In the Arena

Ideologues in Extremis

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One of my guilty pleasures this year has been to check out the neoconservatives over at the Commentary blog as they attempt to…explain…what’s…happening. Like, why Jews–who should really just, uh, get it about who this guy really is–actually, hmmm, seem to favor Obama at about the same rate as they favored other Democrats in the past. Or why Joe The Plumber has really struck a chord. Or why I am a terrible person. (Answer: because I called them out on their conflated and wrong-headed misapprehension of Israel’s and America’s best interests.)

Anyway, the last time I indulged my perverse pastime–before our servers crashed–I found a truly heinous piece of false dudgeon concerning, well, me. It was a response to a post I made here last week, about the friendship between John McCain and my late friend David Ifshin, a former anti-Vietnam radical.  The thing was written by a person named Jason Maoz, who made the argument that I had established a moral equivalence between my beloved, mourned and very much missed friend David–and William Ayres, whom I have loathed from a distance for 40 years and who, by any true standard of justice, should have spent serious jail time for his acts.

This…genius Maoz argued–brilliantly (I mean it took an awful lot of analytical power to see this)–that there was no moral equivalence between David and Ayers since David had apologized for the antiwar speech he gave in North Vietnam and Ayres hadn’t apologized for the bombs he had set. Also–again, an observation blinding in its lucidity–it was noted that giving a speech isn’t as serious as setting a bomb. 

Of course, this…Maoz kinda missed the point: my post really was about the character of John McCain. I was remembering my friend, but mourning the loss of the John McCain who was large enough to forgive and love David. I was lamenting the current, miniscule McCain, a man who would take a passing–and deeply irrelevant–acquaintanceship between Barack Obama and Ayers, and try to make it a central issue in this absolutely crucial campaign, with the accompanying canard from the Embarracuda that Obama had “palled around” with terrorists. I was thinking, though I didn’t write this, about how David would have had a tough time balancing his regard for McCain against his loathing of the gutter politics–the robo calls, the questioning of Obama’s patriotism, the intimations of sympathy for terrorism, the constant attempts to divert attention from the economic crisis–that McCain has practiced this year. 

The idea that this…Maoz would think that I’d ever compare my late friend, for whom I said kaddish and sat shiva, to William Ayers is an example of the myopic arrogance and slovenly thinking that marks the neoconservative tendency. What an embarrassment this…Maoz is. What damage he and his friends have done to our country.