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Power Line Speaks

The Power Line gang clarifies after yesterday's queries from me. There was, up until now, a generous construal of their claim that Jimmy Carter is "on the other side," namely that that was a piece of thoughtless and irresponsible rhetorical exaggeration designed simply to make the point that they disapprove of Carter's policy views. Today's post, however, specifically reaffirms the charge that Carter is "on the other side" and states that in earlier posts they have been not just "too kind to Mr. Carter" but much too kind to him. Carter deserves, in other words, allegations that are much more serious than the allegation that he is on the other side in the war on terrorism.

Hindrocket would like to construe this as a dispute between his side and "those who admire Carter" but this is a red herring. I don't admire the Power Line bloggers, but I don't think they're on the other side. I don't admire George W. Bush, but I don't think he's on the other side.

What's being elided here is the all-important distinction between political disagreement and warfare. So I'd be interested in hearing the views of the "responsible" right out there. Power Line is not an obscure site by any means. Indeed, it's become one of the most prominent nodes in the conservative blogosphere. Do others out there think Jimmy Carter is on the other side? Working in league with Osama bin Laden and others who seek the mass murder of American citizens? Or is this more the sort of situation where an increasingly shrill and hysterical right-wing has, despite its monopoly on political power in this country, chosen to adopt a bizarre paranoid worldview in which the fact that many people (including almost half of the American population and an absolute majority of the citizens of the world) think it's policies are misguided is equivalent to the existence of a vast global conspiracy to advance the jihad? David Horowitz's Discover the Network site in which we learn of an undifferentiated left composed, apparently, of John Podest, Mohammed Atta, John Kerry, Ayatollah Khomeini, Rob Reiner, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi might also be relevant here. Or to put it another way: What's wrong with you people?

February 17, 2005 | Permalink


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» Speaking for myself... from Notes in Samsara
Sorry Matthew, but I think these neocons, conservatives, theocrats, protofascists, fascists, cryptonazis, and out and out Nazis are the enemy. I think they're the greatest threat to American freedom and democracy. I think they've done considerable da... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 17, 2005 12:26:17 PM

» "Treasonous prick" from QandO
"Treasonous prick" I also find it odd that Matthew called that charge "unsubstantiated", but has proceeded to ignore the subsequent examples of Carter's (attempted) subversion of the US government. [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 17, 2005 2:52:26 PM

» WAR: Meeting With The Enemy from Baseball Crank
It's time for another episode of "let's make an important distinction here." Matt Yglesias continues to argue that the Powerline guys are way, way out of line to say that Jimmy Carter is "on the other side," contending that this... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 17, 2005 6:34:44 PM

» Networking from Preposterous Universe
Seems like everyone on the left-hand side of the blogosphere is having great fun with David Horowitz's latest misadventure, DiscoverTheNetwork: A Guide to the Political Left. The website tracks the many connections between the vast left-wing conspir... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 18, 2005 7:17:52 AM

» Some dare call it treason from Crooked Timber
I don’t know if we have any readers who don’t also read Fafblog; if there are any out there, they should check out his intervention in the recent blogospheric debate on treason. Treason isn’t just providin aid an comfort to... [Read More]

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» Sniffing The Trail... from Have Coffee Will Write
In Jimmy Carter Is A Traitor, my friend John Pikes linked earlier this weak to a story from Powerline that claims to support that assertion. The last time I checked, being a Traitor is a capital offense. A quick read of the legal language finds that ... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 23, 2005 8:58:26 PM


Someone over at Powerline should not be surprised if they get visited by the Secret Service.

Posted by: Rob | Feb 17, 2005 10:34:46 AM

Matt, what's wrong with them is that they are complete, utter shitheads who cannot and will not be reasoned with. Liberals/enemies lurk behind every tree; they and they alone are heirs to the courage and steadfastness that made this country great; criticizing the president or his policies even in mild form is tantamount to treason. They are filled with a curious and dangerous sense of both entitlement and resentment. And even the most moderate left-leaning types are on the enemies list and, in their most fervent dreams, will be dealt with some day.

Posted by: Bgno64 | Feb 17, 2005 10:39:59 AM


I hope that wouldn't happen. I think we need robust debate. To me this is part of the Karl Rove playbook: run right at your weaknesses. Bush has coddled the Saudis and Musharraf, who harbors bin Laden and AQ Khan. Iraq is a red herring to divert attention from his failures to confront the sources of terror in our world. If we are going to be frank about Carter's perceived errors, let's do the same for Bush, who is, by the way, actually President right now.

Bush is an apologist for Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The current and former home of bin Laden. His motives are fair game now. About time.

Posted by: epistemology | Feb 17, 2005 10:41:29 AM

I'd likewise like to hear the views of the "responsible" right on this issue, but, honestly, I'm having difficulty thinking of who might fit that description. Seriously, who are you referring to here?

btw, Matt, I'm curious to hear your views on Dubya's decision to nominate Ambassador Death Squad to be our country's first National Intelligence Director.

Posted by: pat m. | Feb 17, 2005 10:42:54 AM

Yes! Captain Death Squads brings the show on the road to a place called America! Can't wait for the confirmation hearings...

Posted by: fnook | Feb 17, 2005 10:49:41 AM

I'm not a conservative, and yesterday I thought Powerline's rhetoric was excessive. However, if what they posted about Carter's behavior during the 80s is accurate, Carter is a pretty despicable character. Now, I halfway expect politicians, including ex-presidents, to be pretty despicable, so I'm not exactly shocked. Carter's behavior, however, if accurately described, is pretty bad.

Would I say, Carter is "on the other side"? No, because it is a vague phrase that can be interpreted as meaning anything from being a deliberate ally of Al Queda, to being a hackish pol whose self-serving behavior works against the undisputed interests of the United States. Better to avoid such rhetorical excess, like tossing about the label "facist" in a silly fashion, as some Democrats are wont to do. I think there is more to criticize in Carter's behavior, however, than in Powerline's.

Posted by: Will Allen | Feb 17, 2005 10:49:57 AM

I think Krugman's column "The Arabian Candidate" actually makes a good case that Bush *is* on the other side.

It is hard to imagine what more he could have done in the past four years to help Islamic fundamentalism.

Posted by: AlGore | Feb 17, 2005 10:53:21 AM

Jimmy Carter is on the other side.

Posted by: Reg | Feb 17, 2005 10:54:52 AM

I believe you idenitifed it last week; Reynoldsism is widespread, and its proponents appear to believe it sincerely. The most powerful reactionary bloggers are not merely disgraceful McCarthyite hacks; they're very proud of it. The new Powerline post is exceptionally vile discourse, but at least there can no longer be any question about whether it's just strawman building. To the Powerline/Reynolds/Hewitt Axis of Scumbags and their many lickspittles, you either uncritically support Republican foregin policy (whatever it is at the current moment, unrelated to any general principle), or you're a traitor. There's nothing more complex going on here, and this proves it.

Posted by: Scott Lemieux | Feb 17, 2005 10:59:31 AM

Reg is on the other side. I'm on the other side. Ooh, this feels good. Join in. Anyone can play...

Posted by: fnook | Feb 17, 2005 11:01:02 AM

I suggest each of us bombard discoverthenetwork and demand to know why our names aren't on the list!



Posted by: Daniel McGuire | Feb 17, 2005 11:01:45 AM

What a bunch of hacks. It's hard to do anything but laugh. You just can't take seriously the half-baked conspiracy theories and over-the-top rhetoric peddled in this post. I mean, really, this is low-grade schoolyard stuff; it's embarrassing to hear it from three middle-aged lawyers. (One of whom works at a law firm that I used to consider fairly respectable; I'm rethinking that.)

And this is coming from someone who thinks that Carter was pretty close to an unmitigated disaster (the mitigation, if your interested, is provided by his work for Habitat for Humanity).

Incidentally, stating "We could have called that treason, but we didn't" is defamatory per se: they've just accused Carter of a crime, and the context indicates that (a) it's not mere rhetoric and (b) they don't have the evidence to back up the charge (or, at least, they haven't presented it). Whether it's an actionable claim by a public figure that can be proven in a court of law is, of course, open to question.

Posted by: von | Feb 17, 2005 11:03:00 AM

"I don't admire George W. Bush, but I don't think he's on the other side."

- OBL allowed to escape at Tora Bora.
- Anti-Al Qaida governments throughout the Middle East made weaker by the Iraq war.
- Consistent US policies that enhance Tehran's influence in the region.

Is Bush the Texan candidate, or the Tehranian candidate?

We report. You decide.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 17, 2005 11:03:48 AM

Not to mention Bush destroying the U.S.'s reputation, fiscal solvency, and lead in science and technology

Posted by: AlGore | Feb 17, 2005 11:04:20 AM

I think the Powerline folks believe that Carter wants the U.S. to be less powerful and influential in the world and thus is on the “other side” of what the U.S. is today and what they want it to remain.

That doesn’t make him a “traitor”. In fact, one could root for a defeat in Iraq if one thought that was the route to a weaker U.S. that would make the world as a whole better, and still not be a “traitor”.

Posted by: Robert Brown | Feb 17, 2005 11:06:42 AM

Hinderaker's smear is a pretty good example of the kind of escalating, hysterical attacks that we can expect from the triumphalist Dubya II goons. At some point we should expect it to go beyond words, to prosecutions and physical attacks.

Mainstream Democrats, as far as I can tell, have no idea whatsoever how to respond to this kind of thing. Everywhere I see people making snappy little arguments based on factual points, as if that will make any difference. Ann Coulter has been calling us traitors in the national media for years, as has Rush Limbaugh. Now a lot of the more mainstream people are picking it up.

It really does piss me off to still be the marginal one. I was right about WMD when half the Democratic Party was wrong. I was right about the Swift Boat Veterans when the Democratic pros made the decision to ignore them and wait for them to go away. And now I'm right about what we can expect during Dubya Two, when Norquist and Rove will put into effect their plan to use slander and dirty tricks to totally destroy the Democratic Party as a political force.

And the Democrats will be whimpering "But....but....but...that's just WRONG. It makes me so MAD...."

The Republican Party believes that it is on the point of achieving one-party rule, and they're working toward that goal. Hinderaker and Instapundit are bright guys, but they're on board with the Rove-Norquist plan. They and their kind will use rationality and civil discussion whenever convenient and useful (especially for the purpose of confusing and demoralizing the Democrats), and they'll squeal with rage if any Democrat crosses the line of civility, but they'll also use traditional goon squad tactics whenever those seems useful.

Like whipped dogs hoping for their master to become nice again, for years now Democrats have been looking pitifully to the other side of the line for rational conservatives and moderate Republicans to discuss the issues with. The few that still exist are begging Rove not to hurt them. Rove hates them as much as he hates us.

Sure, we might still win the Social Security battle, but the fact that they even dared to try to destroy Social Security shows how confident they are -- it's the equivalent of Robert E Lee laying siege to Boston. They have other fish to fry which are more important to them -- WWIV, in my guess.

Posted by: John Emerson | Feb 17, 2005 11:06:48 AM

Actually, Scott, Reynolds has been critical of Bush foreign policy on occasion, so I guess by your reasoning, Reynolds is calling himself a member of Al Queda. Powerline has expressed some degree of pessimism on occasion as well, so I guess they have done the same. That you cannot discern the difference between criticizing aspects of Bush Administration policy, and inviting Michael Moore to sit a place of honor at a political convention, indicates a lack of crtitical reasoning.

By the way, if the Republicans were so stupid as to invite Jerry Falwell to sit next to the first George Bush at their convention, in light of Falwell's remarks to the effect that the United States got what it deserved on 9/11, I'd expect, and have no strong objection to, Democrats engaging in great rhetorical excess. Carter, a former President of the United States, has honored, and thus implicitly endorsed the views of, a propagandist who in turn implies that the President of the United States has stronger allegiance to the Bin laden family than to his oath of office. And people are to get all bothered because bloggers say Carter is "on the other side"? Give me a very large break.

Posted by: Will Allen | Feb 17, 2005 11:22:10 AM


You have an opportunity to distance yourself from Powerline's insanity (and stop lying about why Moore got into the Carter box at the convention). Use it or get the fuck out of here. Nobody's interested in talking to someone who thinks half the country is made up of traitors.

Posted by: Hank Scorpio | Feb 17, 2005 11:25:15 AM

"and stop lying about why Moore got into the Carter box at the convention"


Posted by: Petey | Feb 17, 2005 11:27:15 AM

So I'd be interested in hearing the views of the "responsible" right out there.

I suppose, in Matthew's world, this excludes me. Nevertheless, let me add that I find it interesting that the Powerline authors continue to add evidence to back up their claim. So we know about Carter's backing of Castro and Chavez, now we also know about his backing of the Soviets over Reagan in the mid-80s, and his silence with respect to Iraqi democracy. They are piling up a pretty good case against Carter.

Matthew, on the other hand, provides absolutely no evidence at all. Matthew thinks that ad hominem attacks and invective ("increasingly shrill and hysterical right-wing" or "bizarre paranoid worldview") should be sufficient as argument.

As between a well-supported argument backed by copious evidence and simple ad hominem attacks with no evidence at all to back it up, I think the side actually using evidence has the better of the argument. But, as today's left-wing makes absolutely clear, they don't agree; they think that the harsher the ad hominem attack, the more powerful their argument.

Posted by: Al | Feb 17, 2005 11:27:58 AM

Reg, again, you make a thoughtful, well-reasoned, and important contribution to advancing discourse in the U.S.

Posted by: AlGore | Feb 17, 2005 11:28:38 AM

What's being elided here is the all-important distinction between political disagreement and warfare.

Also, this seems to me to be completely wrong. No one is accusing Carter of "warfare" against us. We are saying that, as between our side and the other side, he has made a choice to support one of them. And it isn't our side.

But "support" =/= "warfare".

Posted by: Al | Feb 17, 2005 11:30:45 AM

"I suppose, in Matthew's world, this excludes me."

No one would ever accuse you of being responsible, Al. Or sensible. Or coherent. Or intellectually honest.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 17, 2005 11:31:13 AM

Yes, it does exclude you, Al.

Posted by: John Emerson | Feb 17, 2005 11:31:25 AM

Al, are you capable of having the slightest bit of doubt about any claim that supports your world-view? Or do you just assume anything that you like must automatically be proven fact?

Posted by: AlGore | Feb 17, 2005 11:33:27 AM

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