Roger L. Simon

Peretz Speaks

Martin Peretz’s cover story for this week’s The New RepublicThe Politics of Churlishness” is one of the more powerful pieces of opinion journalism I have read in some time and likely to create a stir, although its author’s views are already well-known. It begins:

If George W. Bush were to discover a cure for cancer, his critics would denounce him for having done it unilaterally, without adequate consultation, with a crude disregard for the sensibilities of others.

It goes on from there to demonstrate, specifically and in detail, how Bush’s policies since 9/11 have changed the political landscape of the Middle East – beginning to democratize it – and how previous administrations (Clinton’s and Bush’s father’s) worked in the opposite way — to enable dictatorship. Peretz takes no prisoners and names the names of the enablers – from Madeleine Albright on the “left” to Brent Scowcroft on the “right”. The arguments made in this piece and the facts-on-the-ground today are powerful and almost never addressed by Bush’s enemies. Instead the subject is changed, usually to domestic policy. Yes, that is important, but not even remotely as crucial as foreign affairs in this historical epoch.

Meanwhile, a group of the rich-and-famous is apparently preparing to blog. They would be particularly advised to read Peretz’s article and address his arguments. Times have changed. Peretz, who has been a longtime Democratic supporter and used to be a hero to some of these people, has changed with events. Many in this celebrity group, whom I know from my Hollywood work, haven’t altered their views about anything for decades. The rough-and-tumble of the blogosphere may prove more than they bargained for.

(hat tip on the Peretz article: Richard Schwartz)