Tony Parsons from the irrepressible 'Daily Mirror' has the honour of starting us off. To be completely fair, I will be emailing Tony with the heads up that I plan to examine his columns (bet he can't wait).
Now, those of you who click on the wikipedia link will see Tony described as 'a right-wing populist'. I'm not sure that's true, or who actually wrote the article. Of course, if Tony himself did and he believes he's a 'right-wing populist' (whatever that even means), then it would be impolite to quibble; I'm fairly sure that status would relegate one to the naughty corner at Mirror HQ, however. The Daily Mirror is incredibly left-wing, but not like The Guardian (the staple of the left-liberal intelligentsia in Britain). The Mirror is appropriately named, for it is simply a mirror image of The Sun. The latter is right-wing in a low brow way, and the former is a hangover to the days of Magaret Thatcher Vs. Arthur Scargill. Upon reading some of their columns I think they almost wish their arch-nemesis was still in power; hitting people who don't fight back isn't half as fun now, is it?
Well, about as much fun as being proven wrong on almost every issue, and having your spiritual party hijacked by strange interlopers who you support anyway, because you happen to be as ridiculously tribal as the enemies you sneer at and denigrate.
As a brief aside, why are only right-wingers ever described as populist? I suppose because left-wing people are correct about everything, and the right wrong. Except where the right is correct it becomes 'populist', because the proles haven't been educated well enough in the ways of the Force, and still support the Dark Side.
Anyway, with apologies for the digression, this is the article that irked me: George W Bush's legacy: The global village idiot. It's probably time to confess that the article didn't irk me because I'm a huge fan or supporter of Bush; however I think the aptly titled 'Bush Derangement Syndrome' which has been doing the rounds since 2003 is a fascinating and terrifying political phenomenon. His often hilarious gaffes and 'Bushisms' aside, Bush has not been the ineffectual ignoramus he's made out to be on absolutely every issue.
I don't make a habit of reading Daily Mirror articles, but sometimes if I see a copy discarded on the train I will have a flick through. The first line that jumped to my attention from this one, however, was:
Ronald Reagan, despised as a simple version of Doctor Strangelove during his
administration, is now grudgingly admired for his stance against Communism.
Excuse me? 'Grudgingly' admired for his stance against Communism? It seems that Parsons is the master of understatement. I appreciate that an apologist for Communism might not see Reagan in quite the same light I do, but I cannot imagine anyone who is self-described as 'right-wing' ever uttering such words. Reagan and Thatcher took a very sensible stance on the issue, stepping away from outright provocation but insisting on appropriate defence funding and measures, along with realising that making concessions and appeasing such a vile regime was not morally right.
The article goes on to (grudgingly) laud Bush for his work in Africa, such as the President's Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief, which, according to Parsons has thrown a lifeline to millions of Africans. Perhaps no one told Bushitler he was saving African lives, or he was too stupid to work it out? Parsons even goes so far as to record for posterity that Bush did more practical good for Africa than Bill Clinton or Bono (an astounding revelation, to be sure), not that that will help him with the fashionable elites for whom image and perception seem to be far more important than actions and reality.
However it is the next section of the article that I genuinely take issue with. It reads like a reverse chronology of all the fashionable reasons to 'bash Bush', all the things the half-informed and the peaceniks despise the man for.
The 'shoe incident', when an Iraqi journalist sought to humiliate/assault/strongly demonstrate his opposition to violence by hurling his shoes at the President's head, is brought up immediately; it doesn't explicitly say that the journalist had a point, but the phrase 'Bush's wife loyally said...' implies that even she might have been sniggering behind her hand, thinking about how he had it coming. I found this incident very strange; firstly, it proved that clearly Iraq is more free now than it was in some ways. The press complained that the journalist was beaten and tortured, and if so that must be condemned. However the simple fact is that would have happened had he pulled such a stunt in any Arab country, and the retribution would have been far worse had he done it to an Arab leader (not that anyone would have paid any attention). Saddam would have probably fed him feet first into a meat grinder, perhaps personally. The incident also provided us with yet another example of the peace-loving left condoning violence, because seemingly it's OK to commit grievous bodily harm against someone if you disagree with him, or he's perceived to have failed, or he's (allegedly) right-wing. I some how doubt that will apply when things start going wrong for Obama.
For the record, I agree that the war in Iraq was a mistake, in many ways a dreadful one. It did, rightly or wrongly, squander much of the post 9/11 goodwill towards America. Parsons goes further than this; he says:
on a day when we watched 3,000 people murdered on live TV, George Bush somehow contrived to make the USA look like an aggressor.
That is an absolutely absurd statement. America was viciously and violently attacked that day, by Islamic extremists. I do not blame US support of Israel, or pretensions to the role of 'global policeman'; I blame the scum who carried out the attacks, thinking their 'holy book' gave them the right, nay the duty, to slaughter innocents. Also, this was 2 years before Iraq; Bush was not an aggressor for going after the Taliban in Afghanistan, he was responding to Islamic aggression, and picked the most fundamentalist Islamic regime on the planet. I would say he showed some moral cowardice in not calling out Saudi Arabia for the involvement of their citizens and their attempts to spread the creed of Wahhabism, but it was a case of first things first.
Despite the 11th of September 2001, Parsons tries to pretend that before Iraq, anti-Americanism was a phenomenon primarily found amongst those jealous of America's success and status. He also trots out that old chestnut about Bush's actions being a greater force in recruiting Islamic militants than any other. Again, this is a nice story, but it's simply untrue. Daniel Pipes has a fascinating archive full of Islamic terrorist activity stretching back decades. If Bush has made Muslims hate the US, what about the World Trade Centre bombing of 1993? What about the USS Cole attack in 2000? The African embassy bombings of 1998? Even the 1993 CIA shootings? You get the idea - this is a long road, and it has little to do with Bush, and everything to do with the people who carried out the attacks and their beliefs. Even better than this is the quote:
The very worst forces of America - warmongers, religious nutters, and raving
nationalists - swarmed around him [Bush] and painted their fantasies on his blank
So, when people who happen to be Christian defend their country and citizens, they're religious nutters. I notice it goes unsaid that that is exactly what the 9/11 hijackers were. Aren't double standards great? I suppose in his world they were poor, oppressed lambs struggling against racism, and America's obvious war on Muslims, such as their bombing of the Christian Serbs to facilitate the transfer of Serbian territory to Muslim control... wait, did someone get the narrative the wrong way round? I hold no quarter for the 'neo-cons', they are to conservatism what Chairman Mao was to Chinese culture, but I call nonsense just that when I see it.
The strangest part is that, at the end of the article, he groups 9/11 in with Hurricane Katrina and the financial crisis, as if it were just an inexorable force of nature which hijacked those planes and flew them at important structures. No; it was certainly people who hated America, but not because of who was currently occupying the White House. Bush may have been 'unlucky to have this happen on his watch,' as Parsons puts it (not as unlucky as the victims, obviously), but much of the blame can be put elsewhere; Clinton had several chances to kill bin Laden after the embassy bombings (and admittedly a missed opportunity), but apparently it didn't seem that important compared to the potential for 'collateral damage'. But then, compared to harassing secretaries, what is? I agree the 'War on Terror' was poor and imprecise terminology, but I think it was Bush's attempt at diplomacy. We couldn't have a war on militant Islam, now, could we? Nope, but they've declared one on us. At least Bush tried to respond to the threat, no matter how ineffectually. Ironically, if he'd simply called a spade a spade despite the protests from the left (who just protested anyway), the whole endeavour may have turned out better. But, at least he helped prevent a second attack on American soil, something the entire free world should be grateful to him for.
As for Tony Parsons, his true colours shine through brightly in his latest article: Waking up to Barack Obama’s new American dream.
Good news - believing in a man's political vision simply because he's black is going to make race not matter anymore!
Thanks for that, Tone.