One Man With Balls In the Main-Stream Media: Ode to Mark Steyn

Confrontation is a good thing
By Mark Steyn
(Filed: 01/11/2005)

According to The Sunday Telegraph, on this week's whirlwind tour of the Great Satan, the Prince of Wales "will try to persuade George W Bush and Americans of the merits of Islam…because he thinks the United States has been too intolerant of the religion since September 11". His Royal Highness apparently finds the Bush approach to Islam "too confrontational".

If the Prince wants to take a few examples of the non-confrontational approach with him to the White House, here's a couple pulled at random from the last week's news: the president of Iran called for Israel to be "wiped off the map". Kofi Annan expressed his "dismay".

Excellent. Struck the perfect non-confrontational tone. Were the Iranian nuclear programme a little more advanced and they'd actually wiped Israel off the map, the secretary-general might have felt obliged to be more confrontational and express his "deep concern".

In Sulawesi, Indonesia, three Christian girls walking home from school were beheaded.

"It is unclear what was behind the attack," reported the BBC, scrupulously non-confrontationally.

In the Australian state of Victoria, reports the Herald Sun, "police are being advised to treat Muslim domestic violence cases differently out of respect for Islamic traditions and habits". Tough luck for us infidel wife-beaters, but admirably non-confrontational Islam-wise.

Having followed the last Prince of Wales in his taste for older divorcées, His Royal Highness seems to be emulating Edward VIII on the geopolitical front, too, and carelessly aligning himself with the wrong side on the central challenge of the age. It's true that Mr Bush does not have the Prince's bulging Rolodex of bin Laden siblings and doesn't seem to get the same kick out of climbing into the old Lawrence-of-Arabia get-up for dinner with them: for His Highness, the excitement is in tents. But Bush has liberated 50 million Muslims from tyrannous regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq and, if he was in the mood to be really confrontational, he'd tell Charles to stick it up his djellaba.

Sadly, even a neocon warmonger can't get confrontational over every nickel 'n' dime emissary passing through the office, and the Administration has other problems at the moment. "Mr Bush's presidency is in deep trouble," declared Alec Russell in this space yesterday. "It is worth recalling that even at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal Mr Clinton's approval rating never dropped below 55 per cent, while Mr Bush's is now at 40."

Is it really worth recalling? Mr Clinton's approval rating stayed above 55 because he was careful not to do anything, at least on the non-pants-dropping aspects of his presidency, of which the electorate might disapprove. The oral sex was pretty much the only position he took that wasn't focus-grouped by Dick Morris beforehand - and, come to think of it, it wouldn't surprise me if it was and that's why he went ahead with it. ("Our polling suggests it would make you seem attractively flawed and human to susceptible soccer moms in swing states, Mr President.")

At any rate, above the waist, Mr Clinton governed as an "Eisenhower Republican" - ie, very non-confrontational. The president's distinguishing characteristics loomed paradoxically large over the era only because everything else he did was so small.

Mr Bush, on the other hand, wants to remake the Middle East, reform social security, legalise illegal immigrants, drill for oil in the Arctic wilderness, etc. Whatever the merits of these positions, they are confrontational. Even many of his supporters balk at two or more of the items on that list.

You could fill Yankee Stadium with the massed ranks of assistant secretaries of state and deputy national security advisers from his father's administration - and Reagan's and Ford's and Nixon's - who oppose the Bush Doctrine to blow apart the fetid stability of the Arab world. A radical repudiation of half a century of bipartisan policy on a critical component of the geopolitical scene ought to be controversial.

Posterity will decide whether Bush got that one right. By contrast, posterity will have a hard time recalling Mr Clinton at all, except as a novelty-act intermission between the Cold War and the new war. Would you rather be popular or would you rather be consequential? Popularity is a fine measure for celebrity, and even then it fades quicker than a DNA stain on an old cocktail dress.

Granted, President Bush has failed to use the bully pulpit. As I wrote in the Telegraph in September 2002: "A few weeks after the attacks, he had the highest approval ratings of any president in history. But he didn't do anything with them." And, although I was a bit off in my timing, Mr Bush was indeed eventually "right back where he was on September 10, 2001: the 50 per cent president, his approval ratings in the fifties, his 'negatives' high, the half of the country that didn't vote for him feeling no warmer toward him than if the day that 'changed the world' had never happened".

But, given that reality, it's worth pondering who it is who's dissatisfied with Bush. In November 2004, he won 51 per cent of the vote and John Kerry took 48 per cent. The five or 10 per cent who've temporarily wandered away (a poll yesterday had Bush at 45 per cent) are not "centrists" or "moderates" or "swing voters" or some other mythical category of squishes who want an end to what Alec Russell calls the Karl Rove "style of hardball politics".

The lesson of every contest from the 2000 election to the abandonment last week of Harriet Miers's Supreme Court nomination is that, as Michael Barone wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "Mr Bush can count on being firmly, and more or less unanimously, opposed by the Democrats, and he can succeed only when he has the strong support of the Republican base".

Just so. Bush is a polarising figure because these are polarising times. But, when the dust settles (metaphorically, I hope), his designation of Iran as part of an "axis of evil" will seem a shrewder judgment than that of the Euro-appeasers or the snob Islamophiles. Facing profound challenges, most political leaders in the western world have shirked confrontation on everything from Islamism to unaffordable social programmes - and their peoples will live with the consequences of that non-confrontation long after those leaders are gone.

7 Responses to “One Man With Balls In the Main-Stream Media: Ode to Mark Steyn”

  1. # Blogger Always On Watch

    Thank you for stopping by my blog. My schedule is inordinately busy on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but I wanted to get back to you anyway.

    I see that you are relatively new to the blogosphere. I'm no "hand" at it as I didn't jump in until last spring. Welcome! I'll put you on my list of blog rounds.

    Are you aware of another UK blog? It's called
    The fellow who runs it, Mark Alexander, is a font of information. Maybe you've already stopped by Mark's site, but I wanted to mention it anyway--on the off chance that you were unaware.

    Steyn is a voice I respect. Other blogger friends of mine frequently link to him.

    And you've got a great post here! Sitting back and doing nothing as Islamification continues apace has gotten the entire West into deep trouble. Like you, I'm incensed about what happened to those Indonesian girls. What had they done? They were Christians and, therefore, infidels--so off with their heads. Barbaric head-choppers! I can't stand it! And the mainstream media barely touched the story.

    We are in a battle here. Too many are trying to ignore that fact.

    Prince Charles is getting a bit of coverage here in the D.C. area. One TV news story spoke of the upcoming "Royal Scolding," which refers to the prince's trying to straighten us out as to the good qualities of Islam. Bah!

    PS: Another site which you might find interesting is
    Comments are not enabled there, but you'll find lots of information and good links, any or all of which you can use, if you like. Or you can email the blogmaster for Truth and make recommendations.

    PPS: Some high-school students and their parents read my site. Not a large group, but I feel that it's so important to educate this generation as to the realities of Islam. The media and the schools won't do the job!  

  2. # Blogger Pastorius

    I love his assessment of Bush. Bush is amazing in his willingness to do what he believes is the right thing to do, come hell or highwater. I have always wondered why people don't give him credit for that. It's good to see Steyn recognizes it.

    Bush staked his whole Presidency on the war. He came close to losing, but he stuck with it. I don't like his position on immigration, but I know he believes it is right, and not just expedient.

    If he is successful in the Was on Islamofascist Terror he will go down in history as one of the great American Presidents; Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Reagan, Bush?

    We shall see.

    If he is successful, his life story will be the equivalent of Shakespeare's Hal/King Henry.  

  3. # Blogger jonz

    Always on watch;

    Thanks for the links mate will check them out


    I think the same way with Blair - both Bush & Blair did what they felt was right, even against such strong opposition. Everybody has gotta give them some credit for this. History will tell...  

  4. # Blogger Crazy Politico

    Steyn is always right on in his assessments, and I love the fact that he doesn't care who he pisses off with it.  

  5. # Blogger Renegade Eye

    I think Bush needs you to explain his policies. You do it better than him.

    I'm shocked being a lefty who agrees with you on quite a few things.

    Clinton's specialty was symbolic acts, or small reforms. Hillary openly says she grew up an Eisenhower Republican. He had no vision or principle.

    I'm just a lefty, who knows Jihadists don't like leftys. Much of the hatred towards Bush has to do with the poor job Bush did explaining the occupation, also the people around Bush as Rove, have no conscience, smearing people.


  6. # Blogger jonz

    LOL Renegrade.. If I'm a conservative then I'm certainly a liberal one. But I like to post things from the news that make me feel something; normally this involves hatred towards humanity in some form or another.

    I feel all human societies should be held to account, no 'cultural' excuses, no 'religious' excuses. Human rights are universal... except perhaps when you are a mass murdering terrorist!  

  7. # Blogger jonz

    normally this involves hatred towards humanity in some form or another.

    By this I mean other people's hatred towards humanity, not my own!  

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