Peter Beinart and Bonehead Fighting Liberalism
by Gary Boatwright, Wed Oct 26, 2005 at 06:08:35 AM EDT
Beinart begins his ill begotten excuse for military and foreign policy analysis with a nostalgic jaunt down the memory hole of the forties:
Beinart introduces his article with a worry wart tendentious assumption that ignores President John F. Kennedy at the very least. Linking John Kerry's loss to the Cold War Worriers of WWII is an imaginative leap of faith. Anyone that thinks Beinart could not possibly stoop any lower in historical revisionism does not know Peter Beinart.
Beinart revisits that historical canard a little later in his article. There are two implied parentheticals to this argument, as well as Beinart's entire thesis. The first one is that domestic social policy was irrelevant to defining liberalism in the 40's and it is irrelevant today. The second is that the threat of terrorism is equivalent to the perceived threat posed by communism in the 40's, which even ignores the extent to which communism was a hyped up threat both domestically and internationally in the 40's and 50's. In the meantime, Beinart attempts to solve the quandry of how Democrats should approach foreign policy, in light of the unpopularity of Bush's Iraq war, by presenting the reader with a false dilemma:
If Beinart's reliance on a foreign policy analysis by a feckless neo-con like Will Marshall were not alarming enough, a discerning reader can only be horrified by Beinart's superficial analysis of Presidential politics, Beinart glosses over Watergate as a factor in Jimmy Carter's election and ignores the Presidency of Bush 41 to credit Bill Clinton's victory to the end of the Cold War. The absence of foreign policy as an issue in the electoral victories of Carter and Clinton are a very thin reed on which to hang prospects for Democratic success in either 2006 or 2008.
Beinart's next paragraph echoes Rush Limbaugh's early days as a burgeoning force on talk radio, when he constantly informed his listeners "that's the truth" every twenty seconds:
A discerning reader can only admire Beinart for his segue from shallow historical revisionism to a false dilemma. Is hoping that terrorism is a passing phenomenon really the only hope of the Democratic Party? With Bush's ratings in the high thirties, flagrant and pervasive corruption dogging the Republican Party, pending indictments of key Republicans in and out of the Bush administration, the nose-diving popularity of Bush's Iraq war and domestic policies as well, the Democrats don't have any other option? One can only wonder at this stage if Beinart's article is intended as spoof.
In the next three paragraphs Beinart boils down the period from 1946 to 1949 into three succinct and superficial paragraphs of highly questionable, if not deceitful, analysis. Beinart completes his faux historical analysis with a monumental inferential leap from the early 50's to the elections of 2002 and 2004 and the Swiftboating of John Kerry.
Beinart demonstrates he is a student of Donald Rumsfield, if not history, by answering his own question:
Sub-silentio Beinart has introduced the classic paradigm of the incipient Democratic neo-con movement of Scoop Jackson and Jeanne Kilpatrick: Totalitarianism - bad. Authoritarianism - good. Left wing totalitarian dictators America opposes - bad. Right wing totalitarian dictators America supports - good. By this point there is no longer any question that Beinart is also perpetuating the myth of Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations. Beinart is in full fledged neo-con mode and insisting that the Democratic Part must follow the reactionary and dangerous path of never ending Neo-con war to win elections. The only lesson Beinart would have us learn from history is that we don't learn any lessons from history.
I'll dispense with boring our Seeing the Forest readers with additional extended analysis of Beinart's tedious article and briefly debunk his four big points.
The first thing it means is a comfort with military power.
Beinart's first point is the self evident tripe of all political bromides.
See Joseph Nye's Soft Power
More self evident and meaningless tripe.
If Beinart wants the Democratic Party to rely on platitudes, allow me to add, "Home is where the heart is" and "The first journey begins with a single step." Now we're all set for a Democratic victory in 2006 and 2008. All I can add is Send In The Clowns. We can't have a Presidential election without clowns now, can we?
The completely unanswered question in Beinart's article is how "fighting liberals" are any different from full fledged reactionary neo-cons. As far as I can tell, it is a distinction without a difference. Is there anything that separates Beinart from the neo-con wonks at The Weekly Standard? We can only hope that the Democratic DLC leadership isn't as naive and historically ignorant as Peter Beinart, whose analysis is nothing short of a road map of how to go to political hell in a handbasket
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