Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

June 21, 2009

IT'S NOT EXACTLY LEFT VS RIGHT.... On ABC's "This Week" earlier, George Will, hardly a liberal ally of the president, noted that he's heard the criticism of the Obama administration's tactics regarding Iran, and he finds it unpersuasive.

"The president is being roundly criticized for insufficient, rhetorical support for what's going on over there. It seems to me foolish criticism. The people on the streets know full well what the American attitude toward the regime is. And they don't need that reinforced."

Ben Armbruster noted that Peggy Noonan, another prominent conservative, also rejected the criticism aimed at the president. "To insist the American president, in the first days of the rebellion, insert the American government into the drama was shortsighted and mischievous," she wrote, adding that "the ayatollahs were only too eager to demonize the demonstrators as mindless lackeys of the Great Satan Cowboy Uncle Sam, or whatever they call us this week."

Of course, shortly before George Will's remarks, there was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), blasting the president on the same program for being "timid and passive" when he'd like to see Obama "speak truth to power."

Graham, as is usually the case in this situation, was pretty vague about what, exactly, he expects the White House to do, and what, exactly, he thinks will happen if the president throws around more bellicose rhetoric regarding developments in Iran. Graham won't (or can't) offer anything constructive, except to say he wants to see Obama "speak up" on behalf of Iranian protestors. Great tip.

That said, seeing Will and Graham on opposite sides of this reminds me of a point that often goes overlooked: we're not dealing with a dynamic that pits the left vs. the right, or Dems against Republicans. Rather, this is a situation featuring neocons vs. everyone else.

You'll notice that President Obama's strategy has not only been endorsed by Democratic lawmakers, but also prominent Republicans who are in office (Dick Lugar), served in Republican administrations (Henry Kissinger, Gary Sick, and Nick Burns), or are prominent Republican voices in the media (George Will, Peggy Noonan, and Pat Buchanan).

The president's leading detractors, meanwhile, primarily come from a motley and discredited crew who cling to neoconservatism -- McCain, Graham, Kristol, Krauthammer, Wolfowitz.

When we see reports indicating that "Republicans" are outraged by the president's tack on Iran, let's not forget it's mostly just a certain part of the party.

Steve Benen 12:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

Bookmark and Share

But what about the decider - I mean Rush?

Posted by: Danp on June 21, 2009 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

McCain seems to have come around.

Posted by: Repack Rider on June 21, 2009 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Why are Republicans even trying to play politics with something nobody actually cares about outside of a few breathless bloggers?

they can't really think that people are huddled around twitter praying for Iranian protesters. Nobody is going to vote on this issue.

Posted by: soullite on June 21, 2009 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, shortly before George Will's remarks, there was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), blasting the president on the same program for being "timid and passive" when he'd like to see Obama "speak truth to power."

And oddly enough, Fred Thompson, the former Republican Senator from Tennessee (and presidential candidate in 2008 for about twenty minutes), said almost exactly the same thing on Meet the Press. It's like he and Sen. Graham had some psychic connection... or they got the same talking points e-mailed to them from the RNC.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on June 21, 2009 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, you mean the militaristic wing of the hard right party? Neocons and Dixiecons? They are different from other Americans because they have a mindset that is stuck in a time warp. They are old fashioned imperialists forever dreaming of other people's children running up San Juan Hill. They really do believe in the messianic responsibility of the white man's burden, bayonets and bibles. They mix it with a rather ruthless version of Chicago capitialism which is itself just a recasting of 19th century social darwinism. In the old imperialist language this mix was called Civilization and it was gloriously mocked by Mark Twain. The neocons have their own semi-philosophical reasons for retro imperialism. The Dixiecons have been that way since the founding of the Republic.

These folks will cease to be harmful when it is recognized that imperialism it too expensive.

Posted by: bellumregio on June 21, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

I think a more meaningful description would be "fools vs. everyone else" rather than "neocons vs. everyone else." McCain and Graham aren't really neo-cons, they're just dumbfucks -- and always have been.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on June 21, 2009 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Bloody Krystol, Krauthammer, Lieberman & Wolfowitz don't care about anything other than starting a war with Iran to be sure that their homeland is the only state in the region to have nukes. The last thing they worry about is the effect of all of this on American interests.

Posted by: candideinnc on June 21, 2009 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

this is a situation featuring neocons vs. everyone else.

Beyond that, there are hangers-on who reflexively insist that whatever Obama does is wrong. (Versus, I suppose, those who insist whatever he does is right.)

Posted by: Grumpy on June 21, 2009 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

The wingnuts don't have a clue-- they are incapable of constructive suggestions, so they look for opportunities to take cheap shots at Obama. Nobody told them that being an opposition party requires more than just self-indulgent whining.

Posted by: gizmo on June 21, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK
Rather, this is a situation featuring neocons vs. everyone else.

Zbigniew Brzezinski on CNN right now, describing hardliners in Iran, based on their foreign policy approach and Manichean worldview, as "the Iranian neocons", which puts another angle on this as "the neocons vs. everyone else".

But, really, I think the biggest threat to the (American) neoconservative policy program would be a successful organic democratic revolution in the Middle East in which US direct involvement wasn't seen as essential. Which is why the neocons were first arguing that the they preferred Ahmadinejad as a clear enemy compared to Mousavi, whose election might weaken worldwide opposition to Iran, but once there was a strong response to the election immediately wanted Obama to make this about the US rather than the Iranian people. Because if domestic anger shows itself as a better means of delivering democracy in the Middle East than American interventionism, the whole premise of the neoconservative interventionist policy is visibly demolished.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 21, 2009 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: Because if domestic anger shows itself as a better means of delivering democracy in the Middle East than American interventionism, the whole premise of the neoconservative interventionist policy is visibly demolished.

I think it's strictly a utilitarian argument: the neocons think that without US help the protesters in Iran will be defeted. They have not identified what useful action the US might take, but they maintain that the US ought to be able to think of something.

I need to pass on some information that trex guided me to. Almost half of all Iranians have cell phones; about 1/3 of Iranians have land phone lines; about 1/3 of Iranians have internet access; there are 75,000 regular bloggers in Iran; about 2/3rds of Iranians live in "urban" areas, though a lot of those live in slums where they are probably undersampled (you have been watching the videos from Tehran -- how many of those were from slums?). Almost all of our news has come from the 5 largest urban areas, which seem to have about a third of the total Iranian population in them; of that, nearly all of the news is from Tehran.

The changes in Iran in the last 10 years have been dramatic, even changes in the years since Ahmedinejad won his first surprising election victory over Rafsanjani, with very high rates of adoption of the new communications technologies, and high rates of migrations into the urban areas.

One of the articles that I read, claiming that Ahemedinejad had really won, claimed that only 1/6 of Iranians had land lines and that a far smaller fraction had cell phones. Those writers seem, on this information, to be as far behind the times as they claim that pro-protester writers are.

thanks to trex for the information that I asked for.


Posted by: MatthewRMarler on June 21, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

It's sad the GOP is trying everything possible to try to get into Iran.

If the GOP are so concerned about people being mistreated, why didn't they do something in the African countries when they had power? Are the GOP afraid of going into African countries?

The GOP also didn't go into China, Palestine, nor did they try to go into Mexico for the human rights abuses there.

It's a TRAP!!! The GOP is pushing to go into Iran not for their own reasons, but, also because Israel wants to go there.

You would think the GOP learned its lesson by going into Iraq and Afghanistan. They constantly want to go into these countries not knowing the language, culture, or anything about the people.

IMO, the GOP needs to stay out of everyone's business. Especially when Chavez and Calderone/Fox intimidated them and they did nothing.

Posted by: annjell on June 21, 2009 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

"this is a situation featuring neocons vs. everyone else"

Another way of putting it: the factually challenged versus the rest of us who have to live in reality.

Posted by: Goose on June 21, 2009 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Let's call these republicans what they are: Stupid opportunists. They thought they could jump on a foreign policy mistake for personal gain, despite the good of the country. This is an issue to remember.

Posted by: Sparko on June 21, 2009 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

And in case the GOP doesn't realize, Obama wasn't the mistaken one. . .

Posted by: Sparko on June 21, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

One of the defining characteristics of the neo-cons has been that they take no responsibility for anything they say. Even when they made policy, consequences didn't concern them. It wasn't their fault. Now that they have been consigned to the shadow world of newspaper columns, blogs, and speeches at think tanks, their words have zero real-world consequences. They still bleat away, but no one listens, and no one cares, except bookers for Sunday talk shows and their fellow 25% dead-enders. So, it's easy for them to be bellicose and talk tough. Responsibility is for other people.

Posted by: jrw on June 21, 2009 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

the cycle of mourning

Something to watch for, next week and next month.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on June 21, 2009 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

-be interesting to see how fast elRushbo throws Noonan and Will overboard tomorrow. . .

Posted by: DAY on June 21, 2009 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

On another note, the GOP keep complaining that we (the country) have no money. No money for Health Care, or any other social program.

Are they insinuating going into Iran will be free?

Oh wait, the Oil Money from Iran will pay for it!

Posted by: annjell on June 21, 2009 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

"... let's not forget it's mostly just a certain part of the party".

I disagree. There is no differentiating the GOP when the chips are down. And they are always down. They are ALL the same breed of cat, an extremely vicious hunter-predator breed, an efficient killer of democratic impulse and initiative.

Posted by: JL on June 21, 2009 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

I hope my comments don't appear harsh.

It's just that I don't understand how the GOP keep causing more destruction than good.

We have homeless people here in the U.S. due to Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, the mortgage industry.

There are homeless people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan due to the wars. The Palestinians are still dealing with their plight.

IMO, none of these people are better off.

It reminds me of one of the GOP's comments after the hurricane, "the government can't help you."

All this does is cause resentment, anger, and hatred. For some reason, the GOP doesn't get this.

It brings tears to my eyes when I see what the Iranians are willing to go through to bring about change - this has made me have a great deal of respect for them.

I have a lot of respect for them(Iranians) because they are willing to stand up and fight for their rights instead of fleeing to another country.

I see this as something the GOP is good at "Divide and Destroy." Yet, this is something they cannot seem to come to grips with. Obviously, they don't see the world as it is, how it is, and why it is.

Posted by: annjell on June 21, 2009 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

I found out why the neo-cons are criticizing Obama. It involves unicorns.

Posted by: Jason on June 21, 2009 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is acting just right doesn't anyone remember how that crazy north korean went balistic when he was called part of the axis of evil. Obama understands human nature much better than the repubs who go for any thing that they think they can attack obama on and just show their ignorance.

Posted by: Walter Johnson on June 21, 2009 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

I don't usually go here but:

Lindsey Graham = Pussy-bitch..

That guy better never get within 10 feet of me.

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on June 21, 2009 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

"The president is being roundly criticized for insufficient, rhetorical support for what's going on over there."

Oh really, Maybe he should have said "roundly criticized by craven conservative hacks" I don't hear from anyone else.

Posted by: Saint Zak on June 21, 2009 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Finally on Iran, someone who thinks emerges from the right. Thank you George. Well, well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsYQ1YA_a1M

Posted by: Trish on June 21, 2009 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

What is the stylebook for WaMo when it comes to "neoconservative" and "conservative"?

I personally remember when the word "conservative" meant something, and when non-idiots (e.g. John Cole or Dan Larison) get thrown into the same bucket with Lindsey Graham, realityworld takes a hit.

Posted by: ThresherK on June 21, 2009 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

The neo-cons are a lot like the old British empire folks toward the end. They still see America as able to do anything it wants with a threat and a gun.

What the neo-cons fail to appreciate is that the AK-47 (and its progeny) and the IED have leveled the playing field in the second and third world. The days when white men armed with repeating rifles faced "natives" armed with spears are long gone. Untrained local patriots armed with AKs and IED's can tie up the most sophisticated military in the world for years on end.

These days diplomacy, and a genuine understanding of the world combined with an appreciation of the unique contributions of all people are required for any successful foreign policy. Fortunately, unlike his predecessor, our current President seems to have a flare for diplomacy. His life experiences have equipped him with an appreciation for others. We are in good hands.

Ignore the neo-cons. Their days are as long gone as the days of the British empire. They are just too stupid or invested in obsolete thinking to understand their folly. Sadly some of them write well. Even more sadly some in the media equate good writing with good ideas.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 21, 2009 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Those days never existed to begin with. Look up Gandamak and Isandlwana for examples.

Posted by: Ben Brown on June 21, 2009 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

The fallacy of false equivalency is underlined here. The need to contrast Obama and pretty much everyone of substance with "an opposing point of view" means the neo-cons get the other chair at the table. Instead of being required to support their marginal philosophy, they get to bully and hector on an even plane. it's all horse-sh*t in the end.

Posted by: eyeball on June 22, 2009 at 6:49 AM | PERMALINK

For years the neo-cons have told us that there is no point talking to the Iranians. They are beyond speech and can not be trusted. Now it seems speech has power to change the Iranian regime. What am I missing?

Posted by: Stephen Brown on June 22, 2009 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that the US President - the most powerful person in the world - can "speak truth to power" seems to show a misunderstanding of the phrase.

Posted by: TG Chicago on June 22, 2009 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: Inwzltui on July 15, 2009 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK



Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM

buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly