Monday, August 07, 2006

I think I get at least partial credit for this.

Me last Wednesday:

Well, if this [a Lieberman mea culpa on Iraq] really happens, I don't know how Lieberman's people will play it, but I know how the Right will play it: as the kind of recantation that would have resulted from a Stalinist show trial, or "reeducation" in the Cultural Revolution.

Alternately, they'll call it a confession extracted by means of torture.

Trust me, if Joe tacks to the left on Iraq, you will hear one of these metaphors used -- not just by right-wing bloggers, but by mainstream pundits.

Robert Kagan in yesterday's Washington Post:

...Lieberman stands condemned today because he didn't recant. He didn't say he was wrong. He didn't turn on his former allies and condemn them. He didn't claim to be the victim of a hoax. He didn't try to pretend that he never supported the war in the first place. He didn't claim to be led into support for the war by a group of writers and intellectuals whom he can now denounce. He didn't go through a public show of agonizing and phony soul-baring and apologizing in the hopes of resuscitating his reputation, as have some noted "public intellectuals."

These have been the chosen tactics of self-preservation ever since events in Iraq started to go badly and the war became unpopular. Prominent intellectuals, both liberal and conservative, have turned on their friends and allies in an effort to avoid opprobrium for a war they publicly supported. Journalists have turned on their fellow journalists in an effort to make them scapegoats for the whole profession. Politicians have twisted themselves into pretzels to explain away their support for the war or, better still, to blame someone else for persuading them to support it.

Al Gore, the one-time Clinton administration hawk, airbrushed that history from his record. He turned on all those with whom he once agreed about Iraq and about many other foreign policy questions. And for this astonishing reversal he has been applauded by his fellow Democrats and may even get the party's nomination....

Kagan won't take that last baby step over the line and overtly compare Lieberman to the victims of Stalin or the Red Guards, but every image in the passage above ("turn[ing] on friends and allies," "airbrush[ing] ... history") is meant to remind you of those horrors. And the moral equivalence between those crimes and your support for a guy running a primary.

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