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The Nihilism of the Left (Updated) (x2!)

November 13th, 2007 | 2 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

While in Vegas, I had the opportunity to sit in on a panel of politicos discussing the role of the blogosphere on the left and right.

As the discussion turned toward the war, those on the left articulated that regardless what happened in the coming months in Iraq, the only notion of “success” they would acknowledge would be an immediate and total removal of American troops from Iraq.

That is, even if Baghdad immediately stabilized, the government gave themselves completely over to democratic rule, and all attacks ceased–that is, if heaven came to Iraq–the Democrats on the panel still insisted that it would still be a failure if our troops were there.

The left, to put it gently, is angry about the war. That anger has fueled their growth online, giving them an edge in online activism. But from this Republican’s vantage point, it seems their anger has slipped over into an insane nihilism that refuses to consider the possibility of success that isn’t “giving up” and denies that the facts on the ground–reality–should have anything to do with our policy. Even if we grant that America broke Iraq, the left will have nothing to do with putting it back together. And as such, if it does go well and Iraq stabilizes, the left will be able to take none of the credit.

The anger of those representing the left was palpable, and it was off-putting to this member of the right. But if one’s policy amounts to nothing–that is, if it rejects the possibility of constructive solutions to a difficult problem–then anger inevitably drowns out optimism and rationality.

(see also John Hinderaker’s perspective, as he was on the panel)

Update: I’m not the only one who sees things this way. Karl Rove recently said:

“My point is not that liberals swear publicly more often than conservatives. That may be true, but that’s not my point,” Mr. Rove said. “It is that the netroots often argue from anger rather than reason, and too often, their object is personal release, not political persuasion.”

Ht: The Corner

Update update:  Peter Berkowitz’s column in the Wall Street Journal is exactly right: hatred clouds the judgment and hence is corrosive on political discourse in America.  It’s a phenomenon, however, that is apparently not limited to the blogs.