THE PLANK JANUARY 29, 2008
Both Matthew Yglesias and The Nation's Ari Berman are appalled at two of the endorsements contained in our "TNR Primary;" those of liberal intellectual Paul Berman and law professor Alan Dershowitz, both of whom endorsed Hillary Clinton. To Berman, the mere fact that these two have endorsed Clinton is enough to render her campaign noxious; "Need I say more?" he asks. Berman attacks Dershowitz for "devot[ing] his life in recent years to discrediting the careers and reputations of critics of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories, slavishly defending Israel against any and all comers, no matter the validity of their point," linking to a defense of Norman Finkelstein (read Dershowitz's take on this drama in TNR here). If this is the best Berman can do, he ought to elucide what "scholarship" of Finkelstein's be believes to be "valid."
He then sneers at Paul Berman for writing that "I think it wouldn't do [Hillary] any harm to acknowledge that, now and then, John McCain has been right." What, exactly, is wrong about acknowledging that John McCain, "now and then," is right? Outside the echo chamber that is The Nation, what liberals cannot at least acknowledge the huge political risks John McCain has taken on issues like immigration, campaign finance reform, and global warming to work with Democrats? Berman concludes that these men's "words aren't likely to boost Clinton's standing in progressive political circles." Heaven forbid if Hillary Clinton loses the vote of Nation subscribers, most of whom were probably planning on writing in Norman Thomas.
Yglesias, as per usual, doesn't have anything to offer other than snide remarks, referring to "Paul 'al-Qaeda is totalitarian so we should fight it by invading Iraq' Berman" and "Alan 'everyone who disagrees with me is an anti-Semite' Dershowitz." These penetrating insights from the namesake of the laughably titled, "Yglesias Award," bestowed upon individuals "who actually criticize their own side, make enemies among political allies, and generally risk something for the sake of saying what they believe." This is actually a fitting descriptor for men like John McCain, Paul Berman and Alan Dershowitz.