Oiks and toffs

by Chris Bertram on March 24, 2010

If you are one of the people who hasn’t yet read “Ian Jack’s piece”:http://moreintelligentlife.com/content/ian-jack/5-boys on the photo that symbolizes the British class system then you should. (h/t “The Online Photographer”:http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/blog_index.html .)

Iraq in the movies

by Chris Bertram on March 24, 2010

I’ve seen The Hurt Locker and Green Zone within a few days of one another. Purely as a piece of cinema, The Hurt Locker is probably the better film, but politically it is nowhere, and indeed it suffers from the same syndrome as many Hollywood Vietnam pictures – they are all about Americans and how they feel, and the poor natives appear as mere ciphers. Not so Green Zone, where the Iraqis appear as persons in their own right, with interests, feelings, grudges, agendas. Green Zone is, in some ways, a pretty crude film, and there’s a striking disconnect between the late-Bourneish style and the anti-war substance. Still, if that gets a broader audience remembering and thinking about what happened, and what went wrong, and why, that’s no bad thing. In the credits at the end, I was surprised to see “Based on _Imperial Life in the Emerald City_ by Rajiv Chandrasekaran”. I’m not sure what the necessary and sufficient conditions for the “based on” relation are, but this is not that distant from saying that the latest Bond movie is “based on” the official history of MI5 (although to be fair, the account of the pathologies of the CPA is recognizably, though distortedly from _Emerald City_). One thing that both book and movie reminded me of is this: that the cheerleaders for the war (be they neocon or “decent left”) didn’t just applaud the invasion. The awfulness of Saddam was such that being pro-war in 2003 was wrong but perhaps forgiveable and — as some of the barely repentant cheerleaders keep reminding us — was sometimes motivated by moral motives. They also applauded or excused the really bad post-invasion fuck-ups: the failure to control looting, deBaathification, the dissolution of the Iraqi army, etc. So thanks to Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon for keeping a light shining on that.

I think I know what you mean

by Kieran Healy on March 24, 2010

Seen on campus this morning:

Ramesh Ponnuru:

Understandably, Cornyn doesn’t want to touch the most popular element of Obamacare, the ban on discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. But unless it’s modified substantially, the individual mandate has to stay too — and therefore so do the subsidies and the minimum-benefits regs. Without perhaps realizing it, Cornyn has come out for tinkering at the edges of Obamacare.

This is the problem the Dems faced (well, one of them), just in reverse: namely, what you want is uncontroversial and small-seeming. But in order to ask for that one thing, you have to ask for all this other heavy-duty stuff. Now, in reverse, the Reps can’t object to the heavy-duty stuff without getting pinned to the charge that they want to do really gratuitously, pettily awful stuff.

I predict that Cornyn is ahead of the curve. Soon it will have been the common wisdom all along. Basically for the reasons Ponnuru outlines. There will never be a moment when any large number of Republicans announce they’ve changed their minds, of course. (In 1994 and even until 2006 the individual mandate was moderate – then in 2009 and especially in early 2010 it was radical from the get-go – then in late 2010 it continued on, moderate as ever.)

I hereby lay my bet as to when the flip will take place: immediately after 2010 primary season. During the primaries, Republicans will be strongly and vocally in favor of total repeal, a unified front against being primaried from the right. Then, after the primaries, all that will fade, like a dream upon waking. Blogs and the conservative commentariat will be slightly slower but will catch up before the 2010 general. By 2012 the apocalyptic rhetoric will have faded so far from memory that Mitt Romney will be able to run as a Republican, without having to run from himself. Of course someone will point this out, but it won’t matter that much. Heat of the moment stuff. Ancient history.

Of course I could be wrong. What do you think?