Bret Stephens

The Pulitzers Honor a Smear Artist

Bret Stephens played the anti-Semitism card against Chuck Hagel—and is rewarded for it

Bret Stephens played the anti-Semitism card against Chuck Hagel—and is rewarded for it.

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It’s small consolation for the pain and havoc being experienced across much of Europe, and for the economic fallout that is hitting us over on this side of the Atlantic, but there is a bit of amusement to be had these days in the confusion that the European crisis is causing on the American right.

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One of the right-wing memes still floating around is that President Obama is not very smart. Michele Bachmann has played to this sentiment by promising never to use a teleprompter. (There's a ridiculous right-wing meme that Obama only sounds smart because he reads everything off the teleprompter, a premise that ignores the copious number of times he's expressed himself in unscripted settings.) Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens makes the point more bluntly today: How many times have we heard it said that Mr. Obama is the smartest president ever?

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Washington in the early days of a new administration is a didactic, lesson-drawing place, but even so, it has been striking to see how quickly the commentary on the death of Robert McNamara, defense secretary in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and architect of the Vietnam war, has turned to abstraction--as if it was not one exceptionally smart man being buried, but a certain kind of smarts itself. "What happened ... to Robert McNamara teaches a lesson to all those who talk of governments of all the talents," editorialized The Times of London.

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Washington in the early days of a new administration is a didactic, lesson-drawing place, but even so, it has been striking to see how quickly the commentary on the death of Robert McNamara, defense secretary in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and architect of the Vietnam war, has turned to abstraction--as if it was not one exceptionally smart man being buried, but a certain kind of smarts itself. "What happened ... to Robert McNamara teaches a lesson to all those who talk of governments of all the talents," editorialized The Times of London.

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....is what the Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens calls his column this morning about Israel's options in Gaza. Some 2,500 Kassam rockets have been fired from Gaza. And, while only 12 of them were lethal and hundreds of others resulted "only" in maiming and amputations, the consequences for normal life have been awful.

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Consequences V. Intent

by Alan Wolfe "Still," writes Bret Stephens in response to John Judis, "were it up to me Judt, Mearsheimer, Carter et al would be run out of polite society. What's wrong with that?" Let me try to answer. On second thought, let me allow John Stuart Mill to answer. In On Liberty, Mill addressed the application of what he called "the social stigma" to unpopular ideas.

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