Welcome back, Joe!

The shabbiest trick in the magic-bag of the left is pretending that anyone who opposes some particular program intended to do good to the poor or some socially marginalized group must be hostile to the interests of the intended beneficiaries, as opposed to dubious about the actual efficacy of the program or concerned about its side-effects.

The corresponding trick on the right is pretending that anyone who doubts some measure taken allegedly in the interests of national security by a right-wing politician must therefore be hostile to American and friendly to its enemies.

Here’s Bill Kristol (*) playing that trick in an especially underhanded way. (And, as it turns out, copying his father’s McCarthyism literally word for word.) (*) [Thanks to Tapped for the pointer.]

During the Cold War era, there was a tiny bit of truth to the assertion that liberals, in general, tended to be somewhat less wholehearted in their opposition to our foes and support for our friends abroad. (When you think about who some of those friends were — Osama bin Laden, for example — that wasn’t entirely to the liberals’ discredit.)

But the assertion that the left is somehow less hostile to Islamofascism than the right really makes no sense at all. Authoritarianism, obscurantism, anti-feminism, and intolerant religiosity: from a left-wing perspective, what’s not to hate? By contrast, some on the right — the entire Bush family, for example — find it very hard to come up with an ill word toward Saudi Arabia, the fountainhead of political Islam. (George W.’s admiration for authoritarians isn’t limited by ethnicity or religion, either: note how chummy he is with Vladimir Putin, the career KGB agent now running Russia with an increasingly dictatorial hand, despite Russia’s having been just as obstructionist as France in the run-up to the Iraq war.)

The fantasy of some of the warbloggers that taking down Saddam was just a prologue to taking on the bani Saud always struck me as far-fetched. But if any doubt on that score remained, the Administration’s insistence on editing the Saudi role in 9-11 out of the Congressional report (on security grounds, you know) should have put an end to it.

The Presidential candidate for the year 2004 least hostile to the nation that most threatens American national security is George W. Bush. Bush can be beaten by any Democrat who can make that case to the voters.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com