Sunday, June 22, 2008
(9:54 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
SacrificeEven at this late date, one often hears pundits speak whistfully of some alternate history where Bush would've asked the American people to "sacrifice" -- either after 9/11 in general or specifically with regard to Iraq. Normally the idea is that there is something morally beneficial inherent to "sacrifice," even in service of a bullshit war. Frank Rich's column today includes a somewhat strange variation on the theme:
Perhaps if Americans had been asked for shared sacrifice at the war’s inception, including a draft, they would be in 1968-ish turmoil now. But they weren’t, and they aren’t. In 2008, the Vietnam analogy doesn’t hold. The center does.I'm not sure what to make of this. Would it be better, in Rich's mind, if the American people were in turmoil over the war? If we follow the Vietnam analogy, it seems that the "sacrifice" would incline at least a significant majority of people to be more receptive to McCain's promise of victory -- after all, we don't want to have done all this "sacrificing" for nothing!
To the extent that I can decipher his intention, it does seem that Rich thinks "turmoil" would be a truer, more authentic reaction than the complete tuning-out that he is discussing in the rest of the column. Even for a war opponent, it would appear, "sacrifice" has the magical property of making things more deeply meaningful.
I predict that no matter who wins the presidential election, we're going to see a lot of commentary calling on the new president to break with Bush by calling for "shared sacrifice" -- on climate change, on Iraq, whatever. We just need "sacrifice," damn it! We need our president to preside over "sacrifice!" Bush's mistake wasn't lying our way into war, constantly defying the constitution and the law, instituting torture -- no, it was leaving us to our sordid little lives, failing to give us meaning through "sacrifice."