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Maureen Dowd's Rosh Hashanah Message to American Jews: Stop Being "Puppet Masters" of the Republicans

Last week, our colleague Roger Kimball asked whether the New York Times health insurance included psychiatric coverage, because, he quipped, it seemed by her outrageous columns that Maureen Dowd probably needed it. Evidently Ms. Dowd did not take Roger’s suggestion to heart, because yesterday -- the eve of Rosh Hashanah -- she insulted her Jewish readers by writing a column that depended on one of the oldest of anti-Semitic tropes: that smart Jews manage to bamboozle their Christian friends by pulling the wool over their eyes and getting them to unwittingly do their bidding.

Politico’s Dylan Beers sorts out the reaction to her Sunday opinion piece, writing that her critics charged that it “peddled anti-Semitic imagery.” The column in question was titled “Neocons Slither Back.” In that piece, Dowd outdoes her usual vitriolic and nasty voice with a screed that makes one pause and take a deep breath, wondering how anyone with half an ounce of intelligence could take her seriously.

She began with an attack on Paul Ryan for his daring to argue that the country needs a foreign policy with “moral clarity and firmness of purpose.” Congressmen Ryan’s statement is hardly offensive; indeed, given the utter failure of Barack Obama’s Middle East policy, it is understated. Ms. Dowd has the right to disagree and to argue with Ryan’s case. But rather than do that, she wrote the following:

Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neocon puppet master Dan Senor. The hawkish Romney adviser has been secunded to manage the running mate and to graft a Manichaean worldview onto the foreign affairs neophyte.

A moral, muscular foreign policy; a disdain for weakness and diplomacy; a duty to invade and bomb Israel’s neighbors; a divine right to pre-emption -- it’s all ominously familiar.

You can draw a direct line from the hyperpower manifesto of the Project for the New American Century, which the neocons, abetted by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, used to prod an insecure and uninformed president into invading Iraq -- a wildly misguided attempt to intimidate Arabs through the shock of overwhelming force. How’s that going for us?

As in the Bush 43 years, Ms. Dowd continues, the neocons have managed to again capture a would-be future Republican president even before he’s elected. “Before he played ventriloquist to Ryan,” Dowd writes, “Senor did the same for Romney, ratcheting up the candidate’s irresponsible bellicosity on the Middle East.” So, she concludes, Romney is already “kowtowing to the right again.” And this, she adds for emphasis, is “shameful.” If Romney were commander-in-chief and agreed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s desire to set a red line beyond which Iran should not be allowed to cross, the result would be a “global conflagration” that would be a worldwide disaster.