Super Wingnut: Rich LowryWingnut: Rich Lowry
Affinities/Attributes: Chickenhawkery, dishonesty, contrived machismo, utter and spectacular wrongness.
After seeing so many of these blow-dried, fratboy type wingnuts on television, seeing their names in the bylines to hundreds of offensive, irrational columns, I wondered: Could any one of them really be as insanely awful as he seems at first glance? Could he really be that bad? I decided to find out. Picking Rich Lowry, more or less at random, as my
Richard Lowry is a wingnut pundit originally from Virginia and now based in New York. He has always been of the wingnut hivemind, though never quite so impressive a reactionary, contrary to what he'd like to think, as an "armed and dangerous one" (except, perhaps, when he's frying turkey). If the Lowry egg was conceived and nurtured by his vaguely conservative parents, then his pupae stage must have occurred at the University of Virginia, where he wrote for the Virginia Advocate, a college "news"paper along the lines of the infamous Dartmouth Review, and like the Review funded by the same sources: primarily, the Collegiate Network. Not yet ready to fly, his next stage of development was as go-fer of and apprentice to the insane psychiatrist-cum-columnist Charles Krauthammer, from whom he presumably learned the fine wingnut art of Strangelovian foreign policy advocacy. And from thence into ugly: after leaving Krauthammer's service, Lowry went on to contribute to wingnut fink tanks and to write for rightwing propaganda mills like The Wall Street Journal as well as the National Review, where is currently editor. Lowry has also come to pollute the airwaves, predictably at Fox News (where he is often a substitute for the reprehensible Sean Hannity) but also, disturbingly, at PBS and NPR.
Owing his career to the wingnut welfare system, Lowry remembers his debts, knows where he came from. As a child he was inspired by frog-jowled William F. Buckley, Jr.'s Firing Line; nowadays Lowry defends Buckley's magazine's business model. The protege of Dr. Kraphammer also dutifully cites his former master, and in the most laudatory terms. And he knows what it takes to stay in the good graces of Fox News.
Part of being a professional wingnut is looking like one, and here Lowry doesn't disappoint:
I notice that Rich has paid a visit to Ye Olde Regnery Costume Shoppe and will be going out for Halloween dressed as A Historian. I guess all the Power Ranger suits were booked.
While this is more than enough to earn the affection of wingnuttia's professional virgins, others take a different view:
At 38, National Review Editor and Hannity stand-in Rich Lowry still looks like he's wearing a retainer and has a trapper-keeper stuffed with Red Sonja comic books. The tragic irony of Michael J. Fox's life is that his breakout role as Alex P. Keaton inspired a million resentful Reagan-blowing nerds like Lowry to recast themselves as "rebels" against gathering threats like universal health care—and stem cell research. If a goddamn toothpaste company told lies like Lowry they'd be prosecuted. Founding member of the "it's all Clinton's fault" school of Bush apologists.
Now that's more like it. Lowry really does think of himself as a heroic rebel. Or, as Newsmax grandiosely quoted, "Lowry said he reveled in 'swimming against the stream.'" But then like so many of his fellows -- especially those in his approximate age group -- in the wingnut cult of contrived masculinity, Lowry's "kill 'em all" rhetoric is belied by his wispy nerd appearance. Lowry presents himself and his political heroes as tough guys but slimes his opponents as girly-faggy-wimpy-appeasers.
I think it's safe to say that Lowry's chickenhawkery is probably about inferiority and revenge:
If high school had been an ape colony, we [conservatives] would have been those antisocial unattached males lingering on the fringes, envying the dominant males with their mates.
Regardless, Rich Lowry loves war -- by which I mean, the kind he doesn't have to fight -- not only for its own sweet sake and the psychological dividend it might pay, but also for the affect it has on domestic politics.
It's worth noting that Lowry's not particularly diligent or knowledgeable, which could be a result of dain brammage.
In pretty much all affairs he takes a wingnut position -- even in sports where, predictably, he is a pathetic bandwagon-jumper. He's a Yankees fan, which figures as they are evil and have the most money.
But the main thing to keep in mind about Rich Lowry is this: If Lowry says something is tall, it's probably short; if he points out a purple monkey, it's probably a green dinosaur; if he gives you directions to Albuquerque, odds are you'll end up in Delaware. He's also the kinda guy who pats the fender of his 1978 Ford Pinto saying, "This baby is the safest ride evar!" before pulling out in front of a speeding and overloaded eighteen-wheeler being driven by an ex-con who's been living on meth fumes for the last week: You just know what's gonna happen. If he tells you it's certain that your team will win tonight, assume that they'll lose -- and pray that they don't die in a bus crash. If Rich Lowry recommends that you order the turkey sandwich, by all means order the cheeseburger -- there probably isn't even a turkey sandwich on the menu, but if there is, it's probably swimming with salmonella and ptomain. It's not just that always wrong; it's that he's egregiously wrong. He's wrong in a way that piles tinder and gasoline-soaked roman candles around normal wingnut levels of error and sets them on fire. What makes him extra special is that he's habitually proven wrong after making the most hubristic claims imaginable. He's the Titanic of wrong.
Self-pityingly, Lowry offered the following comment a few years back:
Mr. Lowry: There's a deep tendency from the left to assume that if you're conservative, there's something wrong with you. Not just that you're mistaken, the way conservatives think liberals are, but that there's something actively evil about you. I experience this in my daily life here in New York at the most superficial level. I'll meet people at parties and if I tell them what I do for a living, they look at me like I've just confessed to being an axe murderer.
Well, while Lowry's not an ax murderer, there is something very wrong with him, a pundit who has worked hard to earn his place as a permanent figure of ridicule and contempt.
A wingnut just wouldn't be a wingnut without a engaging in little Zhdanovian hackery. Here's Comrade Rich to praise art that conforms to the views of the wingnut Politburo:
It's refreshing to have a Vietnam movie without Jim Morrison on the soundtrack, and one that doesn't run down the war as a hopeless, ignoble waste. The battle scenes are gripping. Watching the Huey helicopters do their thing is fascinating. And the movie includes the most positive depictions of prayer you'll ever see from Hollywood. A sample from the Mel Gibson/Hal Moore character: "And, oh Lord? As for our enemy, please ignore their heathen prayers and let us blast those bastards all to hell."
Da, Comrade, da! But remember, this is Commissar Rich Lowry, determined to light that explosive cigar he's been chewing on. To wit:
Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, told the young conservatives' gathering last month: "You have to check out 'March of the Penguins.' It is an amazing movie. And I have to say, penguins are the really ideal example of monogamy. These things - the dedication of these birds is just amazing."
Now here's the punchline:
The National Review's Rich Lowry has won the Stupidest Man Alive contest. [...] The "ideal" monogamy that Lowry praises is serial monogamy: the penguins change mates every year. That's not "really ideal" monogamy... unless, of course, Newt Gingrich is the really ideal monogamist.
The mated pair also spends very little time with each other--one or the other is always out in the ocean catching fish. And the male appears to do at least half of the egg-care and child-care.
Anyway, for aesthetic Stalinists like Lowry, art matters only for its propaganda value. Art for art's sake? Not so much. Bo-oring. But when he finds a piece of artful propaganda, that's when he really comes alive; a propos SiCKO, he wrote that Michael Moore is "the Reifenstahl of socialism." Now that's the kinda kulturkrit the wingnut Politburo notices, cherishes, and rewards!
But all this is chickenfeed compared to the real fun that can be had through Zhdanovian hackery. Anything can be blamed on the culture, from plain old ennui to teenage pregnancy (it's Britney Spears's fault, of course), from school shootings (a result of liberal teachers' penchant for grade inflation) to torture. Abu Ghraib provided Lowry with a ..well, a rich opportunity:
"[T]he distinct echoes of Abu Ghraib in our culture are unmistakable. "Consider the iconic film of the 1990s, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. It includes a scene of the rape of a man imprisoned and kept as a sexual slave, which prompted laughs in theaters. The victim, 'The Gimp,' became a figure of fun. Tarantino's latest, the Kill Bill movies, present the same romance of power and violence, arbitrarily and stylishly wielded. Cruelty, Tarantino tells us, can be fun."
Way to be -- umm, what's the slippery word? ahh -- counterintuitive there, Rich. I should have thought that a conservative explanation would be more about original sin and human nature; about how everyone has the capacity to be sadistic, and under certain conditions where the impulse is allowed and even encouraged, the tendency flowers... But, no. That would be too honest (if highly debatable). Not wingnutty enough, not enough bad faith. I mean, where's the liberal scapegoat in that scenario? So, blame the culture. Mission, as they say, accomplished: Rush was impressed.
But enough about art. Let's get to the other part of the culture war: the wingnut crusade against feminazis and homofagfags. As you might guess, Rich is heavily involved in that, too. He cares a great deal about it -- so much that he whines when his Dear Leader doesn't speak enough about it.
Lowry tried to frame the Catholic priest scandals as being about homosexuality instead of pedophilia, and the same for the Foley scandal. And as for women, well... He demands that they stop trying to take his (robust, irresistible) masculinity away. He will stand up to them! He doesn't need them anyway. After all, the athletes among them -- who seem to intimidate him a great deal -- are a bunch of Maoists. In fact, they're all just a bunch of (deep breath) Death-o-crats who disregard human life and love abortion but are ashamed of abortion because they know it's so evil.
Now why does Lowry really care so much? Because flaming the culture war excites Dear Leader's base. And according to Rich's Magic Eightball:
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Social conservatives--holding strong [Rich Lowry]
Key bit from the Ron Brownstein write up of the LA Times polls today:
Breaking the GOP's grip on socially conservative voters in Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia will be especially challenging. In each of those states, the surveys found that despite extensive doubts about the country's direction, the Republican candidates are amassing strong margins among rural voters and whites who regularly attend church...
Lowry was confident, so guess what happened!!!
It is an article of faith among wingnuts that Bill Clinton is responsible for, like, everything bad EVAR. Everything! And anything good that has happened has been, of course, in spite of teh Clenis. Ever willing to do his part for the movement, Rich Lowry wrote a book about Bill Clinton in which he claimed:
*Clinton didn't grow the economy: his own economic record depends on lies.
*Clinton sold out U.S. national security to campaign contributors.
*Clinton stood in the way of real welfare reform before being forced by the Republicans to sign a reform bill.
*Attorney General Janet Reno was AWOL on domestic security.
*Clinton's scandals were very real and he deserved impeachment.
*Clinton made sexual liberation the only cause for which he took career-endangering risks.
*Clinton's unwillingness to use force emboldened America's enemies.
*Clinton left the country vulnerable to the September 11th terrorist attacks.
For good measure, Lowry also has stated that Clinton is responsible for a nuclear North Korea. And by the way, the State Troopers were "basically right" about Governor Bill.
Anyway, the 9/11 allegation is something Lowry went on to belabor:
He says his first major book, “Legacy,” evolved as his reaction to 9/11.
As a journalist, he wanted to ferret out the roots of the disaster, and the more he worked the issue, the more he visualized those roots in terms of the preceding 8-year term of Bill Clinton.
“The policies [contributing to 9/11] had roots in the 1990s,” he says.
RICH LOWRY, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, I have to disagree.
I don't think we are using profiling. We didn't use profiling in the Clinton administration. The Gore Commission came out against any meaningful profiling measures, which is one reason that four or five Arab young men from the Middle East were able to waltz on to airliners, no questions asked, on September 11.
KURTZ: All right. Now, you call Bill Clinton in your book a monstrous, world-shaking failure. But, despite that view -- and you're entitled to it, ...
LOWRY: Thank you, Howard.
KURTZ: ... he remained pretty popular with the American people, ...
LOWRY: He did.
KURTZ: ... even after being impeached.
LOWRY: Let me explain that. The monstrous, world-shaking failure was leaving the country vulnerable to 9/11.
Well, no, but Lowry will not be denied:
[Kathryn Jean] Lopez: ...Rich, you write, "On September 11, Clinton's most important legacy arrived in horrifying form, and settled in a pile of rubble seven stories high in downtown Manhattan." Is that fair to blame Bill Clinton for 9/11?
Lowry: Well, obviously, Osama bin Laden was responsible for 9/11. But the September 11th attacks were clearly Clinton's most consequential legacy. The way he had hamstrung the CIA, handcuffed the FBI, neglected airport security, and, most importantly, left a nest of terrorist training camps in Afghanistan unmolested — knowing, knowing they were there — created the ticking time bomb that went off on September 11th. Should Bush have done more during the eight months he was in office? Absolutely. But much of his work would have been — and has been — undoing the mistakes of the Clinton administration.
"Mistakes" like not saying "kill" enough in public:
LOWRY: Well, this is -- this goes to crucial point here is that Clinton always treated terrorism as a domestic issue, as a criminal issue, instead of a foreign policy issue.
And you know, he commissioned a poll after the Khobar Tower bombings. Dick Morris went into his office and says, look, president, there'd be overwhelming support if you declare a war a terrorism. He didn't do it. And the reason why is because Clinton and liberals have a temperamental disinclination to wield American power abroad. The great thing about...
LOWRY: ... Bush and Rumsfeld is they have no compunction about killing our enemies.
EPSTEIN: With due respect. With due respect. With due respect to each of you, Clinton authorized the killing of bin Laden on four separate occasions, and neither of the two of you can distinguish the pre-9-11 Bush policy with respect to bin Laden and the Taliban from the Clinton policy. So I think it's an intellectually dishonest argument.
LOWRY: Julian, if you do a...
LOWRY: If you do a Nexus search of Bill Cohen and the word "kill" within 10 words, it doesn't show up. Here's a defense secretary, waged a war a Kosovo -- never used the word. And Bush and Rumsfeld like...
Right. For Lowry, it all boils down to Clinton being too pussified. Clinton, you see, should not just have used Chickenhawk rhetoric but also Chickenhawk action. Alas, he just wasn't heroic enough to send Americans to their deaths when it wasn't necessary:
LOWRY: Well, Morris`s theory is that Clinton was afraid if he ordered U.S. troops into any action where they were killed, he would get viciously criticized as, Look, you`re this draft dodger who is sending our boys into these sort of missions that you weren`t willing to undertake yourself. And that accounted for his caution. I don`t know whether that -- that`s sort of a psychological theory. I`m not sure whether that`s right or not. But it certainly, operationally, something like that was going on because all of Clinton`s wars were engaged mostly from 15,000 feet, with the premise that there should never be any American casualties.
And I said all these wars were fought mostly from 15,000 feet. His other great tool in war was cruise missiles, which also very risk-free. So they targeted the Iraqi intelligence service building, they made sure it was empty in the middle of the night so no one would be hurt, and then they launched these cruise missiles at it. This is just a stunningly flaccid response to a foreign government targeting a former U.S. president, but a very much characterized the Clinton approach, which on all of these military matters and on the war on terror was just laughably weak.
KURTZ: Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, which has urged the use of ground troops, said: "Even if Clinton wins a decent deal from Milosevic, he’s not going to go down as our Churchill or Eisenhower. It’s been a creepy and cowardly war..."
LOWRY: It was foreign policy as social work. And, you know, they thought it mattered a lot who was cutting down trees in Ecuador and, you know, what child welfare policy was in various places across the world. And what they could not do was identify the enemies of the United States like Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and go after them aggressively, because that`s fundamentally what they didn`t like to do temperamentally. They preferred the social work and the goo.
It all apparently stems from the fact that Clinton was a lying liar --
LOWRY: Yeah. Well, at the risk of sounding a little moralistic here, I think there is a pattern of behavior to philanderers, and they are extremely selfish and they are in some sense living a lie and betraying their family. And so it comes very easy to them to lie themselves or to urge other people to lie, as we saw in the Clinton case[.]
-- which of course puts him in stark contrast to You-know-who (about whose "moral eye" Lowry dilates endlessly):
CORN: Has Bush never told a lie?
LOWRY: Not in the true sense of deliberately telling ...
LOWRY: ... something's that untrue.
No, really, there's, like, a Bushite truth culture or something:
LOWRY: [... Y]ou know, Bushies told me during the Florida controversy, looking back at that, that something that was extremely reassuring was when James Baker went down there, the first thing he said is, We're not going to say anything that's untrue. We're going to check it three times. Now, you can argue about the extent to which they adhered to that, but that ethic is extremely important.
If Clinton didn't exist, wingnuts would have to invent him; he's their ultimate scapegoat as well as the ultimate crutch for all Bush's depravities. "But Clinton did it" is a vintage whine among so many cheesy wingnuts; thus Lowry's litany of self-refuting and apples-to-oranges excuses: WMD claims? But Clinton did it!, Secret wiretapping? But Clinton did it! Standing by as an ally blows up civilians? But Clinton did it! Pardons? But Clinton did it!
How on earth, then, did Clinton get elected twice, being such an obvious rat? Well, it was luck of course:
"It was Clinton's good fortune to run for re-election in a generally satisfied country," write Ramesh Ponnuru, Rich Lowry, and Kate O'Beirne in the National Review.
That, and Clinton's supposed application of supply-side economics. Also, contrary to your memories of the 90s, the press totally rolled over for Clinton:
LOWRY: [...] And, John, I think perhaps a mistake you're making is kind of looking at the coverage of Clinton retroactively. You know, during most of the Clinton administration, most of the Clinton scandals, the main media spin we had out of those scandals was that Dan Burton is a dangerous nut.
Finally, while Lowry allows that there were people out to get Clinton, he laughably asserts that the VRWC has nothing on the Bush haters in terms of power, shrillness, and nastiness.
Geez, what a whiny pathetic hack: Lowry lied about Bush's budget... lied about John Kerry's job numbers... cited Zell Miller's speech at RNC '04 to accuse the Democratic Party of having anger issues... tried to deprecate the Downing Street Memo by asserting to the effect that the verb "fixed" in British usage did not connote bad faith... defended the likes of Jerome Corsi shamefully late in the day even for a wingnut... wrote pathetic mini-hagiographies of G.W. Bush and Hinderakerishly praised even more pathetic book-length ones... fibbed about John Bolton's distortion of intelligence findings, averred that Democrats' concerns with Bolton's temper were "entirely opportunistic"; meanwhile, he praised Bolton as a "multilateralist" and argued vehemently that Bolton was no neoconservative... told little lies here, repeated little lies there... suddenly started to care about prisoner abuse -- even allowing that the Bush Justice Department was thwarting remedies to the problem -- then blamed liberals for making prison life too comfy... alleged that the media "smeared" Rush Limbaugh because it was reported that the Dirigible of Darvocet had been arrested on drug charges... bemoaned the state of America's mentally ill without once mentioning that it was Ronald Reagan's policies that put them on the streets (Reagan, second only to Lincoln among great presidents)... tried to smear Richard Clarke... accused the media of basically lying in reporting that many evangelicals dislike Mormons... argued that John "Death Squads" Negroponte was victim of a smear campaign... recirculated the tired old charge that Democrats have no new ideas; but when Bush's bold "new" ideas proved unpopular, he offered new "new" Republican ideas to Rove and Bush that he even admitted were "thin"... praised the building of the Hoover Dam only to condemn Big Government for the current lack of similar projects... unsurprisingly characterized Kerry as "arrogant," Gore as a bruiser and Bush as "the Zen candidate"... accused Gore of holding a "deep anger", but stated the hope that Richard Cheney would be "a little more harsh" -- meanwhile, Lowry defended poor Dick Cheney against nefarious liberal strawman-builders who had "'made [him] a figure of hate' and '[have been beating] the stuffing out of him for three years'" (Lowry conveniently forgot to mention that he had slagged Ol' Shoot-Em-In-The-Face back when Bush was considering potential running mates)... when Ted Turner stated the awful sentiment: "Just because you disagree with me doesn't mean you're not a patriot as far as I'm concerned," Lowry righteously riposted, "His politics are just loathsome....He captures a lot of the attitude in the rest of the mainstream media."... tried to spin Bush's abysmally low approval numbers by arguing that Americans are just negative people... demanded that Bush hire hacks for serious positions -- to counter the credibility problem created by Bush putting hacks in serious positions... after fumbling a bit in criticizing Congress, then trying to pin congressional bad habits on only the Democrats, finally blasted the whole institution (when, of course, the corruption was almost wholly Republican in origin)...
As you might expect, Lowry's terrible on environmental issues. He scoffs at scientific sources like Physics Today, but cites discredited Lysenkoists like Peter Schweizer. (Indeed, as editor of National Review, Lowry publishes such full-time Lysenkoist nimrods as Iain Murray and Jason Steorts.) For Lowry, environmentalists amount to a fifth column: the "Save the Whales" people are actually useful idiots for Our Enemies, meanwhile the Live Earth concert was merely a vehicle for the former Cat Stevens's Islamofascism. But then on the environment as on every other subject, Lowry is capable of breathtaking stupidity:
Lowry used discussion of a decision by an Alaskan village to reject free oil from Venezuela as an opportunity to urge drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. That came after he said Alaska had been "over-romanticized," that much of the state was desolate territory rather than beautiful, and that tribal villages in Alaska are socialist enclaves and that's why they're poor.
Which is bad enough. Then there's this, which needs to be appreciated in its entirety.
According to Rich Lowry, Joseph Wilson is "a partisan hack who has been completely discredited," not an expert on Niger, and a liar. Lowry also alleged that the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity as CIA agent wasn't payback by the Administration for Wilson's op-ed. Except Lowry also said that it was payback:
Lowry thought that if Joe Wilson was concerned about his wife, he shouldn't have written an Op Ed in the New York Times. When Hennican mentioned that the outing was a payback, Lowry defended that tactic saying, "Who wrote the rule that Joe Wilson gets to attack the Bush Administration?"
Right, but then this is the same Rich Lowry who boldly insisted that Valerie Plame was "not covert." Which is fine and dandy except for the fact that she was covert. Lowry later admitted that his conclusion was perhaps "too categorical." Remember that Rich is the Titanic of wrong.
Funny that: Lowry otherwise has a Nixonian attitude to leaks. For Lowry, what's ok if you are a Republican who wants to smear and silence a truth-telling former ambassador is treason if you're the New York Times and you want to let the public know what Big Brother's up to.
Okay, now fast-forward to the Libby trial-sentence-commutation: D'oh:
National Review editor Rich Lowry on Bill Clinton’s perjury:
Let’s concede that sexual harassment law is too broad and that the Jones suit was quite weak, that ideally there shouldn’t have been an independent counsel waiting to pounce on Clinton’s crimes, that a pair of conservative lawyers gave legal advice to the Jones team with the ulterior purpose of harming the president, and that Linda Tripp wasn’t very nice to Monica Lewinsky or very honest — that still leaves the fact that Bill Clinton, the president of the United States, had sex with an intern, perjured himself about it, suborned the perjury of someone else, and obstructed justice. What were House Republicans supposed to do with these alleged high crimes and misdemeanors of the president? Ignore them?
Rich Lowry on Scooter Libby’s perjury:
Fitzgerald’s evidence against Libby was all he said/he said. In these circumstances, a judicious prosecutor would have committed an act of forbearance, and even moral courage: He would have let it go. Fitzgerald couldn’t resist the temptation of every Washington special prosecutor, which is never to close up shop without at least one obstruction-of-justice indictment.
But wait. Double standards, you say (and not unusual, considering the source)? Actually worse than that, you say, because lying in a civil suit about sex is nothing compared to lying to a grand jury about 'outing' a covert agent? Well, forget it because Lowry maintains that he's the consistent one, and certainly more fair than some fucking jury of peons.
A Rich Tradition of Racism
National Review has a long tradition of burning journalistic crosses in America's yard, of taking the racist line on any subject, of brusquely opposing the civil rights movement. Of course this sort of thing can't be done as openly as it was in the past, but occasionally through the code and euphemism the true nature of the magazine's sentiment can still be discerned. Rich Lowry's speech and writing continues this grand old tradition:
On Cynthia McKinney:
LOWRY: [...] As far as Cynthia McKinney is concerned, she represents, I think, we should all hope, the past in black politics, this kind of a paranoid, confrontational, irrational, civil-rights model[...]
MALVEAUX: The civil-rights model is paranoid?
On Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson:
Sharpton and Jackson are dueling over who will be the nation's best-paid race hustler, a lucrative occupation.
(Indeed, Lowry finds it "appalling...that Sharpton is now accepted in polite company.")
Likewise, Lowry hilariously stretched to paint John Kerry as some kind of crazed racial demagogue. On the other hand, he found at least one thing to admire about Barack Obama:
RICH LOWRY: [...] Barack Obama is very interesting. He really has a visceral tendency not to want to tell people what they want to hear, not to go for the cheap applause lines, and he was...
JUDY WOODRUFF: African-American audience, it's Howard University.
RICH LOWRY: Yes, he was the only one last night going out of his way to say, "No, you know, all these government programs aren't necessarily the answer unless you have more responsibility on the part of individuals and communities."
Also, Lowry finds Obama useful for calling liberal economic populists racist.
When Tennessee Republicans hit Harold Ford, Jr. (whom Lowry had pretended to praise in the service of slagging McKinney) with a race-baiting TV ad, Lowry was predictably ecstatic, calling it a "bull's eye".
Lowry's always there as defender of the faith when one of his prominent fellow Republicans says something disgustingly racist and is busted for it. Like, say, Bill Bennett:
Channelling Hannity, Lowry demanded that Brown answer the ridiculous question, "Do you personally think it is wrong to abort black babies? ...Does it outrage you that 10 million black babies have been aborted in the last, say, 30 years? ...Does it bother you that so many black babies have been aborted?"
Brown asked why this was made a race issue.
Lowry, laughing derisively said, "Because, Michael, it's been made a race issue because these people are smearing Bill Bennett as a racist. Come on!"
Lowry said, "If you guys really don't want conversations to be racialized in this country, you should tell it to the leadership of the Democratic Party and the civil rights establishment."
Or Rush Limbaugh.
Lowry laments that no one bothers attacking former racists who have categorically repudiated their past:
Lowry went on to complain that “you cannot get the media exercised about Robert Byrd’s Klan past.”
But, as you might expect, when it comes to unrepentant racists and those who praise them, Lowry... well, let's just say his position is complicated. Lowry wrote a "pox on both their houses" sort of editoral (which even Charles Krauthammer thought indecent) on the Trent Lott controversy, giving as much or more hell to those offended by Lott's remarks as to Lott himself. As Lott was being shown the door, Lowry whined that consistency required Tom Daschle go, too. Then Lowry, in the hope that if the Majority Leader was to be deposed, it would be done quietly, assailed Lott's stalling tactics. He also deplored the fact that some in the Senate were telling the truth:
And, memo to Senate GOPers—It’s not very helpful to “defend” Lott by saying that this isn’t a problem specific to him, but to the Republican party generally.
And why shouldn't they? After all, the GOP and its hacks in the media like Lowry didn't roll Lott over so quickly for saying things they themselves believe. No, Lott was allowed to be shitcanned without much of a fight because they were afraid he'd try to prove he wasn't racist:
[E]very day for a long time that Lott continues to be majority leader will be just such a rolling surrender to the NAACP and other grievance groups.
And worse, Lott might try to show that his potential replacements were just as racist as he. For Republicans like Lowry, the problem wasn't that Lott was a racist (again, how could it be?); no, the problem was that Lott wasn't wingnutty enough!:
Rich Lowry wrote that Lott's leadership was "a reprise of the days of Bob Dole, when a legislative tactician with a taste for deal-making and cool relations with the GOP's grass-roots muddled from one compromise to the next."
As with so many wingnuts, Hurricane Katrina truly swept away whatever existed of Lowry's veneer of decency, leaving exposed his racist foundations for all to see. Now Lowry never much cared for New Orleans, considering it a lurid den of iniquity in which Democrats and Negroes conspired to steal elections from virtuous Republicans (not that New Orleans the city and Louisiana the state aren't full of corruption, but Lowry's slanted piece is the journalistic equivalent of taking a dump on the Vieux Carre' in broad daylight). Then Katrina hit, and the carnage and suffering it wrought proved to be a laff-riot subject for Lowry's colleague Jonah Goldberg:
ATTN: SUPERDOME RESIDENTS
I think it's time to face facts. That place is going to be a Mad Max/thunderdome Waterworld/Lord of the Flies horror show within the next few hours. My advice is to prepare yourself now. Hoard weapons, grow gills and learn to communicate with serpents. While you're working on that, find the biggest guy you can and when he's not expecting it beat him senseless. Gather young fighters around you and tell the womenfolk you will feed and protect any female who agrees to participate without question in your plans to repopulate the earth with a race of gilled-supermen. It's never too soon to be prepared.
Even some conservatives were appalled and said so.
Professor Stephen Bainbridge, a conservative law professor at UCLA and a blogger of note, took Goldberg to task for this particularly heartless comedy routine: Goldberg, however, refused to apologize[.]
But Pantload decided the next day that, yeah, his jokes were tasteless and cruel. Ahh, but Rich Lowry would have none of that pussified apology shit, not on his watch:
Personally, I thought the Jonah Superdome riff was funny[.]
Sure. And Lowry's support must have slapped Pantload out of his half-assed contrition, because he then went on to ventilate an emailer's opinion on blacks' ability to swim. Meanwhile, Lowry tried to blame the whole disaster on Democrats. Then he had the gall to say:
It is getting ugly. Not just in New Orleans, but in the debate over it. Take our poisonous partisan divide, add the finger-pointing that takes place after any calamity, then mix in noxious racial politics, and you have the formula for the coming Battle over New Orleans.
But, of course, Lowry was determined to make it uglier:
There's some wistfulness for law and order over at the Corner today, with Rich Lowry pining for the manly intervention of Mississippi guv Haley Barbour: "Talking about any possible looters in Mississippi, the governor said (I'm quoting from memory) that they would be dealt with 'ruthlessly,' that they are 'sub-human,' and that they would get 'a lesson they wouldn't soon forget.'" The fact that most of the looters are black is just a coincidence, we're sure.
PETERSON: The root cause of crime is a lack of moral character. You know, we saw a good example of that in the New Orleans situation in the inner cities. I've done a lot of work in the inner cities, and I have to tell you that crime and out-of-wedlock birth, black folks having babies without being married, and stuff like that is out of control. And it's not because they lack material things but because not all, not all, not all --
RICH LOWRY (guest co-host and National Review editor): Right.
PETERSON: -- but most of them lack moral character. Look what they did to the Dome. In three days they turned the Dome into a ghetto.
With victims cast as less than human, some commentators proposed shocking actions. “I hope the looters are shot,” Peggy Noonan pronounced on the Wall Street Journal’s OpinionJournal.com (9/1/05). On the Situation with Tucker Carlson (9/15/05), Carlson remarked, “Maybe [the National Guard] should have shot people but they didn’t.” Sitting in for Sean Hannity on Fox’s Hannity & Colmes (9/9/05), Rich Lowry asked author Simon Winchester about the “shoot to kill order” in the 1906 California Earthquake. After “about an hour,” Winchester related, the looting “stopped.” “Doesn’t surprise me,” Lowry returned, adding that “it seems as though no one was really waiting for bureaucratic approval or worrying about the legalities or . . . possible lawsuit[s].”
For Lowry, what conservatives ought to do about the "Battle over New Orleans" was two-fold. First, oppose the supremely evil rhetoric of blacks who felt abandoned and betrayed, and who had the temerity to view such responses to Katrina as Lowry's, racist (how dare they):
when substitute co-host Rich Lowry took his turn, he wasted no time trying to discredit the elder Bond and paint him as a radical, black racist. Lowry said, “Let me hone in on the word 'lynching' because I think this is important. The word ‘lynching’ means a racially motivated, deliberate act of murder. And that is not what Katrina was… Tens of billions are being poured down there to try to rebuild those devastated areas. This isn’t like a lynching at all.”
Michael Bond agreed that the hurricane, itself, was not a lynching but, he added, “the languishing of the people of New Orleans and in that region are experiencing with a slow and almost – I mean, just the lack of an earnest response from this government is appalling and to characterize it as a lynching or whether or not it’s a slow torture on the rack is perhaps more accurate. That’s what these people are feeling… In the greatest country in the world, this shouldn’t be the case.”
Rather than debate the issue of the federal response, Lowry took another stab at smearing African Americans while trying to play gotcha with Bond. “Let me push you on this because I think you’re really using this word loosely,” Lowry said. “Last year, about 130 black men were murdered (by other blacks) in New Orleans. Would you call that a lynching?”
Second, try to blame the effects of Katrina on the liberal idea of the social contract, and at the same time push reactionary social-engineering schemes as proper remedies.
The plan now seems to be to go back to blaming the local Democratic officials, like Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin, and if that doesn't work, spread the blame so widely that only a little of it butters George Bush.
But this frustrates some of the true believers who just can't bear to let the poor off the hook. The ever-ingenious Rich Lowry of the National Review has found a way to blame the poor indirectly. He blames Liberal social programs for keeping the poor poor[:]
[...]New Orleans was partly a catastrophe of the welfare state, which has subsidized inner cities with countless billions of dollars throughout the past 30 years, with little to show for it except more social breakdown.
[...]Now, of course, the implication of this argument is that if you can't guarantee a Utopia then you should not bother to even try to fix any problems. Another way of saying it is that if you can't save everybody, you might as well let everybody drown, which was apparently the thinking behind locking the doors to steerage aboard the Titanic.
The real story is the failure of the civil-rights movement to create a new generation of leaders willing to address today's threats to urban America.
Cities beset by broken families, rage-killings and corrupt, ineffectual governance suffer a mini-Katrina every day. Yet where are the uncompromising calls for the restoration of the black family and a new wave of vigorous, reformist urban government? Asked on "Fox News Sunday" what his solutions are to the problems of black America, the Rev. Lowery emphasized 30-year-old bromides. "Let's have more [government] programs," he suggested lamely.
National Review editor Rich Lowry opined (National Review Online, 9/2/05) that “the breakdown of the family” was what left people poor and vulnerable in the aftermath of Katrina, suggesting “a grand right-left bargain that includes greater attention to out-of-wedlock births from the left in exchange for the right’s support for more urban spending.” (Lowry did not suggest that spending money on urban problems would actually be desirable, but argued that “anything is worth addressing the problem of fatherlessness.”)
Naturally, this had the effect of thrilling both social conservatives and certain idiot "liberals":
What a perfect moment to change the subject and blame poor African-American women for causing the poverty the world witnessed in the aftermath of Katrina. Without skipping a beat, Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, proclaimed that the “The root of it [the poverty exposed by Katrina] is the breakdown of the family. Roughly 60 percent of births in New Orleans are out of wedlock.” Lowry then went on to propose a “grand right-left bargain that includes greater attention to out-of-wedlock births from the left in exchange for the right’s support for more urban spending…”
Clueless liberals quickly accepted Lowry’s clever reframing of the problem. Nicholas Kristof embraced it as an “excellent suggestion” in his New York Times column.
Others saw through Lowry's offer more clearly than did the dreadful Kristof:
For all our talk about single-parent families--the reason for the terrible poverty of black New Orleans, if we are to believe right-wing columnists Rich Lowry and David Brooks--we act to bring about more of them, and of the most vulnerable, makeshift kind. Somehow single motherhood is supposed to be the fault of the left, but it's the right that has cut public funding for contraception, held up Plan B, restricted abortion, flooded the schools with useless abstinence-only sex ed and now even threatens to bar confidentiality to girls seeking birth control.
At any rate, Lowry eventually proclaimed a "winner" of Katrina: John McCain. Yeah, whatever.
Anyway, for Lowry what goes for blacks also goes, in its own way, for Latinos (whose crimes -- aside voting for Democrats -- include "ominous" demonstrations which make Dear Leader look feeble) and Native Americans, whom Lowry characterizes as "rotten". No, really:
HELP-CORRUPT AND CORRUPTING INDIANS [Rich Lowry]
I'm going to try to do a column on what a rotten influence Indians are in our politics, pegged to California. If you have suggestions for stuff to read or people to talk to, I'd appreciate hearing from you. Thanks!
And it's from this kind of moral "high ground" that Lowry flings the irony-rich charge of "Racial McCarthyism" at those who oppose Republican politicians' pandering to the racists in the GOP base.
Besides, it isn't like Lowry hasn't found token blacks to support. You know, blacks like Ward Connerly.
Richie Rich: The Class Warrior
Wingnut pundits like Lowry always whine about "class-warfare", but it is they who are the class warriors. Top-down class warfare, that is, for benefit of the rich; these Bizzaro World Robin Hoods have always been loyal servants of what Theodore Roosevelt called "the Wealthy Criminal Class," which, in modern context, means Corporate America. The whole wingnut economic project is about rolling back America to the age Robber Barons, and thanks to the complicity of the press and various neoliberal pundits and politicans, the project has gone smashingly. Lowry has shown his support for (another TR phrase) the "malefactors of great wealth" in the following ways:
Lowry is a great hater of poor people. He argues that the overwhelming cause of poverty is poor peoples' own indolence and promiscuity:
Poverty in America is primarily a cultural phenomenon, driven by a shattered work ethic and sexual irresponsibility. Child poverty would be nearly obliterated if every household had one adult working full time and married parents.
Yep. All poverty can be explained by lazy, slutty disgraces to America.
And if you don't agree with that assessment, well, then you're just a fakey homo fag --
You can argue with the particulars of this program, but if you're not talking abut how to increase work and marriage among the poor, well then, you're not serious about addressing poverty. You're just some guy with pretty hair saying pretty words because you like the way they sound.
That was the weirdest insult to end a column in recent memory. And awfully stupid, coming from Wind-Swept Rich.
-- like John Edwards!
According to Lowry, the stagnation of wages has had "little to do" with causing or exacerbating poverty. In fact, he argues, it's workers' greed for more wages and benefits that has sabotaged great companies from within. So of course raising the minimum wage is a "non-solution to a non-problem"
Lowry's solution to poverty is the same as his solution to Katrina, and it's a social conservative's wet dream: Shotgun marriages:
Let me see if I understand what Lowry is saying. The problem is not that women are giving birth to kids too early. Oh no – that’s a good thing. The problem is that those they had sex with aren’t forced to marry the mother. So if we had shotgun marriages – poverty in America would be eliminated.
What a clever plan!:
Ah yes... if only little Johnny had a father who flipped burgers and was married to Johnny's mother who then could stay home with little Johnny. You think I'm being flippant? Lowry actually believes that a parent who works full time at minimum wage, which is $5.15 an hour nationally, isn't poor because of the Earned Income Tax Credit and food stamps. According to Lowry, then, little Johnny has it made and is on his way to Harvard!
For me to poop on:
Even when there are jobs available, moreover, poor mothers often face tremendous barriers to getting and keeping them due to a lack of viable transportation from where they live to where they might work, to say nothing of the fact that someone's got to take care of the kids while mom's on the job. If conservatives were serious about putting America to work they'd be trying to do something about this, too. Meanwhile, the various income supplements Lowry refers to as making work an effective anti-poverty tool -- food stamps, refundable tax credits, etc. -- are stuff the right is against as you'll see, for example, if you look at the president's proposal to balance the budget by cutting housing vouchers.
Well of course Lowry is in the business of "damned if they do, damned if they don't":
On the one side, of course, we meet the objections from religious and social conservatives wary of working mothers and viewing daycare and other social services that might benefit working parents as an encroachment by the "nanny state." Thunders National Review editor Richard Lowry: "The mass entry of women into the workforce has acted to dissolve the family in general."
(Lowry sneers back to the effect that Liberals hate marriage unless it's for homosexuals.)
Lowry's incoherent and hateful prescriptions for alleviating poverty are perhaps better understood when you consider that his general economic stupidity has been pointed out by people on the center- left, center, and right. But it's a weaselly sort of dishonesty rather than garden-variety wingnut stupidity that causes Lowry to so often move the definitional goalposts, especially on matters pertaining to social security.
Seriously, what a fucking wingnut jackass. Lowry was terribly excited at the prospect of "reforming" social security:
Mr. Lowry: It's been extraordinary the way the Social Security debates have played out. Very interesting things happened when Bush rolled out that plan. The first significant thing was that he was rolling it out at all. The second was that Gore went after it in the traditional way that Democrats have, total scare-mongering and demagogic attacks about throwing our seniors overboard. That attack just did not take at all and what Gore ended up doing was re-tooling his own Social Security plan to move it in the direction that Bush was going. The distinction now between the two plans is that Bush is taking part of the actual payroll tax to fund people's private accounts, and Gore is leaving the payroll tax the way it is and giving people a private savings option outside the system. That's why Gore says his plan is Social Security plus and Bush's is Social Security minus. But the fact is that both parties now acknowledge that the rate of return is a disaster and that people can be taken care of better if they actually save and invest for themselves. That's a huge change in the politics of our country.
And then four years later:
RICH LOWRY: Well, [Bush] hit on his two main points that we are going to hear a lot going forward: one, that the current system is unsustainable and will not be there in its current form for younger workers one way or the other. And two, personal accounts offer a more attractive option for younger workers than just maintaining the current system.
So Lowry was ready to help Dear Leader, even if he didn't always keep up with the latest talking points. Lowry tried to spin social security privatization as a means to help minorities and to sock it to the wealthy. Talk about chutzpah: it doesn't get any better than a rightwing hack using progressive-populist language to try to sell a privatization scheme whose sole purpose was to benefit Wall Street. But then Lowry's the kinda guy who thinks the AARP is a front for left-wing vultures, so he's obviously capable of any sort of batshittery on the subject.
But speaking of seniors leads to the subject of healthcare. It is only because of the wealthy criminal class that America, alone among first world nations, does not have reasonably fair healthcare system. So of course those other countries must be demonized:
[T]he welfare state sort of sap[s] people’s vitality
And the demonization goes double for those Americans who support the human right to healthcare:
[SiCKO]'s not just an attack on the insurance industry, but on our way of life.
The only reason to fantasize about Cuban health care is to stick a finger in the eye of the Yanquis. For the likes of Michael Moore, the true glory of Cuba is less its health care than the fact that it is an enemy of the United States. That’s why romanticizing Cuban medicine isn’t just folly, but itself qualifies as a kind of sickness.
Michael Moore set out to make a movie attacking the American insurance industry and ended up attacking the American character.
Liberals agitate for more government programs knowing that they create their own self-perpetuating constituencies and chip away at our culture of self-reliance. For now, that culture is still robust, as American exceptionalism remains stubbornly exceptional.
If you really want sweeping French-style social-welfare programs and repressive tax rates, your only alternative is to, like the American expats Moore glorifies in his movie, move to France.
Lowry is such a corporate whore. Wal-Mart, oil companies, the vaccine industry -- such virtuous entities must be defended against the evil Democrats. In fact, so evil are Democrats that they'd completely and remorselessly destroy the economy by doing such things as raise the minimum wage, increase taxes on the wealthy, and start "taking whacks at 'free trade.'" And how's this for self-pity:
[T]he media sort of treats, you know, conservatives who think a low tax environment is good for the economy as some sort of Neanderthals.
(No, Rich, they don't -- but they should.)
Lowry advised Democrats that if they were any less servile to corporate interests than he, it would amount to political suicide because it would alienate the allegedly gigantic investor class of folks who might have some 401(k) and therefore imagine themselves as peers to the Rockefellers (the wingnut trope of "building an ownership class" is precisely designed to inculcate this mentality, the theory being that if you let the peons split one percent of corporate stocks, they'll quit supporting their own liberal interests and sign on to whatever Wall Street wants):
RICH LOWRY: Let me go back to the Gore populism. I do think in the short-term it has helped him with his image but in the long-term I can't believe it's a winner for him because this kind of rhetoric runs directly counter to the most important demographic change in this country, which is the rise of mass investment. And most people in this country aren't fearful and worried about powerful corporate interests. They own pieces of powerful corporate interests, whether they're pharmaceuticals or whether they're Microsoft or whatever. So I think in the long run, this is a loser message for Gore[.]
Well, remember, this is Rich Lowry. So then Enron, Adelphia, etc. "happened". Ooops:
LOWRY: Well, a couple things here. One, you are right about the investors. And the fact is, Republicans, throughout most of 90's, were touting the investor class as a great thing for them, and I think on the whole, it will be, but this is an instance where it really could come back and bite them. If investors feel sour, you know, in the fall of this year, it could be a real problem for Republicans.
Now, the campaign against Harvey Pitt, I think, is totally political grandstanding. I mean, the idea that Harvey Pitt has done something in the last 18 months that somehow secretly signaled to all business leaders that they can be criminals I think is totally ridiculous. And the fact is, the market has, to some extent, to be self-policing, because there are not enough regulators in the country to sit over the shoulders of every accountant in America.
(Damage control!) Please disperse. Nothing to see here! There is no quid pro quo, corporations do not buy politicians, blah blah blah:
RICH LOWRY, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Yeah. Well, this will test the theory of whether we can have a political scandal without any real political wrong-doing. And the fact is, all reporters sort of these days work off the "All the President's Men" model. It's follow the money all the time.
So it's sort of this knowing and simplistic and tiresome cynicism where if the president of the United States says, you know, I believe we need more energy supply and we need to subsidize energy sources and drill more, because that's a good thing for the country, most reporters say, no, no, no -- that's not what he's really up to. He's been bought off.
KURTZ: So in the world according to Lowry, Enron and companies like it give millions of dollars to politicians not because they're trying to buy anything like access, but because they're just being nice to their ideological soul mates?
LOWRY: Well, Enron made a lot of bad investments, and soft money was probably one of them.
KURTZ: So you think -- and in fact, just last Sunday Bob Schieffer and Cokie Roberts said the way that Bush should respond to this would be to come out aggressively for campaign finance reform. You think journalists are using the whole Enron debacle as an excuse to push their favorite pet issue?
LOWRY: Sure. It's the most tired cliche in the business. You know, and the reason why governments listen to companies like Enron is because big corporations are important. Any administration that crafted...
KURTZ: But why do they give them all this money?
LOWRY: They think it gets access. It gets you a nickname. It gets you nice notes. It does get you into the meeting.
But the fact is, both administrations did things to help Enron, but both administrations did things that helped Enron that played to ideological type. The Clinton administration signed the Kyoto Treaty because their liberals. The Bush administration wanted to deregulate because they're conservatives. There's no scandal here.
KURTZ: Well, who in Washington has not gotten Enron money? I mean, you have the top administration officials, you have lots of members of Congress, you have all these consultants and academics...
TAPPER: And Arthur Andersen money, too.
KURTZ: Exactly. And so, you seem to be taking sort of a narrow view of this, Rich, in the sense that if President Bush and Dick Cheney...
LOWRY: I'm never narrow, Howard.
TAPPER: He's very broad-minded.
KURTZ: If President Bush and Dick Cheney didn't do something specific to help them stave off bankruptcy, then where is the political scandal -- whereas the broad view, maybe journalists justifying the pursuit of the story, is about the relationship in which they would help Enron in many ways, not in any small part because of the campaign contributions.
LOWRY: Well, no one can point to specifically anything they got that they shouldn't have gotten. And, you know, the fact is, Enron backed Chuck Schumer, the Democrat in the 1998 New York Senate race. Why? Because Chuck Schumer agreed with Enron on deregulation. Companies that support deregulation are going to give money to candidates who support deregulation. There's nothing inherently corrupt about that...
LOWRY: Yes, all journalists love that story of campaign finance reform, and it was because they're all sort of beholden to the Bob Woodward view of the world, which is follow the money and money explains. Well the world's much more complicated than that and politicians have a lot of different pressures on them rather than money including their own ideologies and temperaments. And you know I think there's -- I disagree with Paul, there's been a lot of attention on the Cheney energy plan, but I would disagree with the characterization that somehow that energy plan must have been bought or it was just a creation of Enron.
You know Bush and Cheney, the whole idea of that energy plan was to create a greater supply of energy. So of course you're going to talk to Enron. You're also going to other big energy companies. There's no scandal there.
But what's really hilarious, considering the above, is when Lowry accuses Liberals and Democrats of being the real elitists, the real corporate whores, the true representatives of the wealthy and spoiled classes. Like when he wrote this:
Bizarrely, it is the Democrats who most strongly support a lax immigration system that acts as a subsidy to business interests eager to hire workers at the lowest wages possible and to upper-middle-class Americans who don’t want to pay too much to have someone mow their lawns.
And this. And don't forget about Lowry rising in defence of poor persecuted working class Tom DeLay:
In addition to the alleged ethical infractions that have dogged him in the press recently, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has one overriding, unspoken sin -- he's déclassé. In this, he has some of the same broad characteristics as George W. Bush: Texas, conservatism, Christianity, lack of -- ahem -- verbal subtlety.
But it's when Chickenhawk Lowry purports to speak in his pseudo-populist voice for the armed forces that he's truly pathetic:
Now, whatever you say about his landing on the aircraft carrier, whether that was a political stunt, whether it was premature, you could see the very real connection between those guys and George Bush. And that`s because Bush is a "red state" American. When he goes on vacation, he doesn`t go out to Martha`s Vineyard to hang out with intellectuals and celebrities. He goes to clear brush on his ranch. And that`s the kind of thing folks in the military connect with more naturally than Bill Clinton.
And most pathetic of all:
During the Q&A, an audience member noted that the US military was aiming its recruiting efforts at low-income young Americans and noted this was not fair. (One faculty member later told me that the Connecticut National Guard was engaged in a very active recruiting effort at this state school but had not done so at more pricey schools in the area, such as Wesleyan and Brown, my alma mater. I wonder why.) Lowry dismissed the idea--popularized in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11--that the war in Iraq is mostly being fought by low-income Americans who have been driven into the military by a lack of other opportunities. Instead, Lowry said, a surge of "patriotism" had swept through young American adults after 9/11, compelling them to sign up to fight for their country and the noble cause of promoting freedom and democracy overseas. I asked him whether this surge of "patriotism" had flowed through the offices of National Review? Had it depopulated his staff? How many interns had it claimed? Lowry did not answer this question.
Macho Macho Editor
In October 2000, at a Cato Institute symposium on the presidential election, National Review Editor Rich Lowry spoke of a “war on masculinity” in America and asserted that Bush appealed to the voters because he exemplified an action-oriented, nonintellectual manly resolve.
That's the robust, barrel-chested, alpha male Rich Lowry of the Bush Cult of Contrived Masculinity --
"Maybe we don't want a presidential candidate who can pronounce Kostunica or recite the constituent parts of Yugoslavia," wrote National Review Editor Richard Lowry.
Sometimes, especially at National Review, the animus against braininess has overlapped with a crusade for traditional manliness -- the idea being that book learning is for wimps.
Appearing on the Fox News show On the Record to discuss a recently released documentary about Bush on the campaign trail, Lowry hailed him as "a more traditional, red-blooded guy" than Al Gore: "He's tough. He's manly....He's not very reflective." To Lowry, it turns out, even familiarity with "hip" pop culture products such as Sex and the City -- a familiarity that Bush, in the documentary, appears to lack -- denotes excessive intellectualism and elitism. "Bush probably knows more about NASCAR, which is more tuned into what most Americans care about, than any of these reporters writing about him," he commented.
-- and he means what he says (in what he no doubt imagines is a rugged baritone). So Al Franken challenged him to a fight. But Lowry declined, though he couldn't ever quite own up to the truth that he is a weenie projecting his own neuroses on others:
Franken's challenge, naturally, has a political point. He saw me on C-SPAN the other day giving a talk in which I decried the way liberals and feminists are promoting the feminization of America, and called for a defense of traditional notions of masculinity. Franken now thinks I should prove my own manliness by grappling with him in a garage.
This makes a certain amount of sense. If I had to choose a male representative of the feminization of America to punch, the former SNL comic, who has always vaguely reminded me of Richard Simmons, would do as well as any.
In the end, because Lowry was too chicken to follow through on his petty slanders, they settled for a debate at Spinsanity on the merits and demerits of each other's books. Or as Franken put it:
[I]n summary: Rich said on C-SPAN that Democrats had sissified politics; I challenged him to a fight in my parking garage; he demurred like a little girl; I wrote about the incident honestly in my book; he wrote a column that gave his readers a totally misleading characterization of my book, which he later admitted he hadn't read; I challenged Rich to another fight; he demurred again, but challenged me to a contest of ideas. So here we are.
Spinsanity basically called it a draw, but in their "serious" way neglected to opine on, much less condemn, Lowry's original gender-based critique of Democrats (though they did bother to note Franken's mockery of Lowry's entirely evaporated machismo).
OK, so Lowry has bashed Democrats as being girly-faggy-pinko-appeasers. Franken busted him on this. They debated and in that debate Lowry wrote:
So outraged is he by her outrageous name-calling, Franken calls her, quite seriously, a "nutcase." A spectacularly successful author, Ann Coulter is not crazy, although her argumentative brilliance can be tinged with intemperance.
This, coming from Lowry, is as rich and precious as angel food cake. Because Lowry had clean-up duty to perform after one of Coulter's more famous meltdowns: her call to "invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." And what a sloppy clean-up job it was:
The column was obviously written with some degree of anger, rage, and grief and she probably went a little far on certain things but the essential point I think is accurate that the most drastic possible measures are called for.
But this pathetic bit of Lionel Hutz-esque advocacy got Lowry absolutely nowhere:
The column outraged the public, but conservatives, including National Review editor Richard Lowry, ascribed Coulter's column to grief over the loss of a friend in the attacks. But the following week, Coulter was at it again: "Congress could pass a law tomorrow requiring that all aliens from Arabic countries leave....We should require passports to fly domestically. Passports can be forged, but they can also be checked with the home country in case of any suspicious-looking swarthy males." This time Lowry spiked her column. Coulter responded by calling Lowry and his staff censorious "girly boys." Lowry then dropped her as a contributing editor.
Was it merely Coulter's "intemperance" that caused her to attack Lowry's masculinity as he has attacked that of Liberals? Who knows, but it's nice to see wingnuts attack each other and it's very nice to see the weapons they throw at Liberals suddenly morph into boomerangs. At any rate, Ramesh Ponnuru's opinion on the Lowry-Coulter contretemps is worth noting:
To my knowledge, NR has never read Ann Coulter out of respectable conservatism; we merely stopped running her column after a public dispute about our editorial practices.
Well, sure. What I'm getting at is that Lowry must absorb any such insult from a fellow wingnut because they are too precious for the movement to give up. Lowry has to forgive Coulter for being Coulter, because he's basically a Coulter, too. Case in point is when Coulter called John Edwards a faggot, and Lowry was right there to defend her from cruel, unfair lefties. He might as well have been defending himself. And in a way, he was.
And the same goes for his taking it so easy on other writers under the NR masthead. I've already mentioned how Lowry publishes discredited Lysenkoists, but he also publishes serial liars, lying liars, statistically-illiterate nimrods, government-funded propagandists, and all-around jackasses (a list, by the way, that doesn't include even more pathetic excuses for pundits like JPod, Pantload, and K-Lo). Some well-meaning people occasionally call on Lowry to exercise a bit of journalistic decency in his supervising editorial role, but why should he? He'd just be applying standards to them that he doesn't apply to himself. Short of plagiarism and publicly criticizing NR editorial policy, wingnuts who work for Lowry's rag are pretty much given carte blanche. Probably because it's, somehow, the macho thing to do.
Richie The Geek: Political Prognostications You Can Bet On!
Remember what I said about Rich Lowry's spectacular and hilarious capacity for massive wrongness? Yeah? Well, there's a good formula for it. Dave Weigel -- in the context of Lowry's bold predictions of George Allen's coming triumph --
George Allen was supposed to be the man -- kosher to both the anti-tax right and the Christian right, he was the subject of preseason, groundwork-laying paeans like Rich Lowry's November 2005 profile in National Review, which came complete with a socialist-realist cover photo of Allen engaging in the leaderly (to conservatives) pastime of throwing a football.
-- has devised something called "the Lowry Test":
If Rich Lowry believes something will happen, it will, in fact, not happen.
Good Call Rich!
Rich Lowry, Editor of the National Review, 3PM:
BOLTON NOMINATION WILL PASS THE COMMITTEE 10-8 TODAY
Committee Puts Bolton on Hold
Fox News rattled on that after just taking the reigns of the House of Representatives, Pelosi -- who had promised five day work weeks -- was already feathering her nest and making things more comfortable by taking off Monday for football.
Fox didn't stop there. They also had some talking heads on board, of whom National Review's Rich Lowry was one, to further lampoon Speaker Pelosi for this take a day off slip.
Well, Fox owes Pelosi a prime time apology -- and maybe a panel of experts on following to discuss why Fox uses the "Drudge Report" as a primary new source and didn't run the traps on a story it was giving huge profile to -- and on which it organized a panel of Pelosi-bashing pundits.
Drudge broke the story Sunday evening after seeing a House release noting that there would be "no business" on Monday. Then he let his imagination take over and started the attack on Pelosi and House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer.
But as Raw Story has reported, the request for the day off came from Republican Minority Leader John Boehner[.]
And the same for the '06 elections (with some bonus gloating to better set up the inevitable pie-in-the-face moment). And for the James Fallows story. And for Box Turtle Ben Domenech:
"He really shows maturity beyond his years," said Richard Lowry, editor of the National Review.
Lowry said he runs into a lot of George Will-wannabes trying to break into national journalism circles at a very young age, but "few of them can actually pull it off. [Domenech] just seems to be just a couple steps in front of everyone else."
With such a history (and I haven't even got to the best example yet) of boneheaded predictions, you might think that Lowry would be just a little hesitant to criticize others for theirs (which are of course relatively few and minor in comparison). But you'd be wrong:
OH, MAN, IS DEEP THROAT EVER PAT BUCHANAN!!! [Rich Lowry ]
Speaking of Josh Marshall, check out this amusing post from 2002.
Posted at 04:58 PM
Yeah, bwahahahaha, Rich. That kinda gloating just means the cosmic baker will make damn sure the pie flying toward your face will be that much more custardy and creamy...
"We're winning" is the biggest reason why Rich Lowry has become a posterchild for Delusional Wingnut Syndrome, not only for the ridiculousness of the sentiment itself, but also for the self-aggrandizing pronoun by which Lowry places himself in parity with the troops doing the actual fighting he's too chickenshit to sign up for. When George W. Bush decided to invade and occupy Iraq, it inevitably followed that the United States (unless it decided to be overtly genocidal in its imperialism, which it's fair to say was and is the preference of many on the WingNet) would fail in the endeavor; as Dear Leader himself said, "no one likes to be occupied." And so the news from Iraq has been a steady series of tragedies and sorrow, death and carnage. But failure is not something "manly" to admit -- especially when all one ultimately cares about is Dear Leader's party's power in domestic politics -- and reality is not something that's "manly" to perceive and acknowledge. So wingnuts like Lowry insist that America is winning, the tide is turning, that the impossible is possible, that the unreal is real, that the doomed immoral imperial war can be won by the power of wishful thinking if only the morality- and reality-based would shut the fuck up and the pinko-commie-fag-girly appeasers would stop trying to stab good Amurkins in the back.
For Lowry, it's not just that "we have always been at war with Eurasia;" it's that we've always been winning that war:
RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, it should leave them pretty embarrassed. There's no sign that it actually has, but quagmire is just one of the worst cliches in the business, and I think every reporter should have a special feature on their spell and grammar check and when they try to type in the word quagmire, it pops up and says, "Do you realize you're using, probably, the laziest, most inappropriate cliche possible, please reconsider."
There's just something about Chickenhawks counting their chickens before...
RICH LOWRY, "NATIONAL REVIEW": No, they are not. They are telling us every step of this war is going to be more difficult than the last. And there has been I think pervasive defeatism in the media, which is really an extraordinary thing given how easy almost all of this has been. [...]
LOWRY: Frank, I see that in, almost, every story that talks about Iraq, and I think, this is another case of this media defeatism, where it's portrayed as the most difficult thing, in the world, for United States to go and smash the draggled Third World army in Iraq.
And if we do it, the Arab street is going to rise up against us. Well, that's exactly the line we heard prior to the war in Afghanistan. It turned out to be false.
It's this kind of rhetoric that gets exchanged in wingnut gatherings, delusion reinforcing delusion, until what's left is a vortex of batshittery and you see spectacles like the architect of the Iraq war, who argued that the operation would go wonderfully, reading crap like Lowry's insane article which basically confirms his argument:
After the dinner, while heading out the hotel, I spotted Paul Wolfowitz. He was walking very quickly and holding a copy of the conservative National Review underneath an arm. The magazine had been opened to a page bearing a story headlined "What Went Right" and written by Rich Lowry, whom I occasionally debate on college campuses. The piece begins, "It is time to say it unequivocally: We are winning in Iraq." Since many military experts note the insurgency could go on for many more years--maybe decades--this may be a slightly premature pronouncement. And ultimately meaningless. A Japanese magazine after Pearl Harbor could have declared, "We are winning." The first quotes Lowry offer are not persuasive. An unnamed "top officer in Iraq" says, "It's not over." (Wow, get this person to the Army War College right away.) And an unnamed administration officials says, "I give us a B minus." I sure hope Wolfowitz is able to get more insightful views than these.
No, "we're" not
Meanwhile, in the real Iraq, it's considerably worse than even "dogs and cats, living together -- mass hysteria." It's a fucking pointless bloodbath. But then it's not like Lowry can't see the war's problems himself. It's just that he can't admit the war is doomed, because the true mission for wingnuts is the militarization of American society; in order to effect wingnut policies at home, war must be sustained abroad. Thus, "we're winning" even when "we're" not. Thus, Lowry's "open-mindedness" about any strategy but withdrawl. Thus, Lowry's ability to sometimes criticize the administration's war policies but never the war itself. How America conquers Iraq can be debated; but whether America should be in Iraq is not subject to question. Lowry's purpose with the "we're winning" schtick is to build morale; as is the purpose of Lowry's occasional comments to the effect that maybe "we" aren't winning. Perpetual war has now become a permanent part of the Republican party's platform; needless to say, it's also a permanent part of Lowry's weltanshauung. It is only in this context that Lowry's criticisms, concessions, and dissents should be fairly considered. Everything he says and writes is for the broad purpose of building a bigger, better, longer war; and for the narrow purpose of insulating himself against any blame or sense of responsibility. To deal with the latter part first:
A Problem With PronounsIn their distrust of the mainstream media, their defensiveness over President Bush and the war, and their understandable urge to buck up the nation's will, many conservatives lost touch with reality on Iraq. They thought that they were contributing to our success, but they were only helping to forestall a cold look at conditions there and the change in strategy and tactics that would be dictated by it.
National Review editor Rich Lowry
When the Media's Right
December 19, 2006
______________________It is time to say it unequivocally: We are winning in Iraq . . . Even as there has been a steady diet of bad news about Iraq in the media over the last year, even as some hawks have bailed on the war in despair, even as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has become everyone's whipping boy, the U.S. military has been regaining the strategic upper hand.
National Review editor Rich Lowry
What Went Right
April 27, 2005
Split personality disorder can be a terrible thing.
Posted by billmon at 10:55 AM
Maybe it's because Lowry picked up bad habits from Geraldo?:
LOWRY: I have to -- I must confess, that a couple of times that I've actually caught Geraldo, I haven't been able to turn off the TV, it makes some weirdly compelling viewing [...] But let me defend the "good guys" thing, because this is a mistake.
I don't think that the American media should try to be objective between the United States and its enemies, in this case. I think that it's impossible to do that and it would be a mistake to try.
KURTZ: So we're talking about -- Frank, you want to take that on? Perfectly OK to talk about "good guys" and the "bad guys?"
[Frank] RICH: You know, I don't think there really is anything wrong with it but when you're constantly doing it, that's about Geraldo Rivera's self-aggrandizement, it's not about patriotism or anything else, it's about him trying to basically have reflected glory from the American military and tell us what a "good guy" is and it's his own image building.
However -- and from whomever -- Lowry got it, his capacity for including himself in the "winning" and distancing himself from the losing is frequent:
It is, in all seriousness, it is a distressing and depressing time to be a conservative. I'm reminded of the old saying by Mao -- things are always darkest before they go completely black.
In recent years, we have watched a Republican Congress disgrace itself with its association with scandal, with its willful lack of fiscal discipline, and with its utter disinterest in the reforms that America needs. And at the same time, we watched a Republican President abet or passively accept the excesses of his Congressional party and, more importantly, fail to take the steps - until perhaps now - fail to take the steps to win a major foreign war. . . .
So we need to figure out a way how to make conservative policy and principles appealing and relevant again to the American public, and we need to do it together.
Note the passive tone Lowry uses to signify a lack of agency, even victimhood[.]
Yeah, he's fond of doing that:
National Review editor Rich Lowry slips into the passive voice:
Liberals cannot count on conservatives being associated with corruption, incompetence or an unpopular war forever.
Funny how that “association” just kinda happened to conservatives, of all people.
Lowry will only concede what he perceives to be minor errors (that, somehow, he had no part of) so that he may cling to the largest error of all. When he admits:
[M]any conservatives lost touch with reality on Iraq. They thought that they were contributing to our success, but they were only helping to forestall a cold look at conditions there and the change in strategy and tactics that would be dictated by it.
He's not stepping back from stupidity, dishonesty and wickedness. War is Lowry's Precious. And so to keep The Precious, he's willing to stop being so stubborn about strategy for the greater purpose of keeping the war going. And so that's the plan -- admit error, then tinker and re-brand -- though many of his wingnut colleagues can't manage to concede even that little.
The insurgency and the fight against it is about adjustments--and the fact is that the insurgents have adjusted to our adjustments that had culminated in the success of the elections and the immediate aftermath.
Thus Lowry finesses failure and alludes to the new plan: tinker, blather, "more soldiers," lie. The war just needs a little adjustin', says self-identified mechanic Lowry whose curiously spotless coveralls and smooth hands belie his easy assumption of expertise. And so we come to the story of "The Surge", an all-purpose strategic and PR tool with which a cadre of rightwing (and 'Sensible' Liberal) technicians will supposedly fix the sputtering war in Iraq. First things first, Lowry and crew decide. It will no longer do to call it a Hot Rod:
Victory is just a new slogan away
What this war needs is a good re-branding:Stay the course--finally, dead and buried [Rich Lowry]
Per Ken Mehlman on "Meet the Press," the new GOP catchphrase on Iraq is "adapting to win," rather than "stay the course." This is a huge improvement. The last thing you want to say about a war that's not going very well is that you are going to keep doing what you're already doing—so "adapting" is much better than "staying." Also, it's important to get the word "win" in there. This is nice word-smithing, but it's conditions on the ground that really count.
and while they won't admit the truth that it's a jalopy fit only for the junkyard of history, they will concede some mechanical failures and a few design flaws that just sort of happened somehow. Yes, it's a lemon, but it still can be refurbished ("No half-way")!1!! And that's how "We're winning" became "It's winnable."
Exactly how and when The Surge was gonna work was never quite clear, but that didn't stop Rich from claiming that it had, like, everyone's support. Immediately, of course, he declared The Surge a success -- again arguing, at least in effect, that "we're winning."
Motes In Their Eyes
Again, with a track record like Lowry's -- of explosive wrongness, of moronic predictions, of hubristic pronouncements, of so many facefulls of pie -- you'd think that an instinct for self-preservation would require a certain forbearance... but, no. You'd be wrong. The telephone pole-sized beam in his eye that has shot clean through his melon head and stretches halfway down the street has never stopped him from pointing out, with typically easy certainty, the purported errors of others. Apparently, everybody's been wrong except Richard Lowry. About the war, about everything. Consider the following list of ideologically varied people and institutions:
Iraq Study Group: Lowry dismissed its recommendations as "[not] terribly constructive or workable," and "totally unrealistic."
The Military: When Lowry's not using the military to shield Republicans from blame over the decision to go to war, he's deploring it as an impediment to escalation. Lowry wanted a "War Czar" in part because:
[T]he generals, I believe, oppose [adding more troops] for institutional reasons (they know what a terrible strain sending more troops will represent to the Army). We need someone who can break through all this.
And check out this revealing quote on the genesis of "The Surge":
I was just going to say the report does leave a slight window open to more troops in Baghdad, if the commanders recommend them, if the generals recommend them. But all the indications are that Abizaid and Casey aren't going to call for more troops in Baghdad.
So if that's going to happen, it's really going to require President Bush rolling his generals on the ground and insisting that this happen, even though it's going to cause, you know, political uproar here at home, even though it's going to be a further strain on the institution of the Army.
But if you really believe we're in a crisis in Iraq, and what we've done to this point hasn't worked, and we still have to win -- that's the crucial thing, if you still think some form of victory is possible -- then I think the only logical step is to send more troops[.]
Therefore such stupid generals opposed to escalation had to be replaced by "smarter", more pliable ones who will gladly send more troops into the shredder. Funny how that works:
Yesterday on NPR Rich Lowry was spewing his typical nonsense[...]Lowry's theory regarding how Bush now addresses his pledge to do what the commanders on the ground tell him: well he should have never said it. He is the commander-in-chief and needs to start acting like one, no matter what the commanders on the ground tell him. The decider has a mission and he knows it better than any old 4 star general.
Lowry then went on to lambaste Powell for his role in what was then the dispute of the day, the administration "split" between the Wolfowitz camp, which wanted a wider anti-terrorist war against Iraq as well as al-Qaida, and the Powell camp, which want to "settle" for an attempt at taking out Osama Bin Laden.
Wavering conservatives: "Jacksonian" types whom Lowry, in his lecturing way, calls "to hell with them hawks". These primarily social-con wingnuts have markedly less enthusiasm than Lowry for open-ended wars not in the national interest. They are impatient with the Bush Cultism of the National Review, and wonder why it seems to take heterodox positions on most anything but the war. They also can smell the cyanide in Lowry's proffered Kool-Aid:
Lowry's formulation is, at its core, colonialist [...It] boils down to unquestioning support for the President's push to democratize the Middle East.
Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Dick Lugar (R-IN): For just -- and so far, only -- speaking in a non-cheerleaderish way about Bush's Iraq policies, Lowry exploded on the Vietnam vet Hagel, sneering at his expertise and finally dismissing him as a "bore"; meanwhile, Lowry was a bit easier on Lugar, simply shrugging off his concerns as "substantively lacking."
Maintaining the linkage between the invasion of Iraq and the war on terrorism is essentially impossible now; so the right seeks, once again, to recon?gure the nature of the relationship, this time with terrorist attacks understood as a front in the Iraq War. As Lowry put it in typical morning-after commentary, “The Spanish cut and ran from Iraq after the Madrid train bombings in 2004, hoping to take the target off their back, but painting one all the larger on the backs of any countries supporting the ?ght against extremism in Iraq.” This completely misconstrues the actual chronology of events in Spain, but accuracy is hardly necessary when the clear point is to imply that the Bush administration's domestic political opponents are somehow in league with terrorism. “The Brits, having suffered much worse during the Blitz and the height of the [Irish Republican Army] bombing campaign in the 1970s, won't surrender so easily,” Lowry assured us.
Donald Rumsfeld [!!!]: Ahh, there was a time when Rummy was the apple of Lowry's eye. But when Rumsfeld resigned, Lowry suddenly "discovered" that Rummy was an ISG-style defeatist all along:
And the main "compromise" proposal — adopting the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group — would have all American combat troops out of Iraq by the end of March 2008. It is self-evidently impossible to fight al Qaeda in Iraq without any combat troops to do it. What all those abandoning the surge essentially want is a return to the old failed Rumsfeld strategy of prematurely drawing down and handing over to unprepared Iraqi forces.
Funny how Lowry never mentioned it when "we" were winning, but it seems that Rumsfeld was an open Defeatocrat all that time:
[The ISG recommendations are] warmed over Don Rumsfeld. This is what we've been trying to do for three years, on the theory that, if we begin to draw down our presence in Iraq, it will lessen our footprint, lessen the nationalist reaction against us in Iraq, and force the Iraqis to pull up their socks.
And it hasn't worked for three years, and that's why President Bush needs something new. And if we just do Rumsfeld on an accelerated schedule, it's not going to help security conditions there in Iraq; in fact, it's going to make them worse.
Congress and the Dept. of Homeland Security: A bunch of candyasses:
RICH LOWRY: [...] I agree with Steve, it's understandable what happened. But it's a little bit like, you know, the Senate gets a case of anthrax, so the House shuts down. It's a little bit like NBC having its case of anthrax and then CNN evacuating. It just makes no sense.
It was a panic reaction. And our political leaders have a responsibility to conduct themselves with some modicum of calm and dignity, and the House did not do that last week.
Everybody is going to have to live with a certain degree of being on edge. That's just the way this is going to be.
But, you know, Tom Ridge and Tommy Thompson and others have come in for a lot of criticism over the last week, but I think it's important to realize, ultimately, this is a foreign policy problem. And it's not going to be solved by seizing nail clippers at airports or guarding people against anthrax. It's going to be solved by destroying our enemy overseas, and that's the main job here. And we shouldn't lose sight of that.
Democrats: Ugh, what a laundry list of sneers, lies, smears, and distortions: John Kerry "speaks French," Jimmy Carter "has the same Christian perspective....as a drunken Mel Gibson," Howard Dean can only manage a "wisp of connection to reality," Max Cleland should "stop whining," and Nancy Pelosi is "absolutely crazy;" Lowry can't even allow himself to admit that Wesley Clark might have had a good idea. But Lowry can be depended on to repeatedly lie about John Murtha, against whom Chickenhawk Rich apparently has a special grudge.
Lowry has characterized Democrats per se in the following ways: They constitute the "capitulation caucus," whose opposition to the war is based on nothing but feelings, and who only want to honor soldiers by showing them dead. They are "fairly incoherent," and don't want "to hear any good news about Iraq [like, perhaps, 'We're Winning.']” They are "in symmetry with al-Qaeda," which is probably why they "just [want] to abandon the whole effort when we’re really starting to get the upper hand against Al Qaeda," and also no doubt why "[f]rom beyond the grave, Zarqawi can only wish that the Democrats for a pullout had been able to affect their preferred policy already. Then this loathsome man who so needed killing would instead still be working his evil will."
On the other hand, Lowry thinks the world of Joe Lieberman.
Lowry's especially funny when he tries -- which he often does -- to rhetorically trick Democrats into endorsing some sort of batshit wingnuttery. Like "The Surge":
Rich Lowry asks:
(W)ouldn't the honorable thing be for the Democrats as a party basically to say, "This administration has made tragic mistake after tragic mistake in Iraq. We oppose this surge. We don't think it will work. But we really, really hope it does work. We will give it a year and anything we can do at the margins to help make it work, we will."
Let me get this straight: Liberals think that escalation is a disaster that will yield nothing but dead Americans, a debilitated military, an inflamed region -- possibly including military confrontation with Iran -- and will, at best, buy some more time for a clique of theocrats to exterminate their sectarian rivals. And we're supposed to go along with this for a year? In order to rescue the honor of our political enemies, who not only inflicted this war on the United States, but who insinuate that we're unpatriotic whenever we point out that they keep on fucking things up? I can see how this is the honorable thing to do.
The Anti-War Left: As you might guess, Lowry saves the strongest venom for us:
Those....who oppose the war dishonor the troops who sacrifice their lives for this county and....critics of the war are enemies of "democracy and freedom" and favor only one option in Iraq and the Middle East: "tyranny, tyranny, and tyranny."
Plus, Lefties are "vicious," objecting "whenever we try to help someone from abroad." (By "help", he means bomb them into the Stone Age, steal their resources, put them under our imperial suzerainty.) Our arguments aren't in the least persuasive, we're "apologist[s] for Saddam Hussein," and "partisan[s] blinded by Bush hatred," which amounts to hating America:
Tim Rutton was doing an article for the Los Angeles Times, concerning dissent at a time of war. Then he found Little Rich Lowry:RUTTON: In fact, to Richard Lowry, editor of National Review, the conservative opinion magazine, "The debate about the war seems pretty robust and free. Many publications, from the New Yorker to the Nation, feel perfectly comfortable printing anti-American articles and that’s fine. That’s what the First Amendment is all about."
Rich was being very tribal, calling journals he doesn’t like "anti-American." And don’t you love the passive aggression; the mags are "anti-American…and that’s fine," the scribe said! Little Richie was sending signals to all his little scaled fellow travelers. To Rutton’s credit, he quickly asked the low-riding dude what he meant:RUTTON (continuing directly): Why the epithet?
"If you think the country is a bastion only of nasty tendencies and racism and oppression, that is anti-American," Lowry said. By contrast, the articles his magazine prints are "universally going to be pro-American and pro-Western and pro-war," Lowry said. "It’s our business to make the case for that point of view."
Lowry’s inner reptile was thrashing about. If you don’t agree with the things he believes, that means you "think the country is a bastion only of nasty tendencies and racism and oppression."
Nothing can't be blamed on strawman Lefties, from nuclear North Korea to Darfur.
But wait! Lowry can find a few Lefties to admire. Like some Liberal Hawk nimrod with a Niall Ferguson-esque thesis on American Empire, and, of course, Peter Beinart.
But it's not, however, like Lowry can't concede some things to the "vicious" Left. Here's the set up:
RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW: [....Q]uagmire is just one of the worst cliches in the business, and I think every reporter should have a special feature on their spell and grammar check and when they try to type in the word quagmire, it pops up and says, "Do you realize you're using, probably, the laziest, most inappropriate cliche possible, please reconsider."
[T]he idea that if the war didn't end in a matter of weeks, it was somehow another Vietnam. And "The New York Times" repeated this idea over and over again in news analysis and editorials, just the idea that this was another Vietnam was absurd on its face.
LOWRY:[...]So it's -- a lot of the media is caught in a rut where they are caught in the Vietnam mindset[...]And the fact is that role is not correct.
Which is not the only time he scoffed at the comparison and those doing the comparing, going so far as to accuse those who used the word "quagmire" of being disrespectful to the troops.
Remember, this is Rich Lowry. So guess what happened? D'oh:
Iraq: Our Second Correct Diagnosis
Rich Lowry sort of concedes an obvious point:
For the past 30 years, left-right debate over America’s wars has traveled a well-worn rut. The Left says whatever war is in question is “another Vietnam,” while the Right denies it. After three decades of being serially wrong, in the Iraq war liberals might be making their first-ever correct diagnosis.
Remember, however, the New Right's critique of the Vietnam War: War criminals Nixon and Kissinger were too pussified to see it through! They, and the backstabbing hippies and communistic media, caused America to fight the war with one hand tied behind its back. Withdrawal, "humiliation," dolchstosslegende. So even if the Left is right (again), well, Lowry says the important thing is not to make the same mistake as last time:
[T]here is one other similarity with Vietnam that should be avoided — the aching sense that not everything was done to win the war. By the end of Vietnam, we had essentially beaten the insurgency and could have helped the South Vietnamese hold off the conventional invasion of the North, if we hadn’t given up.
Or, as Lowry's pal Dinesh D'Souza put it:
"It's customary to say we lost the Vietnam war, but who's 'we'?" the writer Dinesh D'Souza asks angrily. "The left won by demanding America's humiliation." On this [National Review cruise], there are no Viet Cong, no three million dead. There is only liberal treachery.
War -- Good God, Y'all, What Is It Good For?
Lowry, like all those who think war is fun, might say that it's better to ask what it's not good for. He's given many explanations of and espoused many rationales for why the war must be fought and go on -- and on:
For the sake of Empire:
"The goal would not be perfection, but a pro-Western and reasonably successful regime, somewhere between the Shah of Iran and the current government of Turkey. It would guarantee the West's access to oil, and perhaps help break up OPEC.... And it would be a nice economic benefit to the United States: If the Teamsters like drilling in ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge], they should love occupying Iraq.”
That's why Iraq is so important. I think you'll see the administration developing this thinking. It's not just weapons of mass destruction. It's when you go in and topple Saddam and install a friendly government there, then you drastically increase your leverage over the region and enables you to pressure the Saudis because you are no longer dependent on their bases, not that they're of much use to us now anyway; you're no longer so dependent on their oil, then you can ask them in a very serious way to stop that funding.
MARK SHIELDS: No longer dependent on their oil because we have Iraq's oil?
RICHARD LOWRY: The world is aswim in oil; it's not the 1970s anymore.
Sure. Anyway, what must be done is clear 'cuz "we" all agree:
"No one wants to say it out loud, but we are all colonialists now."
By "we," of course, [Lowry] means all the policy wonks who inhabit the Washington Beltway, and who seem to have arrived at a "consensus" on the desirability of imperialism:"Beneath all the vitriolic partisan disagreements about American foreign policy....there is a sort of colonialist consensus[.]"
Yeah, Rich is like that, claiming consensus where there is none. For instance, did you know that:
"The Iraq war was arrived at through the democratic deliberation of the American public, who — this is how it works — get to decide all sort of questions, even if they are not experts or don’t have personal experience with whatever is at issue."
I seem to remember millions of people in the streets, protesting the war. Apparently they voted yes to Lowry's national pro-war referendum.
Anyway, Rich is serious about imperialism:
Rich Lowry, recently suggested that West Africa is of such strategic interest to America, the U.S. should set up military bases in the region with a U.S. military headquarters on Sao Tome, in the Gulf of Guinea, a potental future "American lake."
It's that type of mentality that allows Lowry, as late in the day as Fall, 2006, to cheerily consider, if ultimately decide against, a coup against Maliki, or failing that then "we" should at the very least push some stuff through the Iraqi parliament. This several years after Dear Leader signed over "soveriegnty" to the Iraqis.
So there's that. But there's also sectarian and theocratic reasoning behind Lowry's beloved War on Terra. Muslims, you see, may not be quite human:
Is [Lowry] indeed saying that European people can be counted on to comply with Western notions of rationality, but people from Asian or Islamic cultures can't be? [Yes, he is.] If he's not saying that, then why is he not willing to attribute to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-il the generically human intense aversion to death that we attributed to a series of Soviet leaders, whether or not we knew much about their inner lives?
If only the media would allow Dear Leader to speak the truth about Muslims!:
LOWRY: [...] Looking deeply at these countries and at this faith in a critical way risks sort of offending important multicultural pieties, which is that all cultures are equal, all religions are equal, all religions are equally peaceful. And that just may not be the case. It may be that Islam has a slightly different character and cast. And President Bush has been ignoring that for, I think, political reasons. He has to say we're not at war with Islam[...]
LOWRY: ... but the media doesn't have to play along with it, and so far it has. And I think that's just because it offends our modern sensibilities. That it would seem too judgmental. It would seem too critical of a different civilization and culture.
They're self-sabotaging collectivists (kinda like Commies?), after all:
[A]ll things being equal, people surely prefer to live in freedom than under a dictatorship, culture ensures that things are never equal. Someone living in a tribal or traditional culture will view the world differently, and have different values, than an atomized individual in the West. He might value sexual purity more than freedom, thus insisting on the repression of women. He might value his religious conviction that all of the Levant should be Muslim-controlled over freedom and life itself. He might hate the dishonor of foreign occupation more than he loves anything.
[Notice that Lowry equates the universal loathing of foreign occupiers with such non-universals as misogyny and strawman positions as "(they) prefer...dictatorship." Regarding Iraqi opposition to the occupation, Lowry has acknowledged it before, only to immediately dismiss it when he wrote: "[I]t is natural that they should want a foreign occupying army to leave (although I doubt many Iraqi leaders privately would say they want us to leave anytime soon)." Gotta disregard the "Yanqui go home" sentiment that overwhelmingly fuels the insurgency when you're like Lowry and want to dishonestly blame it all on al-Qaeda.]
Why, Lowry argues, Muslims are so awful that even we infidels have more regard for Islam than they do! Besides, "isn't it rational for people to have some suspicion when every time they hear about some horrific suicide bombing or the kind of hijackings we experienced in this country on September 11, it's Muslims doing it?"
Considering the innate perfidity of Muslims, it's only natural that Lowry would look to Dear Leader to prosecute the much-needed Holy War: "When the chips are down, give me a freedom-loving man of faith every time[.]"
LOWRY: There's almost a messianic feel you get from Bush on this war. You know part of the doubts about him initially was about his seriousness, does he really take this job seriously, does he really want to be there? All during the campaign he would -- he would say, oh I'll be happy to go home and sleep on my own pillow and play with my stray cat, Ernie, if it comes to that. And some of that's just a political pose, but some of it seemed a little too -- he seemed too sincere about it. And this incident just, I think, gave him a clear sense of purpose, and he thinks maybe God selected him to do this,...
KRAMER: But he also...
LOWRY: ... although you'd never say that out loud.
As Lowry put it: "Bush’s faith in the rightness of his strategy in the broader war is deep-seated — it is, indeed, a product of faith." Bush also spoke of a religious revival -- the Third Awakening -- which he claims is sweeping the United States[.]
Praise Teh Lawd!!:
National Review editor Rich Lowry sheds some light on the president’s motivation for invading Iraq in a column titled “The Revenge of Orthodoxy.” Following historian Walter Russell Mead, he notices that we are in the “Third Awakening” of Protestant evangelicalism and that the Bush presidency should be stamped “Brought to you by orthodox Christian believers.” He makes clear the implications of this for American foreign policy:
The reinvigorated Wilsonian foreign policy championed by Bush—and motivated less by Woodrow Wilson’s secular values (international law, etc.) and more by religious beliefs (the God-given rights of all people)—is a reflection of Bush’s Christian base.
Obviously there are theocratic reasons for the wingnut crusade. Lowry approvingly circulates this reasoning. But don't you dare call wingnuts Theocons!
Some of the anti-theocracy writers claim that what sets Christian conservatives apart is that their advocacy is explicitly religious. But most of the time it isn’t [...] But their critics don’t want to hear it.
For such self-professed advocates of reasoned discourse, they show an appalling tendency to want to shut down the other side with their swear word of “theocracy.” They are emotional, self-righteous and close-minded. They are, in short, everything they accuse Christian conservatives of being. When the theo-panic passes, maybe a few of them will regret their hysteria.
So there's that, too. And the standard WMD argument, of course:
RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, if having Saddam violate U.N. resolutions is what gives us the moral high ground, we already have it. He's been doing it for a decade.
Now, this is an idea that I think is reasonable and should be argued about, and James Baker floated it today in the New York Times. Certainly more reasonable than the Brent Scowcroft proposal, which is that we wait until Saddam definitely has a nuclear weapon and then go after him, which makes no sense at all.
But Peter [Beinart]'s right, the problem is inspections themselves are not that useful a tool. And the other problem is, we'll basically be in the same spot in this debate the next time Saddam plays a cat-and- mouse game with inspectors.
The idea that France is suddenly going to be very enthusiastic about a U.S. invasion when Saddam engages in some mercy game with inspectors is other-worldly.
Which was, as everyone (but dead-enders at Commentary and the Weekly Standard) knows, entirely specious, manufactured at the Executive branch's order by neocon goons in the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans. But Lowry doesn't believe that the WMD argument was presented in bad faith:
I don't buy the charge that Bush has been deceptive on the Iraq war. Yes, he's been optimistic—too optimistic for his own good at times—but this optimism strikes me as within the range of what a wartime leader can reasonably be expected to say as he tries to maintain the nation's resolve.
I debated National Review editor Rich Lowry on this matter—a topic that should no longer be subject to debate. Lowry would not concede that Bush had misinformed the nation on the path to war. Adopting an everybody-did-it defense, Lowry quoted Democrats—such as Bill Clinton—who, before the war, had said that they believed Hussein possessed WMDs. But these Dems generally did not advocate rushing to war while the inspections process—which was succeeding—was underway.
Then there's the neocon thing. Lowry lovingly describes neoconservatives and their foreign policy like so:
They are less worried about reducing the size of government, less enthusiastic about tax cuts, more concerned about forging national crusades that can tap either the American public's patriotism or its desire for reform. You saw this in McCain with his campaign finance proposal and a little bit in his foreign policy.
And with the war on terror, you saw neoconservatives emerging as a distinct tendency within conservatism, mostly on foreign policy; its hallmarks being extreme interventionism, extremely idealistic foreign policy, and emphasis on democracy building and spreading human rights and freedom and an overestimation, in my view, of how easy it is to spread democracy and liberty to spots in the world where it doesn't exist currently.
In the same interview, asked if Iraq was a neoconservative war, Lowry answered, "No....It was a war of national interest." Ok, but Lowry sure put the neocon spin on many of his pro-war arguments:
RICH LOWRY, "THE NATIONAL REVIEW": [...Y]ou see the full sweep of the administration's ambition in the Middle East. And it is nothing less than making a new kind of politics in the Middle East. The administration is saying, "We are no longer going to tolerate Arab dictatorships as if they were somehow inevitable."
I think that combination of an invasion and an eventual toppling of Saddam with this pressure on the Palestinians to reform is an attempt to create a new, freer, more pluralist politics in the Middle East. And that is where the ultimate solution to this conflict is going to be found.
When Bush uses the neoconservative slogans, Lowry dutifully cheers. And he's protective of neocons, too:
An ILR student's question about the Project for a New American Century, and how long Paul Wolfowitz, currently a deputy secretary of defense, had been planning war against Saddam Hussein, launched a Lowry riff on "dread of neoconservatives." He said these so-called "neocons" are people "who have a principled, consistent vision to reorient the Middle East to a climate of decency."
That sounds like an endorsement. Is Lowry a fair-weather neocon? When it's clear and sunshiney, he's quick to adopt their schemes as well as even their silliest grudges:
Rich Lowry's article contend[s] that Powell is a man without ideas. What Lowry sees lacking in Powell is "vision," by which Lowry means that Powell doesn't have a grandiose project to reform the world[.]
Yet he conceded that there was always a sizable discrepancy between neocon rhetoric and neocon policies:
Our vital interests and our deepest ideals are not one or we wouldn't have military bases in Central Asia in and these terrible little dictatorships without saying word boo about how they treat their own people.
Even though he couldn't always endorse all their rhetoric, he knew it had its purposes, which his good pal Ramesh Ponnuru, while mediating between Lowry and a fed-up John Derbyshire, is kind enough to explain:
I'd be happy with a stable government that wasn't totalitarian and wasn't a threat to its neighbors. 2) That goal could theoretically have been achieved with a strongman. But the drawbacks to that approach are not limited to its not being "nice." It would probably have been harder to sustain domestic and international political support for that approach than it has been for the current one; in any case, it would not obviously have been easier.
Wingnuts got their war; and now that they have it, well, there's no need for that "democracy" rhetoric that they never meant in the first place:
So conservative [sic] should be very careful about loosely talking about “democracy” in post-war Iraq. Pluralism, yes. Reform, yes. One man, one vote—get back to us in a decade or so.
"It's a Liberal war no more," Lowry enthused. Whuh? Liberal? Yeah, well, wanking around with dishonest labels like that is one of incoherent Rich's pastimes. At any rate, Lowry flat-out denies being a neocon: "I'm not a neo-con, even if you call me one[.]" But as with so many positions he tries to weasel into and out of, his distinction of "we" and "they", "us" and "them" depends on circumstances. Lowry definitely did not identify with neocons when he critiqued Bill Kristol: "For a while now, everyone in the US has been pre-positioning for what they will say in the event that the war really goes south. For one school of neo-conservatives, the line will apparently be that there never was an Iraq war, at least never a proper one." And yet, and yet... when arguing for the surge, Lowry whined:
[T]he problem here is, we've had a very ambitious project in Iraq, one on which President Bush has gambled his presidency and all of U.S. foreign policy, and there has never been the follow-through, the resources, or the execution to make it work.
Personally, I think the diehard, dead-ending support of war by the likes of Lowry has nothing to do with national interests or strategy and certainly not idealism. Lowry lets the cat out of the bag when he writes:
Emergency, indeed: if Bush loses his edge on national security, he has nothing left.
Sure, he has to insist it's not about domestic politics -- "If I thought we were in Iraq to 'postpone a political embarrassment,' I'd favor pulling all our troops out today." -- but he's lying when he does.
He Did It For The Nukey
A wingnut just wouldn't be a wingnut without indulging in a little sociopathic rhetoric. In Lowry's case, though, it's more than a little and more frequent than usual.
Right after 9/11 he felt obliged to advocate sadism and mass murder:
"America roused to a righteous anger has always been a force for good. States that have been supporting if not Osama bin Laden, people like him need to feel pain. If we flatten part of Damascus or Tehran or whatever it takes, that is part of the solution."
--Rich Lowry, National Review editor, to Howard Kurtz (Washington Post, 9/13/01)
That's right, collective punishment. But Lowry's depravity often is not even that coherent; sometimes it's simply along the lines of 'just kill somebody -- anybody!':
Sometimes you read things that make you wonder. For example, Rich Lowry's apparent endorsement of this sentiment: "There should be retaliation. Find a terror camp somewhere and hit it. Terrorists should, for these purposes, be treated as one nation, and all should be held responsible for any one attack."
Another of Lowry's traits is his frothing intolerance of those (moral relativist, treasonous, objectively pro-terrorist) humanitarians who are concerned about America's killing of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"[Haditha] will be treated as the story of the century, or at least the biggest story since Abu Ghraib. Souls will be searched, hands wrung, and overly broad statements about our stained national honor made. Let the wallowing begin. There is an obvious agenda here, aside from the instinctive glee much of the media seem to take in any failing of the U.S. military. Haditha is a chance to drive a stake into the heart of the Iraq war."
[Those in] the more "respectable" neoconservative media attempt to downplay the full meaning and horror of Haditha. This approach is exemplified by National Review weenie-in-chief Rich Lowry, who anticipates an orgy of "wallowing," declares that it's all about an "agenda" being pushed by the evil media, and gets down to the nitty-gritty:"No large organization can be utterly free of weak or evil men. In their rush to find a broader meaning in such horrible events, liberals weirdly attenuate their own ability to condemn the perpetrators."
In short: mistakes are made, sh*t happens[.]
KURTZ: OK. Rich Lowry, do you think looking at the coverage of this war that there was too -- that the western media fell to a bit of a propaganda trap in covering perhaps the civilian causalities in Afghanistan too much, perhaps at the expense of the larger picture of the war on terrorism.
LOWRY: Yes, I think, absolutely. You know, these stories were extraordinary, and I think there was a reaction against them among some editors and we saw them temp down a little bit. But for the longest time, there're stories everyday in Washington Post and New York Times about a bomb going stray somewhere in Afghanistan. There are a couple of things to be said about that.
KURTZ: It's not news?
LOWRY: Well, no, it's not news. Bombs go astray in wartime. And also we saw media organizations adopting somewhat a neutral stance between the rankest lies coming out of the Taliban and statements of the U.S. government.
Lowry, in an article titled "Collateral Nonsense" went on a great deal more in that vein, and in the process baled several impressive strawmen:
To the extent this view [demands by "handwringers" that the United States fight justly and morally, according to the standards it requires of others] holds in the West, it is essentially a suicidal impulse. Followed to its logical conclusion, it would make it impossible for us ever to defend ourselves and ever to fight for a flawed, but morally superior goal against an evil enemy – because the evil of our enemy never actually registers with anyone. This is what happened in Vietnam, when Western outrage was focused on U.S. napalm runs rather than on the murderous and oppressive character of our enemy.
Well, no: Followed to its logical conclusion, it would make it impossible for us to ever defend ourselves using immoral means. And that, I think, is an eminently logical conclusion Lowry would like to avoid.
Got that? Humanitarians have always stabbed America in the back! Anyway, Lowry's always there to dutifully deprecate concerns about civilian casualties when ..well, when wingnutty administrations kill civilians (for their own good, argues Rich). In fact, Lowry says, installing peacekeepers in Lebanon to prevent civilian casualties would be a really bad idea. So invested is he in this position that he'll use any argument necessary, even those that undercut his position on Iraq:
LOWRY: Well, I think that's a real nonstarter. We had an unhappy experience concerning U.S. troops, in a Middle East dispute burning hot in the early '80s in Beirut. Hezbollah will be licking their chops over there because there would be so many American targets.
If we insert American troops there, what are they going to have to do, in effect? They're going to have to chase down the terrorists -- Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and the others. And that's really the Israelis' job, and our policy should be to let them actually finish that job off.
And when somebody writes to the effect that maybe we should have been totally genocidal when we first invaded Iraq -- as John Podhoretz did -- Lowry's excitement on the subject is a dead giveaway. Though Lowry applauds the Junior Pod's essay -- and it sentiments -- he remarks that alas, strategically, a more brutal policy just isn't viable right now.
Now all this is bad enough and evidence of more than the usual amount of wingnut psychopathy. But Lowry goes beyond that. Discussing one of those paranoid hypotheticals that frequently get bounced around The Corner, Lowry said:
Had interesting discussion with fellow NRO-nik Andrew Stuttafford last night. Here's the question: How would the U.S. respond if al Qaeda succeeded in detonating a nuke in a major American city? This is the disturbing thing: I'm not really sure what we could do any differently from what we're doing now. What would we do? Nuke Riyadh? Baghdad? A real conundrum--let me know if you have any bright ideas about it...
Fairly passively stated, as such depravities go. Of course the passivity was not meant to last:
QUESTION I, FOLLOW-UP: [Rich Lowry]
Lots of sentiment for nuking Mecca. Moderates opt for something more along these lines: Baghdad and Tehran would be the likeliest sites for a first strike. If we have clean enough bombs to assure a pinpoint damage area, Gaza City and Ramallah would also be on list. Damascus, Cairo, Algiers, Tripoli and Riyadh should be put on alert that any signs of support for the attacks in their cities will bring immediate annihilation. Then there are those who think we really can't do too much differently than what were doing now (my original proposition).
Posted 4:37 PM | [Link]
MORE QUESTION I: [Rich Lowry]
This is a tough one, and I don't know quite what to think. Mecca seems extreme, of course, but then again few people would die and it would send a signal. Religions have suffered such catastrophic setbacks before. As for the Saudis, my only thought is that if we're going to hold them responsible for terrorism, we had better start doing it now, not after an even more catastrophic attack. And, as a general matter, the time for seriousness--including figuring out what we would do in retaliation, so maybe it can have some slight deterrent effect--is now rather than after thousands and thousands more American casualties.
Posted 4:36 PM | [Link]
From 'wonder what would happen' to 'let's be pre-emptive' in less than four hours. Not bad. Now don't think Lowry was just having a bad day when he wrote this; it wasn't a bloodthirsty hiccup in an otherwise sober context. Even before 9/11, Lowry -- well, "thought" is not the right word, but you know what I mean -- about the subject quite a bit:
Are Americans too squeamish to vaporize Baghdad, should the need arise? This prospect has been on the mind of National Review editor Rich Lowry lately. It's one reason he thinks old-fashioned deterrence—mutually assured destruction—can't be counted on to keep us safe from any nuke-tipped missiles wielded by "rogue states."
Lowry raised the issue in a column advocating national missile defense and critiquing my own critique of missile defense. He wrote: "It is not necessarily a certainty that the U.S. would be willing to make such a [retaliatory] strike, and as long as there is the barest hint of uncertainty about this, an attack on the U.S. might not be an act of suicidal madness."
Before proceeding to the main issue—whether America would indeed pull the trigger—note the bizarre analysis in which Lowry embeds it. He says that a nuclear attack on the United States wouldn't necessarily be crazy so long as there were "the barest hint of uncertainty" about American retaliation. So, if Saddam Hussein decides that the chances of an attack on America leading to his death have dropped from 100 percent to 98 percent, then it wouldn't be crazy for him to attack? I hold even the most roguish dictators to a higher standard of rationality than that.
So Lowry's racist nuke fantasy wasn't simply an impulsive slip, nor was it merely "sarcastic understatement" as he said lamely after the horrified complaints started piling-up (Lowry had the chutzpah to accuse such people of "cheap shots"); it was pre-meditated. Which is not the same as saying it was thought through. Or was it? Was Lowry being disingenuous or ignorant when he claimed "few people would die" were Mecca nuked? It's probably right to assume the worst. Anyway, not only is Lowry psychotic in fantasizing about nuking Mecca, he's stupid:
Yet another reason for alarm is that Lowry's column is likely to be picked
up and widely circulated in the Muslim world. Osama Bin Ladin himself
could not have thought up a better way of stampeding people into
al-Qaida's arms than Lowry's logorrhea about the U.S. nuking Mecca.
But he's also following a wingnut tradition. Remember Nixon's "Madman Theory"? Yeah, well, compare it to Lowry's fantasy and get a micrometer to measure the difference:
Lowry brushed away any religious concerns about nuking Mecca by arguing that great faiths "have suffered such catastrophic setbacks before." He justified his armchair Dr. Strangelove impression by saying that "the time for seriousness … is now rather than after thousands and thousands more American casualties." He also noted the possible deterrent effects of radical Muslims thinking us so palpably crazy that we would reduce their holy city to a pile of glowing cinders.
And there's another wingnut ploy at work here that Lowry's making obvious: moving the Overton Window. It's crazy to advocate nuking Mecca. But once that idea is out there, it has the effect of making other, relatively less insane but still objectively psychopathic, ideas seem legitimate. Thus:
"Moderates," [Lowry] explained, opt for something more along the lines of nuking such cities as Baghdad, Tehran, Gaza City, and Ramallah. "Damascus, Cairo, Algiers, Tripoli, and Riyadh should be put on alert that any signs of support for the attacks in their cities will bring immediate annihilation."
Ok, Lowry's saying, meet me half-way, then! Be reasonable!
At this point you might begin to wonder, does Lowry's conscience trouble him? Of course not. Duh:
[N]o, I don't have trouble sleeping at night[.]
Alrighty then. So let's go deeper into our case study. What did Dr. Lector say? "Of each particular thing first ask, 'What is its nature?' ....What needs does [it] serve by [doing what it does]?" Yeah, what was the response Lowry was hoping to get from his peers? I'm betting something like Joel Miller's enthusiastic remark is exactly what he was hoping to hear:
"Lowry makes Coulter sound like a girl," said Joel Miller, editor at the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily.com [...] which carries Coulter's column. He has a point, and not just about gender. Coulter only wanted the United States to kill Arab leaders and impose its own order. Nuking Mecca, on the other hand, would fry what religious pilgrims are currently there and unite the whole Muslim world in a pitched and unending battle against the great Satan.
Alas, Lowry's deepest desire of demonstrating that he has a bigger penis than Ann Coulter was destroyed by the Macho (m)Ann herself:
After her Sept. 13 column, the tall, blond right-wing pundit was sacked by NRO when she refused to delete a reference to "swarthy males" in a subsequent column and went on television to accuse National Review of censorship and denounce its editor, Rich Lowry, as a "girly-boy."
But the other day on the NRO Web site, Lowry wrote about [...]"nuking Mecca."
Yesterday Lowry told us that he doesn't really countenance nuking Mecca; indeed, he's against it. He said he was merely employing a literary device, "understated sarcasm."
But the sarcasm might have been too understated not only for Coulter -- who told us derisively that Lowry "finally comes out on the right side of things, but he's wildly overreacting, just like a woman" -- but also for Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"We are demanding an apology from National Review and disciplinary action against Lowry," Hooper told us. With his trademark understated sarcasm, Lowry replied: "I'm going to officially slap myself on the wrist."
Poor Rich! What's a Chickenhawk to do? Just when he thought he'd written a masterpiece of geopolitical machismo proving once and for all that he is the manliest of all manly wingnut men, Ann castrates him, and effortlessly consigns him to the pile of swishy-faggy-girly-appeasey-Liberals. That Ann: she knows exactly how to wound a fellow wingnut.
War has always been the means by which reactionaries deliver body blows to a Bill of Rights they have nothing but contempt for. From the Alien & Sedition Acts to the Palmer raids, from COINTELPRO of the Vietnam Era to the recent PATRIOT Act and concomitant domestic spying programs, only war can provide the necessary petri dish (a paranoid and fearful populace) in which "legal" devices designed to damage American civil liberties can grow. Thus, one important -- maybe the most important -- reason for an endless rightwing agitation for perpetual wars. More or less openly, wingnuts envy authoritarian regimes -- specifically, the power the elite wields in such regimes. And so they continually try to make America resemble the enemy du jour. And Rich Lowry is just the sort of wingnut I'm talking about:
Way back in December, 2000, Lowry told an audience at the Ashbrook Center about an observation of Bertolt Brecht's, he heard via Steve Forbes.
He said in East Germany under the Communists, when the government lost and election, the government didn’t change, the people changed. You know, they’d chase people out and exile them from the country, they’d arrest them, they’d beat them, they’d shoot them. That’s obviously a terrible thing, but there’s something to be said for that kind of thinking. I think conservatives need to think in that way when it comes to the American electorate.
Yeah, let that sink in then see if any of the following surprises.
When Lowry says things like:
And then you'd hope to get decent judicial nominations which are extremely important because we have a slow motion crisis in self-government in this country. We have judges, regulators and trial lawyers conspiring to overthrow traditions of democratic governance that have existed for centuries in Anglo-America and that were built up through revolutions and wars. Blood was spilt over establishing these traditions and we're just kissing them away.
He's absolutely not talking about Bush's overthrowing the U.S. Constitution and centuries of common law precedent. Instead, Lowry's rhetoric in support of liberty and tradition is offered in the spirit of attacking class-action lawsuits, Roe, pollution laws... you know, the real threats to liberty. Yes, he's that hacktastic on top of being that depraved.
Only certain kinds of judges will apply the law the way Lowry thinks they ought. Like, say, Sam Alito and John Roberts. They will, Lowry hopes, reverse the current and rational interpretation of the Fourth Amendment, which he views as a contrived legal device through which devious Liberals assert a so-called right to privacy. Lowry's legal theory is kind of radical, you say? Well, he'll set you straight on that:
[Y]ou know, there's been a lot of commentary, "Gosh, these guys are supposed to be, you know, conservatives. They're not supposed to be activists." But I think there are different kinds of activism.
Roberts and Alito were confirmed, and in the generally reactionary legal climate, Lowry must have been feeling pretty good about destroying all sorts of cherished legal and moral principles. And for the most part, he's got what he wanted. Except for the Hamdan ruling, which -- in requiring that the United States follow the rules it agreed to at the Geneva Conventions -- inspired wingnuts like Lowry to scream "dolchstoss, dolchstoss."
So, with these bits of information -- that Lowry is a reactionary hack, that he's an authoritarian, that he rejects all claims to a right to privacy -- it's no surprise that he LUVS teh PATRIOT Act and will say anything to defend Bush's domestic surveillance scheme. Lowry's all like, 'what's the big deal?':
RICH LOWRY, "NATIONAL REVIEW": I think, Judy, most of the guidelines that were announced today deal with pretty innocuous stuff. You know, amazingly enough, FBI agents felt constrained by these guidelines that were released back in the '70s -- set back in the '70s -- felt constrained from going on to public Web sites. You know, if someone set up a Web site called blowupthetowers.com, FBI agents would feel as though they couldn't go on there like an ordinary person.
Told ya he'd say anything. Like "libraries will become safe harbors of terrorists" if FBI snoops aren't allowed to read over anyone's shoulder. And any civil libertarian, liberal or conservative, is subject to a quick Lowry smear. Like:
Rich Lowry's sarcastic suggestion that Patriot Act critics "bundle their proposals together and call them 'The Zacarias Moussaoui Protection Act'" mock the conservative values NR should be defending.
What about torture? Is Lowry pro-torture? All signs point to yes. Oh, he feigns ignorance in the service of smearing liberals --
Whatever those secret CIA interrogation methods are that apparently helped save U.S. lives, we can be sure that a lot of liberals oppose them...
-- but he knows what's going on. And he approves it. Yup:
Rich Lowry argues that [waterboarding] is not the infliction of severe physical or mental anguish or pain.
He's just that kinda guy:
The Washington Times’ Tony Blankley and MSNBC’s Laurence O’Donnell joined host John McLaughlin and National Review editor Rich Lowry in approval of torture. Only Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift objected. (When Clift asked her co-panelists where they would send suspects for torture, McLaughlin shouted, "The Filipinos!" while Lowry barked, "The Turks!")
Profligate for 2008
Considering all the above (not least of which soulless Rich's habit of bandwagon-jumping), it's easy to guess which 2008 presidential candidate will earn Rich Lowry's endorsement. But let's go through the list anyway just to show what it is about each candidate that likes or dislikes. (Yes, he even has his preferences among the Democrats.):
Dennis Kucinich: "A "court jester" who shows "the Democrats where the logical conclusion of their anti-war rhetoric leads: ignominious retreat." Lowry also approvingly pasted an e-mail that refers to "Rep. Kucinich (D-Moscow)."
Mike Gravel: "[S]hould really be posting questions on YouTube rather than standing on the stage."
Joe Biden: "[T]he last responsible Democrat in the field?"
Bill Richardson: "I....was appalled at Bill Richardson's utter inability to answer why he cares so much about stopping genocide in Darfur but not—prospectively—in Iraq."
John Edwards: By far inspires the most spittle and venom from Lowry's direction. By Lowry's account, Edwards is a Fag, faggy fag, a stark-raving fag, 'demagogic," fraudulent Southerner, fag, nauseating,"Nixonian" (Lowry, of course, means it pejoratively in this context), a "rabble-rouser... manipulative," a fag whose friends will attack Republicans for basically calling him a fag, prissy fag, superfag, and a liar.
Barack Obama: Umm:
Lowry sets off the Irony alarms
In 2004, Rich Lowry thought "authenticity" (Bush's) was a winning trait and Barack Obama was a moving speaker. Today, he bemoans "the vapid, feel-good authenticity of Barack Obama."
And then, with no apparent self-awareness, he pules that Hillary Clinton is a phony who has changed her views in the past two years.
Plus, "Obama presented very well—but, man, does he look young!" And, continuing the same theme: "[A]s a colleague pointed out, there was a moment when he was saying 'when I'm president,' and the camera came in for a close up and caught his youthfulness so vividly and you had to think, 'No, you're not ready to be president.'"
Hillary Clinton: Like Rupert Murdoch, Lowry finds a lot to admire in Hillary. Here, in one nut's shell, is why:
I thought Hillary was excellent. She never makes a mistake. She seems ready for pretty much everything. And, while she has done her share of pandering to the Democratic base, she is the only candidate operating with an eye to the general election and to the very real possibility that she will be the next commander-in-chief (see, for instance, her answers on meeting with foreign leaders and the practicalities of a withdrawal from Iraq).
Lowry's tolerance of Democrats is directly proportional to how wingnutty they are vis-a-vis foreign policy. Hillary is many wingnuts' favorite Democrat for exactly the same reason that Peter Beinart is their favorite liberal pundit. If the President has to be a Democrat this time, Lowry would rather it be Hillary.
Now for the Republicans:
Ron Paul: A "cranky libertarian-paleo" who merely exists to take "spanking[s]" from manly men like Rudy Guiliani.
Tom Tancredo: Alas, not a serious candidate, no doubt because Tancredo is insufficiently worshipful of Dear Leader. But, wow, Lowry can dig a fellow wingnut who agrees with the 'Nuke Mecca' plan.
Newt Gingrich: It's not that Lowry thinks Gingrich can win the nomination, but he hopes he runs anyway for the effect the former House Speaker's presence will have on the rest of the field; in other words, he thinks Newt the candidate will push everyone else to even more batshit wingnutty positions (while making their personal histories/scandals look better in comparison). Thus Lowry's claim that Gingrich might just be "the most important Republican voice in the country."
Mitt Romney: Okay, so Romney's a flip-flopper, but so was Bush (and more importantly now for Lowry, so is Guiliani). Romney is "smart" and "polished", and has that potential "CEO of the United States" thing going for him, but ultimately Romney just doesn't seem to be an an experienced or enthusiastic enough jingo for Lowry's tastes.
John McCain: When it suits superhypocrite Lowry, McCain the Vietnam veteran is a heroic figure. And yet as long ago as 2005, Lowry was unloading on McCain for betraying the GOP by working with Evil Ted Kennedy on an immigration bill. Crucially, Lowry can't figure out if McCain is the front-runner or not (immediately post-Katrina, he thought McCain looked good, probably because -- though Rich couldn't say it of course -- anyone looked good in comparison to Dear Leader). Lowry concedes that McCain the Maverick "is interesting and has a kind of charm," but maybe that's just because Rich wanted to make Chuck Hagel look bad in comparison. Finally, Lowry finds McCain unworthy -- because in his view, the Senator, for a Republican, is way too honest.
Rudolph Giuliani: Rudy has long inspired in Lowry the bullshitter's art:
GEORGE: The national drop in crime rate was driven by the New York City's drop in crime which Rudy Giuliani...
EPSTEIN: The national rate?
GEORGE: The national drop. The percentage.
LOWRY: New York led the way. And it's amazing Democrats still will not give him credit for that.
EPSTEIN: Well, interestingly enough, Giuliani subscribed to major Democratic tenets of crime reduction -- gun control, cops on the beat -- all programs that the Clinton administration and Clinton...
LOWRY: Right, broken window steering and taking illegal guns off the street, which is exactly the tactics Democrats criticized for being racist.
EPSTEIN: Absolutely not. Untrue.
Really, what's not to like? Ok, there are problems with the Mayor's stance on abortion, but such wrinkles are what hacks like Lowry are born to smooth. It's obvious that Lowry would like social-cons to get over their hostility to Giuliani on this issue: Rudy's so good on everything else that he should be forgiven this minor transgression.
Of course 'good on everything else' in Lowry's eyes means in actual fact that Rudy is demonstrably horrible by any standard of human decency. Lowry was pleased to report that Rudy is an asshole:
Have been talking to some smart people today about Giuliani. Two of them said independently that the appeal of Giuliani is he'd be “a tough SOB—for you,” and that he'd be “a d—head—for you.” Another said (and he hadn't seen Kate's e-mail post yesterday) that a Giuliani supporter he knows considers the nasty divorce a kind of asset because it speaks to his toughness.
Giuliani is also a fascist; but the real problem with his fascist rhetoric, according to Lowry, is that people might cite Rudy's words to paint him in a truthful light:
"[Giuliani’s comments] could be seized on by his critics to argue that he has a dangerously out-sized view of presidential powers.”
Lowry is quick to relate anecdotes attesting to Giuliani's popularity, quick to defend Rudy from charges of Nixonism; and by the time of the first debate, Lowry was ready to label him the real maverick. Giuliani's performance there completely blew Lowry away.
When Lowry reports:
One thing I noticed last night was that almost all the questions were on national security—people consider Rudy the national security guy. But his answers on foreign policy and military affairs aren't deeply informed to my ear, making for an odd disconnect.
It's not meant to diss Rudy. What matters is that Rudy is a super machoman "tough guy" with steely resolve; that he may be an empty vessel is no big deal because his sure-to-be neocon advisors will fill him in on all the necessary data.
Interestingly, this is also basically the pro-Bush argument, yet Lowry has been out there quasi-admitting to Bush's incompetence. Whu? Ahhh, well consider: Bush is everything that wingnuts like Lowry want in a President, but he's politically poison right now and a lame duck regardless. So Lowry admits to Bush's incompetence but in a way that concedes fault only to Bush personally. What Lowry wants is a Bush clone -- same policies, different name and face -- so it's easy now to admit the truth about Bush so that the clone, Rudy, can come in to "fix" the screw-ups.
All that matters to Lowry is that the war goes on -- and, if possible, expanded. Giuliani, in his view, is the most electable candidate whose policies would best deliver that result.
As a dedicated liar, smear-merchant, racist, poor-hating, war-mongering, psychopathic hack, Lowry deserves his well-earned place on Fox News, and at Townhall.com and National Review. But why is he allowed near any place where real journalism is practiced? Why is such a dispicable figure allowed on CNN, PBS, NPR? Why would any newspaper not named Der Sturmer carry Lowry's syndicated column?
In partial answer: because of notorious wingnutophile Howard Kurtz, through whose column in the Washington Post and show "Reliable Sources" (on CNN) Lowry's opinions are approvingly ventilated:
Howard Kurtz delivered a flattering profile of 32-year-old National Review editor Rich Lowry. Seemingly assigned to curry favor with the GOP, the piece left the distinct impression that Lowry is a clever toady whose claim to fame is being "very clearly ambitious" without giving off "an ambitious vibe."
The most popular guests on Kurtz's program are conservatives. His favorite of all, judged by the number of appearances as well as the sheer number of valentines sent in his column, would have to be Rich Lowry, editor of William F. Buckley, Jr.'s National Review. According to Kurtz, Rich Lowry "oozes niceness." He boasts an "aw-shucks charm and boyish grin" with a "sting [that] is usually softened by a soothing wit" and "enjoy(s) going against the grain." He has, moreover, "given the magazine something of a hipness injection" by writing "such in-your-face cover headlines about Al Gore and Bill Clinton as 'Thou Shalt Not Steal' and 'Farewell to the Big Creep.'" (Kurtz means this to be a compliment.) When Lowry is otherwise indisposed, Kurtz is eager to book virtually anyone else on the National Review's editorial staff onto the program, including online editor Jonah Goldberg, managing editor Jay Nordlinger, senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru, or White House correspondent Byron York to offer up the hard-right perspectives on the news, with only the most tepid response from the center-left.
But Kurtz's patronage can't explain everything -- even with regard to Lowry being on CNN (relish this exchange between Lowry and Josh Marshall and Aaron Brown from an episode of the mercifully cancelled "Newsnight", for instance). The other and larger part of the answer is, of course, that in perfect opposition to the majority of Americans, the media is pro-wingnut.
True to wingnut form, Lowry thinks the "MSM" is full of moonbats; meanwhile, Lowry's fellow victim of "bias", Jonah Goldberg (another frequent object of CNN's love for stupid and batshit reactionaries), hilariously demands that, in the interest of fairness, Lowry be given the editor's position at Time or Newsweek.
The truth is -- to borrow from Rich's own opinion of Al Sharpton -- that it's appalling Lowry is allowed in polite company. The next time Lowry's on Charlie Rose, the NewsHour, or All Things Considered, or, hell, even CNN, call or e-mail the producers and ask what they are doing allowing a person with the opinions exhaustively detailed above on their show. It probably won't do any good, but neither will it hurt, and besides, Lowry's such a certifiable loon and ostentatious fascist that it's practically a moral obligation to make the attempt.
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[Previous entry in wingnut profile series.]