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Preview: Comments on The Conversation: The loyal opposition

Comments on The Conversation: The loyal opposition

Updated: 2017-01-30T16:36:00.994-05:00


No it isn't. Of course, your opponent will always...


No it isn't. Of course, your opponent will always see your weakness before you will.

Oh, FN, your first post, 28 paragraphs, 989 words.


It's a sad day when the conservatives understand t...


It's a sad day when the conservatives understand the fight within the party better than we do:

Thanks for stopping by, Geoff. I'll check out the ...


Thanks for stopping by, Geoff. I'll check out the WM piece.

Rich makes me wretch, too, and for essentially the...


Rich makes me wretch, too, and for essentially the same reasons as FN: He's lazy, pilfering his stands on issues from others and throwing up icons instead of arguments. His smarminess leaves me unable to appreciate those moments when I think he's got something right. Which are rare.

Hitchens is better, though it bothers me that more and more he sidesteps the best arguments of those who oppose him by conceding their points - he shrugs, says “Me too” and instead carves apart easy targets like Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan. Then he gloats as if he's just fought off the whole continuum of opposition to this war. As if either of those two represent a reasoned criticism of the decision to invade Iraq and of the war's miserable management.

It is one thing to equate Sheehan with Moore; both are guilty of the same polarizing, sloganeering bullshit that Rich (and most of our pundits, on both sides) can't resist. It's quite another to saddle everyone who thinks this war might have been fought another way, or avoided altogether, with responsibility for Sheehan and Moore's clowning.

(Let me add not-so-quickly that I dislike Sheehan's protest only because, like FN, I think she's parroting some easy partisan bullshit instead of making a careful argument that reaches out to those who are suspicious of extremes. And some of what she's parroting is reductive and offensive, in much the same way that it is reductive and offensive to suggest that the antiwar movement is a front for a cabal of Michael Moores and Cindy Sheehans -- though Sheehan's cant has an especially unsavory history. But her memory of her son belongs to her and none of us can know whether she's honoring it or dishonoring it, notwithstanding what other members of the family, who have their own opinions to trumpet, might say. She's entitled to any demonstration she'd like, and any debate about "honor" or "dishonor" is, at best, a change of subject.)

In any case, I didn't mean to go on. I just wanted to give a link to an interesting piece about loyal opposition. I haven't read the book yet:

Oh, one more thing about Frank Rich. Despite his j...


Oh, one more thing about Frank Rich. Despite his jab at the "Ivy League" hubris manifested by McNamara and Bush's I&II, it's important to remember his own pedigree.

From his official biography:

"He earned a B.A. degree in American History and Literature graduating magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1971. At Harvard, he was editorial chairman of The Harvard Crimson, an honorary Harvard College scholar, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the recipient of a Henry Russell Shaw Traveling Fellowship."

I don't know if your blood gets much bluer. He would have been 19 during the Tet Offensive. Deferred to finish college, he saw fit to edit the Crimson while others his age fought and died in Vietnam.

Remember that the next time he raises the "chickenhawk" argument (as he's been doing most recently).

Frankly Rich, a retrospect:"Since the administrati...


Frankly Rich, a retrospect:

"Since the administration tightly metes out the news from Afghanistan, we can only hope that the war there is being executed more effectively than the war here — even as Mr. Rumsfeld and his generals now tell us that the Taliban, once expected to implode in days, are proving Viet- Cong-like in their intractability."

Oct. 27, 2001.

Kabul fell 16 days later after a swift, unrelenting push led by U.S. special forces and their partners, the anti-Talibi coalition.

"Kuwait could very well become a quagmire."

1991, on the eve of battle in Kuwait. The ground war, famously, lasted less than three days.

But, oddly, Rich didn't originally envision today's Iraq as a "quagmire" or something akin to Vietnam. Instead, these words from 2003, where he saw a lot of Johnson-like bluster from ol' W, but no incompetence:

"It's this high-handedness that echoes the run-up to Vietnam. The analogy can be overdone, certainly, since today's armed forces are highly unlikely to find Iraq a military quagmire and no one can even try to make a case for the legitimacy of Saddam's regime. But . . . the arrogance of this C.E.O. administration . . . recalls the hubris of those Ivy League and corporate 'whiz kids' on Robert McNamara's Pentagon team who saw themselves as better and brighter than the rest of us."

As for what I would like from my Commander in Chie...


As for what I would like from my Commander in Chief, I shall defer to Andy Krepinevich:

Or one could read Hitchens. Unlike Rich, one sees ...


Or one could read Hitchens. Unlike Rich, one sees here a very cogent defense of the war, from a leftist's point of view. Indeed, it's one that this leftist happens to problem with Rich is that he's been so wrong, so often, about the use of force anywhere, including Afghanistan, that's he's difficult to read now.I know it's important that our moral and military compasses are tuned to the lodestone of fat, effete Manhattan columnists big on britches and low in expertise on foreign policy or defense, but this is what you've given me to work with today.Rich.First there is the tiring mantra about the Old Mother Courage foil, Cindy Sheehan, without any mention about her son's opinions in the matter. I mean, the man gave his life for his ideals, one would think his thoughts might apply here.But he's conveniently removed by Jihadist murderers (not, as his mother would suggest, George Bush, Halliburton or Jews), so he can be properly hung on Rich's trophy room of an essay. See the brave moose, now dead. Bush lied, he died. You say he chose his profession, and his war, and his president, and much of his family says his mother is lying and abusing his good name? Kindly look away, readers, at truth. She has no place here in Rich's hallowed hall of trophies.Nor do I see "utter bankruptcy" on the part of Democrats who voted to authorize war. Everyone forgets that the intelligence of the time strongly pointed to a heavily armed Saddam Hussein housing a rogue's gallery of terrorists, including Abu Nidal and my favorite bloodthirsty Islamist, Abu Musab al Zarqawi.That Zarqawi was Bin Laden's favorite affiliate, that he continues to communicate with the Salafist leadership, that he fights a proxy war for the Jihadists and was armed and pointed at the Kurds and northern Shia by Hussein need not be mentioned by Rich.There is nothing to see here! Please keep moving!While he trumpets the set up of Sens. Hagel and McCain, he fails to add the punchline: They don't want to exit Iraq. Ditto retired general Barry McCaffrey, who frets about the manpower problems with the National Guard.In fact, this trio of distinguished war heroes doesn't even want a timeline for leaving. They simply want a competent strategy to win, or at least some sort of way to tell how we're doing, or, at the very least, some adult talk from the Commander in Chief justifying the continuing bloodshed and financial largess.Me, too. Unfortunately, you go to war with the president you have, and this one's a loser. But at least he's not a coward, which brings us back to Rich and some of his essay's strongest pillars."As another politician from the Vietnam era, Gary Hart, observed last week, the Democrats are too cowardly to admit they made a mistake three years ago."As another (please, make this generation go away) politician from the Vietnam era, Gary Hart avoided the draft, too cowardly to fight in Indochina. But he's a convenient stool for Rich to rest his fat, unreflective ass rather than getting up and making a more important point.Which is: Rich has opposed every use of American power since Vietnam, when he took the Gary Hart route of military service. There's nothing wrong with that. Just grow a pair and admit that you oppose any use of force, even the very existence of a large, powerful military, and be done with it. Don't dance around. If you're as pacifistic as the Quaker Oats icon, then just say it.Don't hide behind some notion that America should pull out of Iraq because we might need the troops for Iran or Korea. Rich will oppose their use there, just as surely as he did their deployment to Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia and the first war in the Gulf.Now, just a few years ago one could shrug off the man-boobed NYT gnat as just one more child of the 60s who has yet to realize military force ca[...]