The Corner

Keeping Our Wits

John Podhoretz reads David Goldman (AKA Spengler) the riot act, an excerpt:

The opposition to Barack Obama needs to keep its wits. His domestic-policy proposals and foreign-policy ideas constitute a profound challenge to the good working order of the United States and the world. Spewing repellent nonsense about Obama’s mother and spinning bizarre notions about his innate foreignness — when he is in fact the possessor of one of the great and enduring American stories, and is in his own person a demonstration of precisely the kind of American exceptionalism that Obama so pointedly pooh-poohs — can be used to discredit his opposition. That is why I find it necessary to take such public exception to Goldman’s unacceptable musings.

I’m with John on this one.

Update: A friend writes:

I don’t care for Goldman’s rhetoric, but I’m not sure I don’t see his point. I think, to paraphrase him, he’s arguing that Obama’s family life—left-wing grandparents and an extremely left-wing, anti-American radical mother—and upbringing abroad and in the precincts of the left have provided him with an extra-American worldview—that is, he looks at America as an object, not necessarily a subject of which he is wholly part, and that his agenda is at least in part about re-making America into something he thinks will be more acceptable to those outsiders regarding it.

This strikes me as a not unreasonable conjecture given Obama’s own narrative in Dreams from My Father, and given that it has been a commonplace on the hard left since at least Vietnam to affect—and internalize—an alienated stance against America. Obama’s come out of a more ideologically pure left-wing environment than any major Democratic figure in a while. That he might share its tendency to prefer America as it should be to America as it is isn’t out of left field. It might be wrong, but it’s not loony.

I mean, all of this is kind of silly psychoanalytic speculation, but if we understand Goldman’s clunky phrase “third-world anthropologist” to mean someone’s whose consideration of American society and politics is sort of at a abstracted distance and whose emotive sympathies lie more with the damnés de la terre than the bitter Sky-God, boom-stick clingers…I don’t see where it’s wrong, per se, or where it fails to explain his conduct.

But maybe I’m missing something.

And here’s Michael Ledeen weighing in as a mediator. It’s late, and I’ll take it all under advisement, as they say.

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