Todd Gitlin is a former 1960s radical who has learned very little in the past 35 years. He believes, for example, that “Republicans, right-wingers at that, conrol every branch of the national government — the White House, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, and increasingly the lower federal courts.” It is unclear why the Washington Post would publish an article by anyone opaque enough to consider the likes of Sandra O’Connor and Olympia Snowe right-wingers.
I think the paper published the Gitlin piece posted above because it purports to find fault with both the right and the left in the aftermath of the war. However, the fault Gitlin finds with the left is, in essence, that it hasn’t quite figured out how to articulate its powerful critique of President Bush’s policy or to effectuate its noble goals. The fault he finds with the right is that it is fanatical — “millenarian” is the term Gitlin uses — to the point that it is unwilling to rely on mere persuasion and elections to root out its enemies
Gitlin’s only evidence of conservative fanaticism consists of the forceful criticism of the anti-war movement and anti-war commentators by people like Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin. This criticism, of course, is nothing more than an attempt to persuade. Moreover, Gitlin never shows that any of the criticism of the anti-war advocates he cites is false. Instead, he wonders why the cirticism is so vehement, given the fact that the war went well and the anti-war left has lost, for now, the battle for public opinion. This is Gitlin at his slippery best — not only should the left be excused for its irresponsible behavior because in the end that behavior did not make a difference, but it is fanatical for conservatives to even remind us of the left’s irresponsible behavior.
At the end of his article, Gitlin, still playing the part of a 1960 radical playing the part of a grown-up, urges the left not merely to say “no” but to offer its own solution to domestic and international security issues. The problem is that, as indicated by the statements and behavior Malkin and Limbaugh point to, the anti-war left has no solutions, or at least none that it would be well-advised to publicly advocate. Its best strategy is to just say “no” and then hope that the no will be forgotten when it becomes clear that the right answer was yes.


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