Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 19, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE BLOGOSPHERE vs THE VSPs....In the National Interest today, David Frum levels a blast at the lefty blogosphere ("personal," "rude," "bitter," "imperfectly grammatical") in the guise of an essay about the split between liberal bloggers and the Very Serious People™ of the liberal foreign policy establishment. It's provocative in spots, but his thesis can be summed up pretty briefly: (a) the liberal blogosphere doesn't like the liberal foreign policy community much and isn't shy about saying so, (b) this kind of populist revolt has happened a bunch of times in the past, and (c) it never lasts long. Sometime soon the blogosphere will turn its sights elsewhere and the foreign policy experts will reassert their control — but perhaps as "an expanded and enlarged community." So everybody's a winner!

Well, maybe so. Hell, probably so. But I'm curious about something. This is just a diversion from the main point of his essay, but where did this paragraph pop out of?

Few presidential candidates have drawn more support from the liberal FPC [i.e., "Foreign Policy Community"] than Barack Obama. Obama has been endorsed by former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and advised by Harvard professor Samantha Power, Clinton counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke and even George W. Bush's former NSC Senior Director for the Middle East, Bruce Riedel. Compared to Obama's, Hillary Clinton's foreign-policy team looks a little like a gala performance in Branson, Missouri: all the names you remember from decades ago.

I guess this all depends on how you define "liberal FPC," but FPC advisors don't come much more "decades ago" than Zbigniew Brzezinski, do they? And let's not forget Anthony Lake and Susan Rice, two Obama advisors who are ex-Clintonites in good standing (as is Clarke, of course). Samantha Power is, indeed, a new face on the foreign policy scene, but the fact is that every Democrat's foreign policy team is made up mostly of ex-Clintonites who are fully paid-up members of the liberal FPC. So what's the point of this strained assertion? Apparently it's to set up an argument that Obama, once embraced by the FPC but now a darling of the netroots, has responded by becoming the next best thing to a foul-mouthed blogger ("this once-irenic candidate now hurls accusations with the brio of a blogger on the Daily Kos"). This accusation is so absurd that it's hard even to know how to respond.

Anyway, Frum's piece has some entertaining vitriol here and there, and once you get past the pro forma comparison of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer to Joe McCarthy (yeesh), he even ends with an admission that maybe the liberal blogosphere will end up having a positive effect on the FPC. There's not a lot of new insight in the piece, but it might be worth reading just to get a sense of what the all the liberal catfights look like to an outsider.

Kevin Drum 2:21 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (31)

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What's the point of reading a guy like this?

Posted by: Jose Padilla on December 19, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Crackpot realism is always an ugly read.

Posted by: Ya Know... on December 19, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

What do you mean "probably"???? What's that based on?

Posted by: aghast on December 19, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Cool. And idiots like David Frum are "amoral", "historically illiterate", "belligerent", "shameful", and "wrong each and every time".

So Mr. "Axis of Evil" wants comity now that his pet war has gone south? It seems like he's trying to reach out a bit to his bipartisan friends (where no disagreement is personally held and no accusation of 'Traitor!" is offensively taken) and drive a wedge between the Establishment and the people (the Rabble) who are trying to change its disastrous ways.


Posted by: Jay B. on December 19, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

From the linked article:

"David Frum is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and writes a daily column for National Review Online."

Need any more be said?

Posted by: James Hogan on December 19, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

it might be worth reading just to get a sense of what the all the liberal catfights look like to an outsider.

There are plain old outsiders and there are arrogant and intransigent Bush acolytes desperately trying to rewrite their records to include chapters outside the epic failures of this presidency...failures for which they themselves shoulder no little amount of responsibility. Which category does David "Hell, no! I never learn!" Frum, who's now working for Julie-Annie, fit into?

Posted by: shortstop on December 19, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Let the tony Canadian whine. He doesn’t like the Huckabee and Ron Paul hinterlanders mussin’ up the carpet. He doesn’t like it that some bloggers have pointed out the emperor, his entourage, their sycophants, and the ancien régime have no clothes. They are B and C students at best. Has David Frum ever been right? Seems lots of folks out there sittin’ in their basements with their computers could do a better job than he and his.

I am surprised the ancien régime has not tried to use their authority to limit those who threaten the gravy train. Seems like the prissy prince of Toronto is trying to call up the troops. Maybe Mr. Reid will help him.

Posted by: bellumregio on December 19, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Frum can eat a warm, steaming pile of feces.

What I want to know is: (1) Did Trent Lott resign because he kept a homosexual house boy? and, (2) When is the FBI going to investigate Mitt Romney’s crooked business dealings with Bain Capital?

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 19, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

It says something that Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech writer feels obliged to address the blogosphere. Is the AEI running scared, or what?

Posted by: JJ on December 19, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Despite what Frum says, it is true that Obama's former Clinton-Admin foreign policy experts (Lake, Clarke, Rice) all opposed the War in Iraq from the start, while Sandy Berger and Richard Holbrooke did not, they just complained about its execution. When Sen. Clinton laughed out loud during the debate about this question, Obama had a good comeback, but the more substantive answer was that he picked the ex-Clintonites who were right on Iraq, she picked the ones who were wrong.

Posted by: RollaMO on December 19, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Why is Richard Clarke identified solely as an ex-Clintonite? He served under Reagan, Bush I and Bush II as well.

Posted by: Boots Day on December 19, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Has Frum read any of his side's blogs? Yeesh.

Posted by: Tom S on December 19, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

David Frum is a cult.

Posted by: Hostile on December 19, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Has Frum read any of his side's blogs? Yeesh.

Obviously not. He thinks we have more "passion" than them. They have passion too, but it's not a pretty kind.

Posted by: JJ on December 19, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Frum's full of himself. Foreign policy is exactly why I won't, in all likelihood, vote for any of the "Big Three" Democrats.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on December 19, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK


"... FPC advisors don't come much more "decades ago" than Zbigniew Brzezinski, do they?

Nor much smarter than Z either.

Hell I think you can make a case for Obama for President simply because he has Zbigniew on board.

By the way, Steve Clemons piece on Hillary and the apparatus of big govt. is the best reason why she should stay a Senator. She obvious has got a knack for all the mundane details and plans that make a good Senator.

A shorter Clemons:
She can bake a mean set of bills in the House of Reps ovens.

Posted by: Hucklefairy Sinn on December 19, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

What Frum is really trying to say is that the commenters at lefty blogs makes a better case for foreign policy than any liberal or conservative members of the FPC or VSP, so they should be feared, waterboarded and then thrown out of a helicopter into the Atlantic Ocean before their ideas resonate with the general population and ruins the gold mine of wasteful defense spending that the FPC relies upon.

Posted by: Brojo on December 19, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Whenever anyone on the right criticizes anyone on the left for grammar, I have to remind the right to listen to their leader.

Posted by: jen flowers on December 19, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

"imperfectly grammatical"

That should be "grammatically imperfect."

Who is this moron?

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on December 19, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

OT, TPM has announced the Golden Duke nominees, and poorly executed bathroom sex aficionado Bob Allen's mug shot is the funniest thing I've seen all week.

Posted by: shortstop on December 19, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Imperfectly grammatical" seems poorly phrased at the very least. (As well as very silly both in thought and expression.)

Posted by: Anon on December 19, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK
Has Frum read any of his side's blogs? Yeesh.

Obviously not. He thinks we have more "passion" than them. They have passion too, but it's not a pretty kind.

They don't have passion. They have reflexively disproportionate bloodlust and hypercompetitiveness about something that really shouldn't be viewed as a competition in the first place. The desire to win at all costs and the desire to see the loser suffer don't, on their own, make for passion. Passion requires a cause, and they lost their cause, if they ever had one, a long time ago.

Posted by: R Johnston on December 19, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

I was going to point out the oxymoron of "imperfectly grammatical", but see that Grand Moff has beaten me to it.
Still an illustrative point.

Posted by: sal on December 19, 2007 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

sure, the lefty blogosphere is cruder than the lefty bourgeoisie, but is the lefty blogosphere worse than the rightie blogospher? No freakin way>

Posted by: NB on December 19, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

A minor point, but Richard Clarke was George W Bush's anti-terrorism Csar too. He also commanded the US response on 9/11. Frum is trying to pretend that Clarke has always supported the Democrats. In fact, he was impressed by Gore and very impressed by Clinton when they worked together, then horrified when he dealt with Bush for, among other things, insisting on 9/12 that he find evidence that Iraq was behind 9/11 (an episode denied by the Bush administration until they learned that multiple witnesses were calling them on that lie).

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on December 19, 2007 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

"Frum"? What kind of name is "Frum"?

And, how again is Obama Liberal (except for being a Dem) or Progressive?

Edwards for President -- Real Leadership, not just the kind you believe in!

Posted by: MarkH on December 19, 2007 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

I would say that Frum is a naive and bitter CareerBuilder chimp lashing out because he is secretly worried that I can do his job better than he can.

Posted by: Urban Sombrero on December 19, 2007 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Dept of Justice is trying to cover up $300 million in fraud and confessed acts that are perjury which benefited Mitt Romney's Bain entity in 2001.
The Attorney for Bain in Delaware is MNAT, MNAT and TBF law firm went to work for eToys and sold the assets of eToys bankruptcy to Bain for discounts in the tens of millions. This is collusion to defraud and estate. As the attorneys filed false affidavits denying connections to Bain. It is conspiracy to defraud an estate.
We proved over 100 crimes and yet the Del US Attorney's office said, no case, no investigation and no charges. The Dept of Justice is an appellee with MNAT in the 3rd Cir appeal case (07-2360) defending the right to give implied immunity to the attorneys who confessed to filing false Rule 2014 affidavits.
Now we learn that the US Attorney in Delaware, Colm F Connolly is nominated to be a US Judge. His resume becomes public and we learn that Colm F Connolly was partners with MNAT in 2001, when the fraud and perjury occurred.
Did Colm F Connolly actually represent Bain, we don't know, eToys was allowed, by Court order, to destroy books n records.
The fact is, it is a conflict of interest for the US Attorney not to appoint a special Independent Prosecutor. Do you really want this guy as a Judge and Mitt as our Pres?
Anyone who desires the US Attorney clocked copy we filed a week ago in California can email us at laserhaas@msn.com
you can go online and see our Online Affidavit that was submitted at http://fraud-corruption-mnat.townhall.com/default.aspx

Posted by: Laser Haas on December 19, 2007 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Frum"? What kind of name is "Frum"?

"Frum" is a Yiddish word that means, I think, pious. It doesn't mean "astute," "far-sighted" or "capable of learning," that I do know.

Thanks for the tagline re Edwards, too. I've been wondering who you might be supporting.

Posted by: shortstop on December 19, 2007 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

I read the Frum piece and didn't find anything wrong with the grammar of the quote he pointed to. There was an ellipsis in the quote so all I can imagine is that the grammatical flaw was in the missing text. Or maybe one of us isn't much of a grammarian. I swear, I even wrote the sentence out and diagrammed it. Everything fit. It had long phrases running in parallel that could have been rewritten, possibly, but Frum didn't complain about the writer's overly ornate style.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on December 20, 2007 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

David Frum.....a member of the "asses of evil".

Posted by: Albert on December 20, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK



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