June 20, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: Mindless Iraq Debate: It’s so bad, Jonathan Chait is the voice of reason.

In 2003, The New Republic caused a mild stir when it published a rant by Jonathan Chait titled “Mad About You: The case for Bush hatred.” (The subheadline doesn’t appear on TNR’s website.) At the moment, Chait, now with New York magazine, is the voice of reason on the left–which means, of course, that the debate in which he’s involved is an exceedingly stupid one.

Chait’s piece yesterday on the New York website is in part a response to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney (she is his daughter) in which they accuse President Obama of having “betrayed our past and squandered our freedom.” The piece begins with a series of fatuous quotes from the president to the effect that terrorism is no longer much of a threat and peace is breaking out all over, followed by the observation: “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.”

The Chait piece doesn’t directly respond to the Cheneys’ argument but rather to the left’s response to it. That response has been hostile, which should surprise nobody, but it’s also been remarkably mindless–which, come to think of it, will probably surprise hardly anybody either. . . .

Of course nobody is actually going to ban anybody from commenting on the Iraq crisis. We live in a free country, not some communist dictatorship or college campus. As Chait notes, the should-shut-the-hell-up argument is nothing more than an argumentum ad hominem delivered with bravado.

Which is pretty much all they’ve got left. I like the “college campus” dig, too, which is sadly accurate.