More Neocon Buffoonery

You would think that the Neocons would be a tad temperate after having gotten so many things wrong for so long. But look at the way the amiable Weekly Standard writer and Dick Cheney biographer, Steven Hayes, takes a shot at President Obama for insufficiently supporting the protesters in Iran.

I won't claim to understand Iranian politics well enough to know just what the right thing to do here is, and it may be that the administration should be more outspoken in favor of the protesters. I don't know.

It's not enough, though, for Neocons to disagree with the Obama policy--they have to impugn his motives too. Thus Hayes writes of Obama, "Does he actually prefer Ahmadinejad?" and "His policy is regime preservation. And it's a disgrace." There's nothing in the administration record to suggest that they want to uphold the Ahmadinejad regime.

Um, gee, one could say that by toppling Saddam Hussein, Tehran's greatest enemy, and strengthening the hands of pro-Iranian forces in Iraq that Dick Cheney had an interest in preserving the regime in Tehran. One could argue that by constantly threatening Iran, the Cheneyites have strengthened the regime in Tehran and must secretly want to preserve it. That would be unfair, but really no more of a stretch than saying that Obama wants to keep Ahmadinejad in power. Presumably Hayes thinks Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Joe Biden, Gen. James Jones, Richard Holbrooke and others are in on this grand effort to keep Ahmadinejad in power.

Again, what's at issue here is not the substance of the argument. Maybe Hayes is right. I wouldn't claim to know how best to influence the situation in Iran. The issue is how one argues. The Left, which continues to argue in scorched earth style is guilty of this, too. But the Neocons, who ought to be more humbled than anyone by the events of the last six years, seem to be more pugnacious than ever. Steve Hayes always seems genial enough on TV, but not here.

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Matthew Cooper is a managing editor (White House) for National Journal.

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