crosby: What do you think would be a novelty up here in Vermont?
Kaye: Who knows? Maybe we could dig up a Democrat.
Crosby: They’d stone him.

I love that movie! It's second only to 'It's a Wonderful Life'.

4 posted on 12/03/2005 3:34:07 PM PST by fanfan (" The liberal party is not corrupt " Prime Minister Paul Martin)
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To: UnklGene

When nuclear weapons were an elite club of five relatively sane world powers, progressive opinion was convinced the planet was about to go ka-boom and the handful of us who survived would be walking in a nuclear winter wonderland. Now anyone with a few thousand bucks and an unlisted Islamabad number in his Rolodex can get a nuke, and the Left is positively blasé.

This guy is so on target--he should have been a bombadier.


5 posted on 12/03/2005 3:38:29 PM PST by rbg81
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To: UnklGene
The road to hell is paved, whereas the shared-use trail to hell has attractive wood chips.
6 posted on 12/03/2005 3:39:30 PM PST by Jeff Chandler (Peace Begins in the Womb)
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: UnklGene
What a joy that was to read. It isn't often that we can say that, but a writer who is able to sum up complex issues in an understandable and interesting way is a novelty these days. I'll never look at another bike path without thinking of Howard the Duck heading to water on his Schwinn.
8 posted on 12/03/2005 3:45:02 PM PST by billhilly (If you're lurking here from DU (Democrats unglued), I trust this post will make you sick.)
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To: UnklGene

soi-disant = so-called (so they say)


9 posted on 12/03/2005 3:46:19 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: UnklGene
Thus the Clinton legacy is all small print, starting with the federal toilet-tank legislation: Clinton is the first president to flush himself down the toilet of history

ROFLOL!

Mark Steyn, the very best of Canada.

10 posted on 12/03/2005 4:01:58 PM PST by smoothsailing
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To: UnklGene
Image hosted by TinyPic.com
Mark steyn
11 posted on 12/03/2005 4:03:08 PM PST by Old Seadog (Inside every old person is a young person saying "WTF happened?".)
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To: UnklGene
New DNC theme song:



We aren't the world


We aren't the children


We aren't the ones who make a brighter day


So let's stop giving.

12 posted on 12/03/2005 4:04:42 PM PST by ChadGore (VISUALIZE 62,041,268 Bush fans.)
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To: UnklGene

Terminal denial does as it says.

It say things that have no resemblance to reality, like accusing our elected leaders of deliberate betrayal of public trust as if the whole world knows it to be fact.

Utterances of this type: "Bush, Cheney, Rummy & Co. as the real terrorists — the ones determined to maintain America in a state of “terror.”-- with cocksure impunity ,oblivious to the truth that they have committed sedition and, very likely, treason in this time of war.

Cloaking all this criminal insanity in nostalgic drag and Norman Rockwell, all-American coziness does'nt wash. Your type is in league with enemies of freedom and the criminally insane, real world maniacs who seriously intend to murder all infidels for the sake of obliteration entirely.

So. Waltzing in in Fred Astaire and Henry Fonda mufti or other campy disguises fools no one.

Rest easy. You have front row seats at the next Nueremberg.


13 posted on 12/03/2005 4:05:58 PM PST by CBart95
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To: UnklGene
The Democrats have become isolationists. They're so passionate about bike paths that they consider Osama Bin Laden to be inconsequential. Domesticity matters more to the Left than international socialist solidarity. Its of little dreams liberals hang their hopes for their future onto. Think small, think bike paths. The Left's Vermontification is complete.

(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie.Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")

14 posted on 12/03/2005 4:10:48 PM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: UnklGene

bump


15 posted on 12/03/2005 4:22:25 PM PST by RippleFire ("It's a joke, son!")
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Steyn bump


16 posted on 12/03/2005 4:22:51 PM PST by GretchenM (Hooked on porn and hating it? Visit http://www.theophostic.com .)
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To: UnklGene

Steyn always figures it out before anyone else. There's always been this attitude on the left that there's nobility in self-indulgence. During Woodstock, the people acted like tearing down fences, doing drugs and having sex while listening to rock music was heroic. Later, they bought Tshirts and went to concerts and felt altruistic, because the profits were going to feed the hungry. He's framed the whole mindset perfectly.


17 posted on 12/03/2005 4:29:28 PM PST by Richard Kimball (Tenure is the enemy of excellence.)
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To: goldstategop
The Democrats have become isolationists.

The Democrats will be isolationists until the day they can look up into the sky and again say, "Hey, those are our planes now!"

18 posted on 12/03/2005 4:36:24 PM PST by Vince Ferrer
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To: rbg81
Now anyone with a few thousand bucks and an unlisted Islamabad number in his Rolodex can get a nuke, and the Left is positively blasé.
Democrats care passionately - about whatever will get them good PR.

Nothing else matters. At all.


19 posted on 12/03/2005 5:06:02 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters but PR.)
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To: UnklGene

I needed that today, thanks for posting it. Mark Steyn is simply the best.


20 posted on 12/03/2005 5:17:56 PM PST by SaxxonWoods (Question for Socialists: Why are others bound to do for you what you won't do for yourself?)
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To: SignalPuke
feel for the "real people" of Vermont. I really do. If I could set up refugee camps for you in NH I would. You could ride your Harleys and drink your Pabst Blue Ribbon. You could ski in a pair of jeans with sweatpants on underneath and feel fashionable. You could snowmobile across your neighbor's yard and he wouldn't care. You could hunt, go into a convenience store afterwards covered in blood, and nobody would give you a hassle.

So good, so true, it deserved to be said again. This from a long-time-back native Californian who knows how many of us way-back Californios have experienced the same kind of thing in our own once Republican state. We used to ski in jeans with sweatpants underneath in the Sierras, and it was perfectly okay! I never thought about it until now!

21 posted on 12/03/2005 5:52:46 PM PST by Finny (God continue to Bless President G.W. Bush with wisdom, popularity, safety and success.)
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Comment #22 Removed by Moderator

Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

To: SignalPuke; Finny

Remember, Reagan was California's Governor for a time. And I can't see wyhich prominent US political leaders on this side of WWII who are as conservative as him.


24 posted on 12/03/2005 7:13:32 PM PST by NZerFromHK (Alberta independentists to Canada (read: Ontario and Quebec): One hundred years is long enough)
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To: UnklGene
"When nuclear weapons were an elite club of five relatively sane world powers, progressive opinion was convinced the planet was about to go ka-boom and the handful of us who survived would be walking in a nuclear winter wonderland. Now anyone with a few thousand bucks and an unlisted Islamabad number in his Rolodex can get a nuke, and the Left is positively blasé."

Ain't it the truth?

25 posted on 12/03/2005 10:24:07 PM PST by Bonaparte
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To: UnklGene
You can still glimpse the remnants of the internationalist Left on their fading T-shirts — Fidel, Che, Mao, Allende, the Sandinistas...

Fidel, Che, Mao, Allende, Sandinista, Kerry, Harkin, Ortega BUMP!


26 posted on 12/04/2005 10:47:00 PM PST by Watery Tart (Heifer cow is better than none, but this is no time for puns. --Groucho)
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