August 23, 2004
Moral authority admits to no wrong!
Here's one of the best discussions I've seen on Kerry's multiverse.
How can it possibly be that his actions thirty years ago, which Kerry himself described as shameful war crimes, are now so undeniably honorable that no one is allowed to question Kerry's account of those actions, not even the very men whom Kerry accused of committing war crimes? (Via Glenn Reynolds.)I don't think I've seen a more classic case of having one's cake and eating it too. But despite the apparent inconsistency, I think there is a common thread, and it has to do with imagined moral authority, and the politics of shame.
To disagree with John Kerry -- now or then -- is shameful. Kerry, a self appointed master of shame, believes that he earned the right to moral superiority by both serving in Vietnam and then having (in his mind) the "moral courage" to oppose that war. This gave him the right to shame his fellow soldiers and denounce them as baby killers and war criminals. Not merely without pangs of conscience, but with total moral sanctimony. The fact that so much time has passed since then only invests him with greater moral authority, as he believes the passage of time proves him right. Not only that, but his type of activism -- opposing the war as a soldier -- was intended to clear the consciences of all antiwar activists who believed in the moral superiority of their cause. As I tried to explain previously, the antiwar generation likes to believe that they were every bit as much "warriors" as those who fought and died. "BRING THE WAR HOME" was one of the more popular slogans.
Thus, in Kerry's mind there's no distinction at all between his wartime service and antiwar activities, once he had repented. His war service was as much service as his antiwar activities.
For him to reverse himself now would be an admission that his repentance was wrong. (Or worse, that the Vietnam War was right.)
He'll never do it.
And thus, John Kerry cannot ever embrace the parallel universe, even though that would be good advice for lesser mortals.
posted by Eric on 08.23.04 at 08:01 PM
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