George Will is one of the most perplexing writers in the American political arena.
During the Reagan years Will was a rare conservative voice of sanity, arguing for the knowable when the entire government seemed to follow the prognistications of astrologers. He remained quiescent in the Bush I years--a reasonable position, as George H. W. Bush governed with understated good sense.
However, when William Clinton won election, Will fell off the level. He developed a knee-jerk hatred of Clinton and wasted the eight years in vociferous denunciation of everything the Clinton Administration tried to do.
With the election of George W. Bush, Will was in heaven. The great era of personal responsability and limited government was dawning. When the Bush II Administration failed to deliver either of these, and indeed ran as fast as it could from either, Will defended the perfidious incompetence of the president and his advisors.
For five and half years.
Suddenly in mid-2006, after 14 years seemingly in a coma, George Will, the real George Will whom people used to read, has shaken himself awake.
Last week, in the midst of the hysteria over the breakup of a purported British terrorist cell, Will lacerated the Bush Administration for their willful blindness of the real way to fight terrorism.
All of which is a very long introduction to George Will's column in today's Washington Post. It is almost inconceivably erudite--if a bit heavy-handed on the condemnation of victimhood.
Frankly it scares the bewilickers out of me.
The Uneasy Sleep of Japan's DeadHow can Will write so knowledgeably about the subject of Yasukuni in the context of East Asian power politics, a subject he could hardly ever have the time to research while perched upon his pundit's swivel chair in Washington DC? And what is Will doing in Tokyo--in August? And who has he been talking to while he's been here?
Sunday, August 20, 2006; -TOKYO -- The past is present everywhere, but Japan is an unusually history-haunted nation. Elsewhere the Cold War is spoken of in the past tense. Japan, however, lives in a dangerous neighborhood with two communist regimes -- truculent China and weird North Korea. For Japan, the fall of the Berlin Wall did not close an epoch. Even World War II still shapes political discourse because of a Shinto shrine in the center of this city.
Young soldiers leaving Japan during that war often would say, "If I don't come home, I'll see you at Yasukuni." The souls of 2.5 million casualties of Japan's wars are believed to be present at that shrine. In 1978, 14 other souls were enshrined there -- those of 14 major war criminals.
Between that enshrinement and 1984, three prime ministers visited Yasukuni 20 times without eliciting protests from China. But both of Japan's most important East Asian neighbors, China and South Korea, now have national identities partly derived from their experience as victims of Japan's 1910-45 militarism. To a significant extent, such national identities are political choices...
And where the hell has he been for the past 14 years?