Iraq Armchair War Diaries
John Dentino trades e-mails with friends before the Iraq invasion.
Dispatches from the armchair war lords.
The Death of the Father
When someone like Kerry praises the social revolution of the sixties, it’s just the putrid winds of nostalgia aimed at long-in-the-teeth baby boomers. Rotten meat for the faithful. But I’ve been thinking about the sixties social revolution in archetypal terms lately, so please excuse the following generalizations:
Kennedy, the Father/King was killed in Dallas and everything that happened after that to our generation resonates from this act. After the King was killed, the adolescents had free reign and a social Lord of the Flies scenario unfolded. We went hog-wild because we had seen the corruption of our elders—seen the best and the brightest exposed as the most ruthless and ambitious (MacNamara), seen the forces of reaction trounce idealists (Humphrey beating McCarthy; Nixon burying McGovern). We also saw the flip side of the handsome Camelot/Janus, which was the ugly face of the Mob and the Cuban ex-patriots who were intertwined (we still don’t know exactly how) with the Kennedys. Everybody back then wanted to look under a rock and find the dark side. Kerry got caught up in that.
The whole thing wasn’t our fault. It was fate.
On Jul 30, 2004, at 4:18 AM, Jeffrey Herbert Spencer wrote:
is not what he did in Vietnam, but what he did right after when
he sold his soul to the Democratic Party to be their man to indict
the fighting services in Vietnam with a broad accusation of criminality.
In his wake he brought forward men who claimed to be veterans,
and were later proven to be non-veteran poseurs. There have been
just as many vicious attacks on GW’s service record. One simple
fact: GW was a fighter pilot in Air Defense Command. He carried far
more responsibility than Kerry ever did in his boat—-he flew an air-
craft that was our first line of defense in the event of a nuclear attack
on the U.S.; designed to attack Soviet atomic bombers. You don’t get
a job like this if you are an irresponsible idiot.
I’ll say this for Kerry: he is ruthless in pursuing his objectives. He has
the unsentimentality of a Cassius.
Saw The Speech. When it wasn’t giving me the usual horrors political
speeches give me, I had to admit it was an energetic bit of rabble rousing
which the customarily dead dreary Kerry doesn’t usually muster. When I
heard him praising the social revolution of the ‘sixties, I cringed. Rather
than our Finest Hour, I find many of the changes a knife in the heart of our
social fabric, and clearly this has estranged me from (probably 90% of) the
Dem Party. Agreed with him on just about everything in foreign and domestic
policy, but I do not trust him. I detest his milieu. Since Clinton, there isn’t
much of the Dem Party I like anymore. He contaminated the Party with the
kind of “us vs. them” fanaticism I despise. The Dem Party is more and more
the party of Boss Twead—-a party of angry and resentful have-nots looking
to government for largesse, not the party of brilliant young people with ideas
which I used to love. With fanaticism came expediency, and Kerry is the
man of expedients, just like Clinton. Ideas died with Clinton—-Jerry Brown
was representative of ideas—-and Clinton smeared him and ruined him.
Michael Moore perfectly represents the new Democratic Party, ruthless
ideological reduction to simple doctrinaire propaganda. Repeat after me
me children. No more Moynihans or Eugene Mc Carthys, just puppeteers
and attack dogs.
Was so cudgled yesterday I didn’t notice the main body of your email re: death of JFK father&etc. This makes sense to me; in fact, it is a conceit that captures the mood of the post-Nov 22 ‘60’s. When an idea makes sense of a lot of feelings about an experience I sense there is truth in it. Too many ideas are merely good ideas with no connection to how we really experienced the times. Your framework is not just a clever conceit, it brings back recollections of how I felt living in those times and the feelings jog remarkably with your paradigm. Maybe JFK’s murder numbed our better angels, as Lincoln called them. Maybe we all felt dirty. I think 1965 was the last year I didn’t feel swamped by the tides of irrationality in the world. After ‘65, I could barely keep my head above water. I wrote a short story about this feeling in 1981. It was about a man trying to keep his feet on the ground while dealing with a woman who was a complete libertine who didn’t believe there were any limits on appetite—-she always said “why not?” and this drove him crazy because he believed in his gut that no limitations on desire eventually led to chaos. Her credo was: self-limitation is cowardice. Because he could not accept this, he was torn by self-doubt. He wanted to please her by being without compunction, but he could not stop believing this was rotten. Why not? will probably be the defining statement of our age. Maybe that was just what died on Nov.—-the sense that some things were just impossible. I never expected to make it to 20—-I thought nuclear war between us and the USSR was inevitable. After surviving Reagan, I was almost punchy. I began to feel like we could, as the English love to put it, “muddle through”, ANYTHING. I got a What Me Worry? attitude. Sept. 2001 blew that to hell. I think you are on to something. It FEELS right. One thing: don’t be fooled—-Kerry is a calculating bastard. He will do whatever it takes to win. He has no limit. He made a political calculation in 1971: the price of Democratic backing for his run for a House seat was to confirm the press and the Left’s model of the war as the US as the cause of ALL evil in that war. Too bad Jane Fonda never took a look at the forced labor brigades where the N Viets made old people and children and adults lug supplies over the Ho Chi Minh trail, or fill bomb craters on the trail. Thousands died from exhaustion, starvation, execution, and US attacks on the trail. Kubrick’s FULL- METAL JACKET never evaded the consequences of failure to defeat the North—- remember the scene where they go to the pit filled with bodies of civilians deemed to be collaborators by the N Viets? Kerry did something no good man would ever do, and that was to, in effect, make everybody a Calley. Insane. APOCALPYSE NOW caught the confusion and uncertitude of that war. The protagonist is a Special Forces assassin! Col. Kurtz poses the iron-hard dilemma of that war—-how can sentimental, soft Westerners beat an enemy so hard they’ll whack off the arms of children inoculated by U.S. doctors? I’ll give that conservative Thompson credit for clearly seeing this. We never squared that equation. Guess what? It’s back again. The vile branch of the Left (nothing wrong with being Left, but some nihilists hiding under the banner of the Left are poisoning its air) would have us believe fighting absolute evil is wrong. Fine. Is mass extermination noble? The Jews recognize the Jews that fought back at Treblinka and in Warsaw at least didn’t die like cattle. The Jews that joined the Allies and fought in the war destroyed the image of passivity created by the camps. Some, apparently, would have us die like cattle out of some bizarre belief that victims are noble. Madness. —Jeff Spencer
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