The "Axis of Evil" and the Left

When President Bush labeled Iran, Iraq, and North Korea an “axis of evil” in his 2002 State of the Union address, much of the Left was in a huff. This formulation, thought sundry leftists, betrays a puerile Manicheanism on the part of the President. He is a man, they said, who adamantly rejects all subtlety, all nuance.

Naturally, our friends on the Left were interested in using Bush’s “axis of evil” rhetoric as a means to demonstrate their purported cognitive superiority: Whilst Bush and his neoconservative minions think of the world in stark black-and-white terms, the lefties supposedly see shades of gray.

Some even argued, in fact, that the President’s mere mention of “evil” was a sign of insufficient intellectual rigor. After all, who talks with such morally loaded terminology anymore? By castigating the delightful Kim Jong-il through use of such a moniker, President Bush had demonstrated an inability to cope with the vicissitudes of the modern world.

Now, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” don’t mean to spoil the Left’s orgy of self-congratulation, but we firmly doubt that most liberals maintain a more nuanced understanding of foreign policy than do their neoconservative foes. If you ask us, the Left doesn’t earnestly dislike President Bush’s rhetoric. On the contrary, they merely quibble with Bush’s choice of regimes.

We had reason to reflect on this anew upon reading a short “post” by Mark Kleiman at The Huffington Post, the popular lefty “website.” Mr. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA, penned a little piece for the “site” called “Masters of terror.”

To those with their feet firmly planted on terra firma or with even a passing familiarity with what is commonly called “reality,” Mr. Kleiman must be referring to Osama bin Laden and his ilk. Or, perhaps, the Tamil Tigers.

Oh, but no: As the short “post” makes clear, Mr. Kleiman charges the neoconservatives with being the aforementioned “masters of terror.” Which, come to think of it, is odd, since he also claims that said neoconservatives are manifestly incompetent. Some “masters,” eh?

But we found the beginning of his “post” particularly illuminating:

They’re real.

They’re evil.

They hate us for our freedom.

Now, such a cheeky reference to neoconservatives is most assuredly a joke. This is not the subtle thought of a public policy professor, but the ham-fisted hackery of an ideologue.

Yet that’s not what we found interesting. Rather, we were struck by Mr. Kleiman’s cheerful reference to neoconservative intellectuals as “evil.” Gee, we thought that the Left–ever excited to demonstrate its deep regard for nuance–avoided such Neanderthalic rhetoric.

Well, we guess not. Clearly, the minions of the Left don’t feel comfortable labeling Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-il, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad evil. But they have no qualms with tossing the epithet in Norman Podhoretz’s direction.

We suppose they can recognize “evil” after all. It’s just that they don’t associate it with totalitarian dictators and terrorist sponsors. Nah: It’s their domestic political opponents who are far more dubious.

(Note: The crack young staff normally “weblog” over at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” where they are currently contemplating the Left’s “axis of evil”: The United States, Israel, and Britain.)

Barron's: GOP Holds on to Congress


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