July 15, 2007

A very good friend of mine, an older woman but not old, is what you might call a Country Club Republican. She is not an "intellectual" or a rigorously logical person. On the other hand, she is not a stupid or an uncultured individual. To the contrary, she attends the Opera at Lincoln Center, a world about which I know very little, except that I possess some CDs of Maria Callas as well as a DVD of Maria’s life story. My friend goes to the ballet as well. She loves the theatre. She is an interesting person. But my friend is not a reader or a student of history. She is a golfer. And she is a Republican. These are her defining characteristics, along with a love of gardening, Martha Stewart, gossip, and "Ralph"—meaning Ralph Lauren. All well and good.

So why does J—let’s refer to her as J—think I am afraid to come to New York? "Admit it," she demanded recently, "You haven’t been to New York in years because you are afraid of another terrorist attack!" You see, J thinks that G.W. Bush is protecting us and that New York City is a prime target. She lives there, and she wants to be protected. She is right, but not about Bush. This is another defining characteristic of the Country Club Republicans. When I try to explain to J that Bush and Cheney have only exacerbated an already terrible situation, making it more dangerous, her reply is, "So do you want, Hillary? Will that satisfy you?!" This puts me on the defensive.

With the CCRs, it is either black or white. If you are not a Republican, then you must be a despicable Democrat. The universe is divided between Republicans and Democrats, in the manner that Pope Alexander VI divided up the world in 1493, the entire known world outside of Europe, between Spain and Portugal. Everything is simplified, and nothing is complicated. Speaking of modern times, it is like the Manichean cosmos of Rush Limbaugh and those of the other mountebanks and ignoramuses bloviating on "conservative" talk radio. No thinking required, just a willingness to be stupefied and brainwashed. When I point out to J that I find Hillary equally unacceptable and just as fraudulent as Bush Jr., J returns to the topic of the "war on terror"—she feels safer with Bush, even though she admits that Bush is "an idiot".

J has reasoned it out. She understands that terrorism was caused by something happening in Washington; that it did not originate out of the blue. Due to domestic political realities, however, meaning that politicians of both parties in Washington are suborned and beholden, it is an impossibility for U.S. policy in the Middle East to be even handed. J knows few details of the conflict over Palestine, but she knows enough of how the corrupt American political system works to understand that the Palestinians are not ever going to be treated in a fair manner or have their grievances honestly addressed by the folks in charge in Washington. J regrets that, but she accepts it as a fact of life. This being the case, J concludes that the Islamic world will never be satisfied; some of them will inevitably turn to terrorism and Jihad.

What is J’s solution for America’s predicament? The Cheney/"neocon"/Bush prescription: kill as many Islamists or Arabs as possible and conspire to create the conditions whereby they will kill off one another, in the course of contrived internal conflicts. Kill them over there, before they come here. In this way, New York will remain safe. Who is to say that J is wrong? Perhaps her approach is just realistic, albeit amoral and cynical. Perhaps this is yet another characteristic of a CCR. The other side of the coin, however, is that Cheney and his irritating sidekick and their "neocon" provocateurs may be manufacturing Jihadists faster than they can kill them, and that Washington has opened a Pandora’s box which will be most difficult to close. Yes, it would be great to return to the world of 1493, at least for a week.


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