So what going on this morning? Lots of things. I mentioned Saturday Michael Kazin’s new book, American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation, which comes out today. My Kindle copy downloaded at 12:01 am, so I’ve already got my first yucks in from the opening pages.
Whaddyaknow: Kazin wrote the book partly with the support of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Your tax dollars at work. And the book opens with . . . Dr. Seuss. Actually, there is something appropriate in beginning a sweeping history of the American Left with an homage to the premier modern author of children’s stories, since leftist ideology is something only children can still believe in. Or maybe Kazin has produced a refined comedy? This passage from the first chapter suggests we should make sure our legs haven’t been pulled: “Seuss made great children’s literature out of the essential critique and vision of the left. . . Seuss’s work was an underappreciated accomplishment in the long, if often difficult, history of the American left.” (The irony here is that one of the more frequent interpretations of Seuss’s story The Lorax is that it should be read as an affirmation of property rights and free trade. Not exactly principles the Left celebrates. The Seuss estate once issued a cease-and-desist letter to a lecturer who used the story to illustrate this point. So much for liberal openness to diversity of opinion.)
Don’t miss Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal today writing about the shame of the many liberals who fell all over themselves to proclaim Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, to be a liberal reformer, when all along he was just a well-dressed and more presentable version of his abhorrent tyrant father—a point similar to the case I argued in National Review back in May. But just as the Left always found a new Communist dictator to like during the Cold War after they were shocked—shocked—to learn that their favorite utopia was operating gulags, the Left will find new reasons to believe that some other tyrant is on the brink of liberal reform.
If Gadhafi is well and truly gone, the good news for Libya will be that it will form its new government largely without the usual catastrophic interference of the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The bad news for Libya is that “Arab springs” are usually followed by long hot summers (think Iran in 1978), and there is little reason to hope that Libya will become the next Turkey, especially since Turkey is showing signs of trying to become the old Libya.
Elsewhere on the Journal editorial page today Paul Gigot comments on the Jon Huntsman campaign:
This year in particular it’s hard to see much room for Mr. Huntsman running to the left of Mr. Romney. The GOP as “anti-science” was a main Democratic theme in the past decade but also isn’t likely to move many Republicans now. Perhaps Mr. Huntsman thinks this will carve out ideological space to be the “moderate” choice as vice president, which on present course is his only chance of getting on the ticket.
But which party’s ticket? I wonder if Huntsman is really pursuing a canny strategy to replace Joe Biden as Obama’s running mate next year? Good ol’ Slow Joe got off another howler in China the other day, saying of China’s one-child policy: “Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I’m not second-guessing — of one child per family.” Now, would Biden have gone to South Africa in the 1980s and said “Your policy of apartheid has been one which I fully understand—I’m not second-guessing. . .”? You can go on with this game at your leisure, but Biden’s relativist reflex comes at a time when even Chinese authorities have come to see the defects of their authoritarian family policy, and also at a time when the entire “population bomb” theory on which it is based has reached final collapse. The Economist and, even more recently, Science have both run major stories kicking over the last vestiges of the population bombers.
But if replacing Biden is Huntsman’s clever strategy, he may want to look at this headline from the Journal’s news pages today: “Democrats Have Reason to Be Nervous About 2012.” You don’t say!
And I haven’t even opened up the Washington Post yet.