As everyone and his cousin know, the neocons are my least favorite “Washington insiders” and they divide generally into two categories, the ill-mannered, touchy Jews and their groveling or adulatory Christian assistants. David Frum, the Kagan boys, Norman and John Podhoretz, and Michael Ledeen are the house-owners; while Bill Bennett, Fred Barnes, Michael Novak, Cal Thomas, Linda Chavez, and Rich Lowry all live in the servants” quarters.
Although I”ve suffered more at the hands of the Podhoretz-types than from the machinations of their servants, I”ve always felt a grudging admiration for my most vicious enemies. The Jewish neocons leave their finger-marks on whatever they do to bring down their critics on the right; and they don”t seem to care that others notice. Most of their hits on members of the Old Right, such as getting Sam Francis removed from an editorial post at the Washington Times and Joe Sobran from one at National Review, have been done in a strikingly open fashion.
It’s as if the neocons wish to be caught in flagrante delicto, perhaps to demonstrate what they can get away with. At Catholic University in 1987, the neocon capifamiglia first got their underlings to call the appropriate deans in order to keep me out of a graduate professorship. But then Norman made a direct call to the university administration, so that he could personally warn the administrators against my allegedly anti-Zionist views. (As far as I can recall, I never held such views.) Neocons enjoy inflicting PAIN on those “anti-Semites” who dare to defy them. And they show a kind of Stalinist exuberance when they pounce on those they want to crush. Even when they”ve unloaded on me and my friends, I can appreciate their hate-filled energies and the thoroughness with which they destroy reputations. At least the Jewish neocons are nasty but not sneaky; and they feel entitled to crush those whom they don”t fancy.
Here I have to differ from my friend Taki, who seems excessively hard on the Jewish neocons. He accuses them of being hypocrites who avoid fighting in the wars they foment. He also charges them with smearing their opponents (almost always on the right) by denouncing them as Jew-haters and Nazi-sympathizers. But Taki may be overlooking the more endearing or at least more interesting side of his adversaries. They act with an emotional intensity that we should be able to admire on the aesthetic level. This of course would not keep me from doing to these sleazebags what they”ve done to me over the last twenty-five years. But I can appreciate their straightforward approach to ruining others. In a nutshell they are truly worthy absolute foes. Here I”m inclined to cite the German legal theorist Carl Schmitt who observed that one should respect people who deal with powerful, determined enemies.
It is the neocons” servants who turn my stomach. These include not only those who bow and scrape before their masters but also those who help eliminate neocon targets. At the lower level these helpers engage in character assassination from behind the scenes, and some of them have done so at the expense of such badly battered victims as Sam Francis, M.E. Bradford, and Joe Sobran. For me those who take the orders are more contemptible than those who give them. They combine servility with dishonesty”and a willingness to defame in order to curry favor. The worst such case of kissing-up by a neocon houseboy involved the head of a “conservative think-tank,” who went to President Reagan in order to trash the Southern scholar Mel Bradford. This enabler undertook his task as a favor to “Irving and Bea,” who were then greasing the skids for their protÃ©gÃ©, that dumpy mediocrity and gambler extraordinaire Bill Bennett. Bradford, who had the inside track, had to be eliminated for the dark horse candidate Bennett, so that the neocons could get their fill of NEH grants.
And I”ve also no use for those fetch-and-takers who spend all their time trying to anticipate and express the latest neocon concern. When these types are not cheering on the Red team against the Blue, calling for wars to spread democracy, rediscovering the “Christian conservative” Martin Luther King, and howling against Islamo-fascism, they turn to even viler things. For example, they work around the clock to keep the agitprop publications and organizations they “manage” free of politically undesirable influence. On those very few occasions when I got to place my comments in neocon-run publications, I did so after I had spoken to the Jewish master class, and bypassed their Christian subordinates. Having dealt with this nomenklatura for years, I”ve become convinced that the servant class submits the name of every would-be contributor to some censoring office, located in Midtown Manhattan. Without the necessary stamp of approval the gentile editor is not allowed to accept any article or commentary.
The slave class has also featured certain charges that have been given heavy-duty use against those who are marked out for marginalization. One member of this class has besmirched me as an “intellectual who wants to return to the eighteenth century” and as someone who has “no understanding of today’s politics.” Equally familiar is the charge raised by some of the house servants that we have not moved with the times. But since the neocons and neoliberals help shape these times and determine what we”re allowed to say, it all comes down to the same: We”re bad for not saying what they want us to say. One aging neocon client, who has grown rich in the service of his masters, turned his back on me at an Aspen Institute Conference where both of us were invited to speak five years ago. More recently, the same person has wondered aloud “why paleos are so bitter.” The answer is simple: His friends have smashed our heads into the wall often enough to remove the grins from our faces.
Unlike the master class, which glories in destructive acts, the slave class pretends that such acts have never taken place. The opponents of the neocons are simply “bitter” and this may be ascribed to our sour dispositions. Otherwise we would sit down with the rest of the “movement” and iron out our differences. But no invitation to parley has been extended to our side or to anyone whom the neocons have decided they don”t want around.
That is the way the neocons have organized the soft or kept opposition to the center-left. One can take one’s pick in this case about which are worse, the deciders of agendas or their servants. I”ve already chosen.