Is the Vanity Fair article on neocons a dishonest hit piece?

Well, maybe some of what David Frum says at his Diary is true, that the Vanity Fair piece takes familiar, previously stated ideas of the article’s subjects and presents them as though they had never said them before, creating a sensational impression of sudden, collective apostasy. But is this true of every quote in the article? Is there nothing new here? Such as Richard Perle’s saying that if he could go back to 2003, he would not support the invasion? I sure never saw him say that before. Such as Frank Gaffney’s saying that Bush’s acts don’t track with his rhetoric? I don’t remember seeing him say that before.

Frum quotes his comment about President Bush that is quoted in the article:

“I always believed as a speechwriter that if you could persuade the president to commit himself to certain words, he would feel himself committed to the ideas that underlay those words. And the big shock to me has been that although the president said the words, he just did not absorb the ideas. And that is the root of, maybe, everything.”

After which he comments:

“Nothing exclusive there, nothing shocking, and believe me, nothing remorseful.”

It’s not news that Frum now says that the president spoke words—“democracy, freedom”—without believing in the ideas that the words conveyed? Sorry, Mr. Frum, but that seems like news to me.

Then at the Corner, Michael Ledeen says that he “opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place.” I’ve read many articles by Ledeen written before and after the invasion. I don’t remember Ledeen ever opposing the invasion of Iraq. And I’m sure that nobody in the war debate thinks of Ledeen as someone who opposed the invasion. If Ledeen did say this somewhere, it must be awfully obscure. Too bad he didn’t link even one article by himself opposing the invasion of Iraq.

The above paragraph was written by me over the weekend, in an e-mail. Today at the Corner Ledeen follows up by quoting a passage from his 2002 book The Terror Masters which he says shows that he opposed the invasion of Iraq. The passage presents an interesting scenario of how Saddam might be dealt with short of invasion, by having the Iraqi National Congress enter Kurdistan and set up an alternative state there. The passage does not oppose the prospective U.S. invasion. It simply presents an alternative strategy. Ledeen does not say anything like, “President Bush’s planned invasion of Iraq is a bad idea, for these reasons.” Based on the evidence Ledeen himself has presented, for him to say that he opposed the invasion of Iraq is not true.

Ledeen, of course, has been a consistent, Cassandra-like critic of Bush’s actions in Iraq from the very start, calling endlessly for a regional strategy aimed at weakening and removing (through political, not military means) the terror-supporting regimes, especially Iran, that were fueling the Iraqi insurgency. Perhaps Ledeen was never enthusistic about the military invasion of Iraq. But, absent the discovery of some unknown articles by him, there is no basis for his statement that he opposed the invasion.

* * *

So what is this flurry of denials all about? Here’s my take on what happened. The Magnificent Seven got together and decided to do these interviews, with the purpose of distancing themselves from Bush and from the Bush policy that they themselves had articulated, promoted, and supported, but that Bush had carried out so poorly. They chose Vanity Fair as their venue, perhaps because no conservative magazine would publish such an attack on Bush. They intended for the article to appear after the election, when it would not harm the Republicans, but they did the interviews before the election, naively trusting the word of a left-liberal, Bush-hating magazine that the interviews would not be published until after the election. Unsurprisingly, the magazine published the material prior to the election, in an attempt to hurt the Republicans. So now, in order to protect their own reputations and to lessen the damage to the Republicans, the Magnificent Seven have been backtracking like crazy, trying to minimize their criticisms of Bush and even to say that they were not criticizing Bush and were not giving up on the war at all.

These guys, who were too naïve even to anticipate that leftists would betray them, were the same guys who thought that Muslims wanted liberal democracy. Can we imagine the Richard Perle of 1985, that Cold Warrior extraordinaire, that “Prince of Darkness,” handing to his leftist enemies the weapon with which to harm him and the administration? For a man of Perle’s intelligence and experience to fall into such an obvious trap is an index of the extent to which the neocons, subscribing to an unreal ideology of global democracy, and gripped by the godlike feeling that nothing is impossible to them, have lost touch with reality.

- end of initial entry -

Jim C. writes:

If you can’t trust The Magnificent Seven, who can you trust? Seems the list gets shorter every day.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 06, 2006 02:46 PM | Send

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