Everyone’s Favorite Kind of Crazy

On the topic of that AmCon essay, Jamelle says:

Until realism – or some other school of thought – makes a serious comeback in the GOP, I don’t see neoconservatives taking the chance to duke it out with liberal internationalists and realists in the Democratic Party; not only would they not have much success, but the Democratic rank-and-file are deeply suspicious of neoconservatives, and would probably punish any Democrat who seemed even sympathetic to their cause.

I’m a little less sure of that than he is. A weird quirk of American political culture is that you can hold completely batshit neocon views, but as long as you’re a plain vanilla liberal on domestic policy, then you’re a “moderate.” So while neoconservatism may be inextricably tied to the far right, a lot of their thinking has permeated the center; for example, the overwhelming left-right consensus I mentioned earlier that we should pretty much endorse any military action Israel takes without even thinking twice about it. That’s insane, and yet but showing even a moment’s hesitation in going along with it, Obama inhabits the leftward fringe on that particular issue.

Another good example is Joe Lieberman, although I think the people who handle this sort of thing have finally revoked his centrist membership card. Lieberman’s the kind of guy who solemnly intones about the need to start another world war every single time Ahmadinejad strokes his beard in a way that could be construed as vaguely menacing–but because it’s a Democrat doing that, he is (or was) considered a moderate.

Remember, this is how the Iraq War got sprung on us; this isn’t just Dick Cheney’s war, but Dick Gephardt’s, Evan Bayh’s, Hillary Clinton’s, and so on. Six years on, I’m less than optimistic that the Blue Dogs have learned their lesson; the constant need for warfare is going to be considered a moderate position until the people who know better manage to demonstrate just how radical it is. As Matthew Yglesias would point out, Obama’s very good at framing moderate liberal internationalist policies as being, well, moderate, so there’s some hope–but at the same time, I’m a little worried about Obama’s first term being full of Democratic Senators trying to score points with David Broder and flash their moderate credentials by publicly sacrificing goats to Ares.


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