One of the favorite audience participation exercises at the Republican National Convention last year was the hand jive performed to the chant of 'Flip-flop!' I felt at that time, while I watched this flippant flappery of fulminating fools, that someone would eventually come up with something revealing about the flapping flippers that would fold the falsehood until it flopped.
That may finally have happened - courtesy of Michael Kinsley:
Somewhere I still have a souvenir of neoconservatism's previous high point. It's a baseball cap from the 1988 Republican convention that says, "Jeane Kirkpatrick for vice president." This was serious.
Ronald Reagan had swooned over a 1979 article by Kirkpatrick in Commentary, the neocon house organ, and he made her his U.N. ambassador when he became president. She gave the big speech at the 1984 GOP convention, leading the massed Republicans in a chant of "they always blame America first."
Kirkpatrick's article, "Dictatorship and Double Standards," was a ferocious attack on President Jimmy Carter for trying to "impose liberalization and democratization" on other countries.
She mocked "the belief that it is possible to democratize governments anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances." Democracy, she said, depends "on complex social, cultural, and economic conditions." It takes "decades, if not centuries."
Flip-flop your @$$!
Kirkpatrick thought that U.S. power should be used to shore up tottering but friendly dictators, such as Anastasio Somoza of Nicaragua and the shah of Iran. Carter sat on his hands, she complained.
Now we have an administration that -- wisely or foolishly, sincerely or cynically -- claims to have the aggressive pursuit of democracy everywhere as the focal point of its foreign policy. And the Bush Doctrine is said to have the fingerprints of neoconservatives all over it.
This is quite a reversal by America's most influential group of intellectuals, yet it has received surprisingly little comment or explanation.
Plenty of explanations are available. But all these explanations require an admission of error, something the neocons are not very good at. They are selling certainty.
And that enterprise has been proving to be a flop!
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