They all got together to reinforce their warped view of the world. The guts of the Republican party on the National Review cruise. They chose as their venue the opulence of a modern cruise ship. No longer a conveyance which brought throngs of immigrants to their young country, today such vessels are an "almost all inclusive resort".
In the lounges and on the decks of MS Oosterdam they could cheer on their war, backslap their achievements and let the testosterone flow undeterred by any form of rational argument from any quarter outside their privileged clique.
Johann Hari of the Independent documented his observations in The New Republic. (Registration required). Beyond the clash of egos which would be inevitable at such a gathering, he illustrates the prejudice and bigotry of the modern conservative ruling class. But more than that, he provides the proof of what they really believe to be the truth.
They know. And by knowing and not honestly addressing that which they know to be fact, they are liars.
Was it a good ride? Not the cruise; the last seven years.
There is something strange about this discussion, and it takes me a few moments to realize exactly what it is. All the tropes conservatives usually deny in public--that Iraq is another Vietnam, that Bush is fighting a class war on behalf of the rich--are embraced on this shining ship in the middle of the ocean. Yes, they concede, we are fighting another Vietnam; and this time we won't let the weak-kneed liberals lose it. "It's customary to say we lost the Vietnam war, but who's 'we'?" Dinesh D'Souza asks angrily. "The left won by demanding America's humiliation." On this ship, there are no Viet Cong, no three million dead. There is only liberal treachery. Yes, D'Souza says, in a swift shift to domestic politics, "of course" Republican politics is "about class. Republicans are the party of winners, Democrats are the party of losers."
The panel nods, but it doesn't want to stray from Iraq. Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan's one-time nominee to the Supreme Court, mumbles from beneath low-hanging jowls: "The coverage of this war is unbelievable. Even Fox News is unbelievable. You'd think we're the only ones dying. Enemy casualties aren't covered. We're doing an excellent job killing them."
Then, with a judder, the panel runs momentarily aground. Rich Lowry, the preppy, handsome 38-year-old editor of National Review, announces, "The American public isn't concluding we're losing in Iraq for any irrational reason. They're looking at the cold, hard facts." The Vista Lounge is, as one, perplexed. Lowry continues, "I wish it was true that, because we're a superpower, we can't lose. But it's not."
As they bask in the delights of formal dining rooms, a multitude of bars and rich furnishings, their countrymen fight and die in a hellhole. A country is shattered beyond recognition. Countless thousands of people have died or have been displaced or simply rot in despair because of this luxury absorbing crowd.
They are not at war. They are playing at it. Suffering is the lot of others, be they Iraqis they care nothing for, or their own countrymen, separated by class and privilege. This is their war only in the sense that the American flag pin they wear on their formal dining attire is similar to the patch worn on the shoulder of some tour-extended, hapless grunt who only wants to get out of the whole mess alive.
It's clear now. These are the spawn of the Reagan Cold Warriors. Iraq is nothing more to them than a "redo". This is the make-up exam for the failure in Vietnam.
No matter what excuse they produce for invading and laying waste to Iraq, the real reason is now out there for all to see. The war in Iraq is being fought to even the score.
And, as in Vietnam, the privileged-class does none of the fighting. That falls to the "wasted" class. Nothing but movable pieces on a folding game board. The real war is the one they are waging on their own citizens as they exact a price for their sense of humiliation over Vietnam.
They are walking disasters; a waste of good air. May they choke on the failure they are about to perpetrate on themselves.