Dean Esmay’s Ridiculous Liberal Smear

Dean Esmay’s Ridiculous Liberal Smear


I’m sorry…he smears so called “liberals”:

Despite the clearly desperate desire of some to believe that civil war is on the horizon, my sense is that we won’t see a civil war. This will undoubtedly disappoint and infuriate a lot of so-called “liberals” in the U.S. and Europe almost as much as it will infuriate and frustrate the fascist forces within Iraq. But it’s not likely they’re going to get their wish, no matter how badly they want it.

Yes, I’m sure all of the so-called “liberals” are disappointed and infuriated. Tearing their hair out in fact. I’ve also heard they had to put all of their Iraq Civil War celebrations/sex orgies on hold too.

If only the country that all those liberals didn’t want the US to invade in the first place would descend into horrific chaos so even more innocent Iraqis could die! Yes! That’s it. Makes perfect sense.


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  • michael reynolds

    What? Dean’s taking time out from AIDS denialism to talk about Iraq again?

    The guy is into Ann Coulter territory now, just another raving loonie on the fringe. Forget him.

  • Callimachus

    Hate to say it — because you know what I’m going to say — there’s a sort of grim glee that the Germans call schadenfreude, and it was flowing and glowing among the “liberals” I work with. They don’t think in terms of Iraq and Iraqis as real places and real lives. They think in terms of Bush. And they were chortling last night over the failure in Iraq.

    They call themselves “liberals.” I don’t call them that. So “liberals” in quotes it is.

  • michael reynolds

    Have you seen this?

    Apparently Bill Buckley is one of the liberals now.

  • Callimachus

    No, actually, that’s a classical old-school conservative position. This war-and-reconstruction project, at least as it was conceived, was a neo-con operation, and neo-cons famously are liberals who merely changed their affiliations, not their ideals. A Buckley-style conservative always would have been wary of this venture on the certainty of it being overwhelmed by unintended consequences.

    People of liberal mind, like Hitchens, recognize the liberal spirit in using our military might to set a downtrodden people free and bring them hope. For some liberals, that vision was too powerful to resist. Others of you feel differently, for reasons of your own that I won’t pretend to be able to articulate. But to try to split the pro- and anti- factions on Iraq into liberal/conservative is a waste of your time. There are liberals on both sides here.

  • Chris

    How convenient. It now turns out that the war in Iraq, the war that was supported by the entire Republican party, as well as a sizable portion of the electorate, the war that was so vital to our national interest that any Democrat opposing it was labeled a “traitor” and “friend of the terrorists,” is a liberal undertaking. Now that it’s going so badly, all of those liberals who have been vocally opposed to the war for at least a couple of years, if not since before the war started, are suddenly philisophical brethren to the folks in the Bush administration (read: everyone) who started and supported the war. Oh, if only we’d listened to those many conservatives who opposed the war, such as um, er…

  • Chris

    And incidentally, because those who predicted that Iraq would dissolve into civil war may have an “I told you so” attitude as their predictions appear to be coming true, does not mean they celebrate civil war. The kind of vilification that has been heaped on opponents of the war for years now has bred a certain justified resentment. I’ve been called a traitor to my country, and a friend and supporter of terrorists and beheaders, more times than I can count. Pardon me if I don’t care what the war’s die-hard supporters think about me now.

  • Tom Strong

    It seems to me that Dean’s applying a double-standard here. To be consistent, he would also need to call out war-supporters who celebrate events like the Iraqi elections, not because they genuinely sympathize with the Iraqi cause, but because they want to show up those so-called “liberals”.

    Which is to say: he’s made caring about Iraq equal to supporting the war effort. That’s nonsense. I seriously doubt most partisans give two shits about Iraq, no matter which side they’re on. All they care about is winning the argument.

  • Alan Stewart Carl

    The war undertaking was a liberal cause, in the sense that attacking a sovereign nation without provocation is certainly not a conservative choice. Liberalism, in the broad definition unconstrained by current political alignments, is a desire to change the world for the better through transformative movements–it’s a belief that the status quo is often not conducive to a better world. In that way, the theory behind the Iraq war (that we could spur democracy throughout the Mideast) is incredibly liberal.

    That’s not an atempt to pin the blame (where there is blame) on modern-day liberals. It’s just to point out that what we consider “liberal” and what we consider “conservative” are not necessarily tied to the traditional convictions behind those ideologies.

  • Callimachus

    A.S.C. has it right. You have to look past “liberal” as it is used by Rush Limbaugh, and get over the definition of “liberal” as identical to “modern U.S. Democrat” (the Kennedys, whatever they are are hardly “liberal” in any classical sense).

    Where the cause is advancing or allowing the freedom of 24 million people, and opposition to tyranny and rape palaces, that, it seems to me, is a cause for liberals to take up, no matter the compromises and equivocations of the nation that undertakes it.

    It was the spirit that moved the British Navy and the New England abolitionists in the 19th century when they stamped out worldwide slavery everywhere they could reach through military force.

    Any response that, “to attempt change, however beneficial it may seem, ultimately will make matters worse for everyone involved, or else exchange one set of ills for another after great waste of energy and lives” is certainly a valid position, too. But I would not expect it from one who calls himself a liberal. I would expect it from a William F. Buckley, who in the 1960s opposed the Civil Rights Movement (politely, with argument, not with fire hoses) for the same reason. And I admire his consistency.

  • Chris

    Since this is a political blog, and since liberal and conservative do have specific meanings in American politics, I think if you are going to discuss liberals and conservatives “unconstrained by current political alignments” you should a) make that clear in your initial comments and b) ask yourself how relevant your comments are in regard to the post you are commenting on. Are you suggesting that Dean Esmay was referring to liberal’s “unconstrained by current political alignments?”

    And by the way, I’ve spent a little time on Google, and have so far failed to find any writing by Buckley where he criticized the war at its inception on the grounds of his conservative philosophy. I’d be interested to see a link to something, which should be available, since “A Buckley-style conservative always would have been wary of this venture.” Mind you, I don’t make it a point to read many of Buckley’s ramblings, and I actually did expect to find some opposition to the war based on how his philosophy has been characterized here.

    I’m trying not to be too snarky about this, and I realize a lot of traditional conservatives have serious differences with the Bush administration, but I really don’t recall many conservatives, neo or otherwise, saying much critical about our entry into Iraq. I can only conclude that there is almost no one in this country who fits your definition of “conservative,” which leads me to wonder if your definition has any relevance today.

  • Glen Wishard

    There are liberals, and there are so-called “liberals”, as I pointed out here.

    And it’s very important that liberals not feel obligated to leap to the defense of the so-calleds.

    Would you be offended if someone wrote “A lot of so-called conservatives are exploiting the WoT for their own political purposes”.

    As a so-called conservative myself, I wouldn’t regard that as a ridiculous smear against all conservatism. Depending on the so-called conservative in question, I might even agree with it.

  • Callimachus

    You can find plenty of “realist” foreign policy critique of neo-conservatism in Buckley’s Magazine, National Review. Buckley himself, as far as I can determine from a brief online search, has gone public calling the Iraq invasion a mistake since at least early 2004.

    You don’t read much Lew Rockwell or Pat Buchanan, do you? I can’t say I blame you; it’s often painful stuff, but it’s hard to write intelligently about modern American conservatives until you do.

    There’s a brief selection of the conservative debate, including both sides, in the book “The Right War?: The Conservative Debate on Iraq,” which I have not read as a book but I have read the full versions of many of the articles contained in it. For the left equivalent, see “A Matter of Principle : Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq,” which I highly recommend.

    If you think only the political lables of the current electoral cycle matter, and that coherent and principled approaches to the world do not, I’m afraid you won’t get much out of anything I’ve written, or intend to write, on this site. I advise you, when you see my name, to just skip on to the next thing. But thank you for highlighting a problem with the world.

  • cory

    We are a church made up of individuals who Welcome Everyone. Doesn’t matter what you wear, look like, the color of your hear, your orientation or identification. What matters to us is that want to share in our community!

  • DosPeros

    To a large degree National Review has been over taken by neo-cons, but Buckley still remembers people like Joe Sobran — who had the audacity many years ago to openly critique U.S.’s Israeli love connection. Of course, Sobran, like many others, were branded anti-semantic daring to suggest the U.S. had seperate interest from Israel. Anyway, Callimachus, I a “traditional” conservative I appreciate your analysis.

  • Chris

    Well, so much for my effort not to be snarky. As I pointed out, you were writing in the comment section on a post that was clearly not about classical definitions of liberal and conservative. I never said only the political labels of the current electoral cycle matter, and I think that’s a specious wording. Do you really mean to say that the those who are generally considered liberal and those generally considered conservative change with each electoral cycle? What a ridiculous point.

    And for the record, I never said no conservative could be found who opposed the war. I don’t read Lew Rockwell, but I have been aware of Buchanan’s opposition to the war. I understood perfectly well what your point was. I would even agree with your underlying pont that invading Iraq was inconsistent with conservative principals. What I object to is your rather easy solution, which is to declare all of those conservatives who supported the war suddenly “not conservatives,” rather than the more accurate descriptor of “hypocrite.” I notice how many more conservatives are getting in touch with their principles now that Bush is weakened.

    My response, which I’ll try to state a little more clearly so you can understand, is that there are very few conservatives who clearly stated their opposition to the war on principled grounds. Either there are very few conservatives who actually apply their philosophy practically, or they felt a little safer going along with the rush to war and not putting their reputations on the line, when so many on the right were equating opposition to the war with treason. I suspect it’s the latter. “Principled approaches to the world” indeed.

    I also think your point that liberals should support the war is somewhat simplistic for someone who clearly has a rather lofty view of his own ideas, and isn’t afraid to appear to be an arrogant jerk while presenting them. The invasion of Iraq was never about liberating the Iraqi population, and just because many liberals were smart enough not to fall for the spin doesn’t make them inconsistent with their ideals. Even if we did agree that the Iraqis needed “saving,” why shouldn’t other considerations, like loss of Iraqi and American lives, destabilization of the Middle East and the nefarious motives of those prosecuting the war enter into our considerations? To declare that something as complex as an invasion of a foreign country should be supported by liberals because of one isolated reason is beyond simplistic. If your discussions about liberalism and conservatism are supposed to exist on some kind of superior plane, where real world practicalities don’t have a place, then what’s the point? You’re just talking because you’re in love with the sound of your own voice.

    However, your statement about Buckley-style conservatives is belied by your mentioning that Buckley was making statements opposing the war in 2004. I did read some of his statements from 2004 (in which he made it clear that he supported the war prior to that point), but his opposition was clearly based on the way the war was going, not on conservative principles. If what you say is true, why would someone with Buckley’s principles have ever supported the war, as he clearly did? Or is he another sudden “not conservative?”

    It’s amusing how you try to position yourself as the one who’s dealing from a lofty world view, yet insist on characterizing what I wrote as meaning “coherent and principled approaches to the world” don’t matter. I get it, you read books. Perhaps you could get by without resorting to cheap mischaracterizations of my arguments in order to try to score some easy points.

  • Glen Wishard

    DosPeros: “Sobran, like many others, were branded anti-semantic daring to suggest the U.S. had seperate interest from Israel.”

    Joseph Sobran was fired for branding pro-Israel Americans as disloyal Jews and Zionist dupes.

    Since then he has been hanging with Holocaust Deniers, like the people at the so-called “Institute of Historical Review”. You can brand them whatever you want to.

  • DosPeros

    Glen — Thank you. I had no idea that Sobran was affiliated with the group. What follows is an e-mail from my brother who is a conservative journalist and a friend of Joe Sobran. I thought you might find it interesting:

    Unfortunately, Holocaust deniers have befriended Joseph Sobran because of
    his unwavering hatred of our alliance with Israel, which he finds costly,
    unhealthy, illogical and dangerous. I mostly disagree with him on this, but
    we agree that the War in Iraq is a tragic mistake that may result in
    unthinkable consequences down the road. Though Sobran stops short of
    Holocaust denial, he shares much common ground with Holocaust deniers. He
    believes the Holocaust has been exploited and misrepresented in order to
    manipulate an American foreign policy that he hates.

    Please understand that Joseph is profoundly anti-war. He believes use of the
    draft is far worse than slavery. He tears up when talking about Americans
    losing their lives in war. Joe Sobran loves this country and wants us
    involved with nothing that isn’t clearly in the interest of protecting the
    safety and liberty of American citizens. He can’t stand the thought of any
    American dying in the interests of a political ally.

    Joseph has been deeply hurt by the way Buckley and some other mainstream
    conservatives have treated him for his rejection of our alliance with
    Israel. He holds neo cons in such contempt that he believes we may have been
    better off under Clinton than Bush. When I recently referred to him as a
    “conservative,” he quickly corrected me and said “I’m not a conservative,
    I’m a Jefferson Davis Democrat.” I view him as an artistic, beatnik
    conservative with classical liberal tendencies.

    I believe Joseph has been drawn in by this Institute of Historical Review
    for three reasons: 1. They publish him, 2. They pay him, and 3. He has been
    dumped by a lot of old friends because he wouldn’t toe the party line.

    It is unfortunate that Sobran has associated at all with this disgusting
    revisionist organization. It’s one of those “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”
    arrangements. With Joseph, you have a man who late in life was deeply hurt
    by his friends and colleagues and is questioning many of the professional
    alliances he made during most of his career. It’s kind of sad. — Wayne

  • Glen Wishard

    DosPeros –

    That’s interesting. I’m sure your brother wants to think the best of his friend.

    Long before Sobran was fired (1993) he was attacking Holocaust history in his column. National Review had always taken a strong stance against anti-Semitism. Sobran was Buckley’s friend, so they gave him a lot of second chances, but finally his views were just way out of line with the magazine’s.

    It is totally unfair to say that Buckley, or anyone else, betrayed Sobran. But since then, he’s been making hay claiming that he was martyred by “Jew Power”.

    I think I might do a blog about this soon, since there is so much confusion about what happened. I don’t have anything personally against Joe Sobran, but his own words written before 1993 prove that Buckley was right and he was wrong.

    For example, the wikipedia article on Sobran suggests that he fell out with NR because he criticized Israel’s invasion of Lebanon! That’s bull confetti, and – as Justin pointed out to me recently – it’s up to me to prove wiki wrong. :)