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Jewish World Review Dec. 13, 2001 / 28 Kislev, 5762

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Libs worry too much -- AMERICA'S decisive, well-fought, and relatively easy victory in Afghanistan should remind us of a fundamental reality of our politics: liberals are too pessimistic. They told us the Gulf War would be such a quagmire that they voted against military action. The left feared that Afghanistan would prove a mire to the U.S. just as it had to the Soviets. Even as the U.S. moved decisively to eradicate the Taliban, liberals worried that it would retaliate in massive new acts of terror. After clamoring for ground troops, the left watched open mouthed as air power alone proved sufficient to bring down Milosovic and end Serbian aggression in Kosovo.

In domestic policy, the left predicted that welfare reform would lead to massive national poverty while the right asserted its confidence that the poor would adjust to the new environment of work and would anchor themselves firmly in the lower middle class. Liberals denied that it was possible to balance the budget without eviscerating vital programs like Medicare, medicaid, education and the environment. But each prophesy proved wrong. Welfare reform empowered a generation of poor to escape the generational cycle of poverty and the budget achieved balance without sacrificing any of our core national values.

Time and again the left has underestimated the capacity of the military, incorporating into their thinking what they suppose to be the lesson of Vietnam - that the military is overly optimistic about its own capability and really doesn't know how to deal with third world crises.

How often must the left be proven wrong for it to start to figure that something is very wrong in its world view? How many Afghanistans and Gulf Wars must we win before they start to have a little faith in American prowess and technology. Now the left warns that aggressive United States action in Iraq will shatter the global coalition against terror and will leave our military alone, isolated in a grisly war with Baghdad. When will we stop taking the cautionary pessimism of the left seriously?

As Bush ponders his next move in the war on terror, he surely must realize that Iraq cannot have fully or even largely recovered from the 1991 war. With the U.S. patrolling the skies and an embargo in effect, it is unlikely that Iraq has been able to rebuild or replace the shattered armor it left in the dessert in the Gulf War. Had a column of hundreds of tanks and armored personnel carriers arrived in the Iraqi dessert, it would be likely that we would have noticed.

But, still the left worries. If the spectacular military success of the United States armed forces in Afghanistan teaches us anything, it should be that the military knows what it is doing and can execute missions of great complexity and even delicacy with a minimum of casualties and a maximum of strategic savvy. All that is required is an executive decision to act and an operational vow to stay out of the military's way as it figures out how best to achieve the objective given it by the civilian authority.

When did the left start to be pessimistic? When did this inversion start? Historically, the left has been optimistic about human nature and has believed in positive outcomes, while the right has harbored cynical thoughts about the human psyche and discounted the idealism of the liberals. But in our society, liberals have become worry-warts, forever predicting dire outcomes.

The key appeal of liberalism has always been its optimism. George Will posits that his conservatism stems from his historic affection for the Chicago Cubs and his annual experience of disappointment. He infers that New York's liberalism stems from our annual experience of Yankee victory which acclimates us to success and an optimistic view of historic possibility.

But the left has become dour while the right has picked up the can-do attitude which used to characterize liberalism. In its pessimism, the left has become intellectually elitist, belieing the traditional faith of it intellectual forebears in the potentiality of the common person. Thomas Jefferson was an optimist. Why had the left strayed so far into a kevetchy kind of doomsday mentality? Its time for liberals to get with it, open their eyes, and start believing that good things are, indeed, possible. This is, after all, America.

JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, The New Prince. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Dick Morris