In the Arena

Slow News Day?

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Arianna Huffington, the doyenne of the Hollywood left, has taken time from her busy schedule to attack me for something I said on Meet the Press three years ago. Since this lone quote has become an article of faith among the take-no-prisoners left, let me respond:

1. Yes, I said it. It was a moment of stupid weakness on the brink of war. It was clear to me that we were going to war and I was–again, stupidly–thinking aloud, trying out–did I say, stupidly?–a position I had never taken before and never would again. I was wrong. Period.

2. Here’s a mystery: there is a pretty extensive paper trail of columns I wrote for Time in early 2003, why don’t the lefties ever cite them? Because I was expressing skepticism about the war on a weekly basis, like here, here and here the week of my ill-fated appearance on Meet The Press.

3. Granted, I was not a fire-breathing antiwar bravo. I didn’t say, “This is criminally stupid.” I had my doubts about my skepticism about the war, as evidenced by my remarks–did I say they were stupid?–on Meet The Press

4. So where was I on the war? Huffington cites the piece I wrote in Slate in which I praised Al Gore for his antiwar speech in September 2002…and predicted that even if the war–that is, the invasion–was successful, the post-war era would be disastrous.
I remember sitting in John Kerry’s office as he went to the floor to cast his vote in October 2002. He read me his speech supporting Bush and asked what I thought. I said I thought it was an ok speech, but I wouldn’t be voting that way. But I can’t prove that…I can, however, prove that as early as this column and this one, I was criticizing the Bush administration’s conduct of the war. And I’ve been fairly vehement about it ever since, although I’ve often disagreed with the left on matters like the Patriot Act and NSA data-mining and the need for a responsible withdrawal, in Jim Webb’s words, from Iraq, rather than an immediate pullout.

5. So why is Arianna so upset? Could she be trying a bit too hard to strut her lefty credentials after a lifetime as a conservative? Or is it a deeper problem than that, a structural problem the left has had ever since before the days when Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz were socialists: a need, born of intellecual myopia and insecurity, to burn heretics? Don’t they have anything better to do than attack poor old me, especially since I pretty much agree with them about the war?

6. Finally, here’s why I’m really enjoying this: Arianna has joined a fairly exclusive club–along with Christopher Hitchens and, I think, David Horowitz, she is one of the merry few who have attacked me from both the left and the right. As a long time supporter of the Third Way, I can only say that the triangulation is delicious.

7. These are the last words I’ll have to say about this matter. Too many other, far more important things are going on in the world.