Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Oh, for crying out loud, David Frum!

On the occasion of Bob Novak's death, must you still stubbornly defend your errors?
Robert Novak was respected and liked by many, and their memories of him are the memories that deserve hearing today.
But there is one thing about Robert Novak that I have had in mind for some time, and today seems the appropriate moment to say it.
Novak was one of the people I discussed in a still-controversial 2003 article for National Review, “Unpatriotic Conservatives.”
That piece analyzed a group of conservatives so radically alienated from their country that not even the events of 9/11 could rally them to her cause. . . .
OK, I'll stop there and if anyone wants to read the rest, they can. But David, do you not see what was wrong with your 2003 article, and what is even more wrong with your untimely defense of it?

First, you did not "discuss" or "analyze" Novak, Buchanan, et al., you attacked them, and in exactly the same manner that liberals have attacked conservatives as far back as Barry Goldwater or even Joe McCarthy.

You did what a friend of mine calls the "Ransom Note Method," cutting and pasting like a kidnapper gluing together words clipped from magazines. You then presented this assemblage as if it constituted a complete file of the essential facts that told us who these men really were.

Nudge, nudge: "They're all Jew-haters!"

Unfair and unfortunate, especially considering that on the issue which was even then being weighed in the balance -- the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq -- their doubts were ultimately vindicated.

'Cakewalks' Have Consequences
More than 3,000 U.S. troops died to implement that policy, thousands more were wounded, billions of taxpayer dollars were expended and, while the eradication of Saddam's Ba'athist regime was inarguably a good thing, patriotic Americans may reasonably ask, "Was it really worth the cost?"

The domestic political consequences have included the mobilization of a powerful left-wing grassroots movement, the loss of a congressional majority it had taken Republicans 40 years to gain, and the election of the most left-wing Democrat president in our nation's history. As to the foreign-policy results, we can only speculate what mischief may ensue in however many years it takes for American voters to get their bellyful of liberal misrule and regain their traditional good sense. (Assuming, of course, that the Bush-damaged GOP can yet be salvaged as a workable majority coalition, which is at this point a hypothetical proposition.)

For these multiple woes, then, leading advocates of the Iraq invasion must bear responsibility just as, had the invasion turned out to be the "cakewalk" that Ken Adelman notoriously predicted, its advocates would now be fighting over who should get credit for its success.

While future developments might conceivably lead historians to conclude that the Bush administration's policy was altogether wise and beneficial, as matters stand now, the Iraq invasion bids fair to rank as the most tragic folly of imperial overreach since the Athenian expedition to Sicily in 415 B.C.

How, then, can you possibly consider it "appropriate" on the occasion of Novak's death, to attempt to defend your foolish attack on him and others when even many of the most staunch Republican loyalists -- men and women who defended the Bush administration through thick and thin -- now freely admit that Novak, et al., were right all along?

Say what you will, David, but facts are stubborn things, and the facts are not on your side.

Ex-Democrats and GOP Cliques
Let us now leave to future historians to argue the merits of the Iraq invasion, just as Civil War buffs still endlessly argue whether Longstreet or Lee was correct about the tactical situation on July 2, 1863. (Most folks down home derogate Longstreet as a faithless scalawag, but I believe Lee was both sincere and correct when he said he was entirely responsible for that defeat.)

Military considerations aside, then, what of your attempt to smear Novak, along with Buchanan and others both living and dead, with the odious taint of anti-Semitism?

This involves an old intra-Republican feud to which I'd paid little attention before arriving in Washington. Having been a Democrat all my life until 1994 (a story I've told in bits and pieces over the past 18 months, including a thumbnail version at The American Spectator), I little suspected that what I had once dreaded as a mighty Republican monolith was in actuality a middle-school playground of antagonistic cliques.

David Horowitz and Peter Collier have described their own shock, upon leaving their New Left allegiances to support Reagan in the mid-1980s, at discovering the vicious factionalism inside the GOP. To its enemies, the Republican Party inevitably appears to be a carefully managed, well-funded, brutally efficient political machine, staffed entirely by ruthless automatons acting in synchronized lockstep.

This powerful illusion of Republican unity vanishes as soon as, dillusioned by the latest Democratic Party betrayal, the ex-Democrat ventures inside the GOP camp and tries to join up. Immediately, the arriviste finds himself pulled this way and that, urged to pledge his loyalty to one clique, one cause, one ideological posse within the intramural league of Republican rivalries.

Paleo, Neo, Me-o, My-o
Little did I suspect, while yet a Democrat, how bitterly Republicans were torn by Operation Desert Storm. While I thrilled at this brilliant military victory that vanquished the Vietnam Syndrome, from my purely political standpoint as a moderate Democrat, that war had the tragic consequence of destroying the presidential hopes of Sam Nunn.

Meanwhile, unknown to me, the GOP faction led by Buchanan had opposed Desert Storm from the beginning. By the nature of the arguments the Buchanan faction made against that war, they left themselves exposed to the charge of anti-Semitism. We might say, as Antony said of the accusation that Caesar was ambitious, "If it were so, it was a grievous fault, and grievously hath Buchanan answer'd it."

As in every previous and subsequent engagement between the paleocons and neocons, the paleos emerged the embittered losers, while the neos went on to new heights of prestige and influence.

However, allow me now to suggest, David, that in the Babylonian debacle that destroyed Karl Rove's "permanent Republican majority," the neocons have now suffered their Philippi.

You cannot recover from this self-inficted disaster, my friend. Whatever the future holds for the GOP, if the Republicans should recapture their Reaganesque mojo, displace the vaunting Pelosi Democrats and roll onward to new glories, I pray that they will never again commit the errors of Bushism, failing to discern wise counsel from folly merely because the fools were clever enough to accuse the wise of crude bigotry.

Plagiarize Yourself Much?
Your 2003 "Unpatriotic Conservatives" article that defamed Novak and other critics of the Iraq war -- some of them arguable less innocent than Novak -- was not your first exercise in that sort of attack. I am grateful to my friend Daniel McCarthy for having filled the gap in my knowledge on this score:
While at the [Wall Street] Journal, Frum accepted the freelance assignment that would make his name: a 1991 cover story for The American Spectator attacking Pat Buchanan.
The article, "Conservative Bully Boy," described Buchanan as "everything couth conservatives want to escape" and took aim not just at Buchanan himself -- then contemplating a run against George H.W. Bush for the 1992 Republican presidential nomination -- but also at his paleoconservative and libertarian supporters, including Paul Gottfried, Murray Rothbard, and Thomas Fleming, among others. Frum accused Buchanan of "sly Jew-baiting" -- so sly, evidently, that it slipped past Jewish intellectuals Rothbard and Gottfried, but not the ever vigilant Frum. . . .
The hit on Buchanan earned Frum a book deal with The New Republic's imprint at Basic Books; indeed, Frum reused much of his material on Buchanan and the paleos for Dead Right's chapter on "Nationalists."
So, a dozen years before your 2003 National Review cover, you had deployed the same theme in the same situation. When America was at war under a Republican president, you denounced conservative critics of the war in a way calculated to inflict maximum damage on their influence. What could be more damaging than the suspicion of anti-Semitism?

It is worth mentioning here that I have various disagreements with Buchanan and some of his supporters. For starters, I am a philo-Semite so staunchly pro-Israel as to make Netanyahu look like a squish. Also, as was true of Novak, I am a resolute free-marketeer who has no use for tariffs, labor unionism, and other such economic deviations to which the Buchananites are sadly prone. (I admit an uncouth nostalgia for the gold standard, but some Austrian School friends assure me that this is actually quite orthodox.)

Despite these various disagreements, however, I cannot bring myself to say that Buchanan and his followers are evil. Nor, in the grand scheme of things, would I consider their support for the Republican Party a net liability to the GOP. If you take a look at the Tea Party crowds and townhall "angry mobs" now striking terror in Democratic hearts, they look a lot more like Buchananites than Frumians.

All of which is to say, as I look at the conservative movement going forward, I think we have seen an end to the era when populists and traditionalists -- Bradford, Sobran, Brimelow, etc. -- would periodically be scapegoated and purged to maintain the standard of "respectability" necessary to sustain the support of a tiny clique of highbrow elitists.

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Elitists!
No more of that. From here on out -- and I think I speak now for a very broad consensus of conservative opinion -- we're rolling like the Hell's Angels on a Labor Day weekend run to Monterrey. If this flagrant contempt for elite opinion causes panic among the effete snobs at the Wall Street Journal, if it offends the tender sensibilities of gentle souls like Peggy Noonan, David Brooks and Rich Lowry -- well, screw them.

And in an ironic way, David, you have helped make possible the new bad-boy conservatism of the future. Let's list a few names of those you have denounced in recent months:Having done your best to alienate the widest possible swath of conservatives -- thinking that Obama's popularity would justify a purge of those clamorous talk-radio types -- you now deem the occasion of Novak's demise "appropriate" to revisit your old grudge against conservative critics of the Iraq war.

Alas, no one important to the GOP's future is listening to you now. If your conservative credibility were a bank, David, the FDIC would shut it down. So far as any ability to influence rank-and-file conservative Republicans is concerned, you're as bankrupt as Kathleen Parker.

What really makes your renewed ax-grinding against Novak's ghost so risible, David, is your accusation that Novak and friends were "so radically alienated from their country that not even the events of 9/11 could rally them to her cause."

David: You're Canadian.

Case closed. Court adjourned. You are remanded to the custody of Judge Ann Coulter for sentencing.

UPDATE: My previous discussion of the Frum/Novak/Levin feud has now been front-paged at Hot Air.

UPDATE II: More Novak obituary tributes piling up, including this one from American Spectator editor R. Emmett Tyrrell:
He is one of the most loyal contributors that The American Spectator has ever had. Some who have written for us never let it be known in their bios lest they give offense to polite company. Bob never hid his relationship with us and mentions it often in his stupendously informative memoir, The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington. . . . He served on our Board of Directors, never flinching when the government haled us before a grand jury or when and the Clintonistas infiltrated into the media tales of our treasonous behavior. During all this hullabaloo I innocently asked Bob what the mainstream journalists thought of us. The mortar fire was pretty heavy. "They think you're obnoxious," he responded. Gee, Bob have a heart!
He actually did have a heart and a strong conscience. On the one matter that temporarily ended our friendship he was proved wrong or at least sort of wrong. When that became apparent to him he suggested we dine and smoke the peace pipe. He admitted he had been wrong. I insisted that he had only been a bit wrong. Our friendship was renewed. In all my years as an editor I have only known one other acquaintance to come forward and admit to being wrong. And again, Bob was only sort of wrong, but he had the self-confidence to admit error. He also had the intellect and general competence to fall into error rarely.
Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Mr. Tyrrell's indefatiguable right-hand man, Wlady Pleszczynski, posts this video tribute:

Special note to David Frum: I noticed your most recent e-mail in my inbox but, due to my chronic e-mail overflow (which my intern has promised to fix as soon as he returns from his holiday jaunt to Florida), it was auto-deleted before I had a chance to read it.

Please don't take a non-reply, or the reiteration of my criticisms, as unfriendly gestures. I still want to be your friend, but your relentless ax-grinding against the paleos and populists is passed its sell-by date. I have done what I can to try to persuade my paleo friends to relinquish their own ax-grinding, and intend to do more in that direction.

However, if there is to be a "New Majority" -- a conservatism that can win again, as you say -- it cannot be built on the basis of an elitist disdain for those unruly grassroots activists. Majority coalitions are not built by a process of subtraction, which is what your anti-populist agenda represents. The fact that Bill Kristol continues to say nice things about Sarah Palin should be a warning signal of how badly you're isolating yourself.

I'll be in town Thursday, if you'd like to upbraid me in person for this criticism.


  1. Great post, Stacy. One can tell you really didn't enjoy writing these things, in the same way as you do in your posts about David Brooks, but they needed to be said.

  2. Strong concur on your over-all point that reading people out of the Republican Party or more importantly the conservative movement, as Frum/Ivy League snobs do, is wrong-headed, and in several directions destructive.

    On an internal point, not affecting this over-all one, it is possible to report from first-hand experience that our Soldiers who have carried the battle in Iraq and Afghanistan and borne its sting are extremely pleased with their accomplishments.

    This is an important piece of evidence affecting a determination whether the Multi-National, American-led take-down first of Saddam then of AQ and Sadr/IRGC has been worth the cost.

    A salient illustration of our Soldiers' self-confidence and self-satisfaction in this regard has been the re-up rate for the last five or six years, especially among OIF and OEF veterans. I have several pictures of that phenomenon, in fact, but the public statistics regarding it are self-illuminating. Incidental reports I hear from the ground are that the rate fluctuates over 80% and sometimes into the 90%s.

    Currently, and partly because of the civilian jobs market, but also because of the immense success of our Armed Forces personnel in OIF and OEF, especially the former (the latter is a fundamentally different and materially prodigious problem to be solved, and all problems can be solved), the enlistment rate also is at record highs. Recruiters are having to close shop on time every day and not work weekends, as had been happening -- at the same time the re-up rates remained at historical highs.

    Not only so, but the education level of volunteers, for both Officer and Enlisted ranks, is at an all-time high. BAs, MAs and PhDs are volunteering as Enlisted and Officer Corps (I am not familiar with the patterns for Marines, Sailors and Airmen, but I suspect they are comparable).

    No organization which has gone into the wrong place at the wrong time to do the wrong thing in support of a wrong policy experiences this kind of support six years into efforts of those descriptions. No organization which has been being bad from being badly ordered experiences the citizen-support being conferred on our United States Armed Forces precisely for the jobs that have done and continue doing in OIF, OEF and many other places around the world.

    Men and women do not volunteer to fight for what is wrong. The human moral compass works, especially over time through experience.

  3. What you've summed up in this post is the EXACT reason I left the College Republicans in the mid 90s...Thank You, Mr. McCain.

    I'm curious...did you put talcom powder on your hand before you pimp-slapped Mr. Frum so delightfully hard?

  4. Stacy:

    I don't know Buchanan beyond what he writes & says over the air, so I have no way of knowing whether he is de jure anti-semitic. "De facto" is another issue entirely - Buchanan almost seems to revel in saying things to create that impression.

  5. I'm second to no one in my contempt for David Frum, but.......

    The trope that "The Jews are behind it" is a strong one on the "paleo" right as well as the far left. It's wrong, it's stupid, but Novak and Buchanan both adhered to it. I don't think I would call them unpatriotic but I don't see anything wrong with calling them out on it.

    The Iraq occupation was badly done for reasons too involved to discusss here but that does not mean the invasion and destruction of the Saddam Hussein regime was poorly considered or unjustified. Valid criticisms may be offered but "it was all done at the behest of the Jews, to help Israel" is not one of them.

    Mr. McCain, despite your position on the Lee/Longstreet question you seem to be an advocate of the "Lost Cause." Strangely enough the American culture as a whole seems to be with you, but if you're attempting a more discerning view of things wouldn't it be better to set this aside?

  6. Mr. (Other) McCain is of course correct that the Iraq war was a disaster for America and the political fallout has devastated conservatives. Neocons don’t seem to be very upset about either development, but particularly the latter and for a very good reason. Neocons are not conservatives, but are left over LBJ liberals. William Kristol, a former employer of Frum has praised FDR, Truman, JFK and LBJ repeatedly.

    If I claimed to be a pro-Israel as some Neocons do, I wouldn’t follow the policies that Neocons do for the simple reason that those policies are bad for America and thus hurt Israel, which depends on America, due to its political isolation. For this reason, some of my Jewish friends and relatives (by marriage) tell me they don’t think the Neocons actually care about Israel or they wouldn’t support the policies that they do. Instead, they claim that the Neocons cynically invoke Israel in order to gain an advantage over others (e.g., paleos etc.) who might present competition for power.

    Uninformed “conservatives” who think that the pride of our military personnel in the difficult (impossible?) job they do justifies the left wing policies advocated by Neocons are of course mistaken, and getting the cart of strategic policy in front of the horse doing the work assigned it.

    Imposing democracy by military effort in the Middle East is next to impossible and isn’t under any circumstances a “conservative” policy. Besides that, if you took accurate polls of Muslims on the street you would find that most of them would support more radical Islamic policies than the tyrants we are told to replace by military force.

    It is long over due for conservative to wake up to the fact that they are losing their country and the Neocons are on the other side, against us and against our traditions, our values and our legitimate national self interest.

    The Neocons wanted to purge paleos, traditionalists, libertarians and old fashioned Republican realists. I say lets turn the tables on them and purge the Neocons and let them go back where they belong, to the party of Wilson, FDR, LBJ, Clinton and Obama. Whether or not the Neocons are “mad men”, as crazy as they appear, that would at least be truth in advertising.

  7. My Dear Mr. McCain

    IF you are on the left,"We Don't Need No Stinkin' Elitists!" is dead wrong.
    The 3 top left wing presidents the last 30 years , all born with silver spoons in their mouths (as folk in my clan sarcastically/cynically say) graduated from Ivy League schools. Naming names: Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2! everyone an elitist. Every one on the left.

    All three fooled Americans at least a little. ( a lot int the case of "Read my lips!...taxes!"Clinton never got even half the vote; elected with pluralities both times (for you elitists that means he never even got 50% ).
    Some people figure elitist know more/better for no other reason than the fact that they are "elite".

    Rod Stanton
    Cerritos, Cal

  8. "the tragic consequence of destroying the presidential hopes of Sam Nunn"

    You say that like it's a bad thing

    "I am a resolute free-marketeer who has no use for ... labor unionism"

    You say that like it's possible.

  9. Frum frustrates the hell out of me. Most days, it just seems like he's jealous of the RINOs who get to write for the big magazines and appear on the talk shows, the ones who tell us what the Republicans ought to be doing if they want to win -- giving conservatives advice on how to become the permanent minority party. Frum has in mind this "New Majority" of people who don't stand for much of anything.

  10. While I don't agree with you regarding the Iraq War, Mr. McCain, I can at least see your points.

    However, I am totally in agreement about Frum. He seems to have a "Mean Girls" attitude about politics--that if someone's "approval-disapproval" rating is negative, that it is politically wise to attack them, or at least to wink at those attacking them.

    However, the American people, as a whole--as opposed to Frum and his effeminate friends--aren't mentally trapped in a high school game of "pick on the nerds." Most of them actually have a concept of decency. For instance, even most who don't like Rush Limbaugh would get quite angry about shutting him down.

    Frum needs to grow up.

  11. "If your conservative credibility were a bank, David, the FDIC would shut it down. So far as any ability to influence rank-and-file conservative Republicans is concerned, you're as bankrupt as Kathleen Parker."


  12. Hello Robert,
    Fine piece as usual,(I especially liked the Iraq/Sicily parallel) and I totally agree except for a couple of things.

    I haven't done my own entry of Novak, because I'd just as soon let the dead lie, and Novak was indeed a fine columnist on many issues. He always knew where a lot of the bodies were buried. But the fact is that as far as I'm concerned, both Novak and Pat Buchanan have evidenced very questionable views on Jews.

    All one needs to do is google either of these gentlemen and 'Israel' and read the biased screeds referenced therein to form one's own opinion on the matter.

    While Israel is hardly sacrosanct from criticism,it's been my experience that if you scratch most 'anti-Zionists' and harsh critics of the only Jewish state in the world, you almost always find a Jew hater - and normally, you don't have to dig to deeply.

    One of WF Buckley's most courageous and important achievements with NR was to turn the anti-Semites haunting the edges of the conservative movement into a fringe element, where they belong. Nowadays, such creatures almost entirely identify with the Left.

    In Novak's case there was undoubtedly a psychological impetus as well.He started out life as a Jew and later became a violent apostate, converting to Christianity with all that implies. Read up on Torqemada, the priest who led the Inquisition and convinced Ferdinand and Isabella to expel the Jews from Spain. Similar pattern.

    Oh, on G'burg, aside from Lee,FWIW I venture to think that the key to the defeat was Gen. Dick Ewell. After pushing the Union forces out of Gettysburg, he sat there and refused to occupy the high ground outside the town, the terrain that was the key to the battle..which meant that the North occupied them instead and had the advantage in successfully defending them against Lee's army.

    I can almost guarantee that if Stonewall Jackson had lived, he would have pushed his troops up those ridges in nothing flat. And that would have been a very different battle!


  13. While Israel is hardly sacrosanct from criticism,it's been my experience that if you scratch most 'anti-Zionists' and harsh critics of the only Jewish state in the world, you almost always find a Jew hater - and normally, you don't have to dig to deeply.

    Should we take your word for it then that we need not really worry about the nonexistent distinction between those who criticize the policies of Israel or resent the control it seems to exert over own government and those who wish they had lived during the forties so they could have manned Hitler's gas chambers? Thanks for so generously clearing that up for us.

  14. Rob wrote: I can almost guarantee that if Stonewall Jackson had lived, he would have pushed his troops up those ridges in nothing flat. And that would have been a very different battle!

    Indubitably so. Indeed, Jackson had been killed at Chancellorsville while reconnoitering in contemplation of a night attack -- such things were very rare during that war -- and, once Ewell gathered his stragglers and reassembled on the evening of July 1, such an attack might have broken the Union position, forcing a retreat to the Pipe Creek line, for which Meade had already made preparations.

    Yet the tactical disagreement between Lee and Longstreet is key to understanding what went wrong for the Confederates at Gettysburg. Lee mentions in his after-battle letter to President Davis that his impaired health prevented him from properly reconnoitering the Union line and, in his orders to Longstreet, it is clear that Lee failed to see how far southward the Union position had been extended overnight.

    What Longstreet saw, and Hood did as well, was that the Union position was exposed to a turning movement by the southern flank (i.e., the Union left) below the Round Tops. This would have forced a retreat, presenting the opportunity for the pursuing Confederates to fall upon any fragment of the Union force exposed along the way. This might have been especially fruitful in terms of capturing the enemy's arms and supplies, as Jackson so routinely did in his campaigns.

    And, indeed, it seemed as if Lee at Gettysburg temporarily forgot the strategic purposes which were the avowed objectives of the Pennsylvania campaign. Had Meade been compelled to fall back to the Pipe Creek line, Lee might have demonstrated against that position with part of his army, while sending detachments off to gather supplies and wreak havoc on Union communications and other industrial infrastructure -- especially railways -- in that region of Pennsylvania.

    Yet, as Longstreet said of his commander, Lee's blood was up, and he was resolved to strike the enemy where he was, rather than to maneuver for the possibility of a better position. And, considering how close Lee came to pulling it off -- if Pickett and Pettigrew had been supported as Lee planned -- it is wrong to be too harsh in criticism (as Longstreet was).

    But all such conversations are best conducted face-to-face with cold beverages in hand, so I will refrain from further argument.

  15. Thrasymachus wrote: Mr. McCain, despite your position on the Lee/Longstreet question you seem to be an advocate of the "Lost Cause." . . . if you're attempting a more discerning view of things wouldn't it be better to set this aside?

    I appreciate your concerns, sir. I referenced that old Lee/Longstreet debate as a well-known example -- familiar to anyone who studies the war -- of how "what-if" disputes over history can be extended endlessly to no good purpose.

    As for the accusation that I belong to the "Lost Cause" school -- the use of this accusation as a political attack against conservatives is a clever tactic of cultural Marxists (i.e., Adorno/Frankfurt School) who seek to divide the Left's opponents by suggesting to conservatives Northerners that their Southern allies are somehow morally inferior, with a hidden racist agenda.

    If cultural Marxism has made such inroads among conservatives that a native Georgian cannot even discuss the history of the Civil War without inviting such suspicions, things have reached a sorry pass indeed. Being misunderstood and misrepresented by the Left -- that I can accept as a natural consequence of opposing the Left. But I get somewhat annoyed at being tut-tutted by fellow conservatives, as I hope you understand.

  16. The notion that the GOP is a steely-eyed legion of ruthless, disciplined, capitalist killer robots is a fraud perpetrated by the Left. Anyone who has spent five minutes at a party meeting will quickly realize that the only thing holding our party together (when in fact it does manage to hang together) is the disgust and hatred we share for the Socialists and their repellent policies. Unfortunately, like Franco's Nationalists, we spend almost as much time venting our spleen on our allies as we do fighting the real enemy.

  17. "Oh, on G'burg, aside from Lee, FWIW I venture to think that the key to the defeat was Gen. Dick Ewell. After pushing the Union forces out of Gettysburg, he sat there and refused to occupy the high ground outside the town, the terrain that was the key to the battle..which meant that the North occupied them instead and had the advantage in successfully defending them against Lee's army.

    I can almost guarantee that if Stonewall Jackson had lived, he would have pushed his troops up those ridges in nothing flat. And that would have been a very different battle!"

    That is Freeman's conclusion and may also be Liddell-Hart's also but I am less sure about that, working from memory.

    I think there was a strong element of Providence in the loss of Jackson. He definitely would have taken that hill -- Little Round Top? -- and that all but certainly would have guaranteed victory for the ANV, who would then have had a clear march into D.C., the goal of the movement. Lincoln's Address reflects the gravity of the disaster (to Federalism) averted and the Providential aspect of the outcome. All of this has been said before. Lee took blame for the failure because that is what a Commander does.

    On Anti-Semitism, a couple of points:

    1- Arabs are Semites. When I hear about Anti-Semitism, I ask, "Towards whom?" The fundamental objection of Arabs to the presence of the State of Israel has always been and will always be that modern "Jews" are either not Semites or only marginally so. This, too, is oft remarked, but it is not popularly factored. Most modern Jews are Germanic or Slav, which is really "Eastern Germanic." Semite all but disappeared from among them long, long ago. A large and more Semitic minority of modern Jews are of African and Iberio-African descent. If Jews want to identify as Semites, fine, but Arabs are more firmly so. But it does not matter. The State of Israel is a fait accompli of Germanic, Slavic and Iberio-African Jews TOGETHER WITH many Arabs and with support of the victorious powers from WWI, and that is that, as is said. Arabs can stuff the racist purity drivel -- which is largely accurate but still drivel because it is racist -- and get along -- as many do in fact, some behind clouds of misleading babble -- or internalize the funeral prayers.

    2- Abraham Joshua Heschel, in two of whose classes I had the honor of participating, loved to ask, "And what is the most Anti-Semitic book in the world?", pause quietly, peruse the room, and then say through an impish grin with serious intent, "The Hebrew Bible!" He was well-known for this theatrical with an important point. Anti-Semitism, Anti-Shmemitism, Semitic Purity, Shmemitic Shmurity -- it all racism and abomination. The State of Israel is a fact and anyone who does not like it can stuff their ego and learn to live with reality. Criticizing the State of Israel is not Anti-Semitism. It is criticism of the State of Israel, which, like all states, is not undeserving of criticism. The problem in the Middle East is not Israel or Arabs or Persians or Americans, Brits, etc. It is not Islam. It is Mohammedan scholars and clergy. Rid the area of those hags and it will settle down instantly and get about the business of living. Doing that is what OIF and OEF are all about.


    MR. BUCKLEY: Well, I think Mr. Rumsfeld is a failed executor. I don’t think he was necessarily involved as an architect of the war.
    I think Mr. Cheney was flatly misled. He believed the business about the weapons of mass destruction. Now, whether Mr. Cheney engaged in Wilsonian dreams about how a democracy would ignite in Iraq and spread ineluctably south or east, I don’t know.

    MS. WOODRUFF: You mentioned that we’ve seen this neoconservative Wilsonian tendency embracing—wanting to export American values around the world, and this has been adopted by the Bush administration. Is this a conservative—

    MR. BUCKLEY: I don’t think so.
    MS. WOORUFF: approach?
    MR BUCKLEY: No, I don’t think so. The neoconservative hubris, which sort of assigns to America some kind of geostrategic responsibility for maximizing democracy, overstretches the resources of a free country. So it is not conservatism. A conservative always measures capabilities and resources, and these are simply incapable—now, even as they were in the 1919—of bringing on democracy.

    MS. WOODRUFF: Do you have a formula for the United States getting out of Iraq? You said it’s failed.

    MR. BUCKLEY: No. No, I don’t have a formula. I think it’s important that we acknowledge in the inner counsels of state that it has failed, so that we should look for opportunities to cope with that failure.
    But I don’t think there is a formula for withdrawal.

  19. Stacy,
    Many thanks for your fine article.

    An off-topic 'bout the overreach in Iraq... It seemed to me, at the time, that the commitment to topple S. Hussein was only the second act [toppling the Taliban was the first] in a much broader play that involved Iran.

    It would have been folly to commence the second act, especially, unless it was followed-up with sufficient sustained US effort to assure that the regime in Iran was toppled by it's own people. 1-2-3. The only "exit strategy" from such a war is total victory, meaning a transformation of the regions politics.

    Instead, we went in, took the ground but then went "surgical"...

    ... all the while ignoring Iranian aggression in Iraq and Lebanon, all the while failing to make the regional case for Iranian internal revolution, all the while fumbling the ball on domestic issues at home, all the while working hard to set-up the Democrats. It wouldn't even defend itself at home against the likes of Plame. The Administration instead went after Ramos and Campeon.

    In retrospect, of course Iraq looks like a fool's errand. We did not finish the job, and quite frankly, one might wonder if Bush had ever had intentions. It seems especially foolish today given just how weak and effeminate this administration is showing itself to be.

    Michael Ledeen has been clearest in this regard: It's yet another time when America stood for Freedom and then betrayed it. Not his words, mind. He has voiced disappointment over the last eight years for US Administration's fecklessness towards the Iranians and paradoxical weakness in the region.

  20. Stacy, your answer above to Thrasymachus and referencing Adorno/Frankfurt School is wonderful. I am not a Southerner, unless one counts Southern California in that distinguished company -- and there is, or was when I grew up there, some reason for doing that -- but I have long wanted words to express the point you make there. It is so very, very important to our health. Your eloquence comes through and supplies the need again! Also concur on your analysis of the events at Gettysburg.

  21. I happen to be a Buchananite in most regards.

    When PJB appeared in Milwaukee during the '92 race, I told him that ALL the anti-PJB screeds were being published in venues supported by, or stated by folks who were beneficiaries of, the Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee. IIRC, there were 3 or 4--maybe more--within 6 months.

    ONE of Frum's hit-pieces appeared in the American Spectator, BTW.

    PJB kinda brushed it off.

  22. The policy of overthrowing the Sunni dominated Iraq regime was incoherent from the get go. Sunni controlled Iraq was the major enemy and containment against Shiite Iran. By removing the Sunni control of Iraq, Iran’s influence and prestige were greatly increased, at no cost to Iran and at great cost to the USA.

    The real short term threat to Israel is the terrorist acts or “irregular warfare” largely but not exclusively supported by Iran. If the goal of the Iraq war was to surround Iran then it was one of the worst plans in history. One doesn’t “surround” an enemy by handing over effective control of one of his worst enemies to him.

    After years of sacrifice, thousands of Americans dead, tens of thousands severely wounded, and trillions of dollars of costs incurred, we haven’t done much to resolve the situation in the Middle East and in fact have made American influence weaker and Israel likely less secure. On the domestic political front as McCain notes, the war has been used to destroy a moderate conservative majority and activate a left wing base. And the fact that many on the liberal left supported the Iraq war/disaster has gone down the memory hole.

    And what do Neocons say in defense of their disastrous policies? They resort to more of the same, smears against those raising substantive policy issues.

    Note that the Obamaites fall back on charges of racism at the drop of a hat. Neocons use the same tactic, always resorting to the same false charges of “anti-Semitism” and “anti-Israelism” and rarely if ever making real arguments and never making arguments rooted in the conservative intellectual tradition. That should tell us something, along with Neocons blaming Bush (for following their advice) and finding fault that “America” hasn’t done enough.

  23. Mr. McCain,

    Please don't refer to me as a "cultural Marxist." As a professional writer your grasp of rhetoric is probably better than mine but I think that is what is called a "straw man."

    I appreciate regional pride but not Confederate chauvinism. Too many paleos think the wrong side won the Civil War or (as the point is repeatedly made at VDare) if your ancestors weren't Protestants from the British Isles you aren't *really* an American.

    I would hope conservatives would leave this to the Civil War magazines and concentrate on the world of today. Frankly I feel a little silly asking but since you haven't clearly stated it what is your position on the Civil War?

  24. However, if there is to be a "New Majority" -- a conservatism that can win again, as you say -- it cannot be built on the basis of an elitist disdain for those unruly grassroots activists.


    One point, though, Stacy — there certainly is room to wonder if the Iraq War was necessary, although since regime change in Iraq was demanded by both parties and sequential administrations, arguing after the fact that it was a mistake at the time strikes me now as somewhere between silly and dumb. You go to war with the army and facts you have; everything we knew at the time showed Iraq as a real thread, as well as a major drain on American resources even with no active ground combat. We couldn't preserve the siege forever.

    The notion that the war was a hideously expensive military disaster, though, it just ahistorical. Every casualty is a tragedy, and we should count ourselves lucky indeed that Americans will volunteer to fight. But the conquest, restoration, and establishment of a new and democratic government in a country the size of France, in just a few years, with fewer casualties than any number of single battles in WWI and WWII, by any historically literate standard, is a cakewalk.

  25. Lee was a great general who made the occasional mistake, Longstreet was a mediocre who general who occasionally did something right. Note that Lee always let Jackson go off his own but stayed with Longstreet to make sure he did the job right.

    One should also note that when given independent command in Tennessee Longstreet was a failure and ended blaming his subordinates (McLaws) for his bad decisions, - something Lee never stooped to.

    As for Frum, your personal liking for the man forbids you to say the truth:

    "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go"

  26. "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go"

    -- Oliver Cromwell to the Rump Parliament, 1653

    Cromwell's memorable denunciation was famously quoted on May 7, 1940, when -- after the policy of appeasement had let to disaster -- Leo Amery said the same words to Neville Chamberlain.

  27. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! As you know, I have made it my blogging mission to take Mr. Frum down. Hey, since he seems to want to take down all conservatives that actually make sense, than take the fight to the enemy, he needs to be taken down. And how dare he take on Mark Levin. Good luck on that! FTR, Robert Novak's stand on the Mid East I think comes from the backing the underdog mentality. I really feel that Pat Buchanan has some streak of anti-Semitism (Jewish) in him. And Pat is way to statist for my taste. Mr. Novak's stand on the Mid East and in realations with Red China do not take away the fact he was and is a giant who will be missed. Mr. Frum is a gnat that needs to be slapped around. Thank you again!

  28. RSM obviously doesn't read for money. Impressive knowledge.

  29. Oh very rich, Stacy. Reference Antony and Caesar and quote Cromwell and then denounce elitism. I get the feeling reading this that you are stuck in some strange vortex between the paleo and neo realms and can't make up your mind how to reconcile the two. Can you have it all ways?

  30. Pat Buchanan is one of my favorite conservatives, although I don't agree with his negative views on Israel. He is not anti-Semitic but he seems to figure that he'll get accused of anti-Semitism by the hacks and leftists anyway, so what's the point in even trying to fight that impression anymore? That is not really a good approach or a good attitude to have, but I think his strengths far outweigh his flaws and he is still one of my political heroes.