Anyone who didn’t predict 9-11, or something like it, ought to acknowledge that it was unexpected, and that his or her previous view of the world and how to operate in it therefore needed adjustment. The fact that most of the political class, including the commentariat, have discovered that the lessons of 9-11 are exactly what they used to believe, only more so, couldn’t be more depressing. It can’t be the case that the civil liberty/security tradeoff ought to be made in precisely the same way now as it was before 9-11, and any civil-liberties advocate who won’t say what he’s willing to give up in the new environment loses all credibility. By the same token, Bush and his warhawks would look a lot more serious if they weren’t proposing to finance their war with … tax cuts.
Along these lines, I have finally figured out what Bill Bennett means by the term “moral clarity.” He means: “See, you jerks? I was right all along!” (I don’t think any of the reviewers noticed that The Book of Virtues has no entry in its index for either “moderation” or “temperance.”) Michael Kinsley does a nice takedown of the banality of using “evil” as a thought-substitute.
On the other hand, Max Sawicky reminds us that if Bill Bennett didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him: apparently Snoop Doggy Dogg has a cameo in the new Muppet movie.