Skip to comments.Book takes look at past to get picture of liberals' future (THE UPCOMING LEFTY CIVIL WAR)
Posted on 05/20/2006 8:09:53 AM PDT by Chi-townChief
Peter Beinart is an advocate of liberal -- not ''progressive'' -- nostalgia. He wants to turn the clock back to 1947 at Washington's Willard Hotel.
Beinart, who was born in 1971, is editor at large of the liberal New Republic magazine and disdains the label ''progressive'' as a rejection of liberalism's useable past of anti-totalitarianism. An intellectual archaeologist, he excavates that vanished intellectual tradition and sends it into battle in his new book, The Good Fight: Why Liberals -- and Only Liberals -- Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again. It expresses Beinart's understanding of liberalism in 1948, 1968 and, he hopes, 2008.
His project of curing liberalism's amnesia begins by revisiting Jan. 4, 1947, when liberal anti-totalitarians convened at the Willard to found Americans for Democratic Action. It became their instrument for rescuing the Democratic Party from Henry Wallace and his fellow-traveling followers who, locating the cause of the Cold War in American faults, were precursors of Michael Moore and his ilk among today's ''progressives.''
Among the heroes of liberalism's civil war of 60 years ago was Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who today is 88. He stigmatized their anti-communism as ''doughface-ism.'' Beinart explains: ''The original doughfaces were 'Northern men with Southern principles' -- Northerners who opposed slavery, but who could not bring themselves to support the Civil War.'' Today's doughfaces are ''progressives'' who flinch from the fact that, as Beinart says, ''America could not have built schools for Afghan girls had it not bombed the Taliban first.''
Liberalism's civil war seemed won after Henry Wallace's Progressive Party candidacy failed to prevent President Truman's 1948 election. But the war broke out again in the Democratic Party's crack-up over Vietnam in 1968. Then, Beinart says, a ''new liberalism'' emerged that ''questioned whether America had much to offer the world.'' Four years later the party nominated George McGovern, who had been a delegate to the 1948 Progressive Party convention that nominated Wallace. McGovern's trumpet sounded retreat: ''Come home, America.''
Since then, Beinart argues, liberals have lacked a narrative of national greatness that links America's missions at home and abroad. It has been said that whereas the right-wing isolationists in the 1930s believed that America was too good for the world, left-wing isolationists in the 1960s believed that the world was too good for America. After Vietnam, Beinart says, liberal foreign policy was ''defined more by fear of American imperialism than fear of totalitarianism.''
Beinart briskly says ''I was wrong'' in supporting the invasion of Iraq. Wrong about Saddam's nuclear program. Wrong in being ''too quick to give up on containment.'' Wrong about the administration's competence to cope with the war's aftermath. (''Staffers tasked with postwar reconstruction were told to bring two suits. They would be home by the end of summer.'')
But while excoriating the Bush administration for perhaps ''creating exactly the condition the conservatives have long feared: An America without the will to fight,'' Beinart's most important contribution is to confront the doughface liberals who rejoice about the weakening of that will. Reading liberals who seem to think they ''have no enemies more threatening, or more illiberal, than George W. Bush,'' Beinart worries that Deaniac liberals are taking over the Democratic Party much as McGovernite liberals did after 1968.
Beinart worries that ''the elections of 2006 and 2008 could resemble the elections of 1974 and 1976, when foreign policy exhaustion, and Republican scandal, propelled Democrats to big gains.'' If so, those gains will be ''a false dawn.''
The country will eventually turn right because, ''whatever its failings, the right at least knows that America's enemies need to be fought.''
Ronald Reagan said he did not want to return to the past but to the past's way of facing the future. As does Beinart, who locates the pertinent past in 1947.
America is Great now. Only an idiot Liberal would think that Socialism and PR would result in anything other than woe and misery.
Sort of like being against abortion but supporting 'choice'.
Since then, Beinart argues, liberals have lacked a narrative of national greatness that links America's missions at home and abroad. It has been said that whereas the right-wing isolationists in the 1930s believed that America was too good for the world, left-wing isolationists in the 1960s believed that the world was too good for America.
Yes, with the likes of Pol Pot, Castro, Kruschev and Mao running things, you can't have the US out there ruining it for everyone.
What this country really needs is a declared war on Liberalism.
Your tag says it all...
This guy is on MSNBC a lot and FNC some. He has a space between his teeth you could drive a truck through.
The word liberal being applied to todays Democrat Party is actually incorrect. I for one would really like to see the day when they are called exactly what they are...SOCIALISTS. It would clear alot of things up for many people who don't really understand where they belong. Alot of people, such as my parents, still think the Democrat Party is the party of the little guy. BULL
That's the HUGE problem for Beinart: an "anti-totalitarian liberal" is already pretty right-wing or, at the very least, (if I may use the n-word) a Neo-Con.
Tchu!...socialists? Why not call them what they _really_ are- neo-primitive pagan leninist-trotskyite hedonist endorphin clogged brahminic hyper-empathico anarcho-nihilists. I think I might have left something out about justificatory murdering Pol Pot swine.
walter alter artist - wiseguy - savant
You're right--Beinart is the very definition of neocon. The problem is that the left has defined every conservative as a neocon because the prefix "neo" conjures up "neonazi" in the mind.
That's a pretty tortuous article to follow. Basically, a group of "liberals" want to Conservative Democrats to be in the van against the Republican Party while jettisoning their "progressive" loony elements but holding on to he word "liberal."
Was that clear?
''whatever its failings, the right at least knows that America's enemies need to be fought.''
Says it all.
Not with my syntax...
When words such as "liberal" get redefined, it does make things difficult to understand.
I always thought that the progressive tag came into vogue as the democrats were trying to run from the mess they left on the word liberal.
That or when it became apparent what the liberals really stood for, the people began hating liberals so they had to resort to a new word that wasn't "dirty".
liberal -- not ''progressive'' = moderate democrat, RINO, or BIG givernment republican, like Bush.. All those terms are on a sliding scale, depends on the day..
Anti-Totalitarianism is the great Liberal Canard:
Socialism; Communism, GOOD. Capitalism;capitalists, BAD. North Vietnam, GOOD. South Vietnam, BAD. UN, GOOD. America, BAD.
That's why this dirty little fink rejects "Progressivism, it's too American. Fighting Bob LaFollette would have kicked his butt.
I think his point is that liberals in the past were willing to stand up to totalitarians whatever their form: JFK was a cold warrior through and through.
Liberals, on the whole, never said an unkind word about "Uncle Joe" Stalin, or 'Agrarian Reformer' Mao. As far as JFK being a Cold Warrior, his actions in Cuba, or for that matter, in Vietnam, wipe out any public utterances he may have made.
I'll grant you this, JFK spun himself, and he and his Dad were mighty spinners, as a Cold Warrior.
All baloney. He stands up in Berlin and proclaims himself "Ein Berliner," which fittlingly enough means he's a jelly donut, and the Soviets respond by building the Wall, which he lets go unchallenged.
But then his Dad's Hollywood-style PR operation spun JFK as a War Hero, when the Navy had originally scheduled him for a court martial. They spun him as devoted father and family man. They spun him as the picture of health. They spun him as an author, hiring their own people to write his book. Dad single-handedly turned it into an instant best seller by buying 50 thousand copies. They spin the Kennedys as Civil Rights crusaders, when JFK voted against civil rights bills for 20 years in Congress and the Senate.
All we know publicly about JFK is pure 'Myth of Camelot' spin. Ted, Patrick, Bobby,JFK, and Dad, in short the lot of them, were all cut from the same crooked cloth.
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