- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 24, 2005

One of my favorite Charles Dickens’ characters in “The Pickwick Papers” is Joe the Fat Boy, who went around scaring old ladies and uttering in a hoarse whisper, “I wants to make your flesh creep.” Joey boy, meet your competition, E.J. Dionne, who wants to make our flesh creep.

Mr. Dionne warns us to prepare for shocking news. Right now. Hold on tight. Ready? Dionne, The Washington Post’s specialist in leftwing jeremiads, has just made a frightening announcement. (A jeremiad is defined as a lamentation about life or one’s situation.) This native Quebecois who fled Canada long ago for the warmer precincts of the New York Times and now The Post has just proclaimed “the Bush Era is over.” What? Yup, the Bush Era is over, whatever that means.

“The sooner politicians in both parties realize that, the better for them — and the country,” writes Mr. Dionne. Proof that the Bush Era is over? Proof that “President Bush’s government doesn’t work,” to quote Mr. Dionne? Who needs proof? All that Bush-haters like Mr. Dionne need do as part of their well-paid day’s work is stridently pronounce the unprovable.

Here’s a sample of Dionne-ology: “[Bush’s] policies are failing, his approach to leadership is detached and self-indulgent, his way of politics has produced a divided, angry and dysfunctional public square. We dare not go on like this.”

What the hell is Mr. Dionne talking about? The U.S. economy is booming and the stock market is up, way up. Unemployment is low, there is a shortage of skilled labor.

What did President Bush do wrong? His leadership? “Detached” and “self-indulgent.” What in the world is a “dysfunctional public square”? Sounds portentous but what does it actually mean? I don’t know, you don’t know and, believe me, Mr. Dionne doesn’t know either. But, hey, it sounds good, no?

There is something wildly unstable in the Dionne logic. Here he denounces a president who won an authoritative second term and thereby ignores — or so it seems — two momentous events in our politics: American voters put a seal of approval on Mr. Bush’s first term and rewarded him with a second term.

Mr. Dionne ignores that solid re-election vote that endorsed Mr. Bush’s ouster of Saddam Hussein’s pitiless dictatorship in Iraq. As Christopher Hitchens has written:

“I think the president was right to do what the previous president and vice president, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore, had only promised to do, and what the United States Senate had only voted to do, which was to move Iraq into the post-Saddam Hussein era. All that was decided and repeatedly promised by the preceding administration and by the U.S. Senate when George Bush was still a provincial governor of Texas.”

Now that the Bush Era is over, Mr. Dionne writes, Mr. Bush must not “cling stubbornly to his past and thereby doom himself to frustrating irrelevance.” But wouldn’t it be correct to say Mr. Bush, by clinging to his past, won a two-term presidency?

By clinging equally stubbornly to his vestigial leftist pieties, Mr. Dionne ignores the lapidary warning of George Orwell: “Acceptance of any political discipline seems to be incompatible with literary integrity.” And that goes for intellectual integrity. too.

E.J., take heed.

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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