Monday, October 06, 2003


At Altercation.

Peter Beinart is one of those liberals for whom I wish we still had some use. I mean, he’s smart. He’s prolific. He’s completely sincere, and he’s really terrible on television — which, given the ignorami who seem to prevail in our media/political culture, I consider a great recommendation for both his intellect and his character. But, boy howdy, reading his review of the Krugman collection in yesterday’s TIMES, the man sounds like he’s spent the last 15 years floating amid the moons of Neptune. Consider this passage:

“Guest lists that cross ideological lines can help liberals understand the conservatives they write about. And many Washington conservatives genuinely don’t see the Bush administration as radical: they see it as having ratified a big-spending, culturally liberal status quo.”

Breathtaking, isn’t it? I mean, where does one begin? It isn’t like the conservative agenda is hard to discern; when Grover Norquist says he wants to strangle government in his bathtub, he isn’t speaking metaphorically. He means it. Tom DeLay doesn’t speak in code, and he runs the House of Representatives. The people who’ve our current foreign policy up on the rocks have plotted the course in public — and, occasionally, in Mr. Beinart’s own magazine — for the past 15 years. They didn’t act out their impeachment kabuki in the root cellar, and they didn’t muscle the Florida election in the dark.

And the fact that a lot of them haven’t yet gotten everything they wanted is hardly proof that the administration doesn’t want all the same stuff, too. It’s evidence that some Republicans — and even some Democrats — would rather not see the Republic taken all the way over a cliff. If it pains Mr. Beinart to know that some of his dinner pals want to demolish everything in which he believes, and that they are halfway there already, I am truly sorry, but the Krug is right and he’s wrong on this one. I don’t want these clowns understood. I want them defeated — permanently, the way the Whigs were — and the earth salted so they do not rise again.