John Derbyshire:

In this age, optimism is for children and fools. And liberals.

Some children will be left behind. You cannot “remake the Middle East” or “defeat evil.” The poor will always be with us. Black and white will never mingle together in unselfconscious harmony. Corporations will not research and explore without hope of profit. Russia will not become Sweden. Forty million immigrants speaking a single language will not assimilate.

Wasn’t remaking the Middle East a conservative notion, or at least a Republican one? Didn’t Reagan go to Reykjavík to talk Gorbachev into agreeing both sides should give up all their nukes? Hasn’t the Bush administration touted its willingness to put blacks in high positions?  

We see here a movement at war with its own legacy — and with the better angels of the country’s nature. 

Clearly, though, these guys don’t know what to believe. Jay Nordlinger, also of National Review:

20. Obama won’t settle for an America in which some kids can’t get an education. And we child-haters on the right would, of course.

Jay, meet John.

Name It? Sure, Since You Asked

Michael Graham at National Review:

Name one thing — ONE — that Bill Clinton did in eight years with a fawning press corps that was “better” than planting a democracy in the heart of the Middle East while simultaneously liberating 23 million people from Saddam’s terror.

Well … at the end of his administration, a domestic unemployment rate of 3.9 percent and an inflation rate of 3.39 percent. Versus, at last check, 5.7 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively. The economy at the end of the Clinton administration was hands-down the best the US had experienced since the onset of the Vietnam War. Or since.

And if Republicans don’t have an answer for that, they can kiss this election goodbye.

The Tough Guy

Any questions about Obama’s willingness to rumble with McCain are gone now:

On issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives — on health care, and education, and the economy — Senator McCain has been anything but independent.

He said that our economy has made great progress under this president. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong.

And when one of his chief advisers, the man who wrote his economic plan, was talking about the anxieties that Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a mental recession and that we’ve become, and I quote, “a nation of whiners.”

A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made.

Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third, or fourth, or fifth tour of duty.

These are not whiners. They work hard, and they give back, and they keep going without complaint. These are the Americans I know.

I seem to recall a certain Republican nominee hammering an opponent who talked of American malaise. Obama’s made no secret about wanting to be the Democrats’ Reagan, and on Thursday night, he staked his claim.

China Steps Up

Folks like Thomas Barnett who’ve been wondering when and whether the Chinese would take a stand for international order just got their answer:

China and several Central Asian nations rebuffed Russia’s hopes of international support for its actions in Georgia, issuing a statement Thursday denouncing the use of force and calling for the respect of every country’s territorial integrity.

Not a call the Chinese necessarily needed to make, and not one you’d have expected from their prior willingness to play footsie with Putin. Galrahn sees an opening for a deal:

Russia needs the west to accept the independence of two breakaway provinces pretty bad right now, too bad there is no government for the west to recognize. Good news for Russia though, serious cooperation in regards to Iran while they stand up a couple of democratic governments could go a long way towards Russia achieving its objectives. Democracy doesn’t happen over night, if Russia sets up a couple democracies, which could take a year, and works with the west over that time period towards stopping Iranian nuclear development, I’d say there is a good bargain for both sides to be made.

“Democratic” is a pretty unrealistic hope, but the rest could be possible.

Addendum: Could the Chinese government’s attitude stem in some small part from seeing how its citizens reacted to Team USA in the Olympics? There were several occasions, the women’s soccer semi-final and the men’s basketball final most notably, when it was like our men and women were playing a home game.