Sunday, July 11, 2004


I've been the first to slag off Michael Howard, but we should never forget it could be worse. Take this putrid article by putrid article Michael Portillo. It really is the essence of Portilloism, with the characteristically adept choice of words and phrases failing utterly to hide basically bankrupt ideas. Look at the first few 'graphs, the faux-agony as Mikey finds himself forced - forced! - to criticise America. He doesn't want to, but now he's found out about the behaviour of a half-dozen trailer trash on a single day in November 2003, why, there's no choice. I'll give him that if he accepts that the events of a whole 19 Muslims on a certain day in 2001 say all we need to know about Islam. Oops no - that would be bigoted, whereas spinning the behaviour of six perverted 'tards into a broadbrush condemnation of the US is tres sophisticated.

Note too the drivel about his constituent. We're supposed to be outraged that a one-armed man got picked up - but how did he lose it ? And what is the legal definition of a mild criminal record anyway ? More to the point, what was he doing in Afghanistan ? Nope, Mikey skates over these points and hopes you'll be sufficiently impressed by his word wrangling that you won't notice these gapping holes. That sets the tone for the rest of the article.

We're told that the US has made disastrous mistakes - but not what they are. Given that the fastest advance in history has been followed by the setting up of a broadly-based Iraqi government and democratic institutions are coming on-line with elections early next year…well, don't ask what the disasters were, ask what would have had to happen for Mikey not to call it a disaster.

Mikey tells us that 'we have been left speechless in the face of atrocities committed by other regimes', and what's more 'During his visit to Britain the Chinese prime minister could hardly contain his mirth when the subject of human rights abuses was raised at a joint press conference with Blair'. Possibly his mirth was a result of seeing the media crucify Blair over the unauthorised doings of a handful of pond scum while he gets a free pass over slave camps, mass arrests of political and religious dissidents, executions merely to allow the harvesting of organs, Tibet…. You get the picture. Moral equivalence was never stupider but, since Mikey sees isolated criminal acts by public servants as evidence of unfitness to govern, can he tell us which party governed for the majority of Harold Shipman's killing spree ?

Perhaps sensing that arguing that Abu Grahib means that we'll now longer benefit from the support of France is kind of weak, Mikey then goes searching through the cupboards for every pot and pan to throw. He tells us that 'Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, used too few troops to secure the borders or to capture the stockpiles of weaponry'. Doubtless, next week General Sir Michael Jackson will write an article on getting elected (then again, to judge by 1997, Mikey probably needs the tips). Also, 'disbanding Iraq’s security forces was a foreseeable error' - because, of course, there would be no question of Mikey and his fellow travellers making mischief if the Yanks had announced 'Meet the new boss, same as the old boss', hmmm ? What's more 'backing Ahmed Chalabi for president flew in the face of wise counsel.'. OTOH, not backing would also have president flown in the face of wise counsel. Either way Mikey and the rest of the Hate America crowd would be shouting 'A-Ha!'.

Even within this whineathon, Mikey is still at it, spinning away: ' the blitz on Falluja was a military and diplomatic catastrophe'. Blitz ? There are parts of Birmingham that look better than 'blitzed' Falluja. But we're just supposed to accept that Falluja was blitzed, and not notice the slippery choice of words at the end. The objective of operations was neither to impress the French nor to produce massive body counts. Falluja was entirely political. It was supposed to be the start of a popular uprising against the US. Instead, as Steve Den Beste illustrates, it was a complete fiasco which, by way of failing utterly, left the interim government much stronger. Some catastrophe.

There's one more lu-lu though. Mikey claims that Bush hasn't grovelled enough to Islam. Like, hello ? Bush more than anyone is responsible for all those jeering references to the 'Religion of Peace' on the net. Bush has risked his reputation by reaching out even to the looniest Jihadi. Yet, Mikey condemns him for not solving the Israel-Palestine problem, no doubt by strong-arming those Israelis who intransigently want to stay alive (but, needless to say, Mikey supports Israel, of course).

What all this babbling leads to is this money graph:

I begin to think the West can purge itself of American misdemeanours only by some symbolic sacrifice. Rumsfeld would have done nicely had the president dismissed him over the Abu Ghraib horrors. He signally failed to do it. Now only the defeat of the Republican administration will suffice.

'Purge themselves' ? Like, heavy, man. It's the ultimate fusion of the Liberal establishments hippy-dippy 60s baggage with the rancid remains of 90s psychobabble. Would everything be alright if Dick Cheney carried out an Apache cleansing ceremony or Condi moved her office to sit on a Ley Line ? Hey - I'll tell you this: if guilt by association is the thing, Rummy is a lot further from some idiots in Baghdad than Mikey was to Archer, Hamilton, Aitkin……und so weiter. Never mind that a Kerry administation would use the self-same policy of trying to stick a restraining order on Bin Laden that Mikey himself admits was such a failure in the Clinton years: America's got to purge. It the politics of bulimia.

Of course, I can almost believe that Portillo has spent so long in the Thames Region Asylum that he's really unable to think in terms of anything other than symbols, images and sending the right message. Actual reality is only ever a distant relative in these circles. But still, Mikey can scabble about all he wants trying to recast Abu Grahib as America's Holocaust or Falluja as its Stalingrad, but the reader is still left with the feeling that there's a bit more to it. Regular readers will know that I'm not one for trying to divine motivation - that's a Liberal thing, done to hide the fact that their policies always lead to total disaster. Liberals talk about dark motives so they can argue that even though Mr Conservative saved three kids from a fire, he did it for selfish reasons, while they sat on their backsides chanting to the Fire God for only the very best of motives, and are therefore superior. Nevertheless, so furious a storm of rhetoric on so dubious a set of grounds cries out for further investigation.

Fortunatly, we don't have to look far for the TINOs motivation on this issue. This issue ? About 90% of issues actually. Bush has come out in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would prevent activist judges forcing through gay marriage. Whatever form of Conservative you are, you can't be happy about at least one of either gay marriage or judges remaking an ancient institution from the bench sans any kind of democratic mandate. Mikey knows this, hence his detour into Mooresque territory. That's it. That's the true measure of the TINO's unfitness for government. We are engaged in a vast global war that will shape the world for centuries to come and Mikey thinks victory is less important than allowing Sir Elton and Dave to get hitched.

Even with the world in flames, it turns out to be all about them.

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