Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Administration Resurfacing

A couple of Reagan administration veterans have got their points across recently. Edwin Meese was in Michigan, confirming that he is on the correct side of the party line - Tea Party good, Obama bad. Meanwhile, Richard Perle has appeared in Foreign Policy with an angry rebuttal to Peter Beinart's analysis of Reagan's dovish qualities. What could have been simple correction of Beinart's understanding of Reagan's arms control strategy becomes a confusing ramble where Perle insists on defining everything in terms of the conservative/liberal divide:
Beinart is not alone in confusing a tough, deliberate application of American power to achieve American ends with the bellicose reckless abandon that he seems to think is the essence of a "conservative" foreign policy. Indeed, it is a common liberal conceit (which Beinart swallows whole) that conservatives, like Reagan, are always spoiling for a fight, eager to launch wars and send American troops in harm's way.
It is reasonable to point out that there is a mythology on the left which sees Reagan as a reckless, bloodthirsty, nuclear cowboy, but thoughtless not to also concede the supportive myth of Reagan as a relentless warrior - particularly in response to an article which portrays Reagan as neither. Still, Beinart's arguments and many like them seem designed to undermine conservatives by denying them their central icon, so it is hardly surprising that defensive conservatives take the bait.

It is, perhaps, a consequence of Reagan's continuing symbolic presence in American politics that his former officials remain so dull and partisan.

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