Kosovo: The Tony Blair Interpretation; The Clintonista’s Latest Darling

by Jonah Goldberg

KOSOVO: THE TONY BLAIR INTERPRETATION
I know newspapers are supposed to be the first draft of history or something clever like that. But since when are they supposed to be the first draft of revisionist history?

The New York Times reports this morning that British Prime Minister Tony Blair is “under increasing pressure” to talk to President Clinton about Kosovo. He “is being urged to persuade Mr. Clinton to confront congressional and public misgivings over committing American soldiers to such an effort.”

“Confront” the American people and congress? Are they the foot-draggers now? Was I out getting popcorn when President Clinton became the reluctant back-bencher in favor of sending ground troops into harm’s way?

Wasn’t he the one who ruled out ground troops? Isn’t he the one who ignored the counsel of his Joint Chiefs and intelligence advisors and committed the U.S. to air power alone? Didn’t he lobby congress not to give him the authorization to win the war by any means necessary? Isn’t that the only “leadership” he’s offered to date, or am I missing something?

Perhaps this is Blair’s spin. Or maybe MI-6 needs to do a little extra leg work and read the public statements of the President of the United States before they assign the recalcitrance elsewhere. Indeed, last time I checked the American people were way ahead of the president on all fronts. They: a) are willing to call this a war; b) are willing to send ground troops if that will get the job done faster; c) think Bill Clinton hasn’t the foggiest idea of what he’s doing; and d) think Major Winchester was a much worse character than Frank Burns.

Congress and the American people may have serious misgivings about using ground forces, but compared to the guy calling the shots they’re a bunch of Huns. It is not their misgivings holding Clinton back — or even congress’s — it’s his own.

THE CLINTONISTA’S LATEST DARLING
I have for the most part tried to avoid discussing the “Third Way” — the intellectual paradigm driving international Clintonism. Indeed, except for calling it “Blumenthal with a Human Face,” I have largely ignored the topic entirely.

This is mostly due to the fact that the current incarnation of the Third Way makes almost no sense, has a terrible pedigree, and is largely the bailiwick of Mr. Blumenthal. I have read reams of Third Way dreck, and except for the fact that everything is spelled correctly, it sounds much like the mumbo-jumbo you get from prison house philosophers whose education came from applying the Cliff Notes of Sartre’s No Exit to the latest Bazooka Joe comic.

But it looks like the Third Way is here to stay. Yesterday’s election of Ehud Barak in Israel has already been claimed by the Clintonistas as a confirmation that this “new,” exciting,” “today,” and yes, even “hip” philosophy is the wave of the future.

This is not the first time something called the Third Way has come down the pike. There was, of course, “fascism,” which many thought was a nice compromise between Communism and this crappy idea called “freedom.” There was, of course, Sweden’s version which was, and still largely is, fascism in a hot tub. Except for its blondes and the movies they star in, the Swedes have little to teach the rest of the world (except maybe France). But the most recent (not counting some of the titles of those movies) incarnation of the phrase Third Way was the attempt of idealistic Eastern European Communists to figure out a way to have the government run everything and still get good coffee.

Now there’s plenty of time to get into the nitty-gritty details of my duly harsh characterizations of this venerable cop-out to slavery. But today, the Third Way is supposed to mean something else. Of course exactly what it means is dependent on the time of the day and the last time the speaker took his medication. But the regnant slogan is the “rejection of the brain-dead policies of the Left and the Right.” Get it? The Left and the Right. By saying their old policies are dead, they can connect jumper cables to them, say they’re brand new, and go on prattling about managed competition, picking winners and losers, and the hateful wedge issues of the Right.

Jackasses.

Anyway, more of that some other time. But it would be nice to talk about Mr. Barak for a second. The airwaves are full of people calling him the latest champion of the TW. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. On economics he probably is, since Israel is still a largely socialist country. But what about the military? This guy killed lots of people with his bare hands while he was serving in an institution that Bill Clinton once called hateful and Al Gore called fascist. One time he put on a dress to sneak behind enemy lines and do some wet work. The last time Blair put on a dress was when he was a troubadour at Oxford.

The brain-dead politics of the Left said war was never necessary. Today the brainy politics of the Left says wars are only okay when they are not in your interest. Other than that there’s really not much there there. And it certainly isn’t some brilliant synthesis of the Left and the Right.

ILLTOWN
Anyway, I’m done for today, Michael Moore bashers will have to wait for another day. I’m so sick (no, not because of the Third Way stuff); I haven’t felt this bad since I got off the junk or when I lost the remote right when the Designing Women marathon started.