Why are some folks being so sensitive about Kerry's remarks --- and why are they right to be so?
Remember when America had a "Silent Majority"? Since 9/11, the Silent Majority ceased to exist. When G.W. Bush told the world's countries to choose sides, he inadvertently told Americans to do the same thing. Some wrongly assumed that after the worst terrorist attack on civilians in American history, America would choose one side: America's.
The key phrase we’re looking for here is “never again”. If people like Kerry -- and indeed Kerry himself -- had not been responsible for destroying the morale and reputation of the American military after Vietnam, we wouldn’t have to be sensitive to jokes like his failed one. But they did, and we do, because we absolutely cannot allow what happened to the soldiers of that era to begin happening to those of ours.
And the source here matters. If John McCain had made Kerry’s remarks, we’d be astounded, but McCain’s history would argue in his favor and we’d grant him the benefit of the doubt. But Kerry’s history does the opposite: his past exploits and efforts to drag the reputation of American soldiers through the mud are absolutely relevant and mean he doesn’t get to pretend that nobody could ever think he’d say something denigrating about the military. If you’ve never been known to raise your hand in anger towards a woman, you can crack a joke about beating your wife and get away with it (even if you shouldn’t). But if you’ve got a history of beating your wife, you don’t get to make jokes about beating your wife without bringing the full weight of society’s suspicion and opprobrium down on you.
That hasn't been the case. A group of Americans, comprised of the progressive left made up of eternally infantile hippies have lead the charge for a world that conforms not to American ideals based on the superiority of the notions embodied in a constitution written by a bunch of "dead white guys" but ideals that conform to a multi-cultural utopia where all ideas are granted equal weight--even the idea that only one set of ideas is worth impressing on the world through forcing Sharia law on all world citizens by a few power-crazed Mulluhs in the name of Allah. If that sentence reads convoluted, it represents the convoluted feelings of those who would cause America to bow in obeiesence to multiculturalism so that the whole world feels that things are "fair" and "equal".
During Vietnam, a swath of the citizenry sat mute watching Jane Fonda and John Kerry and Walter Cronkite and the dippy hippies they represented make sweeping declarations about war, the soldiers and America's stand against the tyranny of communism. They watched young people roll in the mud naked listening to music and smoking pot and traveling in flower-painted VW vans and hold vigils and protest and riot and spit on soldiers. Meanwhile, these silent watchers enforced an authoritarian ethic at home and sold their souls to the corporations, paid taxes and generally did their duty.
The kids of the Silent Majority, Generation X, my generation, grew up listening to Ronald Reagan. We saw the shuttle explode before our stunned eyes. We swelled with pride as the wall between East and West Germany was dismantled by the oppressed people relishing freedom for the first time. We said no to drugs. We went to college. We went to work in the "worst economy in twenty years" blared the headline of the newspaper my mom sent me the year I graduated from college--1991. So we worked up from the bottom. We went to graduate school hoping the economy would perk up a bit. We started businesses. We had children--and we parent. Individualistic yet more traditional, tight with our children yet more authoritative while being less authoritarian or permissive, this generation coupled with the Silent Majority constitute the new media, new business and Bush voters.
Now, I'm no Karl Rove, but I'll bet he's so confident because he knows this group I just described: The Maligned Majority. I say maligned, because the Old Media and politicians like John Kerry insult and denigrate this group of people unceasingly. All one needs to do is watch The View or the nightly news or read a newspaper to know that while these people have the pulpit, they obviously don't represent the majority of America. How do I know this? The other side keeps losing elections--elections they should win.
The members of the Silent Majority had no outlet for their voice. Generation X helped drive the Tech innovation, most centered on the web and putting the power of the people in the individual's hand. Actually, Boomer Bill Gates started it. Another Boomer Glenn Reynolds continues the transformation. The internet liberates and unifies the disenfranchised former Silent Majority with the Gen Xers.
The Maligned Majority is not as uniform in their thought and opinions as the opposition would like to believe. Glenn Reynolds, himself is a good example. While he was pro-Iraq war and beating terrorists down with force, he is socially permissive. In fact, many of these people while they may not like state sanctioning of an issue like gay marriage, in practice show exceeding tolerance to those with different lifestyles. This apparent paradox mystifies those in a more liberal progressive political camp. In fact, the Progressive Left represents a much less diverse group of people philosophically.
2006 is not 1976. The Maligned Majority has a voice, and though not rallying or protesting (we have jobs, after all), we are pushing back against the media, political and cultural elites assumed entitlement to the bully pulpit. No longer simmering in silence, the Maligned Majority writes and occasionally makes it on a major media outlet as the Freak Show display. These are the people heckling Barbra Streisand. These are the people not buying the Dixie Chicks (heaven knows the media still gives these birds a perch to squawk from). These are the people outraged at Kerry's disrespectful view of soldiers and saying so.
Now people lament the decline in civility. It is sad isn't it? Well, the Progressives have themselves to thank. It started with Vietnam and continues to this day--Code Pink, upending a solid Liberal like Lieberman's candidacy on one issue, ramming Gay Marriage through the courts instead of working through the electorate, screaming racism at every turn reducing legitimate argument to name calling, and on and on.
The Maligned Majority have taken to mocking the Progressives and the Progressives are shocked, SHOCKED when the opposition uses tactics that are funnier, smarter, not necessarily nicer, but more effective than their own nefarious tactics. The shocking thing to me is that the Progressive Left finds this turnabout shocking. Did they really believe the Silent would remain silent forever?