Boldness is a virtue

Of all of the crazy arguments of those divorced from reality, the one premised on “character” and “consistency” in the face of witheringly true opposition is the most mind-boggling. All of his views are dangerous and wrong, an apologist might say, but it takes boldness and character to be so wrong.

Enter Rick Santorum, a man who still–I’m not kidding about this–insists there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq–despite Bush’s having said there weren’t any. This alone disqualifies him from the community of informed citizens, least of all the United States Senate.

What conclusion does Michael Smerconish draw from this? Take a look:

>Personal qualities are at least of equal importance, and what I find Santorum lacking on policy matters, he more than makes up for on the personal ledger.

>Rick Santorum is unique. He’s a man of rare substance and conviction.

>In our poll-driven political climate, dominated by blow-dried politicians with their fingers to the wind, he stands for things. And even where he stands for things with which I disagree, I come away admiring his unwillingness to placate dissenters by telling us words that we want to hear. What you see with Santorum, is what you get. He speaks from the head and heart.

>Here’s an example of what I am talking about. Tim Russert confronted Santorum with his near unanimous support of the Administration, an Administration that the world knows is in political free-fall. Santorum, having already indicated several areas of disagreement with the President, nevertheless did not back off and went so far as to say that he thought the President was doing a “terrific” job.

>Look, I continue to like George W. Bush, the man, far more than most. I think the president’s heart is in the right place even when his head isn’t. But “terrific” is not a word I would use to describe his effort, particularly if I were running for the U.S. Senate. But Rick Santorum gave what was for him an honest answer to a difficult question. He didn’t look at the president’s approval rating. He didn’t duck. He offered no sound byte. And I find his honesty refreshing amid all the BS and spin that comes out of D.C.

As Smerconish admits, the President is not doing a terrific job. But rather than draw the obvious conclusion that Santorum has been honest about holding views out of step with reality–and praising him for his honesty–Smerconish draws the absolutely wrong conclusion that this qualifies him to hold the office. Admitting your disqualifyingly erroneous views does not qualify you for the job for which you admit to being disqualified, simply because you admit them.

The wrong trousers

Many conservative pundits have begun marching to the steady drumbeat for another war. Who will it be? Syria, or Iran, or both? Whoever it will be, it won’t be places where actual terrorists are and the reasons will be certainly be all wrong. One reason, one dishonestly asserted in the absence of any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, is that democratization of the Middle East will end terrorism. So, Victor Hanson argues that the US should support democracy in the Middle East (by something more forceful than words). A noble goal, but the first reason he offers for it is this:

>First, Islamic terrorism has a global reach. Even just a few operatives are able to destroy the foundations of Western air travel, finance and civic trust.

Whatever this has to do with democracy he does not say. No amount of democracy (say that enjoyed by the citizens of Great Britain) can stop a few crazies from blowing up some trains and buses and planes. Besides, the causes of Islamic terrorism, as far as we have been able to tell, don’t have a whole lot to do with their lack of a representative forms of government. And it’s a gross oversimplification to lump all of Islamic terrorism (read any terrorism in the Middle East) into one category. Consider, for instance, the difference between Sunni and Shiite, for starters, then add the difference between the locally directed terrorist versus the one with global interests.

And to complete the revision of history, he claims that

>In truth, fostering democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq was not our first, but last choice. What the U.S. is trying to do in the Middle East is costly, easily made fun of and unappreciated. But constitutional government is one course that might someday free Middle Easterners from kidnappings, suicide bombers and dictators in sunglasses.

It is easy to make fun of what’s going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially since it has done so little to free *anyone*–least of all the Iraqi and the Afghanis–from kidnappings and suicide bombers.