For pure, unadulterated comedy gold you can’t get much better than Marty Peretz reacting to the shocking development of a Democrat winning the Democratic primary in Connecticut. Admittedly, he’s so pompous it’s hard to tell if he’s kidding or not when he expresses dismay that writing an editorial for the nation’s ground zero of wingnuttery in which illogic, dishonesty, and hypocritical ad hominems struggled valiantly for attention failed to persuade Democratic primary voters. But I really think he’s dead serious about Clinton costing Lieberman the primary. I think you can understand why he thought it was a great idea to hire Michael Kelly…
Author Page for Scott Lemieux
With 94. 45% of precincts reporting, Lawyers, Guns, and Money is projecting Ned Lamont as winner of the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary. Hey, if Mariano Rivera can give up a homerun to blow a save, I figure this is a night where justice can triumph for once.
Here’s a thought: what happens if it’s close enough for the outcome to be contested? If you thought you hated Lieberman before, imagine if he actually makes a serious effort to fight this time…I don’t have enough fibers in my being to despise him as much as he would deserve. (And, obviously, an independent candidacy amounts to basically the same thing.)
UPDATE: LIEBERMAN CONCEDES! As is appropriate, I’m watching it on Fox News…
…TBogg makes a good point; it will be interesting to see how the media portrays an incumbent winning 51-48 in 2004 versus a massive underdog winning 51-48 over an incumbent this time. Three guesses and the first two don’t count. And this is also right: Lieberman’s reprehensible independent run “will result in cash and resources that should be going to the real Democrats down ticket being spent fighting off a Vichy Democrat.” Indeed.
…this indeed would be a good start.
…I’ll give Henley the last word:
Lieberman came to personify the effort to cast all opposition to the Administration’s war policies as disrespectable fringe behavior. As a matter of principle, this is noxious. As a matter of practicality, it’s ridiculous in a member of the nominal opposition party. I foresee a future in which Lieberman becomes as bitter and menacing as Robert Bork became in the years after he was rejected for the Supreme Court.
The good news is, as of this posting, Lamont is still ahead, with 3/4 of precincts reporting. The bad news is that he seems to have been losing ground all night.
There have been two big votes–the 1995 Quebec Referendum and the 2000 U.S. Presidential election–in which I was waiting for the urban vote to come in at the last minute and save the good guys at the last minute. It worked once. This time, on the other hand, the good guy has never trailed but seems to lose ground as the precincts get bigger. Hopefully this will be a honest version of 2000, which this time would lead to the good outcome…
…Actually looking better with 94% reporting; Lamont seems to have stopped the bleeding, and Weepin’ Joe is running out of time.
Ah, I see that some Bush apologists are finally letting their pretense that the Iraq war was going to produce a nice pro-American pro-Israeli liberal democracy fade away into more of a “cane the wogs” approach. Kind of refreshing, albeit in a “smugness in the face of death and ruined lives and the utter waste of a trillion dollars” kind of way. You see, people just pick their underlying social arrangements sort of like picking a shirt out the closet, so if Iraqis don’t choose to create a nice liberal polity out of the stateless chaos we’ve created, well, don’t look at me, I didn’t do it! I seem to remember that the grown-ups were supposed to be in charge–whatever happened to that?
Shorter Joe Lieberman: “I can’t believe people are tarring me as a phony ‘Fox News Democrat.’ In other news, today I will use Fox News to inform people that I will run against the Democratic nominee if Connecticut Democrats have the temerity not to annoit me to the position to which I am inherently entitled.”
Hubert Humphrey, one of contemporary hawks’ darlings, only secured 43 percent of the popular vote. George Wallace, formerly a Democrat, got 14 percent of the vote, overwhelmingly from people who had historically been voting Democratic, on a white supremacist ticket. Before 1964 the Democrats had, of course, been among other things the party of white supremacy. By 1972 they had ceased to be the party of white supremacy and there was no white supremacist ticket to vote for, so southern whites — long conservative in the views on a wide variety of subjects — voted for the Republican Party, that one being the more conservative of the two.
It seems to me there’s nothing that really could have been done about this. Throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s most observers regarded the prevailing Democratic coalition as unsustainable. People like Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson who actually led that coalition and presumably knew what they were talking about agreed with this. During the 1968-72 period the natural thing happened and it ceased to be sustained. The idea that “Scoop” Jackson could have made it work seems absurd.
Nor have I ever been clear on what the Scoopies exact view of what McGovern did wrong was supposed to be. Say a Democratic hawk had won in 1972 and prosecuted the Vietnam War for four more years — then what? What would have been achieved by that? Should both parties have just taken the view that being against a war is always electoral suicide and continued the fighting for another twenty years? Thirty?
This is partly a problem of people vastly overstating the effect of personalities and campaign tactics (as opposed to structural factors) in determining election outcomes. And the outcome in 1972 was about as close to inevitable as any presidential election could be, a Republican perfect storm. LBJ’s prediction about the Civil Rights Act costing the Democrats the South was of course correct, and the region that had been the backbone of the Democratic Party since its inception was now solidly Republican. And in addition to that, Nixon was a moderate who wouldn’t alienate the traditionally Republican northeast. The Democrats could have put Curtis LeMay himself at the top of the ticket and they would have gotten slaughtered (although Marty Peretz would still be claiming the Dems lost because they were insufficiently hawkish.)
Invocations of Saint Scoop to portray Lieberman as a canary in coalmine are silly for another reason. After all, the inexorable collapse of the traditional Democratic coalition occurred with Jackson safely ensconced in the Senate (indeed, Jackson won a tightly contested primary in 1970–maybe the Dems would have lost 60 states if he hadn’t won.) If Lieberman is standing between the Democrats and permanent electoral oblivion, the Democrats are already doomed–the effect of any one Senator on party branding are trivial. Moreover, I’d love to see evidence that Lieberman is popular with the American public (as opposed to a narrow band of pundits who are indifferent about or actively hostile to the electoral prospects of the Democratic Party.)
Perhaps the most striking thing about Marty Peretz’s unspeakably atrocious Wall Street Journal op-ed is how little actual content is in the thing. With its obsession with lineage and social status trivia (not to mention prose in which pomposity desperately seeks to fill in the holes left by vacuity of the ideas), it seems to have been parachuted in from the pre-meritocracy era of Harvard. But given that what little argument remains once you boil off the stuff about “high-born American Stalinists” consists of staggeringly dishonest cliches, he’s probably better off discussing family background:
The blogosphere Democrats, whose victory Mr. Lamont’s will be if Mr. Lamont wins, have made Iraq the litmus test for incumbents. There are many reasonable, and even correct, reproofs that one may have for the conduct of the war. They are, to be sure, all retrospective. But one fault cannot be attributed to the U.S., and that is that we are on the wrong side. We are at war in a just cause, to protect the vulnerable masses of the country from the helter-skelter ideological and religious mass-murderers in their midst. Our enemies are not progressive peasants as was imagined three and four decades ago.
Pretty much every word there is stupid, a malicious lie, or both. There is, first of all, no litmus test–the “blogosphere Democrats” actively support many candidates who supported and/or still support the Iraq war, and there is no systematic campaign against even blue-state war supporters. The idea that critiques of the war can only be “retrospective” is also a flagrant lie–many people in fact correctly predicted the Bush administration’s incompetence and unseriousness about reconstruction, and indeed the latter was the only plausible inference to be drawn from the administration’s policies and public statements–but also beside the point, since Lieberman argued in the same pages that Democrats should not be permitted even retrospective criticism of the President. The idea that the “fault cannot be attributed to the U.S.” is quite remarkable–I’ve never heard the theory that a country cannot be held responsible for the direct effects of its foreign policy before. The stuff about “progressive peasants” is simply a disgraceful smear by implication, suggestion that the only reason to oppose this disastrous war is active support of the theocratic forces in Iraq. I don’t believe that Peretz supports an Iranian-backed Shiite theocracy with limited capacity, even if this kind of Iraqi state is the virtually inevitable outcome of the policies he supports. And all of this is tied to a larger smear, with the discussions of 1972 intended to convey the message that the opposition to the Iraq War means opposition to virtually all uses of American force, although there is no evidence whatsoever that Lamont, or most liberal bloggers, hold such a view.
The distorting fog being blown by a small number reactionary nominal “Democrats” who devote most of their writings to attacking other Democrats–and the way in which right-wing bloggers, understanding full well its intention, celebrate Peretz’s op-ed–makes clear what’s really at stake here.
…Steve M. with more about Peretz’s theories of blood guilt.
…as MJD notes in comments, Lieberman (or at least his flunkies) is now claiming that when he said that Democrats criticize the President, oppose torture, etc., they do so at “the Nation’s peril,” he was really arguing that they were doing so at their political peril. Right.
- Did Rumsfeld rigorously present a realistic, non-rose-tinted picture of Iraq? Julia reports, you decide.
- Mark Schmitt on Holy Joe: “Politicians can be superficially supportive but also cruelly contemptuous toward colleagues who can’t take care of their own business. I think that some of the establishment figures have to be noticing that not only did Lieberman put himself in this situation, but he did absolutely nothing, at any point, to get himself out of it. From attacking Lamont, acting peevish and entitled, declaring the independent bid, refusing to say anything that would show any difference between his view of Iraq and Bush’s (even with George Stephanopoulos this morning he was mouthing the WH line that the only threat to a unified, stable Iraq was “the terrorists”), to finally trying a clumsy imitation of Lamont’s enthusiastic rallies, the only result of which was that the face of his campaign for a day was a loudmouth DC lobbyist who looked like an understudy for the “Billionaires for Bush” comedy troupe, Lieberman didn’t make one right move in six months. He doesn’t even seem to realize that if he denounces his opponent for voting with Republicans and calls him “center-right” he can’t credibly also say, “That’s something that separates me from my opponent – I don’t hate Republicans.”"
- Scott offers a loving tribute to Mel Gibson.
- Zuzu and Amanda on this chilling article about “Girls Gone Wild” poobah Joe Francis. Teh creepy. (See also Hilzoy.) On a funnier (if still creepy) note, McBoing on the mysterious “porn fairy” that seems to visit the customers who call his cable company. (Via Lindsay.)
- Aspazia has more on the late Iris Marion Young.
Shorter Verbatim Peter Beinart: “Listen to Joe Lieberman’s liberal critics and you hear the same lines again and again. He has “betrayed his party” and practiced “turncoat politics.” He has “defined his image by distancing himself from other Democrats.” He’s not a “team player.” Funny, that’s just what originally drew me to the guy.” Yep, says it all. Although they think of themselves as crafty moderates, Nader and his most foolish apologists have nothing Holy Joe and his supporters when it comes to rank narcissism.
And Lieberman’s strange decision to become a much more demagogic and irrational defender of the Iraq war as it kept getting worse reminds us of his brilliant strategy of running to the right in a Democratic primary, as if he really thought that he was seeking the votes of the New Republic editorial board rather than Democratic voters. And then you remember that he somehow lost a debate to Dick Cheney. Hmm, I mean as much is I’d love to give most of the credit to liberal bloggers, could it be that in addition to his countless problems on the merits he’s losing because he’s running yet another awful campaign?
Would you please stop with the bunting runners from second to third? Against Jaret Wright? You’re playing the Yankees, man. It’s a war and you’re stabbing the forces of civilization and decency in the back. As one of your rather more successful predecessors once urbanely noted, “you’ve only got 27 outs in the game.” And, “why don’t you take the sacrifice bunt and shove it up someone’s ass and leave it there.” There’s a lot of wisdom in these maxims.
Dear Mr. Angelos,
Have you ever notice that your team really went in the tank when you fired one of the best managers in the game and starting bringing in an ungodly parade of second- and third-raters instead? I mean, I know with the collection of stiffs you prefer to haul in it may not be the biggest deal, but actually hiring a competent, experienced manager can’t hurt. Look at the Tigers this year. Or remember when the Twins suddenly went from being puzzling underachievers to two-time World Champions with basically the same talent base when they fired the ludicrously inept Ray Miller? Oh, wait, you hired Ray Miller. Well, anyway, you may wish to consider it for a change.
Shorter Robert Kagan: “If I had to pin down what makes a man honest, I’d have to say it’s being a relentless kiss-ass who refuses to change his positions irrespective of how many discomfirming facts subsequently appear. (And if he does start to change his positions in a desperate bid to save a pathetic primary campaign, well…look over there, it’s the almost equally honest Zell Miller!)”
This reminds me of Stephen Holmes’ classic decimation of Kagan’s unjustly famous book People From the United States Drive Like This, But People From Europe Drive Like This. Holmes’ laying out of the fundamental idiocy of the neocon belief that there’s no problem that conventional military power can’t solve remains all-too-relevant today:
That Kagan’s argument here has some force will be recognized even by those who strenuously disagree with it. The same cannot be said for the emotionally charged mythology with which he decorates it. Just as prewar German nationalists loved to oppose Helden to Händler (Teutonic “heroes” to English “merchants”), so Kagan enjoys contrasting masculine Americans with effeminate Europeans: “Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus.” Gun-shy Europeans are able to putter around their Kantian garden only because lethally armed Americans are out there patrolling the Hobbesian jungle to prevent the “post-historical paradise” from being destroyed by various ayatollahs, Saddam Husseins and Kim Jong Ils. Kagan brings his gendered interpretation of United States-European Union relations to a surprising culmination when, in his final paragraphs, he reinvents himself as a marriage counselor, urging the quarreling couple to kiss and make up, for their own sake and the world’s.
This is amusing, in its way, all the more so because it is basically unserious. Unfortunately, Kagan’s more sober attempt to trace trans-Atlantic discord to differences in military capacity founders on the experience of the Cold War, when Americans and Europeans agreed on a definition of a common threat even though their military capacities were just as asymmetrical as they are today. Countries that are militarily weak will sometimes defer quietly to allies that are militarily strong. At other times they will strenuously dissent. Capabilities alone, therefore, do not bear the explanatory burden that Kagan places upon them. Moreover, a much simpler explanation suggests itself. Europeans no longer feel that the United States is protecting them from a dangerous threat because the likelihood of a military invasion from the East has disappeared. Without U.S. help, Kagan claims, Europe will be unable to prevent itself from “being overrun, spiritually as well as physically, by a world that has yet to accept the rule of ‘moral consciousness.’” But who, exactly, is about to overrun Europe “spiritually as well as physically”? There may be a good answer to this question, but if Kagan knows, he isn’t telling. Lack of a clear and convincing answer to the “What military threat?” question explains tensions in the alliance more economically than differences in military capacity.
The book’s basic argument keeps crumbling under inspection because it rests on a sleight of hand. Its elementary fallacy lies in a selective application of its theoretical premise. A country’s foreign policy can become unrealistic if specially favored instruments prevent policy-makers from facing up to threats that must be addressed by other means. From this true premise, however, we cannot infer, as Kagan does, that Europe’s meager military capacities make European assessment of threats unrealistic while the United States’ formidable military capacities make American assessment of threats realistic. The illusions of the jungle are no less pernicious than the illusions of the garden. Kagan touches on this point when he allows, “The stronger may, in fact, rely on force more than they should.” But he does not integrate this insight into his basic argument. Indeed, he devotes no attention at all to the role of irrationality in the making of American foreign policy, even though he knows full well that a missionary impulse pervades Washington’s understanding of the United States’ global role, spoiling his clean contrast between realistic Americans and utopian Europeans.
A militarily weak society will typically underestimate problems that cannot be solved by civilian means alone. Just so, a militarily powerful society will typically underestimate problems that cannot be solved by military means alone. Both mistakes are possible and both can be fatal, but Kagan pays attention only to the former. This is why, despite the occasional justice of his remarks about European self-delusion, he comes across more as a Bush-administration apologist than as a foreign-policy analyst. Are Paris and Berlin really more “in denial” than Washington? Do Europeans have a more distorted view of the contemporary security environment than Americans? Kagan thinks so, but he is wrong.
But the most striking and by far the most dangerous misperception afflicting Bush’s approach to foreign affairs concerns the war against transnational terrorism. Kagan asserts that Europe “has had little to offer the United States in strategic military terms since the end of the Cold War.” Widely shared inside the administration, this view is based on the premise that the “end of the Cold War did not reduce the salience of military power.” Military power is just as central to American security today as it was during the Cold War — that is what Kagan would have us believe. And after the Cold War, “European military incapacity” means that our former allies have become almost wholly irrelevant to U.S. security. That is the assumption behind this book and, presumably, behind the unfathomably cavalier attitude of the Bush administration toward our European allies.
That this assumption is fallacious is the very least that might be said. The September 11 attacks were partly planned, organized and financed in Europe. The Muslim diaspora communities into which terrorist cells can invisibly blend remain the likeliest staging grounds for future al-Qaeda attacks on the United States. In other words, Europe remains a frontline region in the war against terrorism just as it was in the war against communism. As daily press reports also reveal, the European police have been acting in a perfectly Hobbesian manner, arresting scores of suspected terrorists. In other words, despite his pose as a no-nonsense realist, Kagan has apparently failed to realize the degree to which the contours of American national security have been redrawn since 9-11. The home front and the foreign front have now been disconcertingly blurred. National-security strategy must now operate in a domain where soldiering and policing have become of coequal importance. This profound change helps us understand the erroneous premise of Bush’s foreign policy. In our new security environment, despite the prevailing cliché, the United States is not the world’s only superpower.
That many Bush supporters seem to consider Kagan some kind of major thinker is highly instructive.
Indeed. Although I think the story needed a some gushing Tim McCarver quotes pointing out that only a truly special player could throw out Frank Thomas on a ball hit 18 inches from his glove hand…
The other irritating thing is that while Jeter–for all of his flipping the ball near home plate and willing Giambi not to slide and willing the umpire to blow the call-ing–remains a crappy defensive shortstop, he is having a near-MVP year with the bat, meaning that for the first time since 2000 he’s no longer the most overrated player in the game. Pig-fucker. (Anybody think the Yankees are spending another day out of the playoffs? Anyone? Ugh.)