But Democrats have not merely been horrified bystanders wringing their hands as this “war” has unfolded. The Democratic Party has actively encouraged the GOP’s descent into antifeminism. And though Democrats have reaped considerable gains from the fallout, their efforts have often ultimately been to the detriment of the country’s women…
It’s worth noting, however, that the Democratic Party has had no interest in trying to cool partisan debate over women’s issues, and every interest in making sure that no significant Republican feminist position emerges. The episode that best illustrates the Democratic approach in this regard was the successful effort to end the political career of Maryland Republican Congresswoman Connie Morella.
Morella, a former English professor and state legislator who also managed to raise nine children, was one of the leading feminists in Congress and among the most liberal House Republicans. She sponsored important legislation on domestic violence and women’s health, while opposing conservatives on gun control, gay rights, conservation, and abortion. She was also one of only six Republicans to vote against authorizing George W. Bush’s military action in Iraq. Her ability to work across the aisle made her a key player in bipartisan reform coalitions. But after Republicans took control of the House in 1994, Morella’s representation of some of Washington D.C.’s most affluent and liberal suburbs made her one of the Democrats’ leading targets. The Democratic-controlled Maryland legislature redrew her district to ensure that, as the state senate president gloated, “If she runs, she loses.”
Why yes; Republican anti-feminism is bad, but when Democrats point out that the Republican Party is viciously anti-feminist, it’s almost as bad. And when Democrats field “candidates” that will “run against” moderate Republicans, well, they pretty much take responsibility for the existence of Rick Santorum. It would be more appropriate if Democrats refrained from pointing out that Republicans are anti-feminist, and avoided fielding candidates against “moderate” Republicans.
Seriously, someone had to think of this, someone else had to think “Why, that’s insightful,” and someone else still had to actually post it to the website.
When I assembled a syllabus for this semester’s Airpower seminar, I noted that there appeared to be a pair of biographies of John Boyd; Grant Hammond’s Mind of War, and Robert Coram’s Boyd. Brief reading of reviews and cursory investigation didn’t reveal much in terms of how the differed, so I sought the last refuge of the scoundrel: twitter. My twitter people told me that both volumes were solid enough, with Coram concentrating more on Boyd the airman and Hammond on Boyd the man. Given that this was an Airpower seminar, there were obvious reasons for choosing Coram. However, I thought that after a long semester of delving through the dry texts of airpower theory, my students might have preferred a more personal approach.
Mind of War isn’t an awful book. There are compelling elements to it, and it certainly paints an interesting picture of John Boyd Polymath. It describes elements of his thought in great detail, and ably presents his contribution to a number of important projects. But it’s also obvious that the biographer was, in this case, far too close to his subject. I hasten to add that this was an assessment that my students shared; they still joke about how Boyd was kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being etc. etc.
John Boyd surely did some phenomenal things in his career. He was a remarkable fighter pilot, both in tacit and explicit senses. He was able to draw sufficiently robust lessons from air combat to integrate them with physics and engineering know how, thus producing the foundations for two of the most impressive fighter aircraft of the 20th century. The OODA loop remains a genuinely fascinating and productive theoretical device; for my own part, it helps me understand the effectiveness of the Oregon Ducks offense under Chip Kelly. For the most part, Hammond doesn’t bother apologizing for the fact that Boyd was apparently a colossal asshole; I’ve read few biographies (short of the obvious, Mussolini et al) where I had less interest in meeting the subject in person.
Hammond goes into a great deal of depth about Boyd’s ideas regarding warfare, competition, conflict, and systems integration. There’s a lot to be learned, unfortunately Hammond often seemed more interested in telling the reader how edgy and insightful Boyd was than in showing it. To be sure, he did a lot of the latter, but there’s so much of former that it sometimes feels as if we’re getting an argument from authority regarding the genius of John Boyd. Another way to put it is that Hammond doesn’t seem to trust that the reader will be smart enough to understand just how smart John Boyd was, and therefore he needs to reaffirm the genius of his subject at every turn. Again, there’s something to this; the reader probably won’t ever produce work as insightful as Boyd’s, but there needs to be a limit to the commitment of a biographer to the subject’s legacy. It doesn’t help when Hammond carefully concludes, in the final chapter, that Boyd met all of Clausewitz’ criteria for “military genius.”
Here’s a question. I’m sure that some would disagree with the suggestion that John Boyd and John Warden are the two pre-eminent American airpower theorists of the post-war age, but there’s at least a compelling case to be made for the prominence of each. Part of the point of creating an independent air force was to give aviators and enthusiasts the freedom to develop platform, doctrine, and strategic insight regarding the utility of airpower. Only by freeing the air force from its support role for the Army, the logic went, could the true potential of airpower be reached. I have to wonder, then, why both Boyd and Warden had such rocky Air Force careers. Neither made flag rank, and Hammond argues that Boyd was persona non-grata with the Air Force until very near his death. Comparatively, the most important theorists of the USAAC and USAAF period seem to have done very well; Billy Mitchell was court marshaled (after reaching flag rank), but Hap Arnold and many of the others associated with the Air Corps Tactical School continued to play very important roles into the Second World War. Off the top of my head the only really important USAAC officer to resign/get chased out was Claire Chennault, and his fight was more against the bomber mafia than the ground army. I’d be curious to see whether people think a) I’m misreading the history, b) a maverick career always comes with a cost, service independence notwithstanding, c) there’s a genuine problem with how the USAF approaches innovation, or d) some of the above.
Hammond hedges a bit on Boyd’s legacy. He certainly wants to argue that Boyd had a critical impact on a wide variety of affairs, from corporate governance to military doctrine to aircraft design. However, the lines are often sketchier than Hammond appears to draw. the story Hammond tells about Boyd’s impact on the Army and the Marine Corps is far too simple; Boyd surely supplied some of the ancillary logic for the return to maneuver warfare after Active Defense, but then the latter was never popular in the Army, and in both the 1980s and 1990s there were many sources of innovation. By Hammond’s own account the military reform movement failed to bring about much reform. If we are to believe the rest of the Fighter Mafia, Boyd would have loathed both the F-22 and the F-35. Moreover, it’s interesting that the primary utility of F-15 and F-16 now appears to be in their multirole capability; they surely remain excellent air superiority platforms, but they now act mostly as fighter-bombers (and even light strategic bombers in the service of the IDF).
Mind of War is perhaps the only biography I’ve ever read that has made me really, really want to read another biography of the same subject. It’s not a bad book, exactly, but it works best as a useful supplement for those already deeply steeped in the history of late Cold War airpower, and the fighter mafia in particular. If I had it to do over again, I’d assign the Coram book in a heartbeat.
One more thing on the Derbyshire bit, then I’m done. Of all the “rules” listed by Derbyshire, the one that offended me the most was this:
(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
It’s difficult to express how awful this sentiment is, in a way that goes beyond the Murray-esque racism of the rest of the piece. Apart from the explicitly anti-Christian element (the duty to help the distressed may extend even to those situations in which it might be statistically dangerous to do so), the notion that Derb is counseling his children (and readers) to ignore the distress of individual African-Americans as a matter of policy shocks the conscience. There’s obviously considerable support for the proposition that communities do in fact follow this policy (shooting or threatening to shoot Katrina refugees, for example), but I suspect there all also plenty of examples of confirmed, vicious racists who would nevertheless feel some duty to save an African-American family from a house fire, or help with a flat tire. White supremacy does not necessarily accord zero value to the lives of non-whites, but Derbyshire seems to be arguing that the “peril” indicated by the presence of African-Americans ought nullify even the faintest vestiges of human sympathy.
It reminds me a bit of this, except that Derb’s answer would probably be “not if it involves the slightest inconvenience, or the potential that I might break a nail.”
And so again I have to wonder about the folks at NRO; how for the love of Cthulu did you work with this man for such a long time?
Needless to say, no one at National Review shares Derb’s appalling view of what parents supposedly should tell their kids about blacks in this instantly notorious piece here.
Comments on that post closed for some technical reason that I can’t possibly fathom. Fortunately, the readership of the National Review is capable of expressing its opinion by commenting on the previous, unrelated post. Freely excerpting…
This comment is actually about “Derb’s Screed” by Rich Lowry. External Link All I’ll say is that yes, in 1968 or 1992 we had the demographic and economic cushion to indulge in some idealistic sanctimony about this issue. That time has passed.
More and more middle- and working-class Americans will come in contact with Derb’s truths on a daily basis, and they are going to speak out about it and not feel guilty or morally inferior for doing so…as the years pass it’s going to be pretty futile to shame them into shooshing up.
Derb’s Screed/Lowry’s Insult (to the readers) – I’ve never been much of a fan of Derbyshire and wondered why NRO retains him. Now I’ve become one. Lowry’s link meant I read the Screed at takimag.com that I otherwise would not have. Brilliant Mr Lowry. Offensive yes – but also a long overdue over-the-top rejoinder to the poisonous racial politics that Barack Obama has INFLAMED.
You Lowry have now associated the Derbyshire Screed with NRO by vociferously disassociating late on a Fri evening in the finest Watergate – strike that – Obamagate style. Not the other way around as far as I can tell. Can’t walk away from it now. I suppose you’ll fire him. Will the NYT, NYPost, & Orlando Sentinel ever disavow their recent articles? Right.
Derb could be 100% wrong about his talk with his kids and the necessity of giving it to them, but you’d still be wrong to disavow him on the grounds of cowardly political correctness. People used to be allowed to be wrong, and opposing opinions, even ones we disagreed with, used to be tolerated, even protected. What happened?
Of course after the way you treated Ann Coulter, and the eagerness you and your ilk have shown for disassociating yourselves from Pat Buchanan, this comes as no surprise. But it’s no less cowardly, and depressing, for all its predictability.
And before you judge Derb too sanctimoniously, maybe you should wait till you’re the parent of two mixed race Eurasian teens who may well face challenges that you can’t even imagine. Derb’s responsibilities are to his family, not to catering to your maidenly sensibilities.
And so I guess I’m less than convinced by the “needless to say” part of Rich’s post; are the editors of NRO that out-of-sync with their readership? Inquiring minds want to know!
(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.
(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.
(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).
(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.
(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.
(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.
(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.
(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.
Jubilation over the University of Kentucky’s win over the University of Louisville quickly turned into scenes of couch-burning mayhem in key celebratory areas around campus.
State Street, which had become the epicenter of couch burning in recent weeks, was quickly filled with thousands of people, smoke and flying beer bottles. Police in riot gear with fire extinguishers and batons dodged bottles from the growing crowd and tried to stop a raft of couch fires.
Police blocked people from an empty building, but could not stop at least five cars from being flipped over, set on fire or vandalized. Much of the violence was accompanied by people chanting a war cry of “C-A-T-S, Cats, Cats, Cats!”
Fire department officials said at least 39 fires occurred in the campus area, mostly on State Street, and mostly to couches and trash. The Fire Department also made 12 first-aid runs….
On April 1, 1996, crowds took to the streets after UK won the national championship against Syracuse. Cars were crushed; police officers and bystanders were hit with rocks and bottles; and a television news van was overturned and set ablaze.
City and UK officials had also urged fans repeatedly through the week to keep cool after the historic game.
But now city and UK officials have yet another night to get through, that of the championship game itself on Monday night.
“If this is a preview for Monday night,” said Samantha Shirley, who was watching the crowds on State Street, “then I feel sorry for the police.”
I’m sure that the UK student body will do its best to ensure that Lexington is visible from the International Space Station on Monday evening. The course of the game will merely determine how the fires are fueled. For our part, we’ll be parking the cars in the garage, booby trapping the couch, and enjoying the game over a snifter of brandy with an appropriately aged crowd.
In the course of what amounts to an aesthetic argument on behalf of the Louisville Cardinals, Dennis Berman argues:
This should be a moment of elation for Kentucky fans. Their team plays a ruthlessly beautiful brand of basketball. Their starting lineup is better than the New Jersey Nets.
And yet there is something lurking underneath: A sense that winning is, in its own odd way, making UK’s fans miserable. Their expectations of triumph—be it recruiting battles or tournament games—has hardened into a coarse entitlement. It’s gotten to the point where even a championship will feel like anticlimax.
My best friend, a rare species of Louisville-turned-Kentucky turncoat, admits it. “It’s not fun,” he says. “We expect it.”
There’s something to this. While I appreciate that the state of Kentucky basketball since my arrival in the commonwealth has been unusually tumultuous (the graceless exit of Tubby, the trainwreck called Billy Gillespie), I’ve generally found Kentucky fans to be knowledgeable, committed, but curiously joyless about the object of their affection. I count myself as a fan now (I lack the contrarian spirit, except in extreme situations), and it seems that at certain atmospheric dread backdrops every game; the Wildcats will probably win, and will in all likelihood destroy the opponent of the day, but what if they don’t? After the final Gillespie year, when it seemed that the center of power in the SEC might be drifting permanently south, this dread became palpable.
I wonder; do Notre Dame football fans feel this same way? Is it characteristic of dominant programs that may be on the wane? Will this atmosphere of dread and apprehension lift if the ‘Cats win the title, at least for a while? I hope so; cheering for the Cats is altogether more trying that cheering for the Ducks, even if I’m a great deal more enthusiastic about Oregon football than Kentucky basketball. I suppose that the Ducks would have to have a very long run of success before the legacy of the program itself became weighty.
In any case, go ‘Cats! Brutalize the Cardinals! Louisville isn’t really even in Kentucky…