March 20, 2009

Richard Perle denies his existence

A reader alerted me to a report by the Post?s Dana Milbank on a bizarre occurrence in Washington last month in which Richard Perle denied his existence. Perle, whose body seems to have acquired multiple layers of pasty blubber since I last saw him photographed, is now making two strange assertions:

1) Bush?s foreign policy had no philosophy, and if it did, it wasn?t neoconservatism.

2) Neoconservatism does not exist, and everyone?s an anti-Semite for thinking it does. 

All this is prima facie ridiculous. Perle?s tactic, it seems, is to make some rather meaningless semantic distinctions and then pretend that these absolve him of all blame and foreclose any serious discussion of Kristol, Frum, Bennett, Goldberg, Cheney, Wolfowitz and the rest of the gang.

Irving Kristol, too, was fond of insisting that neoconservatism is a ?persuasion,? not a movement. And then moments later, he?d inform us, ?the historical task and political purpose of neoconservatism would seem to be this: to convert the Republican party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy? (read: big welfare state, lots of wars, ?ideological identity,? and all but unlimited and unconditional financial and military support for the state of Israel.) To deny that such a thing is a self-conscious movement and pressure group is utter farce. 

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