Matthews, Kaus, Anti-Semitism Etc
Mickey Kaus has a very interesting post about that converation between Libby and Russert.
I’d quibble with one part of Kaus’ post though. He says that it’s wrong to equate neocon-bashing with Jew bashing. And I think that’s correct. But just because neoconservative isn’t always used as a stand-in for Jewish hardly means it never is. A brief review of my anti-Semitic email would confirm that beyond all doubt.
I don’t think Matthews is anti-Semitic, but I do think he’s been careless in the way he’s talked about neoconservatives — and it’s not just me, I’ve heard similar complaints from many Jews and non-Jews who loathe neoconservatism in all its forms. During the run up to the war he’d vent about “cabals” and ask if the “neocons” in the White House were really loyal to the President or to Bill Kristol and many people got a sense that in Matthews’ mind Kristol rhymes with Israel. Kaus notes that Stanley Hoffman and others have made similar arguments to Matthews’ and therefore criticizing neocon can’t be anti-Semitic. But Matthews isn’t Hoffman and vice versa.
Pat Buchanan certainly puts a lot more venom on the word than, say, the folks at Tikkun. But citing the Jewishness of Michael Lerner doesn’t exonerate Pat Buchanan from the charge that he uses Neocon as a stand-in for “Jew” or “Amen corner” or whatever. I’m not trying to open that can of worms either. I’m just trying to make the point that the charge against Matthews one hears is less about the word “neoconservative” than it about how Matthews used it. The merits of the complaint are certainly open to debate.
One thing that would be useful is to actually find a transcript of the segment that Scooter Libby allegedly complained about and see if it could sound anti-Semitic to a fair-minded person.