Sunday, December 17, 2006

Les AuCoin Puts the Bow on Gordo's Callow Conversion

We almost never do "this is awesome--go read this!!" shout-outs at LO; most of our readers are smart enough to have probably read whatever it is anyway, before they even got here. Certainly many of them read former Congressman Les AuCoin, and if so you can skip this one. For the rest, treat yourself to what I consider the definitive analysis on Gordon Smith's sudden (and convenient) apparent turnabout on Iraq. We've done several pieces on it, and that's partly because the entire media, traditional and otherwise, can't seem to stop referencing it either. (Russell Sadler has yet another take on it in today's BlueO.) If not a fundamentally major moment in the political history of the war, its bizarrely timed nature lent itself to much speculation, searching for signposts and milestones.

But for us younger folks not old enough to Get Clean for Gene, Les shows that craven, strategically expectant moves like Gordon's are nothing new by quoting McCarthy:
...all I could do is recall the words of an authentic anti-war hero in the late Sixties—Gene McCarthy, the Minnesota poet/senator/presidential candidate. McCarthy coined this political definition of a politician of Smith’s ilk:

“Once the real battle is over, they come in and shoot the wounded.”

That’s you, Gordon. After others braved the wrath of misled voters to help the public see Bush’s sophistry—after they risked their careers to turn the war into a political liability for you and other war supporters—only then did you locate your spine.
AuCoin goes on, devastatingly, to point out any number of points and milestones where Smith could have discovered conscience or felt the pull of reality. That's the sense that really seems to have been infused into the general reaction to Smith's turnabout--where were you until now? If he was looking for people to be grateful or kind for his epiphany, he fucked up.

It was another hat tip to a political wag--this time uncredited--that spurred me to post Les' link: he called Smith's 180 the “earliest deathbed conversion in political history.”

Metaphorically and career-wise, I'd say 23 months early.