In 1993, Bill Clinton joked, "Gosh, I miss the Cold War." And, he explained, somberly: "We had an intellectually coherent thing. The American people knew what the rules were."
Such Cold War nostalgia vexed many conservatives. It seemed to us that the Cold War consensus had broken down with the Vietnam War. Clinton himself didn't much like that Cold War endeavor, which is one reason he worked so assiduously to avoid serving in it. A young John Kerry did serve, but he also threw away his medals and denounced his fellow servicemen as war criminals. Jimmy Carter, meanwhile, had proclaimed that he had no "inordinate fear of Communism," suggesting that those who disagreed with him did.
The "intellectual coherence" of the Cold War didn't stop many liberals from opposing Ronald Reagan's foreign-policy efforts in Europe, the Caribbean and Central America, nor did it temper Hollywood's ardor in portraying Reagan as a warmonger, a dunce or both. In the 1980s, the SANE/Freeze movement fired the minds of much of the Democratic Party. And when the Cold War ended without a shot fired, the left worked hard to give all the credit to Mikhail Gorbachev, since he seemed like a more reasonable fellow.
All of that comes to mind as I watch Barack Obama stroll across the globe apologizing for, or condemning, the sins of his predecessors and, by extension, his country.
After former Soviet pawn and now Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega berated the United States at a recent summit, President Obama joked, in reference to the failed Bay of Pigs operation, "I'm grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was 3 months old."
Ah, yes, because the pressing issue is Obama's blamelessness, not the apparently embarrassing faux pas of America's effort to rid Cuba of a brutal Communist dictator and lackey of the Soviets, 90 miles off our coast.
In Prague, Obama declared that "the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War" is the large stockpile of nuclear weapons left behind after the war, sounding as if he might have been one of those teenagers who translated SANE/Freeze brochures into high school term papers.