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Bill Bennett Wishes Every Day Could Be 9/11

Incorporating Washington Post Book World.Bill Bennett — or as he calls himself on his book jackets, “William J. Bennett”– has shown over the course of his long career that he’s mainly interested in three things: 1) holding back the tide of drug dealers eager to dine on your children; 2) reducing world literature to “And the moral of the story is…” formulas for encouraging good behavior; and 3) giving the Mooslims a good kicking. The way to give them a good kicking is through bombs and “moral clarity,” which is shorthand for “America is always right, because our noted ally God says so.” What is Dr. Bennett up to these days, book-wise?

Willy B. and his morning radio show producer Seth Leibsohn have just unleashed a blistering new scorcher of a hellacious flame-thrower titled The Fight of Our Lives: Knowing the Enemy, Speaking the Truth, and Choosing to Win the War Against Radical Islam. This isn’t to be confused with Bennett’s 2003 blockbuster Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism, though Bennett seems eager to recapture the magic of the ’01-’03 era:

In early 2002, as our men and women were fighting in Afghanistan, polling for support of that effort showed public support exceeded 90 percent.

That was the high tide of Moral Clarity. Somewhere along the way, though, America lost its taste for victory inconclusive and bloody occupations of ornery lands. Bennett accordingly switches to sad face mode:

Fast-forward to the present. As of this writing, the latest polling reveals support for our Afghani efforts to be the minority position; some 58 percent of Americans oppose the war.

Your reviewer thinks that all the Afghan War needs is a little re-branding; rename the operation “Our Afghani Efforts” and public support should sky-rocket! It sounds as boring and inoffensive as your job at the Wal-Mart or insurance office or doomed stucco-subdivision construction company.

Lord Bill of Jalalabad and his deputy author are particularly hung up on the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood, which was, after all, committed by a Muslim. The mass shooting was a sign, Bennett says, that militant Islam is lurking behind every corner, even the corners here in America (like THAT one, right next to the Starbucks), and that consequently we need to bomb Iran (while not forgetting our oldie-but-goodie commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan).

Because the only way to deal with scattered religious fanatic losers like the would-be underwear killer, the Fort Hood shooter and that guy in Portland who wanted to blow up a Christmas tree is to unleash the full might of the United States Armed Forces against “Terrorism,” i.e. use robot planes and cruise missiles to blow penniless goat-herders and Tehrani college students (and plumbers, and shopkeepers, etc.) to hell. Moral clarity!

Bennett has always enjoyed simplifying things that aren’t known for being simple. In his most famous book he came to the conclusion that works of literature that raise tough ethical questions are actually much more like Michael Bay movies than works of literature that raise tough ethical questions. In his view they offer us “moral clarity,” good guys vs. bad guys, right decisions versus wrong decisions and so on, much like a Bill Bennett book (this worth-reading article explains much better than your reviewer can).

For example: Bennett has written elsewhere about Macbeth as if it were a straightforward “Bad Dude and His Lady Get Their Asses Handed to Them” story. Which is exactly right, come to think of it, because at the end of the play an Apache helicopter shoots Macbeth to death and a B-52 drops a bomb on his castle.

The core of The Fight of Our Lives is Dr. Bennett’s nostalgia for the days and months just after 9/11, when the entire nation was united in Moral Clarity:

After the attacks of September 11th, 2001, there was tremendous resolve in this country, just as there had been after Pearl Harbor…

We saw reports of people putting off their divorces, we saw an uptick in Bible sales, and we saw more and more people with addiction problems trying to get sober. We saw flag pins on lapels; we saw more flags on porches. We saw and heard better music.

What is he talking about here? We ask out of genuine historical curiosity, because we don’t remember this “better music” part at all (we remember Britney Spears existing before and after 9/11, though perhaps the attacks did kill off Limp Bizkit) Also: “saw” music? Sounds a bit psychedelic, Mr. Former Drug Czar!

Anyway, point is: Bennett wants us to get back that enchanted time, bliss was in that war-dawn and all that. If you want to clear your morals and ward off springtime allergies of National Doubt and Angst, this is the book for you!

The Fight of Our Lives: Knowing the Enemy, Speaking the Truth, and Choosing to Win the War Against Radical Islam by William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn, Thomas Nelson Books, 208 pages, $13.59

Thanks to Wonkette operative “Kevin B.”

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91 comments

    1. MildMidwesterner

      You must not gamble. Everyone knows that you always double down after losing the first million.

  1. SorosBot

    You forgot the one other thing Bennett is really interested in: losing millions of dollars in Vegas.

    1. LettucePrey

      And he did so in the lamest way possible: at the slots, the machines for old ladies and retards. His “gaming” is on the same level as rats who pull the lever for the cocaine.

      1. SorosBot

        The slots are mostly played by poor gamblers, too, and have the worst odds; rich gamblers like Bennett usually go for the table games.

    1. SorosBot

      A lot of fundies like Bennett enjoy that horrible rah-rah jingoistic country crap that came in vogue after 9/11; but that doesn't make this any less of a lie, as that music is objectively shit.

      Also, "we saw more and more people with addiction problems trying to get sober". Um, I think we saw a lot more people develop addiction problems, and worsen existing one.

      1. vodkamuppet

        Like my cousin who worked at ground zero after the attack and was so messed up from all the horrible shit he saw that he got on heroin, got clean and then was dead of a methadone OD by June 2002. He did technically get sober for a bit, before the cure fucking killed him.

  2. PublicLuxury

    Maybe if Laura Bush could stop fucking Osama Bin Laden long enough to turn him over to the FEDS we might get a little National Pride back. Or not.

    1. MaxUdargo

      Honestly, what is this guy suggesting? That America needs to exist in a constant state of crisis? This is his idea of a perfect world?

      Yes, when people are seized by a sense of crisis, it does "clarify" things a bit. Mundane concerns are forgotten as everybody focuses on an existential threat. So what? We want to live in that state 24/7 for the rest of our lives?

      This is like Glenn Beck's 9/12 meme. It's like these people feel that a state of fear and anger is the healthiest state of mind. Does anybody remember feeling good on 9/12? I remember a nation afraid to send an airplane into the air, and those of us lucky enough not to be stuck at an airport somewhere were glued to our televisions waiting to see if there was going to be a second wave of attacks. But, yeah, we were all real fucking focused. There was a lot of fucking clarity. If only we could live like Bill Murray in that movie with the beaver, and every day could be 9/12 over and over. That would be wonderful.

      Anyway, you may now proceed to ignore all the heart-felt emotion I've just openly poured from my soul and commence making jokes about the only word I wrote that registered in your mind. But Beck and Bennett want to remind you that, if this were 9/12, you wouldn't be thinking about female genitals.

      1. Mumbletypeg

        Actually I was thinking of the other, more recent movie with the beaver, starring Mad Max.
        You'll have to work a little harder to deliver ignorable commentary.. What I've read when I happen to spot it here & there I've been enjoying so far.

  3. riverside68

    So much crazy, so little time,
    The poets don't write anything down, they just sit back and watch it all happen.
    Party on Wonkeratti!

  4. CapeClod

    Why doesn't Michael Bay make a movie about us attacking Iran? That way, the stupid people who watch Michael Bay films will think we did atack Iran and everybody will just shut up about it.

  5. randcoolcatdaddy

    "We saw reports of people putting off their divorces, we saw an uptick in Bible sales, and we saw more and more people with addiction problems trying to get sober."

    Enough about George W. Bush – what about everyone else?

    1. GregComlish

      In Bennett's defense, he did concede that when Black women had abortions it was actually because they were racist.

  6. Lionel[redacted]Esq

    In fairness, Bill Bennett has $100 large riding on the over of 10,000 Muslims killed by the US this year, so he has a lot of skin in the game.

  7. petehammer

    Besides Nick Lache (sp?) and Jessica Simpson, who put off their divorce? "Honey, I know you're distant and I'm an alcoholic, but when those planes hit them towers, I knew I loved you again."

    LOVE!

  8. baconzgood

    I got down to the title of the book and I gotta say: WHAT THE HELL KINDA TITLE IS THAT? 20 WORDS!!!! WHERE THE FUCK IS HIS EDITOR???

  9. Oblios_Cap

    We saw reports of people putting off their divorces, we saw an uptick in Bible sales, and we saw more and more people with addiction problems trying to get sober. We saw flag pins on lapels; we saw more flags on porches. We saw and heard better music

    What music was that jackass listening to? I'll bet it was the Pat Boone Heavy Metal album.

    Anyway, all those things (Bible sales, flag pinz – bitch, please!) look like examples of moral stupidity to me. Trying to get sober? Why?

    1. tcaalaw

      What music was that jackass listening to? I'll bet it was the Pat Boone Heavy Metal album.

      As someone who purchased Pat Boone's No More Mr. Nice Guy: In a Metal Mood, I'm offended by the suggestion that my musical tastes overlap with those of Bill Bennett.

  10. donner_froh

    We saw and heard better music.

    I saw music when I dropped acid. The notes were just floating there like clouds. Who knew Bill B. was a druggie?

    1. Tundra Grifter

      Not to mention those cool trails when you slowly waved your hand through the air – and being swallowed by the wall.

  11. elviouslyqueer

    We saw reports of people putting off their divorces, we saw an uptick in Bible sales, and we saw more and more people with addiction problems trying to get sober. We saw flag pins on lapels; we saw more flags on porches. We saw and heard better music.

    Yes, Bill, those were halcyon days when our fearless leader and his minions lied through their teeth to rationalize attacking a country that had zero to do with 9/11, and offered us encouragement by telling us to go shopping "Get on board. Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America's great destination spots. Get down to Disney World in Florida. Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed."

  12. Hatrabbit

    Moral clarity = Kill the fuckers!

    It's in the bible fer Christ's sake. Look it up!

    Yours sincerely,

    Hatrabbit J. Retardlington.

  13. BloviateMe

    He's right.

    After 9/11, I bought a bible. After thumbing through it, I sacrified a couple chickens, sold my daughters, and committed a hate crime against some random homo.

    I never felt so American.

    1. DownFist Troll

      If only there were millions more American's just like you good sir…Oh right, Kentucky is still a state.

  14. JustPixelz

    Morality is what guides people despite expediency and emotional impulses. Like wanting to lie about being raped or incested to get one of those sweet, sweet Indiana abortions, but knowing to do so would be wrong. In Bennet's formulation, national moral clarity strikes me as a collective(!) impulse to action regardless of moral consequences.

    In Afghanistan after 9/11, our national interest and values said we should apprehend bin Laden et al and hold him responsible for his crimes. Instead we regarded his whereabouts as an act of war by the disliked Taliban. So a few bombs and dead future leaders later, we have lost bin Laden and that moral clarity. Could we have found a just outcome without warfare? We'll never know.

    In Iraq we had no clarity, moral or otherwise.

    Today Repubicans like Bennett are trying to fabricate a moral clarity about American Muslims as a group. That is, they are untermensch, the enemy within. True moral clarity — and fidelity to the Constitution — tells us we cannot succumb to that emotional impulse. It's hard to resist the simple expediency of hatred. But we are obliged to do so. Are you with me William J?

  15. AngryBlakGuy

    …frankly I'm surprised they haven't made 9/11 a conservative holiday yet. Instead of giving gifts or grilling hamburgers and hotdogs like other holidays they would celebrate by randomly throwing a dart at a map of 3rd world countries and then invading(pronounced: LIBERATE) that country in the name of George W. Bush!

  16. FraAnima

    Saw music – ya know, when Leroy puts a saw head tween his knees, bends it, and bangs out a tune with a spoon. Bill loves that music at the hoe down!

  17. arihaya

    but but,,,

    after 9/11, we succeeded in capturing the perpetrators Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden , and installing a stable democracy in Afghanistan ,, right right?

  18. donner_froh

    This book will go nicely on the shelf next to Bennett's other book that I own: "A Sure Thing: Drawing to an Inside Straight; Hitting on 17 against a Face Card; Betting Your IRA on a Hot Tip at the Track"

  19. genxr

    And then we invaded Iraq. Divorce rates went up, lapel pins got lost in the laundry, and Justin Beiber arrived on the scene.

    I can see his point now.

  20. __kth__

    Bennett wants it to be 9/12 Groundhog Day because his side wins elections in that kind of climate. The end.

  21. cheaphits

    "Fast-forward to the present. As of this writing, the latest polling reveals support for our Afghani efforts to be the minority position; some 58 percent of Americans oppose the war"

    Could that 32% possibly be discouraged by 10 years of no changes on the battlefield to speak of, a hopelessly corrupt government we've installed, a cost of two billion a week, countless deaths and destruction and our allies getting ready to bail?

    Naaah, it's probably that moral clarity thingie, like Bozo says..

  22. Worthly[♬♪♬♪♫♪♬]Skum

    Your reviewer thinks that all the Afghan War needs is a little re-branding..

    Operation War Dildo

    Operation Eternal Flamer

    Operation Browns Scrubber

    Operation Molting Eagle

  23. BarackMyWorld

    Last time I listened to Bill Bennett on CNN, it was right after the 2008 Democratic Convention, and he was on CNN saying one of the reasons Barack Obama, U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European affairs as well as sponsor and co-author of several laws regarding foreign policy, wasn't qualified to be president was because he had no foreign policy experience.

    The last time I saw Bennett on CNN, it was a few weeks later when he was touting Sarah Palin's qualifications to be vice president.

    In short, Bennett is a hypocritical sack of crap that has no problem revising his own "beliefs" for the sake of political expediency and thus has all the moral authority of a delusional gambler, which he also happens to (in fact) also be.

  24. Trollsintofisting

    His next book title: America's fight against Gamblor! The war to snatch the US from his neon claws

  25. BlueStateLibel

    Laugh all you want, libtards, but when Osama bin Laden heard that Mildred and Harry Smith of Idaho weren't getting divorced, and Harry was wearing a flag pin, he lost all fight to win. Look it up!

    1. Beetagger

      Wait, didn't Bennett used to visit a dominatrix in Vegas. He might like cockpunching. No fruit cup for you!

  26. friendlyskies

    Moral clarity, wtf? Is the US Euphemism Generator still a pack of taxpayer-swindling PR flunkies kept in tacky stuccoed Fairfax Mcmansions, or has the traditional group of Axe-scented douches been replaced with some kind of Watsonesque supercomputer?

    Moral clarity?? It doesn't even make sense. They need to read some George Orwell and get back to their roots.

  27. Lascauxcaveman

    Lord Bill of Jalalabad and his deputy author are particularly hung up on the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood, which was, after all, committed by a Muslim an officer of the US Army.

    Fixed.

    1. mumbly_ジョジョ

      Honestly, it *does* kinda seem like the latter is more predictive of propensity to mass-murder. Even if you decide to look just in the US America, rather than counting all the Morlocks slaughtering people abroad, as well.

      Well, crap, I guess that means I Hate the Troops.

  28. DonnyKerabotsos

    Finally a book that blends the superficiality of a tea-bagger's political philosophy with the kind of cranky longing for the good old days that one usually only encounters on a visit to a dementia ward.

  29. Allmighty_Manos

    "Bill Bennett — or as he calls himself on his book jackets, “William J. Bennett”–"

    Or as I call him, Buttluv Rentboy

  30. SorosBot

    Mr. Bennett wants "moral clarity" where everything is presented in terms of pure good versus evil, with no gray or complexity, which only appropriate for children. If you want that kind of morality, you better stick to kids' cartoons; and then only the crappier ones like He-Man or Care Bears; hell, even Power Rangers has had morally complex storylines , particularly in Time Force.

    1. pdiddycornchips

      I found Ivan Ooze interesting, not because he was complex but because his character is an allegory. Buried underground for all those years and then released by a bunch of (union no doubt) construction workers, only to cause chaos and destruction throughout the city.

    2. mumbly_ジョジョ

      Also, too, Gargoyles, Batman, The Last Airbender…

      Honestly, now that I'm thinking about it, even shit like Captain Planet which, despite all its Designated Villainy, managed to squeeze out more moral complexity than Bill Bennet could grapple with.

    3. poncho_pilot

      He-Man: where even the protagonist's name is explicitly drawn out for you in case his occasional shirtlessness and furry underwear made his sexual orientation ambiguous.

  31. Ducksworthy

    our Afghani efforts ? Given that Mr. Former Drug Czar and present (recovering or not) gambling addict has neither paid taxes in support of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nor volunteered his services in pursuit of said wars, how are they partially his?

  32. Mahousu

    We saw and heard better music.

    Clearly Bob Bennett, a notorious J-pop fan, is referring to Perfume and their debut single, Omajinai Perori. Probably he's been disappointed by their recent commercial tie-ins with Pino and Natural Beauty Basic.

    It's just the purity of the art he cares about, man.

  33. mumbly_ジョジョ

    So, the divorce thing is an all-out lie; the post-dotcom bubble probably saw the same uptick in divorce rates that every other economic stumble has, and I distinctly remember human interest fluff stories talking about the increasing trend of committed couples not to get married at all, either out of protest or because it was too much of a hassle/expense.

    Also, I assume by "better music" he means, "Clear Channel banned all those goddamn hippies from the airwaves", but he's still lying, because all of the remaining music was unbelievably shitty.

  34. mumbly_ジョジョ

    ANYWAY: you know who else loved adorning everything with flags and fetishized his country's military force, especially when that force was directed against an unpopular religious minority?

  35. Come here a minute

    After 9/11 we not only saw better music, we heard better aromas, smelled better textures, touched better tastes, and tasted better colors.

  36. V572del c:/*.* y/n?

    So I'm just imagining somebody putting together the President's Daily Brief, and deciding what important things need to go in it: uptick in Bible sales, seeing better music, people delaying divorces. Yes, this explains a lot about the Bush administration.

    It also explains that, if you don't have any actual numerical statistics to support what you want to assert, you can just make up some uncheckable bullshit and hope no one will argue with it. This is why Bennett was so highly regarded as a scholar before he was named our National Scold.

  37. Slim_Pickins

    All in all, the two blonde talking heads with the blown circuit boards made more sense.

  38. jonzin

    Do these douches have anything else on their mind besides fucking boys and 9/11? Oh, abortion. What the fuck? It's time to move on bitches!

  39. frostbitefalls

    9/11 FOREVER!

    Or, as Flannery O'Connor's Misfit put it, " She would of been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

  40. poncho_pilot

    "Also: “saw” music? Sounds a bit psychedelic, Mr. Former Drug Czar!"

    i can hear the grass grow.

  41. fuflans

    i fucking hate those simplistic interpretations of shakespeare. it's never black and white with him and people who think so are idiots.

    oh, yeah, right.

  42. ttommyunger

    I know one thing, based on this bloviating, wheezing blowhard's track record; whatever he says, I'm betting against it.

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