Conservative Crack-Up, Cont.

Johann Hari reports that the latest National Review cruise wasn’t all caviar, pasty skin, and Pacific sun. There were also tempests:

“It’s customary to say we lost the Vietnam war, but who’s ‘we’?” Dinesh D’Souza asks angrily. “The left won by demanding America’s humiliation.” On this ship, there are no Viet Cong, no three million dead. There is only liberal treachery. Yes, D’Souza says, in a swift shift to domestic politics, “of course” Republican politics is “about class. Republicans are the party of winners, Democrats are the party of losers.”

The panel nods, but it doesn’t want to stray from Iraq. Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan’s one-time nominee to the Supreme Court, mumbles from beneath low-hanging jowls: “The coverage of this war is unbelievable. Even Fox News is unbelievable. You’d think we’re the only ones dying. Enemy casualties aren’t covered. We’re doing an excellent job killing them.”

Then, with a judder, the panel runs momentarily aground. Rich Lowry, the preppy, handsome 38-year-old editor of National Review, announces, “The American public isn’t concluding we’re losing in Iraq for any irrational reason. They’re looking at the cold, hard facts.” The Vista Lounge is, as one, perplexed. Lowry continues, “I wish it was true that, because we’re a superpower, we can’t lose. But it’s not.”

The crowd ignores babyface. Other highlights:

  • Bernard Lewis: “The [2006] election in the U.S. is being seen by [the bin Ladenists] as a victory on a par with the collapse of the Soviet Union. We should be prepared for whatever comes next.”
  • When Norman Podhoretz screeches that there were so WMDs, Bill Buckley responds, “Aren’t you embarrassed by the absence of these weapons?” One cruiser accuses Buckley of cowardice; more compassionate souls blame dementia.
  • Midge Decter, Podhoretz’s wife and a Muslim-hater extraordinaire, bellows that Muslims are right to condemn “American decadence.” (So if “they” are right to “hate our freedom,” then what, exactly, are “they” wrong about? Oh, of course. The only topic that really matters.)

[Hari link via James Wolcott, who has more to say.]