The experiment is over. And I’m guessing that many Republicans are breathing a sigh of relief.
This afternoon’s concessions from Burns and Allen will be the death knell of the blood-spattered juggernaut that started its engine on January 20, 2001, and sped off toward the east on September 12, 2001. It was so absolutist, so…well, there are many ways to describe it: Trotskyite, quixotic, daring, delusional, unavoidable, reactionary, millennial, Manichean, mistaken…but it was so absolutist that once it left the station, there was no stopping it. Once the neoconservatives gained the power they had been engineering for years, any Republican who wanted to stay in office had to go along for the ride, lest the Democrats gain any power whatsoever and send the signal to the rest of the world that our overwhelming force was backed by anything less than sheer moral rectitude.
When you kill out of what you believe to be moral necessity, you may not doubt yourself in front of those you are killing. The large majority of Republicans, however, are not as messianic as the engineers and prosecutors of the Iraq War, and the doubt has been welling up within them for some time. There was no way the Republican Congress was going to turn the juggernaut around themselves. All they could do was hold their breath until the Bush doctrine succeeded (i.e., never) or until the face of our government was replaced with a countenance that the rest of the West could trust to cooperate in a united, international condemnation and prosecution of terrorism. The latter has transpired, and it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The sensible Republicans can now exhale, brush their teeth, and begin to speak the truth once again. The lie is up. Let’s forgive them, join forces with the rest of the civilized world, and solve the great problem of our generation: the isolation and tamping of a growing network of suicidal non-state actors with a unanimous and murderous enmity toward Western ideas, no coherent governmental or economic paradigm, and a slavish adherence to theology that finds the destruction of the entire human race to be a trifle and possibly even a delight.