With her insightful Wall Street Journal columns, Peggy Noonan can usually hit the nails right on the head. Her latest missed and mashed her thumb.
She was on a noble quest for the defining issue in the presidential contest between Barack Obama and John McCain. She settled on a new America (Obama) as opposed to an old America (McCain).
Ms. Noonan found ample examples, summed up in “a long-ongoing cultural and societal shift” away from the “higher principles . . . sterling virtues” of an America “always looking forward, not back.”
She didn’t say so, though her column’s subhead called this election “a battle of the ages.” Rather, she noted wisely that wisdom, or lack of it, does not always correlate with chronological age. Then where did she miss the nailhead?
Right here: This campaign isn’t old versus new. It’s old versus older.
Not only is nothing new in Obama’s campaign (other than he is half-black, or half-white, either of which decent folk are adjured to eschew). He represents the same, old, same-old failed policies of a once-relevant Democratic Party.
McCain is at some pains convincing the Republican Party he is faithfully representative of the Grand Old Party. Yet, the values he stands for are a lot older than those of either today’s Democratic Party or the GOP.
What makes Obama’s policies old is more than their lineage back to those of Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Lyndon Johnson. Rather, the core of Obama’s associations, beliefs and actions is the even-older ideology that tinged those earlier Democratic programs. It is, in one time-dishonored word: Marxism.
No, this is not the dastardly name-calling of the Red-baiting era of McCarthyism. Those who fought that scourge, and paid the price, have every right — and duty — to call Marxism what it still is: honest-to-God Marxism.
With the demise of the Soviet Union and Moscow-directed Communist Party discipline, American radicals, left with no card to carry, joined the ideologically homeless. But like all vector organisms driven underground, they bred.
And they re-emerged, finding welcome havens among like-minded leftists in academia, in the arts, in the mainstream news media and in the most-virulent totalitarian movement du jour in America, environmental radicalism.
The radical-Islamist terror attacks of 9/11, followed by America’s military response, gave the far left an opportunity to dust off its old favorites, protests for peace. The jaded blame-America movement was on the march once again.
Minus unsavory attachment to Soviet tyranny, Marxism was now able to show its many-faceted head in public without serious risk. With help of the media, radicalism has in a few years become the very model of political correctness.
This is the left-over Marxist environment in which the young Obama was nourished in his formative years. When he looks at the world of 2008, it is inescapably through those lenses. Whether he knows better, or can’t help himself, is immaterial. What matters is, this is who he is, what he stands for.
As Thomas Wolfe wrote in a much-earlier era of leftist effervescence, it is an ideological enemy “as old as time, and as evil as hell.”
This presidential election isn’t about who represents old or new America.
It is a mortal battle between two implacable, ancient adversaries on the stage of world history — a war for American survival between totalitarian collectivism (Karl Marx aptly named it socialism) and higher principles and sterling virtues that attended America’s founding (Peggy Noonan had that part precisely right).
Only in that sense is this election “a battle of the ages.” Nothing new in any of that. It’s all old, but McCain’s values, predating Marx, happen to be far older.
Someone has to come right out and say it, in front of God and everybody, before this presidential election gets all mangled beyond salvage in the myopic bias of the 2008 news media. (And you know which side most of them are on.)
John L. Perry, a prize-winning newspaper editor and writer who served on White House staffs of two presidents, is a regular columnist for Newsmax.com.
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