The Corner

American Flatfootedness

Rick’s latest NY Observer column is on our tendency to look in the wrong direction:

The 9/11 hearings and the testimony of Richard Clarke remind me that Republicans have been here before, though it was before my time, and they were on the other side.

For years after Pearl Harbor, the right asked (and answered its own question): Had F.D.R. dropped the ball? Charles Beard, the liberal historian turned isolationist, made it an article of faith. Thomas Dewey accused Roosevelt of unpreparedness in 1944 when Dewey was the last Republican Presidential candidate to run against him. The sober form of the Republican case was that the American military was not up to snuff in December 1941, even though the Second World War had been going on for over two years. The harsher form was that the United States had intelligence of Japan’s intentions on the eve of Pearl Harbor and hadn’t acted on it. The paranoid form was that the White House had deliberately not acted on intelligence, knowing that a successful surprise attack would bring America into the war. (The Republican case against Roosevelt, then, was both bellicose and pacific: He ought to have done more, and he wanted to do too much.)

Read the whole thing here.


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