Politics Required Reading: The National Review Cruise
posted by June 26 at 14:05 PMon
Johann Hari is at sea—with the editors, writers, and readers of National Review.
The next morning, I warily wander into the Vista Lounge—a Vegas-style showroom—for the first of the trip’s seminars…. 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….
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.”
No one argues with him. They just look away, in the same manner that people avoid glancing at a crazy person yelling at a bus stop. Then they return to hyperbole and accusations of treachery against people like their editor. The aging historian Bernard Lewis declares, “The election in the U.S. is being seen by [the bin Ladenists] as a victory on a par with the collapse of the Soviet Union. We should be prepared for whatever comes next.” This is why the guests paid up to $6,000. This is what they came for. They give him a wheezing, stooping ovation and break for coffee.