Measure of Conservative Success: Denial of the Left

One can always tell when a particular Conservative policy has met with success. On the part of Left, there is first denial, then when success becomes undeniable the argument shifts to “the success would have happened irrespective of Conservative polices.” This can be seen in the reaction to the the¬† “Surge” policy and now our memories of the Cold War.

Before “The Surge” in troops, the Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid claimed that the Iraq War was “lost.” This looks foolish in retrospect, but public opinion at the time was ambivalent about who was winning. When the number of Americans casualties began to dramatically decrease, there was an unwillingness on the Left to seize these initial results optimistically. By and large, the Left was convinced that any success was momentary.

The plot above shows the Rasmussen Poll on the question who is winning the War on Terror. Although there is consensus now that we are on the road to success, the Left was slow in acknowledging it. They had too much emotionally invested in failure. In Slate in January 2008, Michael Kinsley, although acknowledging some positive trends in Iraq, would not accept the growing consensus that The Surge was working. Now that casualties have been dropping for almost two years, success can no longer be denied, but from the Left the Surge cannot be given credit. Some argue that the US improved its intelligence operations, others claim the the Iraqis would have rejected violence on their own. In short, the Left can not say they were wrong and President George W. Bush was right about the Surge strategy.As more and more time passes, people forget the arguments that were made originally, and this latter approach of denying the cause of the success is more effective. Hence, when the Left is giving alternative reasons for a success, we have a tacit admission of success.In yet another periodic re-incarnation of this sort of argument witness Tom Friedman. The argument he tries to make is that the United States loses and its enemies win when the price of oil increases. Likewise, when the price of oil falls, our enemies suffer. This is a reasonable argument. There are national security arguments to take steps to reduce US dependence upon oil.However, in his eagerness to buttress his argument he stretches the truth beyond all recognition. He now argues that Reagan’s policies did not win the Cold War. Rather,¬† according to Friedman, “… it was the collapse of global oil prices in the early 1990s that brought down the Soviet Union.”While the drop in oil prices hurt the Soviet Union, these prices dropped to levels that Soviets had lived with for generations. Indeed, Liberals at the time insisted that the Soviet Union would not collapse. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., scholar of American Liberalism and one of its most articulate spokespersons¬† told us in 1986, after the collapse in oil prices, that “those in the United States who think the Soviet Union is on the verge of economic and social collapse, ready with one small push to over the brink are wishful thinkers who are only kidding themselves.”Friedman overlooks the support of rebels opposing the Soviets in Afghanistan, the support of Contras in Central America, the increase in the US defense budget, the Strategic Defense Initiative, the incredible recovery of the US economy, the deployment of Intermediate Nuclear Weapons in Europe. Friedman is too smart to be making such silly assertions about winning the Cold War, but it is too hard to admit that Reagan won the Cold War.

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