Saturday, December 10, 2005

Benedict Arnold and the Murtha Test

In 1775 when word of the Battle of Lexington reached New Haven Benedict Arnold, the captain of the governor's guards, assembled his men and offered to lead them to Boston. When the selectmen refused to supply ammunition Arnold threatened to break into the magazine. Thus began a military career in the service of the young American republic which saw Arnold participate in the capture of Ticonderoga, and the siege of Quebec. Perhaps the high point was his command of an American fleet in battle with the British near Valcour Island in Lake Champlain. American forces were seriously outnumbered and defeated by the British, but their fierce resistance stopped the advance of British Gen. Carleton, who withdrew to winter in Montreal. This freed up 3000 US troops to reinforce Gen. Washington who was them able to win victories at Trenton and Princeton. During the course of his service Gen. Arnold twice received serious wounds. During the years that the Revolutionary War dragged on Arnold became convinced that the Colonies could not win against the might of the British Empire. He conceived a plot to place the US in a position in which would be forced to realize that the war was lost and negotiate with the British. In his plan he would be the negotiator and restore America to the British Empire, with certain concessions from the British. To carry out his plan he sought the command of West Point from his friend Gen. Washington in order that he might surrender it to the British. His plot was exposed and he fled to the British where he received a commission as a brigadier general. To this day his very name is synonymous with the word traitor.

Like Benedict Arnold Jack Murtha has worn his country's uniform and served with heroism. Murtha left college to join the Korean War and later served in Viet Nam. He receive two Purple Hearts, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and a Bronze Star for valor. He now serves as a congressional representative from Pennsylvania. Also, like Arnold, Murtha believes that his nation is involved in a war which it cannot win and , like Arnold, Murtha is willing to commit an act of betrayal to do something about it.

The difference between the worlds of Benedict Arnold and Jack Murtha is that in Arnold's day no one attempted to defend Arnold by claiming that one had to have served in combat like Arnold did in order to earn the right to condemn his actions. Even the Tories, Americans who favored the British cause, did not indignantly attack the character of any non-veteran Patriot who called Arnold a traitor. The reason for this, in my view, is that the Tories honestly believed in their cause. Because their consciences were clear they had no psychological need to project unworthy motives onto those with whom they disagreed.

Modern liberals have placed themselves in a position in which they must hope for defeat in Iraq. They must hope that the robust housing market is in fact a "bubble" which will burst and ruin hundreds of thousands of their fellow Americans. In fact they must hope for a general economic downturn which will leave millions jobless, homeless and on the dole. They know, in their hearts of hearts, that they are wrong. They know, on some level, that they are a cancer eating at the vitals of the United States. In order for them to rise practically everything else must fall. In order for them to succeed America must be awash in racism, sexism, poverty and hopelessness. Iraq must descend into a bloody civil war that ends with a Taliban style theocracy or Baath Party fascist dictatorship. Therefore anything that indicates that the US is doing well economically or socially or winning the war must be attacked as some kind of enemy propaganda.

This is not a position that any sane political party should seek to find itself. Yet this is exactly the position in which the Democrat Party finds itself. This is a function of an unclear conscience. They are about power and power alone. The "Murtha Test" in which we are told that only decorated veterans have the right to tell the truth about "Cut'N'Run" Murtha's plan to surrender in Iraq is just the latest symptom. They are not right and they know that they are not right so they cannot afford to debate the merits of their position. They must instead attempt to disqualify their critics in a kind of preemptive strike so that they never have to deal with the substance of their arguments.

This should be reassuring to Americans who genuinely love their country and want the best for it. If we were not winning the war in Iraq the Left would not be so desperate to get us out. If things were really as bad there as the Democrat Party and its Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment (otherwise known as the mainstream media) want us to believe that they are they would be working to see that we stayed so that we could suffer the kind of crushing defeat that would kill Republican chances in ''06 and '08.