Roger L. Simon

"Left in Form But Right in Essence"

When I was a young leftie, that was one of the popular accusations we made against “certain reactionary parties.” I believe the phrase came from Mao’s essay “On Contradiction,” but it could have had an earlier provenance (Lenin?). Someone in the blogosphere will know. In any case, those words have been going through my mind lately, especially with regard to our so-called “liberal” politicians. You know the type – the ones who used to abhor that the US played footsie with likes of Pinochet and Somoza and wanted us to overthrow them. So did I, at the time, and still do. But it seems these supposed left-liberals have changed. The same ones who once called for the defenestration of fascists now favor entering into dialog with them.

Victor Davis Hanson gives us a good rundown of how this works today on his blog.

Does running for President allow a candidate to freelance at a time of war by talking to our enemies and triangulating against the president? Why is Gov. Richardson talking to North Koreans, or Sen. Kerry trying to talk to the Iranians, or Sen. Bayh to the Syrians? Wouldn’t that be like a Tom DeLay talking to Milosevic to undermine Clinton during the Kosovo bombing? Or Trent Lott dealing with the Taliban as Clinton sent cruise missiles against them?

Perhaps in the interest of fairness, readers can cite past examples where Republican Senators and Presidential candidates went abroad, undercut Democratic foreign policy at a time of war, and made statements that were welcomed by our enemies. I know Senators of both parties talked to Saddam in 1989-90 and often nearly empathized with him, but we were not yet at war with him.

Nota bene: Senator Nelson just returned from talking in Mr. Assad’s Syria–the serial murderer of Lebanese reformers, the clearinghouse for Hezbollah, the refuge for the killers of Americans in Iraq–with assurances that Syria wishes to be a stabilizing factor in the region.

Sen. Kerry in Cairo just praised Hosni Mubarak, lauding him by chastising President Bush’s failure to listen to this voice of reason and his criticisms of the United States. And why not listen to such advice, since this autocrat has been the recipient of billions in American aid, while squelching all reform for some thirty years in the bargain?

We are in the land of Animal Farm. Liberal is not liberal but something else. I don’t know what to call it really. That’s why I reached for the old “Left in form but right in essence.” Some days I call it “liberalist,” some days simply “reactionary.” As noted on Pajamas, The New York Times is at the forefront of this non-liberal liberal thinking. We really do need a name for it. Fuddy-duddy? I’ve tried that. Not bad, but perhaps a tad colloquial for repetitive usage.