Atrios discusses self-identified “liberal hawks”:
The primary conceit of the “liberal hawks” has been and is that only they are “serious” about the security of the nation. Support for the Iraq war demonstrated that seriousness, no matter how misguided it was. The truth is concern for our national security was a very real reason to oppose the Iraq war, and the primary reason for lots of its opponents.He’s right. The reason so many in the Democratic “base” are infuriated over being lectured by the likes of Peter Beinart and Joe Biden about the need to “get serious about national security” is that the people delivering the lectures are precisely those who were wrong about one of the most important national security questions of our time. As a result we’ve spent $172 billion and 1600 American lives, damaged our military immeasurably, trashed America’s global reputation for justice and fair play, and given the bin Ladens of the world a gift that will keep on giving for generations to come. The entire enterprise has made us profoundly less secure. Meanwhile, I live three blocks from New York Harbor, and port security is still, by all reports, a complete joke.
The fact of the matter is that the supposed distance between self-identified “national security Democrats” and the allegedly dovish party “base” is based on a self-serving slur promulgated by people with something to hide. The NSDs want to impute that run-of-the-mill Democrats and liberals have a deficit of temperament, a persistent inability to understand that sometimes America has got to go out and kill people. In the wake of being spectacularly wrong about Iraq, the NSDs are even more eager to promote this.
It is, of course, a bum rap. Liberal Democrats like Atrios, or me, aren’t remotely opposed to “national security.” We’re strongly in favor of it. Getting killed because I’m an American, at home or overseas: bad. Spending money and resources to protect me from getting killed: good. Maintaining a strong military, at least until planetary utopia breaks out and there are free Jill Johnston posters for everyone: really good. Making all of that far harder, and increasing my likelihood of getting killed, because some politicians and pundits needed to “look tough”: really, really bad. Likelihood that I’m going to take my cues on “national security” from those politicians and pundits: low.
At times it all seems like some sort of Bizarro World faith-versus-works argument. Liberals wind up being the ones pointing out, endlessly, that national security is provided by actual practices, not just by holding your face right. Meanwhile popinjays like Joe Biden desperately file their chins to razor-sharpness in the probably vain hope that the electorate, having sometimes demonstrated a preference for strutting phonies, will mistake them for one. And of course the fact remains, as the Poor Man never ceases to remind us: Michael Moore is fat.